Board of Trustees approved purchase of multiple properties

FSU's Board of Trustees held a meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 1. (Photo by Brad Leuchte)

Framingham State University’s Board of Trustees voted to acquire several properties at their Tuesday, Dec. 1 meeting.

FSU will buy a property at 860 Worcester Road for $1.5 million. FSU may not borrow more than $1.685 million. It will cost $1.2 million to buy the property and $300,000 to renovate it.

The board also approved the purchase of a property at the Perini property 89 Mount Wayte Ave. – a property roughly seven acres in size -through the College Building Authority for $3.2 million. This deal will close Friday, Dec. 18.

FSU and the Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance (DCAMM) collaborated to purchase the Warren Conference Center and Inn in Ashland for $8 million. FSU has received $2.5 million from the state, along with $4 million in General Obligation bonds. It will borrow $1.5 million from the Massachusetts College Building Authority.

FSU will sell a 2.4 acre piece of property with a barn and silo to Ashland that has historical significance for $290,000, according to Executive Vice President Dale Hamel.

An ongoing campaign called “Investing in Student Success” has raised $8.62 million, according to Eric Gustafson, executive director of development and alumni relations.

Gustafson said this is part of a seven-year effort to raise $12 million, and so far, administrators are ahead of schedule. The campaign will end June 30, 2018.

As of Tuesday, Dec. 1, the University has raised $920,000 this year, and the average donation is $50, Gustafson said.

“It’s the first ever comprehensive fundraising campaign in the University’s history,” he said. “It’s a very important initiative in terms of the University’s ability to raise private funds.”

Nancy Budwig, a trustee, said at an earlier meeting, administrators debated whether sabbatical leaves were worth the investment. They decided a sabbatical leave is cost-effective and does not affect students’ quality of education. She added during sabbatical leaves, faculty devotes time normally spent on teaching to work on projects or papers in their fields of study.

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Linda Vaden-Goad said tenured faculty members are eligible for sabbatical leave after six years of teaching.

Vice President of Enrollment and Student Development Lorretta Holloway said an internship program for languages will begin next spring, and will be led by Juliana Luna Freire, professor of Spanish and Portuguese.

FSU administrators submitted an application for a grant sponsored by NASA, which promotes science, technology, engineering and mathematics [STEM] learning among students of the commonwealth. This will likely be a multi-year program. The amount is to be determined.

Tobias Conn, coordinator for the Office of Veterans Services, acts as a liaison between the Department of Veteran Affairs and FSU. He conducts three week-long workshops to assist veterans in the transition between serving in the armed forces and attending college. He said a greater number of younger veterans participated in the program.

Dean of Students Melinda Stoops said since 2009, FSU has tried to ensure students serving in the military may finish their semester remotely if they must leave to serve before the semester concludes.

Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Sean Huddleston said at the Student Voices Forum, which was led by Student Trustee Fernando Rodriguez, students engaged in a conversation about bias incidents.

He added there will be a discussion in late January or early February regarding free speech and hate speech, with the goal of creating a “sustainable dialogue” in which students can debate these issues.

Rodriguez said during the last Campus Safety Walk on Tuesday, Nov. 17, SGA members and administrators walked around the campus to address lighting and safety concerns brought to him by students. He said many of these potentially unsafe places on campus have been addressed.

He also wants to focus on policy changes concerning sexual assault and mental health, and examine how these issues can be improved, such as hiring new full-time staff members. He said the problem might be a miscommunication between students and administrators, but not administrators performing their jobs poorly.

Hamel said FSU has a higher composite financial index than at least seven of its nine sister schools, including UMass. The composite financial index is used to measure the financial success of an institution over time.

FSU received $260,000 from the state to benefit students by increasing their financial aid. It will also increase funds for the CHOICE Internship Program and the College Planning Center, according to Hamel.

President F. Javier Cevallos said FSU held an open forum for students to discuss race relations and bias incidents on Monday, Nov. 30. He wants to continue these forums on a regular basis.

He added students may begin college at MassBay, and then transfer to FSU to finish their collegiate careers for less than $29,000.

Cevallos said administrators must improve retention numbers, as they have not changed significantly this year. The gap between retention numbers for minority and non-minority students is “non-existent.”

The University increased its net income during fiscal year 2015 to $125,993 from $87,635 last fiscal year. Expenses totaled $88.3 million, an increase of $5.4 million from the previous year.

The board recognized the outstanding achievements of a senior who served in the armed forces from 2011 to 2015.

Matthew Mangano, a senior criminology major who will be graduating this winter, graduated from Winchester High School in 2009. He attended Western New England University for one semester, and then transferred to Merrimack College for one-and-a-half years.

When that did not pan out, he was sworn into the Army Reserves in 2011, and later reached out to Aynsley Rosenbaum, the assistant football coach, who convinced him to come to FSU.

During his time here, Mangano has succeeded on and off the field, winning a number of awards in football, as well as serving the community through TEAM Impact, the Special Olympics and working with Director of Equal Opportunity, Title IX, and ADA Compliance Kim Dexter and others as a student athlete representative for the Bystander Intervention Program for one-and-a-half years. TEAM Impact is an organization dedicated to improving the lives of children with life-threatening illnesses.

He said after graduating, he hopes to play football professionally. However, if unable to do so, he would like to become an Army Ranger and then work in public safety.

The Board of Trustees will discuss a new strategic plan at their next meeting in the spring. This plan will go into effect at the end of 2017.

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