CMU Board of Trustees meeting highlights

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The Central Michigan University’s Board of Trustees met this morning and discussed a wide variety of issues including CMU’s financial status, how long it takes students to graduate, President  George Ross’ review and  on-going construction projects.

Here is a quick lowdown of the highlights discussed at the meeting.

61-61765Trustees were presented the initial audit for 2014-2015

Trustees received a presentation of an independent audit of the university’s 2014-2015 financial statements.

The audit will not be finalized until later this fall because Michigan Auditor General still needs to determine the CMU’s share of a pension liability to the Michigan Public School Employees’ Retirement System. It is expected that the University will have to pay $93 million.

“This is a substantial hit,” President George E. Ross said. “This pension liability is a major cost for CMU, for other colleges and universities, and for K-12 schools — a multi-million dollar cost over which we have no control.”

According to the presentation given by Vicki VanDenBerg, who is with the firm doing the audit, says the pension system has caused a liability for other universities as well.

The presentation given by VanDenBerg indicated a $51.1 million increase in total assets and deferred outflows.

The University is also increasing its operating expenses by $12.8 million. More than half of the expenses is due to increasing compensation for employees.

The whole presentation is available online.

ID-100261980Report shows most CMU students do not graduate in four years

Ross reviewed a report of the university’s progress on priorities and initiatives.

CMU’s five priorities were student success, research and creative activity, quality faculty, staff/community partnerships and infrastructure stewardship.

The report shows that only 21 percent of students graduated in four years in 2014-2015. Only 56 percent of students graduated CMU in six years, while 78 percent of freshmen returned to CMU for their sophomore year.

Ross said the university needed to inform freshmen more of their requirements. He shared an anecdote of three student athletes trying to highlight that graduating in four years is possible.

“Those three young ladies came to CMU four years ago, played Division I basketball at the highest level and graduated in four years,” Ross said. “We talk about a six-year graduation rate. If you can play D-I sports and graduate in four years, I challenge all of us, why can’t students (do the same).”

The report additionally showed there was a decrease in research and creative endeavors among faculty.

You can view the whole report online.

George Ross
George Ross

George Ross to face extensive review

President Ross will be reviewed by trustee and other campus leaders.

While Ross is evaluated every year, he will face a more extensive review every three years.

“It is the responsibility of board to conduct annual review how that has manifested in annual review each year and in the third year it is very robust process that engages members of the university community as well,” Trustee Tricia Keith said. “Today we announce that we will begin the process which will culminate in an assessment report that will be delivered in December.”

The committee will conduct individual and small group interviews with different university leaders. Furthermore, it was recommended the committee uses Denison Consulting’s Leadership Development 360 tool, which is a 96 question survey that measures leadership abilities.

In 2011, Ross and Gary Shapiro, former executive vice president and provost of CMU, received a vote of no confidence by the Academic Senate. Student newspaper Central Michigan Life around the same time  wrote an editorial opposing Ross. However, the Board of Trustees stuck by the President.

But last year, Ross added a $30,000 incentive to his salary after he was a finalist to be president at the University of Nebraska.

Central Michigan Life  wrote an editorial after he withdrew from the NU presidential candidacy search, which supported Ross.

The board will evaluate Ross at the December 17 meeting.

Vice President of Facilities Management Steven Lawrence updated trustees on building progress

The $95 million dollar bioscience building will be completed in less than a year.

In May 2016, an on-campus hotel will open. While the hotel will be on the property of CMU, it will not be owned by the university, but will still receive revenue.

Lawrence said the CMU soccer and lacrosse field will have its grand opening on Sept. 20. The project is to support compliance with Title IX.  

CMU Insider previously reported the university received two Title IX complaints that pertain to discrimination in athletics since 2009.


Plachta Auditorium to re-open

Plachta Auditorium in Warriner Hall has been cleared after being closed since May 29 for asbestos.

In May, elevated levels of asbestos were found on the first and second floors of the building. Though no asbestos was detected in the air, 169 employees were evacuated. The building was opened on June 18, but Platcha was cleared on September 16.

Lawrence said it cost about $450,000 to remove the asbestos.

According to the Agency of Toxic Substance & Disease Registry, when asbestos fibers are inhaled, most fibers are expelled, but some can become lodged in the lungs and remain there throughout life. When that occurs it can cause inflammation and scarring, which can affect breathing.


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