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Takeaways from CMU Board of Trustees committee meetings


The Central Michigan University Board of Trustees met in committees on April 21 to prepare for its April 22 formal meeting.

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

The board will meet virtually for their formal meeting at 10 a.m. April 22.

Academic and Student Affairs

At the beginning of the committee meeting, the outgoing Student Government Association (SGA) President Katie Prebelich welcomed new President Kate King.

Vice President of Recruitment and Retention Jennifer DeHaemers joined the trustees to present recruitment and retention numbers.

Out of the 17,255 First Time in Any College (FTIAC) applicants for main campus during the Fall 2021 semester, CMU has received 13,194 admits and 1,593 deposits as of April 19. For the Fall 2020, out of the 18,227 applicants there were 11,479 admits and 1,990 deposits.

“One of the things hat’s been consistent over the course of the year is that our applications have been down, down a little over 5 percent,” DeHaemers said. “That’s of concern, but not as concerning because our admissions are up by close to 20 percent.”

In addition to enrollment updates, Vice President of Student Affairs Tony Voisin and some other staff members spoke about the decline in mental health in students during the on-going COVID-19 pandemic.

Finance and Facilities

Trustees discussed declining enrollment, budget planning and summer construction projects.

Vice President of Finance and Administrative Services Nick Long, discussed how lower student traffic on campus has impacted revenue generated through parking and campus dining like Burrito Bowl and Starbucks.

Student traffic is lower due to declining enrollment and online classes, said Long.

Long explained that the current budget model used by CMU, the Responsibility Center Management model, will be replaced with a more centralized model for the 2022 fiscal year.

“This is a big change at CMU, given the long time that CMU has been using, probably one of the most decentralized budget models in the country,” said Long. “Big change is hard and I noticed some are struggling with this. But this is the model that we are using as we prepare the new budget.”

Finance and Facilities Committee chair Edward Plawecki added that enrollment at CMU has dropped from 29,000 students to 19,000 students over 10 years. Due to COVID-19, enrollment had dropped even further to approximately 17,100 students. Enrollment numbers for the 2021-2022 school year are not known but are not expected to be higher, Plawecki said.

“Because of that, trying to be prudent and fiscally sound politically and policies as to what we're trying to do with the budget,” Plawecki said. “We will now not use the RCM model any longer as [Long] would have discussed. And we will be looking at a different model that makes sense for the times.”

Associate Vice-President of Facilities Management Jonathan Webb updated the committee on CMU’s master plan and construction projects over the summer.

As part of the master plan, CMU will be updating four buildings: the Bovee University Center, Charles V. Park Library, the Towers Residence Hall and the Rose-Ryan Center.

GMB Architecture and Engineering has been hired by CMU as part of the master plan rollout.

Most improvements will be maintenance but the UC will be renovated in order to turn Burrito Bowl into Shake Smart and this will be taking place May 10 through Aug.17. 

Park Library will be getting an Adobe Digital lounge in Room 212. Construction will take place May 10 through Aug. 6.

Information on summer construction projects can be found on CMU’s website on the Facilities Management page.

“This was really the main reason why we're doing the master plan is to come up with these ideas,” Webb said. “As President Davies has challenged everybody to think big and think boldly, we have the strategic planning efforts for the university at large. And so we're trying to look for those efficiencies of how we can do better, how do we help with enrollment and retention.”

Trustees-Faculty Liaison

Philosophy and religion faculty member Andy Blom and physics faculty member Veronica Barone gave a Point of Pride presentation titled "DEI Faculty Search Advocates Program at CMU – Tackling Unconscious Bias." After this presentation, Academic Senate Chair Katrina Piatek-Jimenez gave a presentation on the curricular processes at CMU.

The purpose of the Point of Pride presentation was to discuss the Faculty Search Advocates Program at CMU. This program was started in 2020 and focuses on breaking down implicit bias within college faculty and college campuses. Barone said the goal is to produce a more diverse and equitable faculty environment at CMU. The targetted area for change is in the faculty searches for all academic areas at CMU.

"We could have at least one faculty in every single academic unit at CMU being a search advocate, and that faculty will then serve in the search committees,"  Barone said.

Being a faculty search advocate would be a voluntary position. The advocate would facilitate discussions about situations and issues which may occur during faculty searches and help increase diversity within faculty. Philosophy and religion faculty member Andy Blom said the program puts heavy emphasis on interaction, discussion and engagement.

The Trustees-Faculty Liaison gave a positive response to the Point of Pride presentation. Board of Trustees Chair Richard Studley said he commends the work done by the faculty search program.

"If you talk about unpacking biases, I think that pulls out of people's thoughts that you might not get, and you're not attacking them," Studley said. "I thought it was an extraordinary focus on the process."

Next, Piatek-Jimenez presented the discussion on faculty members who want to create new courses or modify existing courses first go through the Academic Senate. Depending on the course being modified, the curricular process must go through the Michigan Association of State Universities (MASU). MASU provides guidance for program creation and modification. 

One program being modified which will not be going to MASU is the certificate program for graduate students. Biology faculty member Bradley Swanson said the program will be dropping the minimum amount of required credits down to nine.

"The certificate program doesn't go all the way through that entire process," he said. "It typically stops either at the provost level of approval or Senate review committee approval."