CMU board approves undergrad environmental engineering program

In addition, new medical discipline, affiliation to train future CMU pediatricians

| Author: Heather Smith

The Central Michigan University Board of Trustees today approved the creation of a new bachelor's degree program and medical discipline, both of which will prepare students for in-demand fields.

The Bachelor of Science in environmental engineering degree program in CMU's College of Science and Engineering would join three current undergraduate engineering programs — computer, electrical and mechanical. The high-demand program is designed to meet the need for highly qualified environmental engineering professionals in Michigan and beyond.

CMU has been offering undergraduate engineering programs for more than a decade.

"Environmental engineering is one of the fastest growing engineering majors, attracts a wide variety of students and will position CMU nationally as well as throughout Michigan," Provost Mary C. Schutten said.

Trustees also approved the acquisition of public broadcasting radio station WFCX-FM. The station, located in Traverse City, Michigan, is being sold by Northern Michigan Radio Inc. Acquisition of the station will expand WCMU's reach to all of the Grand Traverse and north central Michigan regions.

The board also approved resolutions to create a pediatrics discipline within the CMU College of Medicine and for the college to enhance its existing partnership with Detroit-based University Pediatricians Group through a five-year academic affiliation agreement.

The affiliation will expand the existing educational relationship between the two entities by providing faculty appointments to physicians engaged in educational or research-related activities supportive of the CMU College of Medicine mission. It also allows CMU to offer pediatrics, which joins three current disciplines: foundational science, medicine and surgery.

"This affiliation will provide an excellent opportunity for CMU medical students to train with outstanding academic physicians in a diverse, high-volume clinical environment," said Tina Thompson, senior associate dean of academic affairs in CMU's College of Medicine. "This will ensure that our students have sufficient direct patient care to prepare them for their next level of training."

University Pediatricians is a nonprofit academic pediatric practice dedicated to the care of children in southeast Michigan and committed to medical education and research.

"This is a monumental achievement for CMU's College of Medicine," CMU President Bob Davies said of the agreement. "It enables us — in working with other colleges of medicine in Michigan — to meet a huge need in our region and our state."

In other business, trustees:

  • Approved eight new endowments and seven naming opportunities. Several naming opportunities are for rooms in the new Chippewa Champions Center.
  • Approved 1,750 December graduates.
  • Accepted the research awards report of $6.8 million received during the past three months.
  • Approved deferred maintenance projects for fiscal year 2021 of $8.4 million, focused on building integrity, safety, security, health and energy conservation.
  • Approved emeritus rank for nine faculty and staff.

Trustees extend president's contract; Davies declines compensation increase

Each December, CMU's board reviews the president's performance and determines whether to make a salary adjustment. Board Chair Tricia Keith said the trustees are very pleased with Davies' performance and offered him a salary increase. Despite Keith noting that Davies' salary is low compared to CMU's peer institutions, Davies declined an increase.

Keith noted a long list of accomplishments from Davies' first year, including his full immersion into the CMU community; outstanding communication and transparency; focus on building partnerships; focus on enrollment; and development of strong relationships across campus, particularly with faculty. She and others thanked him for his professionalism, passion and enthusiasm.

"You demonstrate great vision to move Central Michigan University into the future, and you've taken immediate action to make that vision a reality," Trustee Ed Plawecki said.

Trustee Michael Sandler agreed, adding, "you have met or exceeded all of our expectations."

The trustees also authorized Chair Keith to sign an amendment to President Davies' contract extending it through 2024 to reward and retain him.


President's report

In his opening report to the board, Davies updated the trustees on the strategic envisioning process to position CMU for 2030 and beyond.

Joe Garrison, director of budgets and planning, and Luis Perez-Batres, a current presidential fellow, will facilitate the process, and planning groups will address five strategic pathways.

Davies also announced positive momentum in enrollment, driven by new enrollment strategies and key investments in admissions.

"CMU is already seeing a significant increase in applications and students admitted for fall 2020, compared to fall 2019," he said.

Earlier this semester, CMU joined Aspire: The National Alliance for Inclusive & Diverse STEM Faculty to increase diversity in STEM faculty and adopt inclusive teaching practices. Davies thanked Chief Diversity Officer A.T. Miller for his leadership in this effort, along with faculty driving change at CMU.

Davies also welcomed John Veilleux, CMU's new vice president for university communications and chief marketing officer, who officially begins his role Jan. 8.

The president celebrated several recent achievements and honors:

  • Communication sciences and disorders faculty member Katie Strong recently was named an Aphasia Distinguished Scholar by the Tavistock Trust for Aphasia.
  • Hannah Bartol, a senior and health administration major, received the National Indian Health Board's Health Policy Fellowship  for 2020-21.
  • CMU's undergraduate recreation and event management program was recognized as the best in the world by the International Festivals and Events Association this fall.
  • Human resources management students Alex Heaney and Mitchell Woolley, both seniors, and Rob Erwin, a junior, placed first at the HR Student Games during the Michigan Society for Human Resource Management State Conference in October.
  • Marketing and professional sales faculty members Rebecca Dingus and Jeffrey Hoyle received the 2019 Teaching Innovation in Sales Education Award from the University Sales Center Alliance.
  • Psychology faculty member Debra Poole received a lifetime achievement award at the 23rd annual Governor's Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect Summit. 
  • Fashion, interior design and merchandising faculty member Michael Mamp received the International Textile and Apparel Association's Teaching Excellence Award.
  • University Communications received district awards for best annual report, excellence in speechwriting and best use of social media from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.

Election of board officers

Trustees concluded today's meeting by electing board officers for 2020, continuing the appointment of Keith as chair and of Robb Wardrop and Richard Studley as vice chairs.

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