Update: CMU trustees spent more than 20 grand last year

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.

Correction: An earlier version of this post stated the CMU Board of Trustees spent $60,524 in the 2014/2015 fiscal year. While that’s the amount the trustees have in its account, the trustees actually spent $26,954.86 that year. We regret the error. 

The Central Michigan University Board of Trustees spent a total of $26,954.86 in the 2014/2015 fiscal year.

Mary Jane Flanagan, executive assistant to the President and secretary to the Board of Trustees, takes meeting minutes for the trustees.

Flanagan said the trustees don’t discuss the money seen in the expenses budget during meetings.

“During planning meetings, the trustees are usually talking about whatever items are on the agenda, not the money in [the expenses] budget,” Flanagan said. “All of the money in that budget come from the general fund.”

“The general fund is like a big pot, and once money gets put into it, there’s no real way of seeing what part of it comes from student tuition money or endowments or gifts,” she said.

The trustees vote on many items ranging from building renovations, tuition rates and evaluating the president.

Trustees are appointed by the Michigan governor with the approval of the state senate.

While the trustees’ expenses included gifts, catering for meetings and telephone expenses; however, a conference that was held in Phoenix, Ariz. by the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges was the greatest expenditure.

The board spent $13,980.38 on the AGB conference including travel, lodging, meals and the cost of attending the conference itself.

According to the AGB Initiatives webpage, “the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB) works to meet the needs of governing boards through ongoing projects. With the help of our sponsors and partners, we are able to analyze and address certain higher education topics in-depth.”

Sherry Knight, associate vice president of university communications, said the trustees don’t debate what to do with the funding they are allotted.

“Set expenses are covered, such as mileage and participation in the AGB conference. The trustees don’t weigh options on what do to with the funding,” Knight said.

After contacting Sarah Opperman, chairwoman of the Board, she directed all questions to Steven Smith, director of public relations at CMU.

Smith said the conference helps the trustees to further understand everything that goes into planning for higher education.

“We encourage trustees to attend because most come from industries other than higher ed.,” Smith said. “The conference gives them a deeper understanding of higher education topics and the complexities of running a university.”

Smith said trustees do not get paid to be on the board.

“Trustees do not receive any payment for being on the board,” Smith said. “They do get reimbursement for their travel and lodging expenses.”

The board also spent $3,689.98 on regular meeting expenses. Smith said that money was spent, “primarily on catering/food for meetings.”

In addition to Opperman, Insider contacted Trustees William Kanine, Tricia Keith, Patricia Mooradian and William Weideman for comment. All inquiries were directed to Knight or Smith.

This budget was released as part of the CMU chapter of Society of Professional Journalists’ Freedom of Information Act audit, which included requesting board of trustee expenses from every Michigan four-year universities. Universities not included in the article charged money to release the expenses.


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