Davies announces fall enrollment numbers, reasons for delaying Washington Commons

President Bob Davies (left) gives a report to the CMU Board of Trustees at its formal session on Sept. 22, 2022 in the Bovee University Center's Lake Superior room.

For the first time since 2014, Central Michigan University's new student enrollment is higher than the previous year. 

During the CMU Board of Trustees Sept. 22 formal session, President Bob Davies gave a report on enrollment statistics. There are 2,029 new first-year students, about 6% higher than last year, Davies said. There are also 838 new transfer students — an 8% increase — and 1,191 new graduate students — a 42% increase. 

"I think (we're) always learning about what works and what doesn't work," Davies said. "I think that some of the things we will continue is the personalization, the personal contact and the response time of correspondence." 

CMU has been contacting graduates who work as high school teachers to help recruit students, Davies said. Networking with school counselors and giving quick responses to applicants are also important, he said.

There are also about 5% more students of color and 5.5% more students from Michigan, Davies said. International student recruitment has also gone up by about 240%, he said, with 635 new international students on campus.   

Last year, CMU started using a new software for processing student applications called SLATE. The software posed some challenges, Davies said, such as the learning curve during its implementation. At an Academic Senate meeting in February, some faculty listed other issues, like troubles communicating with students trying to apply. Davies said, to his knowledge, those issues had been resolved.

"They're turning around applications within 48 hours," Davies said. 

Davies also gave an update on the Washington Commons Project. By his recommendation, the board has decided to pause on building the residence hall. Some of the cited causes of the delay were a lack of available construction materials and rising interest rates.

CMU had not yet obtained the $135 million needed to pay for the project, Davies said. CMU planned to pay for the construction with bonds, which are a type of loan.

Community feedback also played a role in Davies' decision, he said. Last year, faculty and students expressed safety concerns with the project    

Lot 22 is one of the campus' most popular commuter parking lots and the planned site for Washington Commons. Some faculty and students said — with less space in Lot 22 — they were worried about parking further away and walking to academic buildings late at night.

“Please know that Lot 22 remains a parking lot and no foreseeable changes are being planned at this time,” Davies said.    

It is "yet to be seen" when CMU will reexamine the project, Davies said. Washington Commons is part of the Campus Master Plan, which includes other plans for CMU's buildings. The only part of the master plan that is being put on hold is the building of Washington Commons itself, he said.  

Other news

Some of the dorms in North Campus are set to reopen Fall 2023, Davies said. Trout, Larzelere, Robinson and Calkins Halls closed their doors this semester and students were shifted to other dorms.  

“(The North Quad) is being rehabbed with a lot of deferred maintenance issues,” said Davies.

Davies also said there is a possibility of changing the residence halls in North Campus to an independent-living style with their own kitchenettes. 

The board also recognized several people who had earned the emeritus rank, which is given to faculty, staff and board members who retire with at least 10 years' of experience with CMU. 

List of people recognized: 

  • Kelvin Jackson, Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid
  • Kimberly Voisin, Residence Life 
  • Sue Watt-Smith, Purchasing
  • Melissa Smith, Advising Student Services 
  • Shaun Holtgrieve, Student Affairs  

The board also received reports from its Sept. 21 committee meetings. There were no public comments during the meeting.   

The board's next scheduled formal session is on Dec. 8.