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CMU online committee begins work on implementation of report findings

Subcommittees will advance online programs

Contact: Heather Smith

​The Central Michigan University Board of Trustees today continued its push for the expansion of online programs and approved the renaming of one of the university's colleges.

Trustee John Hurd, chair of the Trustees-Faculty Liaison Committee, reported on Wednesday's discussion of the university's Online Academic Program Committee report.

Key issues include faculty ownership of online course and program development, training for faculty and support staff, hybrid models with both face-to-face and online components, operational needs, and compensation issues.

"Bottom line, we're on the same page. The board, the president, administrators, faculty, students — we agree we need to expand and expedite development of online learning at Central Michigan University," Hurd said.

Noting that CMU has been recognized nationally for more than 40 years as a leader in off-campus education, President George E. Ross said efforts of the online committee and pending appointment of four work groups will move the total university forward.


"This has been a good process. We have a ways to go, but this is a seminal moment for CMU," Ross said. "It's about producing quality education for our students, whether they're sitting in Mount Pleasant or California or New York.

"In the words of Will Rogers, even if you're on the right track, you're going to get run over if you just sit still. We've got to get this done," he said.

Trustees today also approved renaming the College of Science and Technology as the College of Science and Engineering. CMU offers majors in computer engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, industrial engineering technology, mechanical engineering technology and product design engineering technology.

CMU's undergraduate engineering programs were ranked 86th among the nation's universities that offer bachelor's and master's degrees in engineering by U.S. News & World Report in its 2015 rankings. More than 900 students are engineering majors, representing close to 18 percent of the college's enrollment.

Board chair Sarah Opperman, of Midland, provided an update on the Federal Communications Commission spectrum auction, which could involve CMU's five public broadcasting television stations if the trustees decide to participate. The auction was directed by Congress in order to secure additional spectrum to be used for wireless communications.

"We have not made a decision yet about the auction," Opperman said. "This is a weighty matter, and we take seriously our role to balance public service, the public interest and the needs of our students. Our discussion and exploration of this opportunity is continuing as we listen and learn more about the process."

She said the board will decide in the next month or so whether to participate in the auction. Opperman said the university has received nearly 120 letters and emails and five phone calls about the matter. Those who still wish to comment can do so by emailing or by sending a letter to Warriner Hall 106, Mount Pleasant, MI 48859.

Ross also informed trustees that CMU is one of 44 universities nationwide spearheading a project called Re-Imagining the First Year of College, which seeks to increase freshman retention and position students to graduate.

He noted that gains made at CMU stand to be replicated at 420 member institutions of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.

"AASCU's selection of CMU to participate in this program is national recognition of our leadership, our innovation and our unwavering commitment to student success," Ross said.

Ross also addressed the recent Carnegie Classification advancement of CMU from limited research activity to higher research activity. This unsolicited recognition places Central among the top 5 percent of universities and colleges in America.

"This milestone proves our ability to combine teaching with research and creative activities," Ross said. "Importantly, it also recognizes the opportunities CMU students have to do research, be published in peer-reviewed journals, and give presentations at national and international conferences."

The full text of the president's report to the board is available online.

In other action, trustees:

  • Approved a resolution to negotiate a land lease with developers who have expressed interest in building a manufacturing facility in the CMU Center for Applied Research and Technology, also known as Mount Pleasant's SmartZone;
  • Approved a resolution authorizing the president to sign collective bargaining agreements with four employee groups once the contracts are negotiated and ratified;
  • Were reminded that a team from the Higher Learning Commission will be on campus April 25 and 26 as part of CMU's reaffirmation of accreditation. The team will meet with groups from across the university and the Mount Pleasant community; and
  • Accepted a fundraising report noting gifts of $11 million in the first six months of the 2015-16 fiscal year. That compares with $13.7 million in contributions last year in total. An additional $12 million has been made in pledges.

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