Academic Senate discusses CMU stategic plan


Provost Nancy Mathews and faculty member Elbert Almazan lead a conversation about CMU's strategic plan at the Feb. 28 Academic Senate meeting in the French Auditorium. 

At the Academic Senate's Feb. 28 meeting, senators discussed Central Michigan University's strategic plan, voted for a new minor, deleted two undergraduate certificates and acknowledged recent gun violence on a neighboring campus.

Strategic plan discussion 

President Bob Davies said his goal is to have a strategic plan distinctive to CMU. 

“I think that we need to focus on the impact that we have on students, the impact we have on communities, the impact that we have on the state, region, nation and world,” Davies said.

The Academic Senate started a discussion of three questions: 

  • How can CMU differentiate itself from competitors?
  •  How can CMU adapt to changing needs of students? 
  • How can CMU positively impact communities, employers’ expectations and social needs? 

Provost Nancy Mathews said for CMU to differentiate itself from other universities, it needs to use its strengths.

Senator Jeffrey Angera is the department chair of Human Development and Family Studies. He said CMU's strength is having the “right size” of a university.

“It has enough opportunities of a bigger campus, but yet is small enough that students don’t get lost in the numbers,” Angera said. 

Mathews said another strength of CMU is that it is effective in bringing students from rural and underserved metropolitan communities. 

Both Mathews and Angera said CMU has students who are coming to campus well-prepared for college life, and others who are not. 

“I think for students who have come with strong preparation, we can provide a variety of intense learning opportunities,” Angera said. “For students who come with less academic preparation, we can look at those necessary supports. … We can even (develop) a little more a team approach between Academic Affairs and Student Affairs to address some of those students who are first-generation students who don't have as much experience or come from these under-prepared environments.”

As the conversation touched on adapting to students’ changing needs, Senator and Biology Prof. Bradley Swanson said students are coming to CMU having a lot of credits from a high school or another college.

“I think what would help us adapt to this is a better way of integrating the credits that the students are coming in with from their high school,” Swanson said. 

Senator Tyler Zimmerman, a senior, said another way for CMU to attract upcoming students is to offer guaranteed internships at CMU offices and departments so that students get “real-world work experience.” 

“I think that’s incredibly powerful for people in my generation because you're not going to get a job after college unless you had internships,” Zimmerman said. 

Angera also offered an idea of applying learning experience and engaging students at classes. 

“I think we at CMU offer a number of applied learning experiences … (and) I think we can capitalize and do even better,” Anger said. 

For example, instead of it just being an academic experience, students can visit a business or agency and translate what they learned in the classroom into the work world, Angera said. 

­­­­­­­Mathews said students can also fill out a survey that can be found via QR codes across the campus to share what they want to see in the strategic plan.

“My overarching goal leading the process is to make sure that it was inclusive and transparent, so that we do the best we can to capture everybody's voices,” Mathews said.

She also said CMU is holding over 30 meetings with students’ governance groups and faculty, where everybody can gather and bring up their opinions.

“I would want people to know how much I value their honesty in revealing their thoughts,” Mathews said. “When we look forward to the future of the university, making sure that we are capturing their honest evaluations and honest feelings so that we can do the best job in addressing and creating the future university that we want and that they want.”

Campus safety acknowledgement 

In the beginning of his report to the senate, Davies acknowledged the Feb. 13 shooting that occurred on Michigan State University's campus. 

“I want to thank you – all the faculty, staff and students who continue to help each other … through a wide range of emotions,” Davies said. “It is my role as president to ensure that we have policies, practices and practical security measures in place to keep our campus safe. 

“I am proud of the students, faculty and staff who feel passionately about the issue of public law reform here and other universities throughout the state.” 

Senator and senior, Natalie Brant, said she appreciated Davies' acknowledgment. She also asked if any changes in safety policies and protocols at CMU are being discussed. 

Davies said CMU is looking at its procedures and protocols and having discussion with colleagues at MSU about what they’ve learned and which policies work.

According to a Detroit Free Press report on safety policies of campuses across Michigan, CMU’s director of communications, Aaron Mills, said the university is “exploring options to add new layers of security” and use electronically controlled doors. 

Other news

The Academic Senate approved a new minor program for Public Law. It also voted to delete the undergraduate certificates of Governance of Nation and Public Policy Analysis because of the lack of students in the programs. 

Davies said with a new minor, CMU is being innovative, creative and "much more entrepreneurial."

CMU has also hired a new Director of Assessment and Curriculum, Megan Biller, effective March 6.

Mathews and Tracy Davis, Senate chair, also mentioned the work of the Ad Hoc Committee that investigates shifting the fall semester so that it ends at Thanksgiving. They asked for representatives for the committee. Those faculty members who are interested, email

The Academic Senate meets 3:30 to 5 p.m. bi-weekly on Tuesdays in the French Auditorium. For meeting livestreams and recordings, visit the senate website.