The Central Michigan University Board of Trustees today approved funding of three new student support initiatives using the $14 million received from the Federal Communications Commission for the sale of part of its public broadcasting spectrum.
Half of the proceeds — $7 million — will fund the new Bellows Scholarship, named after CMU's first president, Charles Bellows. All gifts to the Bellows Scholarship will be matched 100 percent using the spectrum auction proceeds. Gifts to any other CMU program will result in a 50 percent match to the Bellows Scholarship.
The Bellows fund will support students who have the academic strengths to succeed at CMU, yet have a financial need that jeopardizes their access to a degree, President George E. Ross said.
Another $5 million will fund the Forever Maroon and Gold advising initiative. This program will expand academic and career advising starting at orientation and continuing as students progress toward their degrees. Career advising will extend to alumni after graduation.
The third initiative allocates $2 million of the spectrum auction proceeds to support students in learning experiences through WCMU Public Media. Working beside seasoned professionals, students will learn newswriting, on-air performance, production, engineering, marketing, programming, social media, public relations and emerging technologies. Students will be paid for their work, so any student can afford to take advantage of the opportunities.
"This is a well-thought-out plan," Board Chair Bill Weideman said. "This is very consistent with the direction we gave the president as the Board of Trustees. We wanted to make sure the money was focused on student success and that it had long-lasting impact."
"This investment is transformational for students now and in the future," Trustee Bill Kanine said.
The board also approved a $28.5 million capital outlay request to the Michigan Legislature for the renovation of Brooks Hall, a primary science facility on campus. Brooks was constructed in 1964. Its renovation would foster greater collaboration, enhance support for students and high-demand science programs, improve safety and energy efficiency, and create modern research facilities for health and medical research.
During committee meetings Wednesday, trustees also heard about a study of potential new residence life projects. Barrie Wilkes, vice president for finance and administrative services, indicated he will return to the board in February with a formal proposal.
In other action, trustees:
- Approved a new endowment and 20 naming opportunities. CMU's baseball field will be named Keilitz Field after former CMU baseball coach Dave Keilitz and his wife, Sue. Keilitz played baseball for CMU as a student and was the university's first All-American in baseball. He also served a decade as CMU's athletic director. Several naming opportunities are for rooms in the newly renovated Grawn Hall.
- Approved more than 1,900 graduates who will receive degrees or certificates next week.
- Accepted the research awards report of $10.2 million received during the past three months.
- Approved deferred maintenance projects for fiscal year 2018 of $5.7 million, focused on masonry restoration, parking lot asphalt, roof replacement and field hockey turf replacement.
President turns down compensation increase
CMU's board each year reviews the president's performance in December and determines whether to make a salary adjustment. Board Chair Weideman said the trustees are very pleased with Ross' performance and offered him a salary increase. Ross, however, declined it.
Weideman noted a long list of accomplishments from the past year, including adoption of an updated strategic plan, maintenance of the university's strong financial position, graduation of CMU's first physicians, realignment of the university's advancement board, an equity and inclusion study and report, and several student success projects.
"This is a vote of confidence," Weideman said. "I can't think of any better ambassadors for the university than George and Elizabeth Ross."
Ross thanked the trustees and turned the focus immediately to his leadership team and faculty and staff throughout the university.
"These accomplishments are done through the work of everyone at the university," Ross said. "It's your work that makes all of this happen. … CMU feels like home to Elizabeth and me. We invest our time, talents and treasures in CMU. Let's continue to move forward with the focus on students."
Trustees last year unanimously approved a 2.5 percent salary adjustment for Ross — an increase he and Elizabeth Ross donated back to CMU students as a scholarship.
This fall, the Rosses also announced a $1 million gift to endow three scholarships to benefit vocal music, accounting and medical school students.
In his opening remarks, Ross noted a study released just prior to the meeting showcasing CMU's positive economic impact on Michigan. This impact amounts to $1.2 billion a year and the generation of nearly 12,000 Michigan jobs.
"The report reflects how CMU's growth and Michigan's growth are intertwined for the benefit of residents, businesses and communities," Ross said.
He went on to recognize two critical initiatives underway at the university: an academic organizational review and the search for a chief diversity officer.
While CMU is celebrating its 125th anniversary, Ross noted several other significant anniversaries. These include 50 years for Women's Basketball, Special Olympics Michigan and WCMU Public Media; 25 years for the CMU Mary Ellen Brandell Volunteer Center; and the 20th anniversary of the Sarah R. Opperman Leadership Institute.
Ross also recognized physics faculty members Koblar Alan Jackson and Juan Peralta for receiving a four-year, $4.8 million U.S. Department of Energy research grant.
The president's full report is posted online.
Election of board officers
Trustees concluded today's meeting by electing board officers for 2018, continuing the appointment of Weideman as chair and of Tricia Keith and Robb Wardrop as vice chairs.