Board of Trustees discuss housing renovations, faculty frustrations

President Bob Davies met with the Board of Trustees in person for the formal session on Sept. 23. The meeting was live-streamed.

Central Michigan University's Board of Trustees and President Bob Davies discussed renovations to residential halls, the presidential assessment and frustrations of faculty at the formal meeting on Sept. 23.

Residential renovations

Modeling the changes done to Carey Hall in 2019, Troutman Hall is receiving $3.9 million of renovations to covert rooms from two-person twin bed suites to two-person double bed suites. The university plans for the project to be completed in April 2022.

Carey Hall is set up as a bedroom with two double beds, a private common room and bathroom.

The trustees approved $8.1 million dollars in renovations to Cobb and Wheeler Halls for them to be mirrored like Carey and Troutman. With these renovations, all of the single-bedroom suites in the Towers Community will be updated.

"Carey Hall, when we brought it online, sold out in eight minutes through our residential hall signup process. (It was) huge demand," Vice President of Finance and Administrative Services Nick Long said. "Our residence life team Shaun Holtgreive and Kathleen Gardner and others are very excited about the potential for these projects."

The trustees also agreed to the $1.5 million Washington Commons Residential Community Project Design. The agreement will create a plan for second-story apartments with space for storefronts below on Washington Street. These will eventually replace Kewadin Village and Northwest Apartments.

Other capital projects approved by the board include a new $1.3 million lighting system for Bush Theater, $1.5 million retractable seating in McGuirk Arena and a $2.6 million renovation to change the baseball and softball fields to turf.

Presidential assessment

In addition, Studley announced he will be working with trustees Isaiah Oliver and Rob Wardrop to interview administrators, faculty, students and community members on their thoughts of President Davies during his first three years.

"The process is really just getting started," Studley said. "Our commitment is that the three of us will work together in the spirit of teamwork and cooperation. We all have different experiences and will bring a different perspective."

Faculty frustration

During the two days of meetings, the board heard and addressed faculty opinions on the priorities of the university.

Board of Trustees Chair Richard Studley referenced a Central Michigan Life article where Faculty Association President Amanda Garrison referred to him calling students "customers."

"Garrison also recalled a Board of Trustees meeting where Richard Studley, the chair, referred to students as 'customers' and the counseling center as 'customer service,'" the article reads. "Garrison believes this administrative mindset is turning CMU into more of a for-profit business rather than a place of learning."

During the formal session, he responded.

"I want to make very clear that in many ways, I think of CMU employees as customers," Studley said. "The employees who work here, whether they're in our faculty or staff, are here by choice. They have many other opportunities we need to compete for their talent. The students who come here have many choices."

Studley said the choices stem from competitors the university did not have 10 -20 years ago.

CM Life contacted Garrison for a statement on behalf of the faculty.

The statement reads:

"It should be of great concern to the entire CMU community of staff, students, and faculty, the leadership of this university continue to refer to us in a manner that fails to convey the respect we deserve. 

The wonderful staff folks that find employment at CMU are also dedicated members of the community as a whole –and who shepherd and work with students to ensure that all who come will be successful in exceeding their goals…some of whom are students and/or parents of students, themselves. 

Students dedicate their time and their limited resources to completing what will most likely be one of the most difficult achievements of their lifetimes. And faculty give their whole lives to their academic home places, sacrificing time and energy to provide quality education and long-lasting, trusting relationships with their students. 

All the people, who make up the best part of CMU do not 'shop' here…or 'purchase a product.' We do not call a Customer Service Representative when we need help – we call our colleagues, our friends, or the people who work tirelessly to make this place run and don’t get paid what their work is worth to do it. We do not keep a receipt just in case the job, the class, the grade 'doesn’t fit,' or the milk’s gone sour. 

We ARE CMU, the students, staff, and faculty. WE are why this place is amazing. What we create here will endure longer than any joy some object or service one typically purchases, could ever bring. It is unfortunate that CMU leadership cannot see that…cannot know that…and does not feel that. What a shame that members in the highest body of governance on campus are so blind to what makes this place truly amazing: US. If we are customers, we need directions to the suggestion box or the customer service desk/return booth…we’ve got some COMPLAINTS for MANAGEMENT – and we’ve ALL taken a number!"