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CMU to modernize, expand business college

Trustees approve Grawn upgrade, discuss online programs

Contact: Heather Smith


​Central Michigan University’s classic Grawn Hall, home to the College of Business Administration, will get a two-story addition and renovation following Board of Trustees action today.

Grawn was built in 1915 and is the oldest building on campus; it serves about 4,200 students a year.

Improvements will include a 6,600-square-foot, two-story addition on its west side, including a new main entry and multifunctional space for lectures, events and group study. The renovation of 16,200 square-feet of existing space will update corridors, add fire suppression, replace windows, and include new student service and collaboration spaces.

A video showing an architectural rendering of the project is available here.

The enhancements to Grawn Hall and the College of Business Administration, which has nationally and globally leading programs such as sales, logistics and information systems, are to cost about $10.8 million. They come on the heels of a summer project that created a $210,000 Bloomberg Trading Lab, which allows students to monitor and analyze real-time financial market data and practice making trades on an electronic trading platform like those used on Wall Street.

In another matter, trustees also discussed the need to increase the number of online programs during the Academic and Student Affairs Committee report.

Board members applauded CMU’s top national rankings for online programs from U.S. News and World Report and spoke of an urgency in maintaining quality while also moving to maintain the university’s leadership on this front.

“It is our hope, from a board perspective, that we can accelerate and drive up the volume in the number of online programs,” Trustee Tricia Keith said.

“We are getting recognition for the quality of our programs,” Trustee Sarah Opperman said. “That’s outstanding and we need to maintain that. … Now, we owe it to our students and to ourselves to ramp it up in terms of the volume that we offer.”

Board chair Bill Kanine said doing so will be a complete university effort involving faculty and staff across campus.

“We are in a good spot as far as the quality of programs we offer,” CMU President George E. Ross said. “But it is about access. And it is about competition. Our students learn differently now than they did when Global Campus (which delivers CMU’s online classes) started in 1971. It’s about our students and preparing them as we go forward. I will rally our faculty and leadership team on this campus. Everything can’t be taught online, but where it’s appropriate, we’re going to develop more online courses.”

Representatives from CMU’s College of Education and Human Services addressed the board regarding teacher preparation and STEM education initiatives with K-12 schools. Dean Dale Pehrsson said the college is taking the lead in Michigan in improving and streamlining the teacher education process. CMU this fall will launch a new program that will take students just four or 4.5 years to complete.

In other action, trustees:

  • Approved a $1.7 million upgrade to the campus steam generation system to provide backup and add the flexibility to burn natural gas or wood in a boiler that can only burn wood now;
  • Granted tenure to 22 faculty members and promoted 11 others from assistant to associate professor;
  • Authorized the president to ratify and sign collective bargaining agreements with the Fraternal Order of Police Labor Council, which represents four sergeants in the CMU Police Department, and the Union of Teaching Faculty, which represents about 368 fixed-term faculty. Contracts with both groups expire this summer;
  • Heard from President Ross, who welcomed alumnus Rich Studley as the newest trustee and alumnus Robb Wardrop as a returning board member. He also addressed strategic planning, campus momentum and CMU’s nationally ranked Alternative Break program. The president’s report to the board can be read here

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