State of the University Address: 'This is our tradition, legacy and future'

CMU President Bob Davies gives the 2023 State of the University Address


Central Michigan University President, Bob Davies, delivers the 2023 State of the University Address Thursday, Nov. 16 in Plachta Auditorium. Davies discusses the future of the university and his plans for it. (CM-Life | Jo Kenoshmeg)

The stage was adorned in maroon and gold. A sleek, wooden podium stood at the center, flanked on each side by banners of the Central Michigan University seal. Red, yellow and white flowers were scattered along the stage, and soft jazz music played in the background of the crowd's chattering. As the lights dimmed and the audience fell quiet, a voice boomed from overhead.

"Please welcome to the stage Central Michigan University's 15th president, Dr. Robert O. Davies."

The 2023 State of the University Address opened this way at 2:30 p.m. Nov. 16 in the Plachta Auditorium. The address is given every year, in which the university president reflects on the previous year and talks about the plans for the future of CMU. 

This year, Davies talked about the new strategic plan for the university, which is focused on "improving the quality and transparency of the university" with regards to students' education, the campus community and keeping the university sustainable. 

He opened the address by talking about the growing idea that college degrees are not worth the time and cost to obtain. 

He said some of the reasons for this are higher student debt and a growing disconnect between education and job prospects. As a result, enrollment rates in colleges, including CMU, have been declining.

"For CMU it's been difficult," he said. "For others universities, it has been catastrophic."

Despite this, Davies said that higher education is as valuable as ever, and that people in society who hold college degrees are more likely to vote in elections, be in good physical health, involve themselves in charities and live longer. 

"We have to overcome the perception that college is not worth it," he said. "Because the perception is not the reality."

Davies said that the new strategic plan for the university will challenge this perception and improve student learning, because "higher education should be a stepping stone, not a barrier."

He said that the university has adopted a new mission statement:

"Central Michigan University is defined by the success of our students and alumni, and by our collective impact with the communities we serve."

He said this mission statement will focus on impacting students, faculty and alumni and making the community even stronger. 

During his speech he gave examples of the university's current strengths, such as enrollment numbers for international students being the highest they have been in a decade. He also said that CMU graduates get jobs within six months after graduation, compared to those from other public universities in Michigan.

As an example, Davies talked about 1982 alumnus Brett Holey who he watched get inducted into the CMU Media Hall of Fame a few weeks prior. Holey said he was at CMU with quote "a group of students who challenged themselves and each other," Davies said.

He also said there are four new principles the university will be following. These principles are:

  1. Inspire student and scholarly success;
  2. Engage communities;
  3. Enhance organizational culture;
  4. Ensure Institutional Sustainability.

"I am proud of the work we have done together and continue to do," Davies said. "An education at CMU is as valuable as ever. Let's make it even more valuable together. This is our tradition, our legacy, and our future."