Trustees discuss residence hall improvements, advising updates
Central Michigan University trustees gathered Dec .5 to attend committee meetings and discuss upcoming proposals.
At its formal board of trustees meeting at 8:30 a.m. Dec. 6, trustees will vote on a requirement for all students to reside on campus for freshman and sophomore year.
According to CMU's Residency Policy, sophomores are only required to live on campus if they receive a merit- or talent-based scholarship of $2,500 or more, or if they have not completed 24 credit hours by the end of their first year.
By the time the requirement goes into effect, CMU will have 5,725 beds on campus. For the two-year requirement, 5,584 beds will be needed, based on an estimated 2,800 first-time freshman population.
The CMU Board of Trustees formal meeting will take place at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 6 in the President's Conference Room. Public seating will be available in the Lake Superior Room adjacent to the conference room on the third floor of the Bovee University Center.
Academic and Student Affairs
Trustees received updates on reorganization and changes in the College of Science and Engineering.
Ian Davison, interim senior vice provost for academic affairs, began the Academic and Student Affairs Committee meeting by updating the Board of Trustees about reorganizing academic advising at CMU.
Davison presented a plan to increase the number of advisers on campus and to update advising technology. The university employs 30 advisers, but the plan suggests hiring 20 additional advisers. The new technology would help organize individual student profiles, and notify advisers when students' grades drop. The plan encourages advisers to become more proactive and aims to improve student retention.
The idea for these improvements began after Davison visited Georgia State University, which has a retention rate "upwards of 90 percent."
“The plan is to pay more attention to students’ success in their first semester, while helping them in the transitioning period into university life," he said.
Jane Davison, interim dean of the College of Science and Engineering, discussed the addition of the Environmental Engineering program, which is still going through the approval process. She also said a goal for the College of Science and Engineering is to increase the number of women and minorities enrolled in the college.
Finance and Facilities
Vice President of Finance and Administrative Services Barrie Wilkes presented a $76 million three-year plan for Residence Life "to sustain CMU as Central Michigan’s primary residential university."
The first part of the project includes demolishing Barnes Hall, and focusing on increasing safety in North and South campus. The second year will include improving North and South campus more, renovating the Robinson Residential Restaurant and developing plans to demolish and replace the Kewadin Village and Northwest Apartment Complexes. The final year will cost $42 million, and includes modernizing the South quad, and adding a wellness center to North campus.
“If something changes dramatically three years out, we would have the ability to change directions,” said Wilkes.
Associate Vice President of Facilities Management Jonathan Webb provided updates on two ongoing construction projects. The Center for Integrated Health Studies is currently 35 percent complete, and Webb said it remains on schedule and within its $26 million budget.
A construction manager was hired for the Chippewa Champions Alumni Center. The upper level of the building will be the alumni center, and the two lower levels will include a welcome center, student athlete training laboratories and meeting rooms. The project will also include a video scoreboard that will be completed over the summer and ready for the next football season.
Trustees-Faculty Liaison Committee
The College of Business Administration SAP Alliance Program was highlighted at the Trustees-Faculty Liaison Committee meeting.
Business information systems faculty member Steve Tracy delivered the CMU "Point of Pride" presentation, highlighting the success of CMU’s chapter of the program.
SAP is a software that teaches students how to integrate different business processes into the learning experience. CMU has certified more students in the SAP program than any other university in the world, Tracy said.
After the presentation, the committee moved on to discuss the importance of “soft skills” in CMU curriculum, and making sure students understand these skills are as important as the technical skills of a major. Soft skills include communication, writing and critical thinking. The committee addressed the fact that students may not recognize the importance of taking University Program courses, which help build those “soft skills.”
“One dilemma we have is whether students recognize importance of these skills,” said sociology faculty member Mary Senter. “I have students that have difficulty with technical skills, basic technical skills, communicative skills.”
Trustee Robert Wardrop II suggested faculty bring outside entities into the classroom to explain the importance of learning skills outside of a student’s major.
“Words matter,” said trustee Richard Studley, referring to the importance of communication skills. “Maybe we shouldn’t describe these as ‘soft skills.’ These are success skills; these are survival skills.”
Trustees-Student Liaison Committee
Student Government Association President Jake Hendricks presented the SGA President's report at the Trustees-Student Liaison Committee meeting.
Hendricks said SGA is currently working to create an environment where students want to be a part of the community. He addressed recent incidents on campus involving offensive messages left on dorm white boards. Going forward, he said, the most important thing is to support those targeted. In a further response to these events, SGA plans to host diversity events addressing these issues.
SGA Vice President Lyndi Rose introduced several ideas for fall break. These include having a Monday and Tuesday off after midterms, but before Thanksgiving. Rose said the administration would be tasked with how to make up that class time.
Residence Hall Assembly Director Mary St. John described an effort to add diverse artwork in residence halls that would better portray the students that lived there. St. John also discussed RHA surveys that showed students were not meeting goals in learning self-management. These results showed students struggled with money management and school-life balance.