Takeaways from CMU Board of Trustees committee meetings


The Central Michigan University Board of Trustees met in committees on Feb. 10 to prepare for its Feb. 11 formal meeting.

Trustees attended three committee meetings to discuss upcoming summer construction, student wellbeing and the on-going effects of COVID-19.

The board will meet virtually for their formal meeting at 10 a.m. Feb. 11.

Academic and Student Affairs

Acadmic Senate Chair Katrina Piatek-Jimenez joined the trustees to discuss revisions to the Student Opinion Surveys (SOS forms) completed at the end of each semester. Students and faculty are interpreting the current survey questions in very different ways, causing inconclusive reports. 

"(Academic Senate is working to) tweak the questions to be interpreted the way they were meant to,” Jimenez said. "The new opinion surveys will be optional to faculty starting this semester.”

Vice President of Recruitment and Retention Jennifer DeHaemers shared that due to the pandemic, CMU's recruitment numbers have decreased. This is mainly because the university no longer has a way to contact potential students. CMU is taking this challenge on by partnering with forums like NRCCUA and CAPKINS recruitment.

Despite the predicted decrease of freshman and transfer student income, student housing deposit will be cheaper to hopefully encourage students to return to the CMU campus. The current $800 housing deposit will be cut to $350, which the trustees believe is just one way to assist students.

Finance and Facilities

Trustees discussed a new budget plan to use for the 2021-22 academic year. The RCM model has not been updated in a few years and they are looking to move away from this model. The new budget process approval will take place in June of 2021.

“We either have to move forward or we are going to get left behind," Finance and Facilities Chair Edward Plawecki said. “We have one opportunity, I think I can speak for most of the trustees, we can kind of agree that this budget process in these next two years will be critical.”

The committee also discussed the possible remodel of various locations on campus. There are 60 projects under review for the summer that are valued at $23 million. 

The trustees discussed renovations to Troutman Residential Hall, Pearce Hall Data Lab, the Bovee-UC Down Under Food Court and the Park Library Adobe Digital Lounge. 

Trustees Student Liason

Student leaders from Student Government Association (SGA), Program Board, Residence Housing Association, and the Mary Ellen Brandell Volunteer Center gave presentations to the committee. Planning engaging social programs during the pandemic was a recurring theme throughout each organization's presentation.

“We’re facing declining enrollment and increased competition,” Chair Richard Studley said. “We’re all trying to learn what we can take away from this year that we can apply going forward.”

SGA Vice President Brandon McDonald said that the Barnes Greenspace will be implemented this semester in the empty space where Barnes Hall used to reside. This space and will include solar powered picnic tables, hammock stands, benches, student-made sculptures and Native Michigan vegetation.

Student Body President Katie Prebelich said that an official position is needed within the Office of Student Affairs that would organize civic engagement initiatives for students. 

Abbey Claes, graduate assistant for the Volunteer Center and Saira Alvarez Gomez, a student food coordinator for the Student Food Pantry, discussed student needs and food insecurity. The pantry has been operating at a lower capacity than the 2019-20 academic year, but they are hopeful that this semester they will provide more students with food.

Associate Vice President of Student Affairs Anthony Voisin said that new event guidelines will be released soon, allowing Registered Student Organizations to have in-person meetings. 

President Bob Davies ended the meeting by encouraging trustees and students to "be positive, test negative."