Board of Trustees receives updates on Master Plan, enrollment, presidential assessment

The CMU Board of Trustees met in the Bovee University Center for its formal meeting Dec. 2. The meeting was livestreamed.

Vice President of Finance Nick Long and Associate Vice President Jonathan Webb updated Central Michigan University's Board of Trustees on revisions made to the 2013 Master Plan which includes more than a dozen proposed construction and renovation projects.

Trustees met in person but broadcast the meeting virtually to the campus community.

Included in the Master Plan was a curb-less reconstruction of Preston and Franklin streets, an expansion of the Bovee University Center, and a new apartment complex near the Towers called Washington Commons which would fill gaps after Northwest Apartments and Kewadin Village are demolished.

In total, the Finance and Facilities committee identified $391 million worth of deferred maintenance. See all the proposed projects in the Capital Plan below:

President Bob Davies stressed that none of the proposed projects in the capital plan are set in stone. 

“There are some things in there that I really like and some things that I think that we need to be a little bit more thoughtful of," Davies said. "I think it outlines where we can at least dream and move forward."

Enrollment Update

Davies launched into a discussion on enrollment reports to start the meeting. CMU has the highest percentage decrease in overall headcount, first-time college students and undergraduate student headcount, compared to all other public universities this year, according to a recently released report from the Michigan Association of State Universities. 

It follows a nearly 10-year decline exacerbated by the pandemic. 

Davies said declining enrollment will not change academic standards for acceptance. He said raising enrollment is the responsibility of the entire campus community. 

“I invite everyone to join me in taking some simple steps that can increase enrollment, such as inviting prospective students to visit the campus, sharing positive stories about CMU on social media channels, and volunteering to make calls to interested students,” Davies said. “We all have a role to shape the future of our university”

Enrollment was the focal point of yesterday’s enterprise risk committee meeting. However, committee chair Todd Anson critiqued some of the faculty’s attitude toward the crisis during the Faculty Liaison Committee meeting. 

“The message conveyed was that our faculty takes no ownership of this problem, that it's entirely our board and our administration's problem to solve,” Anson said. “That attitude is counterproductive, misdirected, and somewhat insulting to our board.”

On behalf of the CMU faculty, committee member Amanda Garrison said the way Anson described the meeting was not accurate. She said she left the meeting feeling satisfied with the communication – which was echoed by Trustee Sharon Heath later in the meeting.

Garrison said the expectation for faculty to participate in recruitment isn’t realistic without proper compensation. 

"The suggestion that there's some number of hours that (faculty) can indicate some dedication or honor working for CMU is insulting," Garrison said. "We're employed here, not the trustees. This idea of all coming together is something the faculty has said for years."

Update on Davies’ Presidential Assessment

Board Chair Richard Studley oversaw the Presidential Assessment committee – tasked with gauging Davies’ overall effectiveness as a leader. During the third year of a president’s time in office, the assessment becomes especially comprehensive.

A group of about 385 university stakeholders and community members were invited to complete a Presidential Assessment Survey. Studley reported about 50% of those who received the survey responded – with generally “very favorable” feedback.

“None of us are perfect, but as you've heard many of the reports today, President Davies and his team have taken us through an unprecedented worldwide pandemic," Studley said. "We are laying the foundation as we move to accelerate CMU's movement into the future."

Studley said the presidential assessment will be finalized by the new year and presented to the board at its next meeting in February.