Takeaways from Feb. 15 board of trustees meetings

Final committee meeting canceled for vigil honoring MSU students


The Board of Trustees meet on Feb. 15 on the third floor of the Bovee University Center.

The Central Michigan University Board of Trustees met in committees on Feb. 15 to discuss the international student health insurance ad hoc committee, updates on campus renovations and new programs.

The Trustees-Student Liaison committee was canceled so that the board and committee members could attend a vigil honoring the victims and survivors of the Feb. 13 shooting at Michigan State University

The board will met at 11:15 a.m. today for its formal session in the President's Conference Room in the Bovee University Center. A livestream recording is also available to watch the session.  

Academic and Student Affairs Committee 

Vice President of Student Recruitment and Retention Jennifer Dehaemers presented an update on student enrollment. She said freshman applications and admissions for next fall have increased by 5%, deposits are up 29.2% and housing applications are up 33%.

“I am pleased to say that the work we have done for the past year and a half to two years has continued to pay off for us,” Dehaemers said. “We are still seeing some really good momentum going with our recruitment efforts and trying to get students to choose Central from all the many options that they have.” 

Dehaemers highlighted that the number of transfer students have also increased. Applications are up 12% and admissions are up almost 30%. 

CMU is also in the “double digits for our increases on applications and admissions” with international students. 

CMU is continuing its recruitment initiative, Dehaemers said, and will host more Maroon and Gold events to attract prospective students and Fire Up Fridays for admitted students and their family’s this spring. 

Many of the benefits or payoff we are seeing are from the technology investments the university has made, Dehaemers said.

Provost Nancy Mathews presented an update on CMU’s strategic planning, the ad hoc committee for international student health insurance and academic programs. 

Mathews said February and March are CMU’s engagement months and have up to seven sessions focused on the theme. She said CMU is projected to meet with around 30 groups over the next two months. 

“These are governance groups we are (asking) for input on three different prompts to gather their thoughts about what areas we need to be thinking about. What are students looking for? As well as new ideas of ways that will differentiate CMU from our regional competitors,” she said. 

Mathews discussed the ad hoc committee she charged to investigate international student health insurance. Moving into this academic year, there was a major influx of international students. After the fall semester began, concerns arose among some international students who were required to pay for GeoBlue Insurance through a new CMU policy.

The committee consists of nine people, including two students. It will review health insurance for international students at universities in the Mid-American Conference (MAC) and in Michigan. The goal is to determine if there is a need to modify or renegotiate the policy with GeoBlue.

The committee is looking for recommendations to present to President Bob Davies and Mathews. The deadline for the committee‘s feedback is May 1 in order to implement any changes before the 2023-24 academic year.

The board opened the floor to hear about three academic programs, the Afrikan Black Coalition, LeaderShape and Central Sustainability. 

Finance and Facilities Committee 

This summer, 61 projects and $36.8 million worth of work are scheduled at CMU in improvements to facilities and infrastructure, Associate Vice President of Facilities Management Jonathan Webb said.

Demolition of Kewadin Village and Northwest Apartments was discussed during the meeting. The Demolition of Kewadin Village was completed in the summer and fall of 2022 and Northwest Apartments are planned for the summer of 2024, Webb said.

Both Keilitz Field’s infield and outfield have been replaced with artificial turf, Webb said. Margo Jonker Stadium's outfield was also replaced with artificial turf; the infield will remain clay. New padding and fencing has been added to both stadiums.

Last year, the board of trustees approved the relighting of Bush Theatre at Moore Hall, though there was an extensive delay in the delivery of the lights that postponed the project one year, according to Webb. 

While in the design stages, it was decided to also replace the original 1971 sound system in Bush Theatre, raising the budget from $1.3 to $2 million, he said. This project is scheduled to begin in May 2023 and be completed by the fall semester. 

As part of the Campus Master Plan, interior renovation is underway on Kerry, Troutman, Cobb, and Wheeler Halls in the Towers complex, all of which were built between 1969 and 1970. With a budget of about $4 million, all four halls will be completed by summer 2024.

CMU plans to expand the chilled water capacity at its satellite energy facility, Webb said. Analysis on the coldwater system is completed and design has been started on the chiller expansion. It will take a year to receive the chiller and pumps, and CMU has been quoted 70 weeks on the electrical transformers needed for the project.

A student survey with almost 900 entries is being analyzed to determine the future use of North Quadrant of campus which houses Calkins, Trout, Larzelere and Robinson halls, all built in the late 1950s Webb said. The board previously mentioned the possibility of more affordable housing in the north quadrant of campus, Trustee Edward Plawecki said.

“We're analyzing that data, we're planning to get together with the Residents Housing Association and the Student Government Association in March,” Webb said. “We plan to be back to the Board of Trustees this summer with the results of that analysis.”

Trustees-Faculty Liaison Committee 

The Trustees-Faculty Liaison Committee heard a presentation from Broadcast and Cinematic Arts faculty member Kevin Campbell on the development of a drone certificate program.  

A certification in drone operation requires nine to 10 credit hours, Campbell said, starting with two general classes and electives to make the certificate more specific.

“The first two programs are visual storytelling and geological mapping,” Campbell said. “So you have two core courses: The first course is regulations and preparing the students. The second course is all about safety.”

Campbell said the program started in 2019, but was derailed by the pandemic. In 2021 and 2022, the drone program ran successful summer courses. 

2023 is focusing on outreach and program growth, Campbell said. The drone certificate program was approved by the Academic Senate in January 2023. Faculty have also lined up a “Drone Day” on campus in May to bring in high school students, he said. 

Campbell said the next areas of expansion for the program are atmospheric studies and engineering. He also cited the Federal Aviation Administration, saying the United States has 255,000 licensed drone pilots as of 2022 -- a number expected to grow to 366,000 by 2036. 

After Campbell’s presentation, the committee left the conference room to see a demonstration of the University’s drones. 

In the demonstration at Finch Fieldhouse, CMU police officers trained in operating the drones showed committee members how to use the drones and let them take the controllers.