Analysis: State of the University report lacks important details

President George Ross speaks to the Board of Trustees, in the President's Conference Room, Bovee University Center, on the Campus of Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, Mich., December 17, 2015.
President George Ross speaks to the Board of Trustees, in the President’s Conference Room, Bovee University Center, on the Campus of Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, Mich., December 17, 2015.

Central Michigan University released a “State of the University” report instead of President George Ross giving an address this year, but some parts are misleading.

While the report isn’t untrue, many key details needed to understand the true state of the university are not presented.

Below are five statements or sections of the “State of the University” report that need further explanation and context.

“Freshmen enrollment was up 27 percent by nearly 800 students, boosting enrollment to 27,069.”

This number was from the 2014/2015 academic calendar year, which the report clearly states. But it’s important to note overall enrollment for the 2015/2016 year is down by 0.4 % and on-campus undergraduate enrollment is down by 2.8% from last year.

Ross_Furthermore, even if using the 2014/2015 enrollment numbers, there are fewer students attending CMU since it’s height in 2010. In 2010, overall enrollment was at 28,389. By 2013, enrollment decreased by 5.5%.

So the increase the report refers to is from the 2013/2014 year to 2014/2015 year. While the numbers presented are not false, they are not placed into context.

“CMU’s cumulative 6-year tuition increase is the lowest among all 15 public universities in Michigan.”

Universities in Michigan have a financial incentive to keep tuition increases low. In Michigan, universities have to keep tuition increased below 3.2% in order to keep its performance-based portion of its state aid.

Last summer, both Eastern Michigan University and Oakland University increased tuition above the cap.

While CMU has respected the tuition increase cap, it’s also more expensive. CMU has the fourth most expensive tuition out of the public universities in Michigan. While CMU may not be rising tuition as much, it was higher to begin with.

Infographic (1)“CMU’s total cost of attendance is lower than 10 of Michigan’s 15 public universities.” 

CMU ranks among the highest level of  student loan debt out of all Michigan public universities.

According to the Institution for College Access and Success, CMU graduates in the 2013/2014 year owed an average $33,545 in student loan debt. That’s the third highest amount among Michigan public universities.

Insider previously reported CMU grads have the highest levels of student loan debt in the MAC, according to the College Scorecard created by the Department of Education.
 “The College of Medicine is the nation’s 137th medical school, designed to address the shortage of physicians in rural and medically underserved communities.”

To start, the report doesn’t say who ranked CMED as the 137th medical school.

According to the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, 145 medical schools have preliminary, provisional or full accreditation from them. CMED currently has preliminary accreditation. Therefore, CMED being ranked 137th would make it a very low ranking school at this point.

The strategic goals in the back

The page of the report has the university goals created by Ross and the Board of Trustees. These goals were adapted in late 2012, but the report doesn’t show the university’s progress.

While CMU has made headway towards some of the goals, others the university has struggled to make progress.

For example, CMU has improved freshmen to sophomore retention by 2%, and increased the number of seniors that have completed an internship, student teaching or clinical work, by 5% from 2013/2014 to 2014/2015.

But fewer students graduated within six years and fewer faculty were engaged in research or creative endeavors.


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