LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Two years of trying to partner, no interest from CMU leadership


As a proud CMU alumnus, the current state of affairs and the decade of decline at my alma mater are deeply disappointing and troubling.

I am part of a group working to reinstate the CMU men’s Track & Field team. Our experience with CMU leadership is a microcosm of the broader and much more far-reaching and serious issues we’re all observing.

Primarily, on the part of CMU senior leadership:

  • Unwillingness to have an open dialogue
  • Dismissal of a large, diverse and influential alumni group
  • Unwillingness to engage in creative problem solving and solution-focused conversations
  • Complete lack of transparency
  • Lack of foresight and understanding of a changing social, economic and community landscape
  • Ignoring key facts related to economic and diversity dimensions
  • A preference for continuing down the ‘tried and true’ path, which has led to little success the last decade

Our group consists of D1 university leadership, business executives, teachers, coaches and community leaders. The kind of diverse group that can positively influence the university’s image and enrollment statistics. And the kicker - we want to help, but are cast aside as a problem, rather than a partner.

Many mid-major universities have used extracurricular activities, athletic programs and intramural sports as a way to compete effectively for students. I.e. a Track & Field (T&F) program w/ 12.5 scholarships and 50 athletes is an asset to a university’s bottom line and not an expense. In addition, our research shows that at CMU each T&F athlete also has 6+ family and friends attending, or an average of close to $80k in yearly tuition.

CMU needs to look to similar schools for how to compete for students, and stop trying to spend millions on football in an attempt to compete against MSU and UM. We will never be an MSU and we should focus on what makes CMU different and a better option for many students.

Trying to become a national brand by having a decent football program for a few years every decade is not sustainable. The best path for growth is offering prospective students more. More participation, more influence, more access and more involvement and transparency. Those are areas in which we can compete against the ‘big ones’ and areas in which grassroots and community involvement can really shine. 

To be clear, I am not advocating for eliminating football. It is a program with a rich history, fans, and a continued place at CMU. I am asking for CMU to be realistic in its aspirations for athletics while maximizing spending across the university based on achieving overall objectives (such as enrollment, quality of education, growth etc.).

My final request to CMU leadership is simply to please let us help! Let us work with you and share our experiences, market CMU with you, use our networks, create career and internship programs with us, and let’s partner to turn around the enrollment trends. 

An academic leader and a board of trustee chair that do not understand the value of transparency, working together and using multiple diverse voices to change and improve are not only short-sighted, but they are also behind the times, as the last decade of CMU enrollment numbers demonstrate. 


Chris Heggelund, Class of 1997

(This letter is solely my own opinions and does not necessarily reflect the view of any other groups)