Board of trustees appoints new leadership, reorganizes CAM programs

The board of trustees listen as President Bob Davies gives a report on Dec. 8.

The Central Michigan University Board of Trustees met on Dec. 8 to discuss findings from its committee meetings and approve changes to several programs.   

The board also had a change in leadership.  

Chair Richard Studley and Vice Chair Robert Wardrop are both leaving the board, as their terms expire on Dec. 31.  

Studley has been on the board since 2014 and is the retired president and CEO of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce. Wardrop has been on the board since 2010 and is an attorney and president for Wardrop and Wardrop PC.  

Both were awarded trustee emeritus status by President Bob Davies.  

Trustee Isaiah Oliver will be the new board chair and Trustee Sharon Heath will become vice chair starting in 2023.  

Oliver is the CEO of the Community Foundation of Greater Flint and is a CMU alumnus. Heath is a retired director of customer experience for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.  

Trustee Isaiah Oliver | CMU Board of Trustees website

“One of many privileges to be back here – and for my peers to appoint me chair of this board, which means they see some value in me – maybe some value that I don't even see in myself,” Oliver said. “There's some value in me that will be beneficial to the leadership of this board, not one that takes over, but quite frankly, one that works directly with each individual board member to see to it that we all kind of contribute to making the university a better place.” 

Oliver also said representation in leadership positions is important.

Trustee Sharon Heath | CMU Board of Trustees website

“We've moved into a space on our campus … where we're demonstrating that representation matters,” Oliver said, “and so it moves beyond just the checkbox that you have a Black person or brown person.  

“How do you include those voices in decision making? I think this is a sign that – whether I’m the youngest, or the second youngest, or the fifth youngest, or the first Black, the third Black or the seventh Black – we're moving in the direction of including those voices in leadership positions, and that says a lot no matter what number it is.”  

The governor of Michigan nominates new members to CMU’s board when trustee terms expire. During a meet-and-greet event in October, Central Michigan Life asked Governor Whitmer about her plans for the board. At the time, she said she had not made any decisions about who to appoint.   

The board discussed several other topics during its meeting. 

Reorganizing the College of the Arts and Media

The board passed an organizational change to the College of the Arts and Media (CAM). The change will place journalism, communication and broadcast and cinematic arts into one department, which will be called the School of Communication, Journalism and Media.  

Jefferson Campbell, dean of the College of the Arts and Media, said the change is intended to improve collaboration between programs. 

"There are absolutely no cuts," Campbell said. "No faculty are losing jobs, no staff are losing jobs. There are no curricular cuts. In fact, because two of the department head positions are going to basically go away, I took the funding that we were using to pay those positions and have guaranteed it for three years as innovation funding, so faculty who either want to develop new courses or redesign course or come up with a new certificate programs – we're going to use that pool of funding to pay for that stuff." 

The reorganization will take effect in Fall 2023, he said.

Expanding health care programs

The board also voted to recommend expansions of the College of Health Professions (CHP) and the College of Medicine (CMED).  

According to Ari Harris, executive director of University Communications, the physician’s assistant program has been approved to increase its class size by 20 students, for a total class size of 60 in May 2023.  

The physical therapy program is still working to be accredited, Harris said, but plans to increase its class size by 12 once that process is complete.  

The last part of the recommendation was increasing the class sizes in CMED, but Harris said the college has not made the decision to expand yet.   

Trustee Michael Sandler said increasing the class sizes would help Michigan with health care needs.  

“The committee believes that expansion of all three programs will greatly benefit health care in Michigan, particularly in underserved areas as well as benefit the university through increased enrollment,” Sandler said. 

Davies said there would be a cost to the programs from hiring new faculty, but it would be offset by the number of new students.  

CMU Ethics Hotline

Beth Timmerman, director of Internal Audit, discussed CMU’s Ethics Hotline, which can be used to report ethical violations. She said all reports are anonymous.  

Once the reports are received, Timmerman said she and John Danner, general counsel, and Andy Brockman, assistant general counsel, will decide who investigates them.  

According to Davies, the investigator depends on each report. He listed Faculty Personnel Services, which provides human resources for faculty members, as an example of an office that might investigate a report.  

Wardrop said having a way to report ethical concerns is important. 

“We have to have transparency in the university of problems,” Wardrop said, “and a place for people to go when there are problems. Be it harassment, bad work environment, people cheating the university in some way, that’s why we brought Beth to the board today, so the whole university – students, staff, faculty – know there is an option.”   

Demolition of Northwest Apartments 

The board also approved the demolition of Northwest Apartments, which is set for 2024. The 65-year-old building currently houses 330 residential beds.   

Davies said the lot will be green space and CMU has no plans to sell the land or build anything on it.

The demolition is part of CMU's Campus Master Plan. The plan also includes the Washington Commons project, which was delayed earlier this semester. Davies said the demolition does not mean CMU is moving forward with Washington Commons at this time.   

Presidential review

Several of the board members conducted a review of Davies’ performance and salary. According to Studley, Davies had a “very favorable assessment” based on four priorities:  

  • Growing enrollment  
  • CMU’s values, including diversity, equity and inclusion  
  • The hiring of Provost Nancy Mathews 
  • University advancement, including a capital campaign for more computer hardware and software  

Davies did not request an increase in his base salary.  

“It’s a personal decision,” Davies said. “My base salary is where it needs to be.”