Takeaways from CMU Board of Trustees committee meetings

 The Central Michigan University Board of Trustees met on Feb. 16 to prepare for its Feb. 17 meeting. 

The board met in committees from 1:15 to 6 p.m. All of the committee meetings were live-streamed for public access. Additionally, the meeting had 25 seats for the public to attend in person. 

The trustees discussed the Washington Commons project, student engagement, the new Structured Language and Literacy Intervention Certificate and the CMU Student Food Pantry.

The board will meet for their live-streamed formal meeting at 11 a.m. Feb. 17, which will also have 25 seats for people to attend in-person.

Finance and Facilities Committee

The meeting began with a presentation on the Washington Commons project, a proposed apartment-style complex, from Executive Director of Residence Life Kathleen Gardner and Vice President for Finance and Administrative Services Nick Long, 

“CMU’s on-campus housing has not remained competitive as some our peers,” Gardner said. “We are strengthening our commitment to outstanding residents with campus experience.”

Gardner said the commons will be independent style living since statistics show newer generations prefer living alone or in smaller groups.

The proposed Washington Commons images were presented at the Board of Trustees Finance and Facilities Committee meeting on Feb. 16.

Housing options in the Washington Commons will be open to students with a junior-level status or higher in an effort to keep upper-class students on campus for more than two years.

Long gave an overview of the timeline for the four-independent style living halls proposed to be built on Washington Street. He said the schematic design is finished, the design development will be completed in May, and they hope to have construction documents ready by August.

Parking Lot 75, to be constructed south of Broomfield Street according to Long and will replace parking spots lost to the removal of Lot 22.

Long said the university wants to finish construction of  Lot 75 by August. Other plans Long said his team wants to see completed by the end of the Fall 2022 semester include the Kewadin Village Demolition.

The construction of the Washington Commons is slated to start in October 2022 and be completed by August 2024 followed by the demolition of the Northwest Apartments by the Fall 2024.

Long said the university is seeking the board’s approval of $12 million – reduced from $12.5million – for the Washington Commons construction documents and project construction administration, construction of Lot 75, improvements to parking Lots 39 and 42 and Kewadin Village demolition.

Town Hall meetings will be held to gather the community perspective on the plans.

Gardner and Long also presented the proposed construction of an events quad and small amphitheater near the School of Music.

Gardner said the project will be completed in phases; the first will be funded by a donor and they are hoping to get money from other methods like fundraising to fund the rest of the project.

In addition to discussing construction projects, Long explained that recent inflation rates have caused the need for CMU to increase room and board rates. He proposed a 3 percent increase.

Academic and Student Affairs Committee

Interim Provost Richard Rothaus opened the discussion by presenting the provost report. The focus of the report was student engagement.

Rothaus highlighted an upcoming program in the College of Science and Engineering called Integration in Science, Technology and Engineering (INSITE). The program aims to focus its students on issues they see as critical problems.

“They're working on issues that will be their world,” Rothaus said. “Also Michigan workforce feeds as all these states come together for Michigan's future workforce."

The program will also focus on bringing in underrepresented populations in STEM. The INSITE program is still in development.

Interim Associate Vice President of Student Affairs Shaun Holtgrieve then presented the Student Affair Update to the committee. Majority of the campus population have gotten their COVID-19 booster shots. 80 percent of faculty, 79 percent of staff and 50 percent of students have received the booster shot. 

The Mentor Collective at CMU currently has around 1,200 people signed up to be peer mentors. Also, around 337 people are signed up to be mentees in the program. Holtgrieve said he'd like to talk more in depth about this program at the upcoming April Board of Trustees meeting. 

"The numbers have exceeded our expectations,"  Holtgrieve said.

Trustees-Faculty Liaison Committee

The discussion began with Katie Squires, communication sciences and disorders faculty member, explaining a new certificate that may be implemented soon.

The new certificate will go by the name of SLLIC (Structured Language and Literacy Intervention Certificate) and will be done in six courses over three years. Its purpose is to provide professionals in education the skills needed when working with students that have literacy disorders and to improve learning and development outcomes. 

The certificate is currently waiting for approval. However, once approved, Central Michigan will have the first program in the state of Michigan to be accredited by the International Dyslexic Association.

After Squires finished the presentation, two professors spoke on their concerns with faculty not being treated properly. 

The first to speak was Will Anderson, broadcast and cinematic arts faculty member. He began with explaining that he has been a professor for 25 years. He said that he loves his job, but it’s hard. 

When asked what he would do to change one thing about being a faculty member, Anderson paused a moment before answering.

“I feel many things that are done here have ulterior motives to them," Anderson said. "And at many times, I don’t feel valued,” Anderson said. 

Michelle Steinhilb, biology faculty member, reiterated that idea. While she loves her job and students, she claimed that faculty often feel undervalued.

“I feel that teaching is not rewarded at the same level as research accomplishments are, and that makes me pretty sad," Steinhilb said. "If I could change it, I would want that to change,”.

Both Anderson and Steinhilb felt that their opinions were heard, and they hope to see a difference. 

Trustees-Student Liaison Committee 

The committee received a presentation from Resource CMU, which includes the Student Food Pantry and Financial Wellness Collaborative.

CMU Student Food Pantry graduate assistant Abbey Claes Kamin and student coordinator Carter Woolley discussed the increase of visitors they have received. During the Fall 2021 semester, October was their busiest month with 243 visits. However, this semester, they had 466 visits in January and 259 visits in February.

Financial Wellness Collaborative graduate assistant Taylor Nelson to discussed the resources offered to students including presentations, peer coaching, the financial education platform iGrad, deadline reminders and sharing other resources.

The three students discussed the partnership between the programs and brought up the possibility of a shared space if given the opportunity to occupy a larger space.

"We don't really have any extra space at all," Claes Kamin said. "All of our space is used for our refrigerators, our shelving units and then our extra food that we use to stock the shelves."

Claes Kamin also discussed that a larger space would allow for more donation

The CMU Student Food Pantry located under the dining hall in Robinson Hall is open Tuesdays 5-7 p.m., Wednesdays 3-5 p.m. and Fridays 12-2 p.m. It offers perishable and non-perishable food items as well as hygiene, cleaning, kitchen and school supplies. In addition the group offers emergency bags, educational programming, donation drives and volunteer opportunities.