What you should know about today’s Board of Trustees meeting

Rendering of the $10.8-million Grawn Hall renovation. (Courtesy: Central Michigan University)
Rendering of the $10.8-million Grawn Hall renovation. (Courtesy: Central Michigan University)

The Central Michigan University Board of Trustees unanimously approved a $10.8-million renovation and addition to Grawn Hall.

The two-story addition, which would add more than 6,000 square feet to the existing structure and renovate much of the interior, would create a new main entryway to the 100-year-old building at its west end, which faces a parking lot.

“Its purpose will be to give CMU students modern learning spaces where they will study, collaborate and develop the ideas of great businesses and innovations of tomorrow,” President George Ross said.

The plan calls for integrating the first and second floors with a large atrium space and the construction of several new learning spaces. It would also create a facelift for the building’s main entrance on Warriner Mall that would, among other things, get rid of the brick pillars in the entryway that have been a staple of the exterior since its construction a century ago, according to renderings seen in a video shown to the trustees.

The project is anticipated to be completed in 2017. It is the second renovation for the building in recent years. A $562,000 renovation of the Isabella Bank Institute of Entrepreneurship wing of the building was completed in 2013. This is in addition to the construction of a $210,000 Bloomberg Trading Lab.

The project will be financed through fundraising and university funding. CMU will match every dollar fundraised by the College of Business Administration, which is housed in Grawn, meaning the university will finance roughly $5.4 million of the project.

This is the fourth major facilities project currently being undertaken by the university. CMU is also in the process of constructing the $95-million Biosciences Building and two College of Medicine facilities in Saginaw totaling an estimated cost of $37 million. Additionally, a new Courtyard Mariott hotel is being constructed adjacent to Kelly/Shorts Stadium, which the university will lease out for around $200,000 per year.

In all, the major projects will cost a combined $143 million.

Teachers

Representatives from the College of Education and Human Services told the board that a new, streamlined teacher education program will allow students to complete the program in 4.5 years, down from the 5.5 the average student currently needs to take.

This was in response to enrollment in the teacher education program dropping by 41 percent between 2011-12 and 2013-14.

The revamped curriculum also comes in response to a new, rigorous state certification test, the Professional Readiness Exam, which students must pass in order to teach in the state. Just 22 percent of CMU students passed the test last year, placing CMU in the bottom 30 percent of colleges statewide.

The new PRE is much tougher to pass than the previous test. As Bridge magazine reported, less than a third of students statewide passed the exam in its inaugural year, compared to the prior 82 percent passing rate.

CMU was founded in 1892 as the Central Michigan Normal School, whose primary mission was teacher training.

Enrollment

In a welcome sign for a university that has struggled with enrollment over the past half-decade, deposit numbers are up five percent over last year’s pace, according to Vice President of Enrollment and Student Services Steven Johnson.

“All indicators thus far are very positive,” Johnson said.

Overall enrollment is down 4.6 percent from its peak of 28,389 in 2010. On-campus undergraduate enrollment is down 8.3 percent in that same timespan. As previously noted by Insiderthat means the university faces a tough challenge when it comes to bringing in enough revenue to sustain the budget. Government funding is down significantly from its peak, meaning the university is relying more than ever on tuition fees as its main source of revenue. Fewer students means a potentially weaker revenue stream.

Ross touched on this during his State of the University address last semester, when he noted that declining Michigan high school graduation rates could pose a challenge for enrollment in the years ahead. His solution? Maintain the current on-campus enrollment numbers while increasing enrollment in the Global Campus and online programs. (For analysis of Ross’ proposal, click here.

Other notes

  • Year-to-date contributions to the university are down $1.2 million year-over-year, according to Vice President for Development and External Affairs Kathleen Wilbur. She said much of the decline is because of a decline in support from various foundations.
  • The board unanimously approved a $1.7-million upgrade to the campus steam generation system that will be paid for through energy cost savings.
  • The trustees voted to grant tenure to 22 faculty members and upgraded 11 members to associate professor.
  • Trustee Bill Weideman was not physically present for the meeting, but he voted on action items over the telephone.
  • This was the first meeting for new Trustee Rich Studley, the president and CEO of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber is a conservative lobbying group that represents businesses statewide.

For analysis of today’s meeting, check with CMU Insider tomorrow.


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