Board of Trustees approves funding for new facilities building

The Framingham State University Board of Trustees approved financing for the acquisition and renovation of a new property to house the Facilities Department.

The first motion involved the acquisition of the new property located at 860 Worcester Road, Framingham for $1.2 million, with $1.5 million set aside for renovations to the property.

According to the report by Executive Vice President Dale Hamel, the building is in good condition and located conveniently in the vicinity of the campus.

The building will “address short term and longer-term office needs” with its 8,000 square feet of office space on three floors, according to the report. Specifically, this will allow for the relocation of the Facilities Department, whose current office building near Maynard Parking Lot will be demolished to make room for the new dormitory.

Hamel pointed out that the property’s 37 parking spaces will help
alleviate the ongoing parking shortage.

The property acquisition and renovation will be financed through a “non-revolving line of credit” with Mutual One Bank in Framingham, according to the Board’s resolution.

The Board approved a motion to reappoint 40 non-tenured faculty members for the year, according to the trustees’ report. Also appointed were one full-time temporary, one tenure-track, and one tenured faculty member, and five new administrative staff members. Three resignations, one retirement and seven emeriti were also approved.

Also approved was a motion to appoint Robert Richards as trustee emeritus, a position which President F. Javier Cevallos said “is a way to recognize the many years of dedicated service Robert Richards contributed to the Board.”

As trustee emeritus, Richards will be welcome to attend and participate in Board meetings, but will not vote on motions, according to Cevallos.

Also present at the meeting was Sociology Professor Daisy Ball, who coordinates a program called Inside-Out, which involves Framingham State students visiting and studying side by side with prison inmates. Ball explained how the program functions, and introduced a presentation by Student Trustee Brandon Martinez, who completed an Inside-Out course in sociology last semester.

Martinez described how he gained not only academic knowledge throughout the course, but also cultural knowledge from the “insiders” who participated, and called the experience “eye-opening” and “rewarding.”

In other business, Cevallos gave an update on three strategic goals established by the administration – diversity, compliance and efficiency.

For the goal of diversity, Cevallos explained that, as of Fall 2014, 18.7 percent of full-time faculty are part of underrepresented racial groups. Additionally, Cevallos noted the hiring of a Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, FSU’s participation in the Leading For Change Consortium, the creation of gender-neutral bathrooms, new courses centered on diversity and public discussions such as Diversity Dialogues, as advancing this goal.

Regarding the second goal, compliance, Cevallos said that changes have been made in order to meet compliance standards laid out by the Department of Higher Education regarding academic and student affairs.

A motion was approved to create a Compliance, Audit and Risk subcommittee. This committee, according to the report, “reviews, considers and, as necessary, makes recommendations to the Board of Trustees on matters concerning the University’s internal and external audit controls, and compliance and risk assessments.”

Finally, Cevallos discussed how, based on the goal of efficiency, the administration will look to streamline student services such as Financial Aid, and implement new “informed course scheduling” to better determine the amount of courses each department should offer each semester.

Present for her first meeting was the newest trustee, Nancy Budwig, who was introduced by Chair Joseph Burchill.

Budwig, who received her B.A. from Vassar College and her Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley, is currently the associate provost and dean of research at Clark University, where she is also a professor of psychology. Budwig is also active in publishing, according to Burchill. She recently authored an article in “Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning.”

“She certainly is a needed and welcome member of our Board,” Burchill said of Budwig. “Her academic background will serve us well. I’m very pleased to welcome her to the Board.”

Also introduced to the Board was the recently hired Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Sean Huddleston. Cevallos praised Huddleston’s strong background in diversity and inclusion efforts in higher education.

Huddleston was also welcomed by Student Trustee Martinez, who told Huddleston that “students are very excited to work with you.” He also read a letter to Huddleston from the chair of SGA’s Gender Inclusion Ad Hoc Committee thanking the new CDIO for helping to advance inclusion initiatives such as gender-neutral bathrooms.

Vice President for Enrollment and Student Development Susanne Conley updated the Board on her office’s progress toward six goals for the 2014-15 academic year, as detailed in her report.

The first of these goals is to effectively use data from last year’s “EBI Campus-Wide Student Climate/Diversity Survey” to guide initiatives. Conley explained that the results indicated that students of color did not feel welcome on campus. This was the impetus for several Diversity Dialogues last semester – “to create a more welcoming environment and keep diversity top of mind for students, faculty and staff,” she said.

The second goal is to “collaborate with Academic Affairs to facilitate a campus-wide discussion of ethical student conduct and citizenship in an academic community.” With that goal in mind, Conley said that the Dean of Students met with a group of faculty and staff members, as well as representatives from the Center for Excellence in Learning, Teaching, Scholarship and Service, in August, and have since begun to implement discussions of ethical conduct in first-year seminars and a “BlackBoard-based tutorial” that will be ready for use this semester.

Conley’s third goal is to pilot a new “co-curricular transcript offering” through CollegiateLink, which will be issued for the first time to students involved in the University Leadership Academy and Emerging Leaders Program at the end of the semester.

In order to improve the enrollment process for new students, which is the fourth goal, Conley’s office will work with Admissions to streamline deposit payments, use social media more effectively and “implement a comprehensive graduate recruitment plan” through outreach and participation in conferences around New England.

Conley’s fifth goal involves improving the function of the Financial Aid office, especially in regards to new students, making their initial award picture “more responsive, timely and competitive” by “utilizing early estimation” of Financial Aid packages, “de-emphasizing” deadlines and penalties, and “empowering admissions counselors to share accurate FA information with recruits.”

Conley’s final goal is aimed at improving Student Records and Registration Services by promoting and training personnel in data systems such as Banner, Argos and DegreeWorks. The office hosted several training sessions for this goal last semester.

The Board was also updated by Trustee Barbara Gardner on the progress of Academic Affairs’ five-year strategic plan, which is in its third year.

Gardner’s report outlines six overarching goals: “Develop and retain quality faculty and staff,” “Strengthen new student preparation, induction and early academic success,” “Pursue excellence and engagement in the academic experience,” “Prepare students for global citizenship and competitiveness,” “Strengthen and expand STEM programs and student success in STEM areas” and “Respond to labor market trends in academic program and center development.”

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