Takeaways from April 19 Board of Trustees committees
The Central Michigan University Board of Trustees met in committees on April 19 to prepare for its April 20 formal session, which will start at 1 p.m. today.
Committees held discussions about electric scooter policies, student achievements, enrollment, finances, disability services and new student government leaders.
A livestream to watch the formal session will be available on CMU's website.
Policy and Bylaws Committee
There was only one item on the agenda on Wednesday for the Policy & Bylaw Committee portion of the April 19 Board of Trustees meeting, which was micro-mobility vehicles or, as CMU Vice President of Finance and Administrative Services Mary Hill described them “essentially, scooters.”
The board wishes to amend the existing Traffic Control Ordinance 12.23, which currently focuses on bicyclists' and motorcyclists' traffic, and create a new Traffic Control Ordinance 12.24. This addition will address the usage of electric micro-mobility devices on CMU's campus. These laws were created in conjunction with other law enforcement agencies in the area to ensure consistency.
According to Hill, the city of Mount Pleasant recently contracted with a company called Spin to make these electronic micro-mobility devices available for rent at various locations in the city.
“And of course, we fully expect that some of those devices will end up on CMU campus,” Hill said.
These changes will ensure that, along with bicycles and motorcycles, these devices are being operated in a safe manner and kept out of the way of building entrances or pathways on CMU’s campus.
“We felt the need to make sure we put an ordinance in place so that we can be sure they comply with that, and that it's consistent with other areas around the city, the township, the county,” Hill said.
At the same time, in conjunction with this new law, an on-campus policy that covers employees -- faculty, staff and student employees -- will be created, leaving their usage or non-usage of these micro-mobility devices while they are working up to their own risk.
For students, these micro-mobility devices can be looked at like a car.
“This is their mode of transportation that they're choosing,” said Hill. “We're not liable for them in their car, so we won't be liable for any possible injuries to them or others [from the use of these devices].
There were no objections to adding this ordinance to the consent calendar for the Thursday meeting.
Academic and Student Affairs Committee
During the Academic and Student Affairs Committee meeting, the board heard presentations about a multicultural scholarship program, international students, and CMU's enrollment.
James Span Jr., the executive director of Student Inclusion and Diversity, discussed the acheivments of the Multicultural Advancement and Lloyd M. Cofer (MAC) scholarship program.
“For the past 43 years … we have afforded thousands of students the opportunity to continue their education here at the university,” Span said. “Initially, the initiative was launched to increase the level of enrollment for students who held minoritized identities. But over time, what we found is ... we evolved the definition of what diversity really means and embraced students of other racial and cultural identities and individuals who had a committed past to DEI efforts in their communities.”
Span said the program currently has 236 students on campus with a 69% retention rate. He also said 80% of MAC scholars graduate within four years. The program has enough resources to give 80 incoming students MAC scholarships each year, Span said.
The MAC program puts an emphasis on leadership experiences, Span said. He introduced Eduardo Dominguez to the board. A third-year CMU student majoring in environment engineering, Dominguez said he is a first generation immigrant from Monterrey, Mexico. His family moved to the U.S. during the financial recession between 2008 and 2009.
"A core part of my identity is family, and when we first immigrated here, we were the first of my family to come to the U.S., so we really didn't have that aspect here," he said. "When I was looking for colleges, a big thing for me was, where can I find a campus where I can find a community that can help support me? Luckily, I'm proud to say I've been able to find that here through the MAC scholars program at CMU."
He said living and connecting with his fellow MAC scholars has been an important part of his college experience.
"A lot of these people have similar backgrounds to me, which really helped to combat my imposter syndrome of why I am even in college," Dominguez said.
Dominguez said he works in the Multicultural Academic Student Services (MASS) office as a peer advisor, is the president of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and participates in the Empowered Latino Union and Central Bridge.
He also said he has been awarded the Multicultural Award of Distinction Scholarship, which is a full-ride MAC award.
"That has helped ease a lot of the financial burden," Dominguez said. "I have worked jobs here, but I've been able to afford the luxury of not having to work and being able to focus on my studies. That is a big thing to me because coming in as an immigrant, there are a lot of financial barriers that make college not accessible."
Erica Johnson, interim assistant vice president for Student Affairs , gave a presentation about internationalization at CMU.
Johnson highlighted listed several things CMU has done to help its international student population:
- An I-Ride bus stop near off-campus apartments
- Monthly shopping trips to Lansing's international food stores
- Idli Dosa, an Indian restaurant from Midland, in Central Eats
- A Spring break tour to Detroit, which included a networking event with alumni about engaging with employers
Johnson introduced Raj Kanchanapally an international graduate student studying information systems and business administration. Kanchanapally went on the Detroit tour, and said the experience was valuable for him.
"They (alumni) were so friendly," Kanchanapally said. "They have highlighted many things, like how international students can find a job easily ... how to approach and secure a job."
Next, Provost Nancy Mathews reminded the board about CMU's efforts to create a new strategic plan, which she said is almost finished.
Mathews also said the committee tasked with assessing CMU's international health insurance policy will be presenting a solution to international students within the next month.
Over the past two semesters, many international students have asked CMU to reassess the mandatory insurance policy, saying it is far too costly at about $127 per month.
Mathews also announced several new undergraduate computer science certificates, including cloud computing, database development, global computing, network administration and web development. There is also a new minor in social and criminal justice and a minor in teaching mathematics for grades five to nine.
Ben Swarts, a faculty member in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, gave a presentation about undergraduate capstone research. Swarts received the 2023 Mid-American Conference Faculty Award for Student Success, according to Mathews.
Swarts introduced his student, Izzy Gaidhane, whose capstone project about tuberculosis treatment has inspired her to pursue a career in research.
"(The capstone project) gave the opportunity to apply skills from the courses like organic chemistry and biochemistry to much more complex and real-world scenarios," Gaidhane said. "It also strengthened my abilities in scientific collaboration and communication and gave me the opportunity to present and publish my work."
Gaidhane is a 2023 Barry Goldwater Scholarship winner, known as a prestigious award in science, mathematics and engineering.
Swarts also introduced Amanda Clark, a 2015 graduate who recently earned her Ph.D in chemical biology from Harvard University. Clark said her experience at CMU helped inspire her doctoral work.
Jennifer DeHaemers, vice president of Student Recruitment and Retention, gave an update on enrollment. She said new student applications have increased by 22% and Fall 2023 admissions reservations are up by 11%. The retention rate, which is the number of freshmen who continued to their sophomore year, was about 72% from Fall 2021-22, she said.
She said signed housing contracts, orientation reservations and summer enrollment are also increasing.
The number of international students, who have been important in CMU's enrollment increases, are also expected to increase this fall, DeHaemers said.
CMU has been hiring more faculty in for the information systems graduate program (MSIS), which DeHaemers said is popular with international students, to support the program's growth. The program is graduating about 150 students and currently has 675 students, she said. MSIS is expected to grow to about 900 students in the near future, DeHaemers said.
Trustee Edward Plawecki said CMU is still graduating more students than it is bringing in. DeHaemers said this downslide is expected to stop within the next two years.
Finance and Facilities Committee
Joe Garrison, executive director of financial planning and budgets, gave a presentation about CMU's new budget model. A budget model helps an institutions align its finances with performance and goals.
Garrison said during meetings and surveys for collecting feedback about the new model, many people were interested in a model that is more transparent so people can better understand how CMU spends money.
Garrison outlined two phases for implementing the new model. Phase one will be implemented in the 2023-24 fiscal year with the following goals:
- Helping programs that don’t make enough money to operate on their own
- Planning for when CMU needs to replace large, expensive equipment, such as those used for science and engineering
- Creating funds for innovation, making CMU competitive among other institutions
- Making sure every part of the university should share in successes and shortfalls
- Supporting inclusive policies and training
Phase two will be implemented further into the future, Garrison said, and mostly focuses on discussions:
- Reviewing research activities
- Supporting CMU Innovation and Online
- Reviewing tuition rates between programs; currently, tuition is the same across all programs, but some other institutions charge differently for certain programs
- Discuss how to better support graduate education programs
- Create funding priorities based on CMU's strategic plan
- Reduce redundancies
Garrison said the new model will also change the way money is allocated. More state funds will be used to help programs that don't make enough money to operate on their own, as outlined in phase one. The new model will be more centralized, he said, which means the budget will operate under the same rules across all programs for consistency.
Plawecki thanked Garrison and summarized the new model.
"In simplistic terms, we're basically going to look at where an allocation is given, see if that's a responsible allocation and then hold the party responsible for the allocation," Plawecki said.
The board also heard an update from Residence Life from Jonathan Webb, associate vice president of Facilities Management.
Webb said CMU is reassessing how it will use the North Quad, which includes Trout, Robinson, Calkins and Larzelere halls. Currently, none of the halls are housing students, except for a small number in Robinson. After collecting feedback, Webb said he is not recommending remodeling North Quad as independent-style living.
Webb also said CMU will continue plans to renovate dorms in the Towers, East and South campus dorms, as well as a planned renovation to Merrill Dining Hall
Trustees-Faculty Liaison Committee
The Trustees-Faculty Liaison committee heard from multiple presenters during their Wednesday meeting.
Jodell Heroux is a professor in the college of Education and Human Services. She was presenting on the success of the disability services minor the board passed last year.
“Disability is the largest minority group that anyone can join at any time, whether permanently or temporarily,” Heroux said.
Disability services is available as an undergraduate minor or graduate level certificate.
“With CMU’s mission, it’s important that students with disabilities see themselves reflected in their coursework,” Heroux said.
Carley Ostrander is a student with the disability services minor. She said the minor helped her get into graduate school and learn valuable skills.
“There are so many things I love about this minor,” Ostrander said, “like the classes and the faculty.”
Shay Dawson is a faculty member in the Department of Recreation, Parks and Leisure Services Administration. He has been working with Heroux on the disability services minor and presented on a new opportunity for the university to become more inclusive.
The “Able Eyes” program produces virtual tours that allow individuals with disabilities to observe their environment before arriving and prepare themselves accordingly.
“What it essentially is, is virtual tours so they can see ahead and reduce anxiety,” Dawson said. “30% of Michiganders have a diagnosable disability.”
He also said that having this accessibility page through “Able Eyes” would cost around $400 per year.
Trustees-Student Liaison Committee
During this committee meeting, board members heard from the current and upcoming Student Government Association Executive Boards.
Current SGA President Taylor Idema introduced the her successor, Tyler Zimmerman. He outlined three areas for SGA to focus on in the 2023-24 academic year.
- Putting AED safety devices in every residential and academic building
- Encouraging students to get the “Guardian” app, which functions like mobile blue light phones
- More extensive Resident Assistant safety trainings
- Examining safety measures for active shooter situations on campus
- Expanding the distribution of menstrual hygiene products on campus
- Making the food pantry more accessible
- Continuing the textbook exchange program
- Installing a solar carport to charge electric cars
- Streamlining and developing a website for SGA
- Hosting an academic curriculum fair for undecided majors
- Inviting Michigan high school student councils and governments to CMU events
- Improve the Student Budget Allocation Committee’s processes
Idema commented on the past year she spent leading SGA.
“It’s been a cool year with SGA to rebuild and kind of reimagine what student life looks like coming out of the pandemic,” she said.
The incoming student Director of Residence Housing Administration, Christian Tony, was also introduced at the committee meeting. He outlined two main goals for the organization.
First, Tony said he wants to focus on increasing resident engagement. He said RHA funds a lot of events for other groups, but would like to start hosting some themselves.
He said his second goal is to build relationships with students by having more engaging meetings, and trying to facilitate communication between administrators and residents.