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CMU trustees receive online academic program report, will continue in 2016

President’s evaluation, compensation and board elections round out busy agenda

Contact: Heather Smith

​A report on the expansion and future direction of Central Michigan University's online academic programs was presented to its Board of Trustees today and will serve as the foundation for further planning efforts starting in January.

Trustees in April asked for a study to explore increased interest in online learning across the state, nation and globe, as well as among on-campus students, in order to prepare for growth in this competitive arena.

College of Education and Human Services Dean Dale-Elizabeth Pehrsson chaired the Online Academic Program Committee, which launched in July. She noted that CMU's online enrollment jumped 369 percent between 2007 and the last academic year.

"As we move forward with this initiative, a high level of quality and rigor will be a guiding force," Pehrsson said. "This strength must be the core to all program enhancements and student engagement because quality will be the best marketing tool we have."


The study serves as a screenshot of CMU's online processes and programs and was created based on factors such as:

  • A comparison of CMU to peer institutions and universities that compete in online programming; and
  • An examination of national trends and reports about the changing landscape of digital programming delivery.

 CMU first offered courses on the Internet in 1994. This fall, the nation's first Doctor of Educational Technology degree was launched and has attracted 130 applicants.

The report shows CMU offers 10 undergraduate, 22 graduate and three doctoral programs online. In comparison, universities with significant online programs — such as Arizona State, Colorado State and the University of Maryland University College — average more than 37 undergraduate and 44 graduate programs.

The committee has recommended creating five workgroups to advance the online efforts. The groups would:

  • Examine the educational and preparation needs of faculty members;
  • Continue the review of the needs and input of students;
  • Explore structural issues related to faculty scheduling and related matters;
  • Look into curricular processes, including program quality; and
  • Review transition needs and an action plan as the efforts move forward.

The full report has been posted on the committee's website, which also has a comment button for those wishing to weigh in on the discussion.

Board approves numerous resolutions

Trustees also approved a number of resolutions including:

  • Creation of a Master of Health Administration degree designed to address a rapidly growing demand for medical services;
  • The resubmission of CMU's $26 million capital outlay request in Lansing for construction of The Center for Integrative Health Studies, which would enable expansion of the university's health care academic programs;
  • Allocation of $8 million for deferred maintenance projects; and
  • A long-term, $1 lease with Peaine Township on Beaver Island for land with a 180-foot communications tower. In exchange for the property, CMU will allow tower use by the Charlevoix-Cheboygan-Emmet Central 911 Dispatch Center and delivery of bandwidth to the CMU Biological Station, the Beaver Island School and the Beaver Island Community Library.

CMU trustees also voted via consent agenda to apply to the Federal Communications Commission for eligibility to possibly participate in an auction of broadcast television spectrum.

The FCC in 2016 is slated to have a two-phase auction that would recapture broadcast spectrum from TV station owners and put it up for bid to providers of wireless and mobile broadband telecommunications services.

At question for CMU is whether any of the university's five public broadcasting stations in Mount Pleasant, Flint, Manistee, Alpena and Cadillac will participate, and, if so, how. The application to be deemed eligible by the FCC to participate in the auction is nonbinding, leaving open all options.

Manuel Rupe, vice president and general counsel, said a decision about participation will be made sometime early in 2016. He said all related discussions and decisions will be confidential, in accordance with a federal anti-collusion rule being applied to the auction.

Presidential performance review and compensation

In what chair Bill Kanine called one of the trustees' most important jobs, the board also announced results of President George E. Ross's annual evaluation and announced his 2016 salary as $450,000.

As they do every three years, trustees this fall conducted an extensive review, engaging nearly 79 faculty, staff, students, alumni, donors, community members and stakeholders in Lansing.

Trustee Tricia Keith, who chaired the presidential review committee, said those interviewed gave President Ross "very high praise." They cited positive relationships, a five-year Faculty Association contract, enrollment success and a cohesive leadership team as examples of the president's impact.

"I appreciate the comments on the positive things happening … I, as president, bear that responsibility, but it's because of the team that we are succeeding," Ross said.

Ross noted that students are always CMU's No. 1 priority. He said the coming year will include an update of CMU's strategic plan metrics, the ongoing online program work, emphasis on student retention and degree completion, and increased fundraising efforts.

Election of board officers

In their final action of the day, trustees elected board officers for the upcoming calendar year. Sarah Opperman, of Midland, was elected chair while Tricia Keith, of Royal Oak, and William Weideman, of Midland, were elected vice chairs.

Opperman previously served as board chair in 2011 and as vice chair in 2012, 2014 and 2015.

Board members thanked Kanine, of Petoskey, for his leadership as chair the last two years.

President's report

President Ross updated trustees on recent campus news including:

  • Receipt of a second $10 million grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to restore and protect the coastal wetlands of the Great Lakes;
  • A $5 million donation from The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation aimed at stimulating interest in STEM careers among the region's middle-school students; and
  • The beginning of a campuswide dialogue on diversity and inclusion.

The president's full report is posted online.

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