CMU plans to increase budget for diversity programming

Central Michigan University is planning on significantly increasing the Office of Institutional Diversity’s programming budget after years of it being relatively stagnant.

Provost Michael Gealt recently approved a $75,000 increase to the Institutional Diversity programming budget next year according to Carolyn Dunn, the associate vice president of the Office of Institutional Diversity at CMU.

Dunn said the new funds are to be prioritized with LGBTQ and Native American Services and the diversity programming budget has remained around $25,000 for several years.

“The $75,000 is additional funding in addition to the OID’s annual program budget of approximately $25,000,” Dunn said. “The Provost has been very clear that we need additional funds for OID to run our campus programs and that the program budget for OID has not changed in 20 years.”

The increase comes at a time when events like protests at the University of Missouri and Ithaca College have sparked a national conversation about diversity on college campuses.

About four months ago, CMU President George Ross hosted an open discussion about inclusion and diversity where he asked by students why there was not more money in the budget for LGBTQ services.

CMU_Diversity_Spending_Breakdown_by_officeAt the time of the discussion, Ross did not indicate specific plans for the university to beef up the funding for LGBTQ services.

Presently, LGBTQ services receive just shy of $58,000 to work with annually. This includes the salary of the only employee in the LGBTQ office, Shannon Jolliff, director of LGBTQ Services, supplies and equipment, and programming.

“I’m a one-person office, so I don’t have a support person, an assistance director, or a graduate assistant. I have a $2,000 budget for one student employee a year,” Jolliff said. “I highly rely upon interns working for free and volunteers. Without that, this office would not be able to do what it does, because there’s no other person here that’s doing this for a job.”

After staff compensation, there is about $8,000 leftover in the LGBTQ services budget for supplies and equipment. Through the end of this year, this multi-purpose fund of $8,000 is also the only money available in the CMU budget for LGBTQ programming.

Jolliff said the increase in programming budget would free up the budget for other improvements to LGBTQ services such as increased marketing for their office.

“There’s a good population of people who know we exist, but I don’t have the marketing funding to be able to put more stuff out there because I am programming out of an $8,000 budget,” Jolliff said. “Within that I’m able to not only put on three awareness week, but also pay for my printing, phone, computer repair, all of that stuff comes out of that $8,000.”

Dunn said it is yet to be determined exactly how much programming money will be spent where.

Oak Park sophomore Tori Allen, said we have a large amount of diversity at CMU.

“I would say that our campus is very diverse because I can look around and see people of other ethnicities and people who belong to different communities like the LGBTQ.” Allen said.

Allen said even though we have a good amount of diversity at CMU, diverse populations are underrepresented.

“When you see billboards or videos or pictures you still don’t always see the amount of diversity that Central does have,” Allen said.

Allen said programming is key to make the LGBTQ community feel comfortable on campus.

“We do have students that identify as LGBTQ on this campus,” Allen said. “I think the only way to make them feel comfortable here or even to have other people educated about what that community does, what they stand for, and how they live their lifestyle, is through programming,”

The provost is in charge of the academic division and can approve the programming budget increase without the president’s approval. Institutional diversity falls under the academic division in the CMU operating budget.

Joseph Garrison, director of financial planning and budgets, said the process of increasing the budget involves the VP of a particular division deciding what to do with a request.

“The provost has the option to fund it internally, ask that it move forward to the president and cabinet for some thoughts, or he could decline the request,” Garrison said. “The cabinet have the same options.”

The programming budget increase will go into effect in August of 2016, when the new fiscal year starts and the budget are approved by the board of trustees.

The operating budget this past year provided about$ 1.1 million to institutional diversity as a whole.

This money is split between various departments about institutional diversity with the largest areas of spending going to Minority Student Services, Multi-Cultural-Programs, and the Office for Diversity. The budget spending for institutional diversity has remained in the same ballpark for the previous five years.

State and Federal Grant Funding

The increase in diversity programming next year will come from the operating budget, and not grant funding.

Garrison said state and federal grant funding is a piece of the puzzle that doesn’t show up in the operating budget for institutional diversity as a whole.

“Dr. Dunn is very active in trying to acquire resources to supplement their budget,” Garrison said. “Since the university has a limited pool, one way they can potentially get other sources of revenue coming in is by applying for grants and writing proposals for grants to show what they’re doing and want to be doing programming wise.”

Dunn said specific grant numbers for the last five years couldn’t be easily obtained, because grants are not consistent with the course of time.

Garrison said grants can be time limited, but the operating budget is a more static fund.

“We don’t include grants in the operational budget for that reason,” Garrison said. “They only maybe nine months or a year or a two-year period.”

Carolyn Dunn, associate vice president of Institutional Diversity, Equity & Inclusion.
Carolyn Dunn, associate vice president of Institutional Diversity, Equity & Inclusion.

Dunn said the state and federal funding for these grants were decreasing and being spread thin.

“The amount of money that Congress allocates from those grants is dwindling, and the number of universities that are applying for those grants is increasing,” Dunn said.

Dunn said private foundations can help fill in the gaps where the budget and grant funding falls short.

“Grant money can’t be our only answer,” Dunn said. “We have to look at other sources like private foundations to supplement the work we’re already doing.”

State grant-funded programs at CMU include GEAR-UP, Pathways, Student Transition Enrichment Program, Martin Luther King Cesar Chavez-Rosa Parks Future Faculty Fellows Program. Federal grant-funded programs including Upward Bound and McNair Scholars.

Institutional diversity doesn’t always have to do with race, ethnicity, gender identity, or sexual orientation, Dunn said. For example, McNair program is specifically designed to recruit first-generation low-income students for graduate school careers.

Source: CMU operating budget
Source: CMU operating budget

Center for Inclusion and Diversity

The Office of Inclusion and Diversity is the service center on campus that houses Multicultural Academic Student Services, Native American Program, LGBTQ Services, Office of Diversity Education, and MiGEAR UP, as well as three grant programs, Pathways to Academic Student Success, Student Transition Enrichment Program (STEP) and the King Chavez Parks Future Faculty Fellows program.

Allen said she uses the OID often, and sometimes just goes into the office to meet new people and see what’s going on.

“I’m a minority on campus so I kind of like to see who else can empathize with what that means while being a student,” Allen said. “Whether it be someone who identifies with the LGBTQ community or someone of African-American descent or having those of Native American descent just to mingle. “

Allen said CMU was trying to do its part to bring diversity to campus and highlight issues of diversity.

“It’s not like we don’t have resources,” Allen said. “I think the Office of Inclusion and Diversity is trying to bring information to campus, they’re trying to put on events for the campus; they ’re trying to show that Central does care about diversity and that we have diversity and that we’re putting forth an effort to educate others on diversity.”

Allen said it’s rare to see non-minorities come in the office.

“Sometimes I wonder if those of Caucasian descent feel uncomfortable to come in or don’t need to be in that office,” Allen said. “It’s honestly just a really cool comfortable environment, so I wish they would come in and get involved because we want to promote diversity and unity on campus.

Dunn said we need more funding from the budget for institutional diversity and that we all need to get involved with this issue.

“We need to find some money out of the budget to be able to support the academic, learning side for students from underrepresented communities, but also programming to the rest of the university so we can engage in a diverse learning environment,” Dunn said. “I think that’s key. It’s diversity and inclusion, that means everybody, so it’s not just for one particular student group, but to provide learning opportunities for everyone.”

Gender Equity Center

Dunn said CMU is one of the only campuses in Michigan that does not have a gender equity or women’s resource center.

She said there have been pushes from student and faculty for years to get funding for a women’s resource center, but it has not been approved.

The Student Government Association passed a resolution in 2013 to have a gender equity center created on campus. This proposal made it to the president’s office and ultimately did not go through.

Last year, a proposal was sent to the president’s office from the office of institutional diversity and was declined. Dunn said this year the provost has personally sent the proposal to the president’s office.

“The gender equity center does not fall under the office of institutional diversity or the anywhere else in the academic division, and therefore, will be a campus-wide initiative sent on to the president,” Dunn said.

Dunn said there was a proposal sent to the president last year, and that if it doesn’t get approved this year, they plan to resubmit next year.

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