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The Eastern Echo Sunday, June 23, 2024 | Print Archive
The Eastern Echo

Finance and Investment Committee

New Board of Regents Chair announced at latest meeting

Thursday, Dec. 7 was the last Board of Regents meeting for 2023.

From 9:30 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. the Athletic Affairs Committee Meeting took place in 201 Welch Hall, and the Education Policies Committee Meeting met in 205 Welch Hall. The meetings both adjourned at 10:30 a.m.

Athletic Affairs Committee

The Athletic Affairs Committee began with the fall/ winter sports recap. It covered EMU teams such as Cross Country, Football, Soccer, Volleyball, Men’s Basketball, Women’s Basketball, and Women’s Swim and Dive. Afterward, Senior Associate Athletic Director for Development, Dan McLean went over the FY2023 Fundraising Recap and FY2024 Fundraising Update as well as Giving True Day. Giving True Day saw $526,467 raised from 957 donors. More than 50% of donations came from the online platform GiveCampus.

Football ticket sales recap, football game experience, basketball season tickets and marketing updates, and facility project updates were then thoroughly explained by Deputy Athletic Director for External Operations, Andy Rowdon. Wrapping up the Athletic Affairs meeting, Championship Building Plan Phase 2 was also proposed. This plan would see Rynearson Field resurfaced, and a brand-new track complex behind Westview. The plan also listed improvements to Oestrike Stadium.

Education Policies Committee

Concurrently, the Education Policies Committee Meeting started with the Fall 2023 Brickley Endowment award being awarded to chemistry professor, Steve Pernecky for faculty professional development and innovation. Following were the appointments and reappointments of charter school board members and the charter school annual report by director of the charter schools program, Jolia Hill.

Dean Ryan Gildersleeve then gave a presentation on the College of Education. The presentation portrayed education as a social transformation and emphasized the department's educator preparation.

Provost Rhonda Longworth ended the meeting with an Emeritus Faculty recommendation for Meritorious Service to professor Karen Smith-Meyer. Professor Smith-Meyer was a dedicated faculty member of the Communication, Media & Theatre Arts department until she passed away in 2001.

Faculty Affairs Committee

Shortly after from 10:30 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. the Faculty Affairs Committee Meeting happened in 205 Welch Hall. There was a presentation titled "Faculty Doing Community Engagement; Action Through Teaching, Research, and Service" which offered logically informed highlights about the criminal history questions in the application process.

Student Affairs Committee

At the same time from 10:30 a.m. to 11:15 a.m., the Student Affairs Committee meeting was held in 201 Welch Hall. The meeting started with the Student House of Representatives showcasing a presentation led by Speaker of the House Rylee Clairday. The presentation was brief and explained the purpose of the EMU House of Reps, as well as the benefits to other organizations within the school.

"As regent, Sidhu and I always say, you all are the reason that we're here. And you have an open door, we have an open-door policy with our students, especially our student organizations. Because we want to hear from you, we want to hear what's going on," Regent Nathan Ford said after the presentation ended.

The final presentation was on Student Mental Wellness Initiatives at EMU. It was presented by Ellen Gold, Doris Fields, and Calvin McFarland. The goals of the initiatives were stated to be creating a culture of care and belonging. There was an emphasis on Starfish, the university's early alert system due to EMU Counseling and Psychological Services seeing an increase in usage from 2% to 6%, as well as 42% of students answering a 2021 survey with having had "depression so bad they found it difficult to function." There is a student intervention team that meets weekly to proactively support students.

Finance and Investment Committee

At 11:30 a.m. and ending at noon the Finance and Investment Committee meeting happened in 201 Welch Hall. Announcements were made surrounding $650,000 being allocated for security. This budget is for cameras and classroom locks. Planning funds for Roosevelt Hall are still awaiting approval from the governor. Once the funds are approved, construction will be authorized.

Section 17 saw recommended action that requests approval of a 4.9% increase to the meal plans for the academic year 2024-2025. This is due to rising labor costs in the industry having increased by 5.5% in the last year, as well as food costs increasing by 6%.

There were also third-party-funded capital projects that were recommended to be placed on file: the Windgate 3D Arts Studio which is $7.5 million and is set to be completed by May 2024; the Halle Library's first floor is being redesigned to include more computer labs and dedicated spaces for the Center for Civil Rights and Social Justice and the Center for Jewish Studies and will cost $2.3 million, projected to be completed in Fall 2024; the Track and Field Complex will cost $5 million and will be completed by Spring 2025.

The meeting was brief and there was a break until the Regular Board Meeting.

Regular Board Meeting

At 1:30 p.m. the Regular Board Meeting commenced at 201 Welch Hall.

Tab A saw action requesting the Student-Athlete Performance Center should be renamed the Incarnati Athletic Center. This is to honor two-time EMU graduate Phil Incarnati, who has donated $4 million in total to the Championship Building Plan.

Tab B was the requested action for reappointing Chad Newton to serve a two-year term on the Eagle Administrative Services Board from Jan. 1, 2024, to Dec. 31, 2025.

Tab C was the recommended approval for revisions to existing board policies. There were revisions in degrees, certificates, and requirements for graduation, grades, undergraduate courses, and attendance.

Afterward, St. Clair Community College was recognized for its 100th anniversary by EMU.

All sections were unanimously approved, like last time, including section 6 which had the action requesting an annual bonus of up to 10% of the base salary for President James Smith.

The president's report followed, and Smith thanked Regent Emeritus, Phil Incarnati for his $2.5 million gift. 

President Smith also stated that the board has a plan they will be unveiling in February in terms of “DEI work on campus” and he extended a personal thank you to Chair Eunice Jeffries and Regent Kimbrough Marshall.

As the meeting neared its end, Tab G was the election of officers. Chair Jeffries took a quick moment to announce she did not intend to be chair of the Board of Regents anymore. “I am not running for board chair again but it's because I appreciate the honor so much. This is meant to be shared," Jeffries told all attending.

Members of the Board all said their honors to Chair Jeffries and it was then that elections were read. The Board of Regents elected Chad Newton as Chair of the Board of Regents for a term of two years. Nate Ford was elected as Vice-Chair of the Board of Regents.

The meeting was adjourned at 3 p.m. and the floor was bustling. Hands were shaking each other, and many people waited in line to say their many thanks for Chair Jeffries’ hard work.

“We kept our students safe and our faculty staff and employees. But beyond that, we also were able to support the certain community because we had the testing sites and we implemented the vaccine here also," Chair Jeffries had to say in response to the challenges the university faced during the pandemic.

When asked about what she felt was her greatest success during her time as chair she said, "I would think, and this kind of comes with fruition a little bit after my time as board chair, but in April I convened at High Committee within the board, focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion and charged them with determining what the climate was here on campus and what the potential, what could we do in that space."

Chair Jeffries served on the Board since 2017 and leaves her legacy as the first African American female board chair.

The next scheduled Board Meeting is on Feb. 8, 2024. Join us then for more coverage.