CMU Board of Trustees announces first steps in search for next president

Trustees also grant emeritus status to long-serving leaders

| Author: Kevin Essebaggers | Media Contact: Aaron Mills

The Central Michigan University Board of Trustees today voted to begin the search for the university's next president, following the announcement of President Bob Davies' plans to step down.

In Tuesday’s formal session, Board Chair Todd J. Regis said Vice Chair Dr. Denise Mallett will lead the presidential search effort. Trustees voted to authorize the selection of a presidential search firm, update the procedure for presidential selection, and ratify an amended presidential employment agreement for President Davies.

Regis said the presidential transition will be part of a productive future for CMU. “As a board, we see this as an important and exciting opportunity for growth and expansion over the next decade and beyond, honoring and building upon what Dr. Davies and his predecessors have set in motion.”

Acknowledging Dr. Davies

Regis opened his remarks with an acknowledgement of President Davies’ announcement, thanking the president for his service to the university community, highlighting some of CMU’s achievements over the past several years.

“During Dr. Davies’ tenure, CMU was able to stabilize enrollment, which was a major concern for the board,” Regis said. “Dr. Davies will serve out his tenure as president with the full support of the CMU Board of Trustees.”

Regis said the Board would work with President Davies and his successor to continue to pursue the university’s mission and strategic goals.

“As a board, we see this as an important and exciting opportunity for growth and expansion over the next decade and beyond, honoring and building upon what Dr. Davies and his predecessors have set in motion,” Regis said.

President’s report to Trustees

Davies began his report to the Board of Trustees by addressing his decision to step down at the end of 2024 for personal and professional reasons. 

“It has been, and continues to be, my honor and privilege to serve as the president of Central Michigan University,” Davies said. “Even after nearly six years on this campus, I still marvel at the passion of our students, faculty, staff and supporters.”

Davies said there is much more work to be done this year, and he plans to build on CMU’s many successes. 

“Every day, we are working to increase enrollment, enhance academic quality, increase scholarly activity and improve our service to communities throughout our state and region,” he said.

When highlighting the many campus events that have occurred already this semester, Davies thanked Multicultural Academic Student Services for organizing events surrounding Martin Luther King, Jr. Week. He congratulated student orators Ku’Juana Quinn, Christian Toney and Tiarra Weddle for giving powerful speeches on the meaning of Dr. King’s work at the annual CommUNITY Peace Service.

Davies congratulated students achieving success nationally, as well as faculty and staff achievements this semester. He also praised CMU University Communications for the international awards they have won for the We Do brand campaign and their work on social media. 

“These awards recognize not only the creativity of the work, but also the effectiveness of the campaign, which drove significant increases in visits to CMU’s website as well as application completions,” he said.

Furthering CMU’s commitment to meeting the healthcare needs of Michigan communities, Davies celebrated the creation of the new Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree through The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow College of Health Professions. He also welcomed new BSN program director Nel Martinez, saying she, “brings to CMU a rich and diverse experience that will truly enhance the quality of education in this new program.”

Finally, Davies acknowledged fundraising records set by University Advancement. During the first two quarters of this fiscal year, University Advancement reported raising more than $17 million, the best start of a new year in university history.

A new name for CMU’s School of Accounting

Trustees unanimously approved the naming of CMU’s School of Accounting in honor of long-time faculty member Phillip Kintzele. Kintzele dedicated more than 40 years to teaching and mentoring accounting students at CMU and has made the largest-ever employee gift to CMU. His lifetime commitments surpass $2 million in support of student scholarships, athletics and the university libraries. 

Davies thanked Kintzele, who was in attendance, for his, “overwhelming generosity and strong commitment to CMU and our students.”

CMU Tuition Advantage expands access to CMU

CMU has replaced its previous need-based scholarship program, known as “CMU Traditions,” with a new and expanded program called “CMU Tuition Advantage.” Davies said the program increases scholarship eligibility and keeps a CMU education within reach of more students.

“It has long been a goal at CMU to ensure that degree attainment remains within reach for every Michigan student,” Davies said. “With CMU Tuition Advantage, we’ve made it easier than ever for Michigan students to qualify to attend college tuition-free.”

Success for new Rural Health Equity Institute

Alison Arnold, executive director of the CMU Rural Health Equity Institute, provided the Academic and Student Affairs Committee with an update on the institute’s work to improve access to healthcare in rural communities. 

“The success of rural communities is absolutely essential for Michigan’s prosperity,” Arnold said. “It’s so important that CMU plays a vital role in workforce preparation and in addressing the key priorities and needs that rural communities have.”

Arnold said RHEI is currently focused on telehealth initiatives, including a telehealth suicide prevention toolkit for health providers and a broadband project that helps rural communities secure federal funding for broadband internet expanded access.

During the same meeting, April Osburn, executive director of the Central and Western Area Health Education Center, described the organization’s collaborative effort to address local healthcare needs. She said AHEC is working to build a CMU pipeline program for healthcare professionals to serve underserved communities.

“The pipeline program has already attracted more than a thousand high school students, undergraduate student mentors and medical students,” Osburn said. “Some of those students have enrolled at CMU, gone on to medical school at CMU and completed their residency in primary care.” 

CMU Cares addressing student well-being

Renee’ Watson, vice president of Student Affairs, announced changes coming to the CMU Cares student support program during Monday’s meeting of the Academic and Student Affairs Committee. 

“We want all students to be, and remain, well,” Watson said.  

Watson said the new model proposes to bring student support offices into one building, leverage staff expertise from across campus and promote evidence-based resources for students. Watson said the new CMU Cares hopes to eventually include other offices to develop a community of practice for student well-being.  

Rising applications and FAFSA challenges

During the Academic and Student Affairs Committee meeting on Monday, Jennifer DeHaemers, vice president of Student Recruitment and Retention, reported the number of applications and admissions to CMU are up significantly over last year. 

Dehaemers also said the retention rate of first year students is stronger than last year at this time. She thanked the Office of Student Success for helping to boost the retention rate. 

“They’ve put on some student success workshops this semester for students who got less than a 2.0 GPA in their first semester to work on strategies for this semester and the future,” DeHaemers said. “That should make a difference in enrollment long term.”

Dehaemers also addressed the challenges posed by the federal government’s continued changes to the release date for FAFSA information. FAFSA information is necessary for colleges and universities to determine financial aid packages for incoming students, she said, and therefore financial aid packages will go out later than they normally do.

In response to the delay, she said CMU will move the deadline for depositing with the possibility of a refund — also known as Decision Day — from May 1 to June 1 this year.

Reimagining the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences

CMU’s College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences welcomed trustees for a tour of Anspach Hall on Monday. Dean Richard Rothaus and other college leaders guided a tour of the Center for Learning through Games and Simulations, the social work program, the Institute for Transformative Dialogue and the future CLASS Career Pathway Center.

Rothaus said faculty in the college spent the last year reimagining how to deliver a liberal arts education and make it even more valuable to students. He said the result is a new undergraduate program called Public and Applied Liberal Arts. 

“PALA is the first of its kind in Michigan and in the entire Great Lakes region,” Rothaus said. “We are very excited about this program, which not only maintains our core standards, but also promises to engage and prepare students for their lives beyond CMU.” 

Honoring emeritus faculty and staff

Trustees approved emeritus status for 12 long-serving faculty and staff at Tuesday’s formal session. Among the recipients of emeritus status was Stan Shingles, assistant vice president of Student Affairs, who is retiring after more than 34 years of service to CMU. 

“Thank you to our students for providing me an incredible opportunity to work at CMU and represent this university in so many different ways,” Shingles said. “This is a special day for me because I get to thank a lot of people.”

Highlights from committee meetings

During the Academic and Student Affairs Committee meeting, Watson announced Student Affairs will partner with the City of Mt. Pleasant to offer an early voting location in Powers Hall for the upcoming primary election. 

“This presents a unique opportunity to prepare our students for a lifetime of civic participation,” Watson said.

The Trustees-Faculty Liaison Committee heard a presentation from AnnMarie Bates, coordinator of Summer Speech-Language Specialty Clinics, and Allison Peart, director of the Psychological Training and Consultation Center and the CMU Approved Autism Evaluation Center. Bates and Peart provided an update on interprofessional partnerships within the Carls Center for Clinical Care and Education

They highlighted opportunities these centers and clinics provide for students to get hands-on experience and interprofessional interaction. 

“It is so helpful to work on skills when you’re in graduate school,” Peart said. “It also helps you recognize the value in all these different professions and that’s a really important experience.”

Presentations from several student leaders in the Trustees-Student Liaison Committee included presentations from SGA President Tyler Zimmerman and Vice President Ryan Biller. Their report included an update on changes to the SGA constitution and discussion of student fees. Hadlee Rinn, Program Board president previewed upcoming student events. Finally, Christian Toney, Residence Hall Association president described efforts to engage residents in more activities, especially on weekends.

Other Board action

In formal session Tuesday, Trustees authorized renovations for Merrill Dining Hall and set the CMU College of Medicine tuition rate for 2025-2026. Additionally, Trustees authorized the CMU president to ratify and sign collective bargaining agreements with police and faculty unions. 

Trustees approved several items on the consent agenda, including:

  • Approval of tenure or promotion for 19 faculty members as well as approval of sabbatical leaves. 
  • Approval of a Veits Woods property easement to facilitate the state’s Rails to Trails initiative.
  • Authorization of University Advancement to accept a share of proceeds from the sale of the Lenover estate, a gift to CMU.
  • Approval of naming opportunities.

An electronic copy of the president’s report will soon be available on the Office of the President webpage, and meeting minutes will be added to the Board of Trustees webpage following their approval at the next meeting. 

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