Administrators discuss the Warren Center, parking lot purchases at All University Meeting

Authors: Bailey Morrison & Julia Sarcineli 

Several administrators detailed new initiatives for the spring at the All University Meeting held on Monday, Feb. 29.

President F. Javier Cevallos said the administration is close to its goal of raising $12 million for the capital campaign. According to Cevallos, “We’re actually at $9,300,016 as of yesterday. We still have a year and a half to go. We expect to not only reach the goal, but to exceed the goal.”

Cevallos added most of the money will benefit students in the form of scholarships.

He praised FSU’s progress in environmental sustainability. However, he stressed there is still need for improvement. He said everyone needs to “make sure we have a world to leave to our children and to our grandchildren.”

The president said FSU plans to close the Warren Conference Center and Inn deal on April 13. It is a 100 acre site in Ashland, currently owned by Northeastern University. It will remain a conference center, but in the future, it can be used by many disciplines at FSU, according to Cevallos.

He added the Warren Center will be a “really integral part of campus.”

FSU is conducting a marketing study, according Cevallos, to help “build a brand” for FSU and “enhance and raise the image of the university.”

Cevallos announced the search committee will select the new vice president of enrollment and student development “in the next week or two.” The committee met Thursday, March 3 to discuss the finalists.

Cevallos said FSU purchased land on Franklin Street to be used as residence parking. He said parking this semester has been “a little bit of an issue.”

According to Cevallos the lot will be opening fall 2016.

Dale Hamel, executive vice president, said the net gain of parking spots from the new parking lot will be around 262. The University no longer needs to lease parking spaces off-campus.

The new parking lot will allot a 15 percent increase in spaces for faculty and staff on campus, along with adding more handicap spots.

“So every constituent group is benefiting from this new lot, even though it is specifically a lot for resident students, but by moving them off there’s a whole bunch of reassignments and dominoes that then fall,” he said.

The next phase of the science project, which includes repurposing of labs and other renovations, will begin in about a week, according to Hamel. Some demolition will start over spring break, but most of the work will be done over the summer.

He added there will be two shifts of workers over the summer with the intention of getting most of the renovations done by the fall, but the nursing suite and other rooms will go into the next year “with hopefully everything completed by December.”

As for other projects, Hamel said the next phase of Crocker Hall updates “may be deferred” in order to move up installing air conditioning in May Hall.

“We’re in the middle of design. We actually have to work with the science project to do a change order for the piping portion of that,” he said.

Hamel said construction of the new residence hall, West Hall, “is moving great. The nice thing about this weather is things fly, so it will easily be done this summer in time for fall occupancy.” After West Hall is completed renovations to turn O’Connor Hall into office space can begin in the fall.

Hamel said the state auditors came and “though it’s still very early … they looked at five areas in depth. I think four of them look good and likely no findings.” However, he said the University “is not doing a very good job” regarding the fifth area the auditors examined – inventory control and tracking equipment across campus.

“That would be an ongoing issue that would become an initiative that will impact all of you,” he said. “So when you get that sheet during the summer of what’s going to be in your office – I think we’re going to be much more diligent about that in terms of tracking down what equipment is actually available.”

On the budget process, Hamel said projected state appropriations are a smaller than in past years, adding Governor Baker’s budget includes a one-percent increase while FSU budgeted for a three-percent increase.

“That process will play itself out. Obviously, there’s a number of expenditure commitments that we’re facing, including personnel costs – both for bargain agreements and new personnel, and we’re trying to retain some level of increase in faculty and staff as well,” he said, adding they will notify the community with periodic updates.

Sean Huddleston, chief officer of diversity, inclusion and community engagement, said Framingham State has partnered with Keefe Tech Regional School, Framingham High School, MassBay Community College and other community partners for the 100 Males to College program.

This program will help 100 male high school students attend and finish college, according to Huddleston.

He said these students are the “moveable middle” population in that they have a 1.7 to 2.7 GPA, have an 80 percent or higher attendance rate in high school and are identified as low-income students.

Another program Huddleston highlighted was Estrella, which is a partnership with Wayside Youth and Family Services. This program focuses on students aging out of the foster care system.

“Less than five percent of students aging out of foster care either enroll or graduate from college,” he said, adding, “We want to make sure that we are encouraging and supporting those students.”

In terms of retention, Huddleston said FSU is part of a consortium called Leading for Change, which was established by Bridgewater State to analysis data with a focus on underrepresented and underserved students in terms of retention and graduate-rate gaps.

He added FSU is planning on adapting a campaign started by Bridgewater called Five for Twenty-Five. If the campaign helps 25 students graduate, it would reflect a five percent graduate rate increase.

The new director for the Center for Inclusive Excellence, Chon’Tel Washington, started on Monday, Feb. 29 and will be working on retention strategies.

Huddleston said recently the administration has expanded the definition of inclusive excellence to include community engagement.

“I’m working with a number of you around the University to help position Framingham State University as an educational partner to our community,” he said.

Lorretta Holloway thanked SGA for having a “very candid discussion about the student employment pilot project and the 20-hour work week. That was really the best way to have a discussion with the people who are directly impacted by it.”

According to Holloway, assistant professor Juliana Luna Freire was instrumental in starting a translator and interpreter program at FSU.

Holloway added with help from Freire, several documents were trasnlated “for families who don’t speak English so they can support their students.”

Holloway thanked Shayna Eddy, director of undergraduate admissions, for her hard work, which has resulted in record enrollment at FSU.

The Housing and Food Insecurities taskforce received a donation of $30,000, with an additional donation of $10,000 to help students with housing and food insecurities.

According to Holloway, Michelle Yestrepsky is the single point of contact for FSU students suffering from housing and food insecurity issues.

English Professor Elaine Beilin updated faculty and staff on a new initiative called Re-Imagining the First Year (RFY) of college. According to Beilin, the University is “going to engage in a long-term well-considered project that has the potential of being a huge benefit to our first-year students, and so, of course, to all of our students.”

In January, Framingham State University was chosen as one of 44 colleges nationwide to participate in this three-year project, according to Beilin.

She added FSU was chosen “partly because we’ve already made some progress in improving first-year students’ learning, success and retention.”

According to Beilin, 25 percent of all first-year students do not return for a second year. “Let’s put a face on that,” Beilin said, adding, “Over 200 of our first-year students leave. If they don’t enroll in another institution or they don’t come back to us, many of their life prospects are diminished.”

Beilin was a member of the team that attended the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) conference to discuss the implementation of the RFY program at FSU. Others on the team included Huddleston, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairss Linda Vaden-Goad and Director of First-Year Programs Ben Trapanick.

According to Beilin, the conference showed participants there was “a lot more we could be doing” at FSU to increase retention of students.

Beilin said, “The essential goal of RFY is to redesign the first year of college to ensure greater success for all students with a special emphasis on students who have not been well served by higher education – low income, first generation and students of color.”

FSU is now in the process of forming four working groups, according to Beilin, each of which will be concentrated on one of four of AASCU’s areas of focus – institutional intentionality, faculty and staff, curriculum and students.

At the conference, the team was asked to sum up what FSU was most excited about with the implementation of RFY, the team wrote down, “Having the whole campus working on a collaborative, data driven, action-oriented project of the highest importance to the University’s mission of equity and social justice.

“And what we ended up saying was, ‘It’s on all of us.’”

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