Trustees wrap up first meetings of 2020

Strategic envisioning discussed; room and board rates approved

| Author: Heather Smith

The Central Michigan University Board of Trustees wrapped up its first meetings of 2020 this morning, approving new room and board rates for 2020-2021 and receiving updates on initiatives such as strategic envisioning and the website redesign.

President Bob Davies and Provost Mary C. Schutten highlighted significant progress on the strategic envisioning process and the President's and Provost's Fund for Program Innovation and Excellence.

At committee meetings Wednesday, Schutten announced that 17 recipients were selected out of more than 60 nominations requesting nearly $14 million in support. She told trustees that funded projects focus on a variety of themes, including technology, student support, data science, health and gaming.

Davies elaborated on the fund process and recipients in his opening report to the board.

"I strongly believe that the projects we have selected are transformational and will improve our ability to serve our students now and in the years ahead," Davies said. "I look forward to hearing from our award recipients as they begin work on these exciting initiatives."

Trustees approved a 2% increase in room and board rates for residence halls and university apartments for 2020-2021 and a 5% increase for graduate housing.

Barrie Wilkes, vice president for finance and administrative services, said the university continues to develop new options to meet student needs and demands.

Examples he noted are the addition of a fourth, lower-rate dining plan option and the continuation of a 30% room discount for students opting to live with three other roommates — instead of two — in three of the four original Towers residence halls (Troutman, Trout and Cobb).

Trustees also heard from Abby Dean, director of integrated marketing for University Communications, on the university's website redesign project that launched in summer 2019.

Also at the formal session, trustees approved or accepted:

  • Upgrades to Carey Hall — a $4.8 million project that will provide students with new suites designed to accommodate two students, featuring full-size beds, upgraded closets and chairs, wood-like flooring, and more. Common areas, including study lounges, are being updated with fresh paint and finishings.
  • Sabbatical leave for two faculty members and tenure and promotion for 23 others.
  • Nearly $3.3 million in external grant funding of faculty and student research. This brings total grant and award dollars after six months this fiscal year to $9.4 million.
  • A motion authorizing Davies to sign and ratify collective bargaining agreements for 2020-2021 and beyond for two employee union groups:
    • Union of Teaching Faculty, Michigan Federation of Teachers (AFL-CIO).
    • Police Officers Association of Michigan (POAM).
  • Nearly $5 million in contributions to the university for the second quarter of the fiscal year, bringing the year-to-date total to $8.3 million.
  • Two new endowments — the Grams Family Scholarship and the Ridenour Family Scholarship — and six naming opportunities within the Chippewa Champions Center.
    CMU President Bob Davies addresses the Board of Trustees at the first formal meeting of 2020.

President's report to the board

In his opening report, Davies elaborated on strategic envisioning progress.

"All of our strategic pathway working groups have been meeting, and several are beginning to seek input from divisions and departments around the university," he said. "We launched a new website for the process to ensure we are transparent in our work and to enable all stakeholders to easily participate."

Davies also updated the board on new food insecurity initiatives launched last month.

"To date, more than 520 students have received a block of meal swipes, and $1 meals are served in the Down Under Food Court twice a week," he said.

In addition, Davies noted that CMU is taking additional steps to address student mental health, moving forward a proposal for a fall wellness break for this October, which will be scheduled soon.

"We continue to look for innovative ways to support our students' health and well-being. I appreciate our community's commitment to helping them succeed on their personal and educational journeys at CMU," he said.

Davies also recognized:

  • Graduate student Julio Velasco and the staff of the Multicultural Academic Student Services office for events they orchestrated to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Week.
  • Students Eric Urbaniak and Magkena Szemak and faculty advisor Rebecca Uzarski for their partnership with the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe addressing food waste at the Andahwod Elder Care Center. To date, it has diverted more than 6,000 pounds of food waste.
  • Heather Trommer-Beardslee, artistic director of the University Theater Dance Company, and Steve Berglund, chair of the theatre and dance department, who took eight students to Japan in December to perform alongside world-renowned dance company Masashi Action Machine.
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