Academic Senate discusses solutions to admissions issues, parking updates

Jennifer DeHaemers discusses SLATE and one officer's brief appointment in the admissions department

The Academic Senate discussed several issues at its bi-weekly meeting on Feb. 15, including recent ongoing issues with Central Michigan University’s admissions and future changes to parking services. 

In their report to the senate, President Bob Davies and Interim Provost Richard Rothaus discussed various ways CMU is addressing its decline in enrollment.  

Making test-optional admissions permanent

Rothaus asked the senate to recommend CMU continue its test-optional status for new students.

Many universities made admission tests, like the SAT and ACT, optional at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic because test centers were difficult to access.

According to Rothaus, test-optional policies make it easier for first generation and underrepresented students to go to college.

“We would like to consider the possibility of making test-optional admissions policy permanent at CMU,” Rothaus said. “Some of us think it’s the trend in higher education.” 

The senate will begin forming a committee to explore the possibility of CMU remaining test-optional.

Recruitment events

Rothaus also promoted CMU’s “Maroon and Gold” events. The events, throughout February and March, are for interested students and their parents to learn about CMU from faculty and staff.

Rothaus asked any interested faculty to participate.

SLATE software

Vice President for Student Recruitment and Retention Jennifer DeHaemers gave a presentation to the senate about SLATE, CMU’s admissions software.

SLATE was chosen, DeHaemers said, because it makes managing applications easier for the Office of Information Technology. Talisma, CMU's previous application processor, was 10 years old, she said, and therefore outdated.

One of SLATE's selling points, according to DeHaemers, is its ability to send automated emails to new students quickly.

However, Senator Martha Frank said some prospective graduate students in the mathematics department had not received any communication about their admissions status. One student, she said, did not know their application status until they reached out to the department on their own.

Admission officers brief appointment during scholarship mistake

In the admissions department, DeHaemers said Randolph Bellamy was appointed as the director of application processing on Jan. 18 but he resigned roughly two weeks later.

According to DeHaemers, Bellamy listed a variety of reasons in his resignation letter, including executive director of admission, Lee Furbeck’s recent departure from CMU following a mishap with 58 scholarships. DeHaemers also said there was a miscommunication about Bellamy’s role in the department.

“One of the challenges of his position would have been staff development,” DeHaemers said. “He indicated that was a problem and he also stated that he hadn’t received any training, but he did.”

The role is currently being filled by Bob Garcia, director of transfer outreach and community college relations.  

New campus parking app

Senator Tracy Davis asked about a new software, AIMS MobilePay, which will be used by CMU Parking Services in Fall 2022. Davis asked whether using a virtual system will cause staff and students to lose their jobs in parking services.

Davies said the system will not replace anyone.

In March, two police cars will be fitted with License Plate Recognition to scan license plates, making the parking permit process entirely virtual, according to Davis' question.

According to Davies, everyone, except for those with disability needs, will no longer be able to back into parking spots because the scanner needs to be in view of cars license plates.

Concerns for proposed parking lot construction

Some faculty and students have expressed concerns about the planned construction of the Washington commons in place of parking Lot 22.

Senator Ted Clayton submitted a question to be answered in the president and provost’s report, saying he is concerned for students and employees who rely on the parking lot. 

Clayton said anyone who walks from their car to campus buildings when it is dark outside might not feel safe doing so if they have to park elsewhere. 

According to Davies, CMU Police Chief Larry Klaus said the routes from academic buildings and residence halls to Lot 75 will be monitored by security cameras and patrol cars on Washington Street. 

Davies said there will be a town hall listening session in the near future to collect thoughts and concerns about the demolition project, which will make way for a new residence hall.  

Senator Tracy Collins asked why administration proposes building new residence halls will improve enrollment. Davies said CMU's housing should be competitive with other universities.

"One of the reasons we hear from many students who attend other universities is our housing is not up to par with what they're seeing at other locations," Davies said. "That is a defining decision." 

Worries among faculty regarding verification system

Several senators were concerned about a third-party system called Verifi1 - a service CMU uses to verify dependents listed on faculty’s health insurance, Davies said.

Some faculty said they were worried about trusting their personal information with the service after previous data breaches.

Senator Joanne Dannenhoffer said private information has been compromised “several times in the last 10 years". Davies said he was aware of one data breach, during his time as president, caused by a phishing email.  

Senator Alan Rudy said the verification process is an unnecessary measure.    

“It felt like faculty and staff were being accused of intentionally engaging in fraudulent insurance claims,” Rudy said. “I was pretty offended that I now need to verify the birth dates of my children and show a marriage certificate from 21 years ago to assert that I’m still married. This communication with us isn’t good for morale.”

Website updates

At the start of Davies’ report to the senate, he offered an apology on behalf of Vice President for Marketing and Communications John Veilleux. Some faculty and students felt they were “called out or blamed” for website issues by Veilleux, Davies said. 

“That was not his intent and he also apologizes sincerely," Davies said. "We also know a new website is an enormous change and we realize this change is disruptive to the faculty, staff and students. There is never really a good time to launch a website.”

Davies said the website's stability has improved since Feb. 7. Between 25 and 35 website collaborators have now been given access to make content changes and help fix problems, he said. 

COVID-19 updates

In response to a question from Senator Max Ranger about N95 masks, Davies said CMU will not be providing free masks on campus. Davies and Rothaus recommended that students visit local pharmacies and health centers where N95 masks are being given away for free on behalf of the federal government. 

Senator Martha Frank said it is unfortunate that students must go to these lengths.

“I think it would be good to show that we care about our students,” Frank said. “Our mask policy has been pretty effective, but it hasn’t been tested for very long against omicron.” 

COVID-19 antigen tests will be stocked at residence hall front desks sometime in the future, according to Davies. 

Academic Senate meetings are held at 3:30 p.m. bi-weekly on Tuesdays in the French Auditorium. Livestream and recording links can be found on the senate website.