The Academic Senate discussed several issues at its February 15 bi-weekly meeting, including recent ongoing issues with Central Michigan University admissions and future changes to parking services.
In their report to the Senate, Speaker Bob Davies and Acting Provost Richard Rothaus discussed various ways CMU is addressing its declining enrollment.
Make admissions with optional exam permanent
Rothaus asked the senate to recommend that CMU maintain its optional testing status for new students.
Many universities made admissions tests, like the SAT and ACT, optional at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic because testing centers were difficult to access.
According to Rothaus, optional testing policies make college easier for first-generation and underrepresented students.
“We would like to consider the possibility of making CMU’s optional testing admissions policy permanent,” Rothaus said. “Some of us think that’s the trend in higher education.”
The senate will begin to form a committee to explore the possibility of CMU remaining optional.
Rothaus also promoted CMU’s “Maroon and Gold” events. The events, throughout February and March, are for interested students and their parents to learn more about CMU from faculty and staff.
Rothaus has asked any interested faculty to participate.
Vice President for Student Recruitment and Retention Jennifer DeHaemers gave a presentation to the Senate on SLATE, CMU’s admissions software.
SLATE was chosen, DeHaemers said, because it makes application management easier for the Office of Information Technology. Talisma, CMU’s old application processor, was 10 years old, she said, and therefore obsolete.
One of SLATE’s selling points, according to DeHaemers, is its ability to quickly send automated emails to new students.
However, Senator Martha Frank said some prospective graduate students in the math department have not received any communication regarding their admissions status. One student, she said, did not know the status of his application until he contacted the department on his own.
Admissions Officer Brief Appointment During Scholarship Mistake
In the admissions department, DeHaemers said Randolph Bellamy was named director of application processing on Jan. 18, but resigned about two weeks later.
According to DeHaemers, Bellamy listed a variety of reasons in his resignation letter, including executive director of admissions Lee Furbeck’s recent departure from CMU following an incident with 58 scholarships. DeHaemers also said there was miscommunication about Bellamy’s role in the department.
“One of the challenges of his position would have been staff development,” DeHaemers said. “He said it was a problem and he also said he hadn’t had any training, but he did it.”
The role is currently filled by Bob Garcia, Director of Transfer Outreach and Community College Relations.
New on-campus parking app
Senator Tracy Davis asked about new software, AIMS MobilePay, which will be used by CMU Parking Services in the fall of 2022. Davis asked if using a virtual system would result in the loss of staff and students in parking services.
Davies said the system will not replace anyone.
In March, two police cars will be equipped with license plate recognition to scan license plates, making the parking permit process entirely virtual, according to Davis’ question.
According to Davies, everyone except the disabled will no longer be able to back into parking spaces because the scanner must be in view of car license plates.
Concerns about the proposed construction of a parking lot
Some faculty and students have expressed concerns about the planned construction of the Washington Commons in place of parking lot 22.
Senator Ted Clayton submitted a question to be answered in the President and Provost’s report, saying he is concerned about students and employees who rely on parking.
Clayton said anyone who walks from their car to campus buildings when it’s dark outside might not feel safe if they have to park elsewhere.
According to Davies, CMU Police Chief Larry Klaus said routes from college buildings and residence halls to Lot 75 will be monitored by security cameras and patrol cars on Washington Street.
Davies said there will be a town hall listening session in the near future to hear thoughts and concerns about the demolition project, which will make way for a new residence.
Senator Tracy Collins asked why the administration is proposing to build new residence halls to improve enrollment. Davies said CMU’s housing should be competitive with other universities.
“One of the reasons many students who attend other universities tell us that our accommodations aren’t up to par with what they see elsewhere,” Davies said. “It’s a game-changing decision.”
Professors’ concerns about the verification system
Several senators were concerned about a third-party system called Verifi1 — a service used by CMU to verify dependents enrolled on faculty health insurance, Davies said.
Some professors said they were concerned about trusting their personal information to the service after previous data breaches.
Senator Joanne Dannenhoffer said private information had been compromised “multiple times over the past 10 years”. Davies said he was aware of a data breach during his tenure as president caused by a phishing email.
Senator Alan Rudy has said the verification process is an unnecessary measure.
“It was as if faculty and staff were being accused of intentionally indulging in fraudulent insurance claims,” Rudy said. “I was quite offended that I now have to verify my children’s birth dates and show a marriage certificate from 21 years ago to affirm that I am still married. This communication with us is not good for morale .
Early in Davies’ report to the Senate, he issued an apology on behalf of Vice President of Marketing and Communications John Veilleux. Some professors and students felt they had been “called out or blamed” for website problems by Veilleux, Davies said.
“It was not his intention and he also sincerely apologizes,” Davies said. “We also know that a new website is a huge change and we realize that change is disruptive to faculty, staff and students. There’s never really a good time to launch a website.
Davies said the website’s stability has improved since February 7. Between 25 and 35 website workers now have access to make changes to content and help troubleshoot issues, he said.
In response to a question from Senator Max Ranger about N95 masks, Davies said CMU will not be providing free masks on campus. Davies and Rothaus recommended that students visit local pharmacies and health centers where free N95 masks are distributed on behalf of the federal government.
Senator Martha Frank said it’s unfortunate that students have to go this far.
“I think it would be nice to show that we care about our students,” Frank said. “Our mask policy has been quite effective, but it hasn’t been tested for a very long time against omicron.”
COVID-19 antigen tests will be stocked in residence receptions in the future, according to Davies.
Academic Senate meetings take place at 3:30 p.m. every two weeks on Tuesdays in the French Auditorium. Live stream and recording links can be found on the Senate website.