The Central Michigan University Board of Trustees met in committees on Sept. 21 to prepare for its official Sept. 22 meeting.
The meetings took place from 12:45 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the President’s Conference Room at the Bovee University Center. Each session was streamed live and 25 spots were available for in-person attendees.
Administrators discussed health care, student success collaboration, campus building projects, critical engagements and student life.
At the finance and facilities committee meeting, Chairman Bob Davies announced that CMU was temporarily suspending the $135 million Washington Commons project.
The council will meet for its formal session at 10 a.m. on September 22 in the same room. The session will also be broadcast live and have seats in person.
Anyone wishing to make a public comment should submit a request to address the board. According to the council’s website, electronic submissions are no longer accepted, but paper submissions can be submitted to council secretary Mary Jane Flanagan until the meeting begins.
Select Committee on Health Care
Tom Masterson, Dean of the College of Medicine (CMED) discussed the state of health care in the region and what CMU is doing to meet health care needs.
CMU has been working to expand some of its medical programs, Masterson said. Currently, there are plans to increase the size of its physical therapy program by 12 students. Approval is required from the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE).
Masterson said CMU can submit its application to CAPTE by September 1, 2023, and the program will be notified by mid-November 2023 if the change is approved. The first CMU could see the increase in the number of PT students on campus in May 2025, he said.
In August, CMU was approved to increase its physician assistant program from 40 to 60 students, Masterson said. The change will take effect in May 2023. He said the expansion will also involve hiring more faculty and staff positions.
Masterson said “he’s been asking for” the expansion of the program for five years.
Demand for nurses is high in Michigan due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Masterson said. Currently, CMU offers RNs the opportunity to earn their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree in less than 12 months. CMU also works with Mid Michigan College to offer the Joint Nursing Education Program, which helps students earn their associate’s degree in nursing and their BSN.
The job market for nurses is expected to grow, Masterson said, and CMU is working on planning a four-year residential program for students to earn their BSNs.
Administrator Isaiah Oliver asked if CMU’s nursing program would prioritize admitting underserved students. Masterson said nursing programs try to attract a diverse group of students.
Academic and Student Affairs Committee
Vice President Nancy Mathews, Vice President of Student Affairs Reneé Watson and Vice President of Recruitment and Retention Jennifer DeHaemers discussed how the different offices can work together.
The discussion focused on “the interactions and synergy between academic affairs, student affairs and student recruitment and retention”. Another key theme was the various activities students can participate in to help them succeed on campus.
DeHaemers spoke about the importance of resources for student success such as mentors and career development. New student orientation, websites and social media are all ways for students to discover resources, she said.
“Our parent Facebook group is actually a good resource,” DeHaemers said, “because you’ll see a parent who says, ‘My student needs help with chemistry. Where do they go to get tutoring? And other parents will step in and say, “my student had the same problem.” This is where you go.
Mathews said word-of-mouth communication by students and faculty is also helpful. Watson also discussed the importance of building on student experiences beyond the first year.
DeHaemers explained the review process for getting the programs changed. Last year, she said, CMU began using an online system, Watermark, to offer new programs. The approval process by various committees begins in September and ends with an Academic Senate vote in June, DeHaemers said.
Finance and Facilities Committee
President Bob Davies announced that CMU is putting the Washington Commons project on hold.
“So it’s a prudent decision not to move forward on the Washington Commons Independent Lifestyle Project.” Davies said.
According to Davies, this decision took into account the interests of the student body in terms of opportunity as well as “living within our means”.
Davies did not mention near-future plans for Lot 22, which is the site of the project. Last semester, students and faculty raised concerns about the removal of one of CMU’s most heavily used suburban lots in exchange for Lot 75, which is farther from university buildings.
Some small aspects of the project will continue to be implemented, Davies said, and the only part put on hold is the construction of the complex itself.
Director of Residence Life Kathleen Gardner introduced Jonathan Webb, Associate Vice President for Facilities Management, to provide an update on the summer campus construction plans.
These include the completed construction of Troutman Hall, the installation of artificial turf on the sports fields and the completion of Lot 75. Approximately 100 individual projects were undertaken over the summer, some of which continue through the school year, Webb said.
“It sends a very clear message about our value and continued investment in our learning communities here at CMU,” Gardner said after Webb’s presentation.
An investment report was presented by Chenae Edwards, a consultant for NEPC, giving a brief update on CMU’s investment program.
Asset performance was down 5.2%, according to Edwards, but that’s not the only indicator of success.
“However, on a relative basis, the performance (of the assets) is exceeding two of our primary investment objectives,” Edwards said.
Trustee-Faculty Liaison Committee
Christi Brookes, Acting Associate Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, and Greg Smith, Faculty Member of History, Languages and World Cultures, presented the Critical Commitments Project.
Critical Engagements is an annual collaborative project of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, tackling a different topic each year and engaging scholars from across CMU and around the world to explore the topics with events and discussions.
This year’s theme is “Cities, Coasts and Everywhere Else”.
“The way we talk about geography and topography reveals deep assumptions that go far beyond the land and how we use it,” the critical engagements Blog bed. “This year, we will examine the complexities of the urban-rural continuum in the United States and beyond. From redlining and racism to urban farms and sustainability, from city-based models of social organization to their many historical alternatives and modern, from national parks to the wilderness next door – we go beyond the usual categories and will encourage new ways of thinking about the spaces we share.”
Last year’s theme was “Deep Waters” and included discussions on protecting the Great Lakes. Critical Engagements was also part of the Gifts of the River Film Festival.
During the meeting, Smith cited another faculty member’s review of the program, who called critical engagements “the best idea at CMU that no one knows about.”
Administrator-Student Liaison Committee
The committee discussed updates on the Student Food Pantry, Residence Housing Association and Student Government Association.
Carter Woolley provided an update on the Student Food Pantry. The Pantry recently partnered with Comprehensive Inventory Solutions as an additional food source and to have more diversity in the foods they offer.
Stan Shingles, assistant vice president of college recreation and student engagement, spoke more about the Homecoming food drive this year. There will be an Open House at the Volunteer Center from 9-11 a.m. on October 8 in Room 106 at Bovee University Center.
“The Pantry is designed to create community within our university,” Shingles said.
SGA President Taylor Idema provided an update on campus life. Idema asked what student engagement would look like in a post-pandemic campus. She discussed increased attendance at campus events like Leadership Safari, home football games, and CMU and You Day.
Idema also discussed giving more attention to international students and how to better support them. Many international students don’t have furniture or warm clothes when they arrive on campus, she said.
SGA Vice President Natalie Brant discussed the new SGA Treasurer and Cabinet positions. Last year she advocated for the addition of a disability services liaison to the committee and this year it was approved.
Programming Board Chair Maezie Ervin updated the Board on the Spring Concert, being more intentional about creating new event ideas and being inclusive.
To improve communication, Residence Hall Association director Ryan Biller said he wanted RHA to work with SGA to have a liaison that falls under both associations.
Biller said the RHA will meet tomorrow with Chartwells, CMU’s food supplier, to discuss passes for student workers, more diverse food options and advertising meal times for mess halls.