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CMU trustees discuss campuswide priorities, initiatives

University risk, 2015-16 financial audit also discussed

Contact: Heather Smith

​The Central Michigan University Board of Trustees today received President George E. Ross' 2015-16 report of strategic priorities and initiatives while also discussing plans for the current fiscal year.

Ross highlighte​d CMU's successful, 10-year reaffirmation of accreditation and a 20 percent increase in research dollars, to $12.5 million for the year. He noted an increase in the freshman-to-sophomore retention rate from 76 percent to 78 percent and shared as well that 91 percent of new CMU alumni have jobs or are in graduate school within six months of graduating.

Looking forward, Ross addressed efforts to:

  • update CMU's strategic plan, with recommendations from a committee co-chaired by Provost Mike Gealt and Academic Senate Chair Melinda Kreth going to the board for discussion in April and a vote in June;
  • complete an analysis of diversity and inclusion and begin implementation of resulting initiatives;
  • finish the integration of Global Campus and main campus; and
  • expand development of online and hybrid programs.

Sept16BOTrecapRoss.jpg"We must continue to embrace the development and delivery of online and hybrid programs, reaching students — including adults — for whom a four- or five-year, on-campus experience isn't realistic," Ross said during his opening remarks.

"Such courses also are important for on-campus students who leverage them — especially in their junior and senior years — so they can graduate on time, even while they pursue internships, study abroad experiences, summer jobs and campus leadership roles."

Online Academic Program Committee co-chair David Patton addressed trustees Wednesday, with discussion continuing at today's meeting. Board Chair Sarah Opperman joined others in reiterating how critical the effort is.

"There's no question we need to get the online portion of our university much more integrated and much more robust. This is absolutely critical," Opperman said. "We need to continue to drive to implementation as quickly as we can."

In other matters, Provost Michael Gealt and Barrie Wilkes, vice president for finance and administrative services, reported on progress of the Enterprise Risk Committee. Created in May, the committee oversees universitywide efforts to identify, manage and mitigate institutional risks, especially those that cross units and divisions.

Work to date includes identifying risks across the university. Next steps include categorizing likelihood and impact of risks and reaching out across campus to build awareness and gather faculty and staff input.

"Every organization — for profit and nonprofit — has risk," said Trustee William Weideman. "The key thing is to understand risk and put plans in place to manage those risks. This is important work."

Trustees also received a clean, unmodified audit opinion — with the highest level of assurance — from Plante Moran. One significant note from Plante Moran representative Katie Thornton was that between $70 million and $80 million will be booked as a liability, which will reduce the university's unrestricted net assets in 2018 to cover a Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System health care liability.

In other business, trustees approved:

  • Leasing space in Robinson Hall for the CMU/Ten16 Alcohol and Drug Misuse Prevention and Recovery Program. This innovative program — a collaboration between CMU's Counseling Center and the Ten16 Recovery Network — will provide support services for students struggling with issues associated with the use and abuse of alcohol or other drugs. CMU's health education and student affairs staff will help to expand educational programs and early intervention services.
  • More than 1,400 students for graduation this past August.
  • Two naming opportunities at the College of Medicine's Saginaw campus. These include naming the Medical Resource Library in recognition of a six-figure gift from the Iles family, in memory of the late Doug Iles, and the CMED simulation center as the Covenant HealthCare Simulation Center, in honor and recognition of a $1 million gift by Covenant HealthCare.    

In his opening remarks to the board, Ross discussed a recent national award for 100 years of weather observation and record-setting numbers in multicultural student enrollment and ACT scores among the freshman class.

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