LETTER: Open letter to CMU Board of Trustees following the vote of no confidence

Dear Madams and Sirs:

I am writing as a student to express my grave concern over Central Michigan University’s future. I am also writing to revisit the CMU Academic Senate’s no confidence vote against University President George Ross and Provost Gary Shapiro. I also question whether CMED in its current form should be a part of that future.

The no confidence resolution against Ross and Shapiro was introduced before the CMU A-Senate and was passed on Dec. 6, 2011. Bear in mind that: (1) the resolution remains in force; and (2) the vote shows that CMU faculty and students have no faith in Ross and Shapiro. Allowing them to continue at CMU undermines shared governance and will further erode morale within the CMU community. The no confidence vote also serves as a referendum on the CMU Board of Trustees.

I addressed you at your Dec. 8, 2011 meeting, reminding you of your fiduciary and legal responsibility to CMU. I urged you to deal with this no confidence vote with the seriousness it deserves. To my dismay, the board did not discuss this issue. Instead, Chairwoman Sarah Opperman swept the matter aside, expressing hope that CMU would experience “healing” after the difficult events of 2011. Such a view is a fundamental misapprehension of the situation. “Healing” at CMU will begin only when President Ross and Provost Shapiro are removed because of incompetence with regard to CMED and their inveterate disregard for shared governance.

I would like now to illustrate how the board of trustees has failed in its fiduciary responsibility to the CMU community. This failure relates directly to the current CMED initiative. According to Dean Ernest Yoder’s own PowerPoint presentation before the A-Senate on Dec. 6, 2011, the CMED initiative entails many more fiscal uncertainties than certainties. According to Yoder, the overall cost of CMED’s East Campus at Saginaw is a complete unknown. That the projected cost of the CMED East Campus is a complete unknown is but one example of the financial uncertainty that surrounds CMED. As CMU trustees who have a fiduciary duty to oversee CMU’s financial affairs, how is this acceptable? In my view, this is not acceptable.

The CMED initiative should be terminated because funding it means diverting resources from proven departments and programs, many of which have attained national prominence. Continuing with this ill-conceived plan jeopardizes the ideal of excellence at CMU. Because of their continued support of CMED, Ross and  Shapiro should be removed. Do you really want the failure of CMU, and the failure that Ross and Shapiro are enabling, to be part of your legacy? I would hope not. Please recognize that now is the time for a course correction at CMU. Please do the right thing.

Yours in good faith,

Christopher J. Benison

Central Michigan University class of 2013