Trustees seek to expand CMU’s health care footprint

| Author: Ari Harris

In their first meeting of 2022, the Central Michigan University Board of Trustees established a special committee to consider CMU’s important role in the future of health care in Michigan.

“The world of health care is changing very rapidly,” Chair Richard Studley said. “We think there is a tremendous opportunity for CMU to strengthen and expand and play even more of a leadership role in meeting the health care needs of this community, the Great Lakes Bay Region and our entire state.

Over the next year, the Health Care Special Committee, co-chaired by Trustee Sharon Heath and Trustee Michael Sandler, will engage with local health care leaders, CMU faculty experts and other key stakeholder groups to gain insight and inform planning efforts. Dr. George Kikano, vice president of health affairs and dean of the College of Medicine, and Tom Masterson, dean of The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow College of Health Professions, will serve as administrative liaisons and support the work of the committee.

At the board’s December meeting, the committee will present its recommendations for a long-range plan to strengthen CMU’s ability to anticipate and respond to changing health care needs in Michigan.

Reimagining the residential student experience

In a joint presentation Wednesday by Nick Long, vice president and chief financial officer, and Kathleen Gardner, executive director of student affairs, trustees were updated on the progress and purpose of the proposed Washington Commons residential community. The new facility would offer more than 400 apartment-style living spaces, primarily for undergraduate students, as well as a new on-campus market with a wide range of grocery items.

During the Finance and Facilities Committee meeting, Long and Gardner discussed the role of residential facilities in the university’s strategic enrollment plan, as well as the ways on-campus living supports student success. They also pointed out similar projects underway at other Michigan colleges and universities.

In Thursday’s formal session, trustees heard comments from students and a faculty member regarding the closure of parking lot 22. They approved a request for $12 million to complete the design phase of the Washington Commons project, with the understanding that student, faculty, staff and stakeholder input will be considered as the project goes forward.

“We are very mindful of the comments we received yesterday and today from students, faculty and staff,” Studley said. “As we go forward, there will be additional discussion with all stakeholders and the entire university community, with additional listening sessions.”

CMU will host a series of town hall meetings to gather input from students, faculty and staff beginning next week, Long said.

Programs to bolster student success

During Wednesday’s committee meetings, trustees heard from student leaders from the CMU Student Food Pantry and Financial Wellness Collaborative. Both organizations provide support for students — one offering relief from food insecurity and hunger, the other guiding students toward financial literacy.

Both groups reported a significant increase in demand for services this year. The pantry has distributed food to 725 students in the first two months of 2022, and more than 650 students have attended peer coaching sessions or presentations on budgeting and financial wellness. Nearly 200 more have registered for the iGrad financial tool, new to CMU this year. 

Abbey Kamin, graduate assistant for the food pantry, said the two organizations have entered into a “purposeful partnership,” recognizing that food insecurity often is linked to financial struggles. Together, the groups are sharing information with the CMU community as Resource CMU.

Interdisciplinary success

Trustees also heard a presentation on the Structured Language and Literacy interdisciplinary certificate program. Katie Squires, faculty member in Communication Sciences and Disorders, discussed the growing need for teachers and literacy specialists in Michigan, as students in several grade levels lag behind their regional peers in reading.

The certificate program, a partnership between the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders and the College of Education and Human Services, was developed with support from the President’s and Provost’s Fund for Excellence in Program Innovation. It will be the first in Michigan to be accredited by the International Dyslexia Association, the first accelerated graduate certificate at CMU, and will allow CMU to offer continuing education credits for the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

Appreciation for faculty

Throughout Wednesday and Thursday’s meetings, trustees repeatedly expressed their appreciation for the outstanding work of faculty.

“CMU has the most knowledgeable faculty, who clearly love their students and who are clearly committed to their success and the success of CMU,” said Trustee Heath. “They are deeply, truly appreciated.”

CMU President Bob Davies said the board clearly hears the faculty’s concerns regarding the balance of teaching, research and service in consideration of tenure and promotion, and would consider opportunities to address those concerns in their next meeting.

Presidential performance

The Board of Trustees Presidential Assessment Committee presented a report on the three-year review of President Davies’ leadership. The report included the results of the presidential assessment survey, which was sent to 387 CMU stakeholders, including faculty leaders, current and former trustees, university and community leaders, alumni and donors, state and local leaders, and community partners, as well as CMU students, faculty and staff selected at random to participate. It also included the board’s reflections on Davies’ leadership through the disruptions caused by COVID-19.

“Throughout the ongoing global pandemic, President Davies demonstrated courageous and compassionate leadership in the face of tremendous challenges. My colleagues on the board and I have been impressed by his thoughtful, collaborative approach to making difficult decisions and guiding the university forward,” Studley said.

The board unanimously agreed to increase the president’s base salary to $450,000, an amount comparable to CMU’s peer institutions, as well as to offer incentives for progress toward established goals. This year, the incentive for performance is $75,000, Studley said.

Referring to the results of the survey, Davies said, “These positive results reflect the hard work of the many students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors and others who are working with me to promote CMU’s mission, support our students, and serve our region and the state of Michigan.”

President’s report

In his opening remarks to the board, President Davies highlighted some of the progress underway in the Strategic Envisioning Process.

Supporting the work of Pathway #2, and with the help of the University Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council, Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer Shawna Patterson-Stephens is leading development of a multiyear diversity strategic plan. The Council is currently reviewing 10 years of data to identify areas of focus and priorities for the plan, and will soon begin outlining goals, tactics and expected outcomes for the plan.

“We are committed to our promise to create a culture in which every person feels seen, heard, secure, respected and valued,” Davies said. “We look forward to continuing to share our progress toward these important goals and this vital work.”

Members of the Pathway #5 workgroup are developing an “Innovation and Online Learning” platform to position CMU for success in its main campus and Global Campus programs. This includes assessing appropriate locations and modalities for offering programs, and scaling existing CMU programs for immediate growth.

Davies also discussed Gov. Whitmer’s recently released state budget and the impact of enrollment declines on CMU’s budget.

“We will continue to work with our state leaders to advocate for increased and equitable public support for Central Michigan University,” he said.

To close, the president also highlighted some of the ways faculty are sharing their knowledge and expertise, at CMU and with communities around the globe, and ways CMU is preparing students for professional success through academic and Career Development Center programs.

Also on the agenda

Among other actions taken by the board, trustees voted to:

  • Approve tenure for 20 faculty members and promotion for 11 faculty members.
  • Grant emeritus status for 14 faculty and staff members.
  • Approve a 3% increase to room and board rates for the 2022-23 academic year.
  • Approve an events quad and amphitheater project to be executed in phases as funding becomes available.
  • Issue a policy statement regarding the Michigan Association of State Universities.
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