Remembrance, recognition and growth

Board of trustees hears presentation and comments from president at final 2023 meeting

Elizabeth "Betty" Kirby is recognized by Trustee Sharon Heath for earning emeritus status at the last Board of Trustees meeting of the year, Nov. 30, 2023.

Members of the board closed their eyes. Members of the audience looked to the floor. 

Kathy Wilbur, a longtime member of the Central Michigan University administration, died Sunday. The university Board of Trustees began its quarterly meeting Thursday with a moment of silence in her honor. 

“She was a personal friend to me… a truly amazing individual, and we will miss her,” President Bob Davies said. 

As the meeting transitioned further into the agenda, things became more upbeat, congratulating award winners and new emeritus rank faculty. 

The board heard a presentation from the Innovation and Online program, named its new board officers and included comments from Davies. 

Enrollment and recruitment

One of the presenters from Innovation and Online was Vice President of the program Elizabeth “Betty” Kirby. 

Before speaking for her program, Kirby was congratulated for earning emeritus status for years' of dedication to the university that “will continue at Central Michigan University for decades to come,” said Trustee Sharon Heath. 

Seven other faculty members also received emeritus status. 

Innovation and Online is the newest adaptation of CMU’s long history of offering online and remote education. Davies said CMU was a leader in distance education as far back as 1972, when there were 60 satellite campus locations around the United States. 

The Innovation and Online program was reconsolidated from online offerings in each college to one cohesive department at the June 2022 board of trustees meeting. 

Over their 17 months' of operation, Kirby said they’ve been working on the foundation of the program, with goals in line with the mission statement: “CMU Innovation and Online expands educational access through innovative learning solutions and transformational pathways to foster the personal and professional growth of a diverse and inclusive community of learners.”

Kaleb Patrick, the associate vice president of the program, explained changes in online enrollment numbers. He said the numbers are less predictable than campus enrollment because the students are taking classes at different paces and at different times in their life.

These are the enrollment numbers he presented: 

  • 2020-21: 4,626 students
  • 2021-22: 4,014 students
  • 2022-23: 3,802 students

In his report to the board, Davies also brought up enrollment of international students, as it supports priority one of the strategic plan: inspire student and scholarly success. 

He said there was almost a 50% increase in freshmen applications from international students and a 34.3% increase in transfer applications. 

Same faces, new titles

The board of trustees has five officer positions, and every year they rotate members of the board to fill those positions from internal discussion. Next year’s positions will be: