Danforth Art Museum to move to FSU

[Nick Cunningham]

The Board of Trustees approved a letter of intent to bring the Danforth Art Museum to FSU.

The vote took place at the trustees meeting Wednesday, Nov. 30.

The letter will allow FSU to continue with its application to establish the Danforth Art School at FSU through the continuing education program and the Danforth Art Museum at FSU, according to President F. Javier Cevallos.

“We are ready to move forward with bringing the Danforth in with us, and I think it would be a great asset and a great opportunity for us to add to our cultural programs. … There are so many things that we aren’t even aware of that we can do by having the museum be a part of us, and I think it’s a really exciting thing,” said Cevallos.

According to the letter of intent, both the museum and art school will be located in the Jonathan Maynard Building on the Framingham Centre Common, and art classes will start to be offered by next fall.

Trustee Chair Richard Logan said the Danforth Art Museum vacated its building in downtown Framingham “because the building’s boiler basically went kaput,” and this past July the museum reached out to FSU.

“I think this would be good for the community, Danforth and the University. We have a very strong art department here,” he said. Adding it will be a great opportunity for the art students at the University.

Trustee Vice Chair Kevin Foley said, “If there’s anything that arises, both organizations can pull back, so I think that increases the latitude of going through with the letter of intent.”

During her report at the trustees meeting, Linda Vaden-Goad, provost and vice president of academic affairs, said a new logo and motto, “FSU Belong,” have been chosen as a part of the Reimagining the First Year project.

She said, “We expect this to make some kind of difference, and we’ll be looking at the … things we’re doing to help the students feel like they really should be here at this public institution getting a great education.”

Averil Capers, director of marketing, said FSU has been implementing different marketing initiatives, including advertising on Facebook, Instagram, Pandora, LinkedIn and radio stations. There is also advertising on a Natick Mall directory display and on MWRTA buses.

She said the administration is also doing pre-roll advertising by showing an FSU ad before selected videos, such as those on YouTube. For October, Capers said the advertisement was shown 300,000 times, and 50 percent of the people who watched the video watched it all the way through.

“It’s a little over a minute video, so I thought that was very encouraging. It says something about who we’re talking to and perhaps about the video,” said Capers.

Capers added the FSU website has also been redesigned and will be live in December. Instead of rotating photos on the homepage, there will be a single image with a student and their FSU story, which will be changed every few weeks.

There will also be a launch of Campus Bird in a few months, which is an interactive map for smart phones and websites that will be a way for prospective students to have a virtual tour of campus.

Trustee Brian Herr said, “I feel very strongly that if we sell it, they will come.”

Jeremy Spencer, dean of enrollment management, reported that from 2007-08 to 2027-28 the percentage of white, non-Hispanic students in Massachusetts will decrease the most.

“Why that is so is because some of our underrepresented groups – primarily the Hispanic population – are increasing at the greatest rate,” said Spencer, adding white non-Hispanic students are projected to decrease by over 40 percent and Hispanic students are projected to increase by over 70 percent, or about 4,200 students.

Additionally,  the African-American student population will stay primarily the same, Asian and Pacific-Islander students will increase slightly and Native-American and Native-Alaskan students will remain around the same.

The Tecnolutions Slate CRM, or customer relationship management software, will be implemented for fall 2017 and will allow “the admissions office to form relationships with students earlier in the process,” in order to compete with the “stiff competition” in Massachusetts, according to Spencer.

Sean Huddleston, chief officer of diversity, inclusion and community engagement, said without counting non-U.S. resident or other, Framingham State is the most diverse among the sister institutions, and out of the other institutions, Salem State has the highest level of diversity.

Institutions do not report or count non-U.S. resident or other due to federal reporting and state-wide reporting purposes, according to Huddleston, but internally institutions can keep track of that number.

“What was interesting to me is when you look at race plus gender, anecdotally people would assume that females would be a higher percentage, but … our minority male population is actually higher than our minority female population. If you add in other or non-U.S. resident it’s even higher,” said Huddleston.

He added FSU currently has a 12 percent Hispanic or Latino population and is almost halfway to FSU being designated a Hispanic serving institution.

“It is very likely we will hit that in the next five, possibly ten years,” said Huddleston.

He said, “I think it’s very consistent with what Jeremy [Spencer] indicated, which is we are looking at population shifts across the state and we’re looking at where our students are coming from.”

Trustee Fernando Quezada asked whether there is an option for students to select if they are Brazilian, and Huddleston said typically, most Brazilians identify as white or the box they would check isn’t listed. He added they are looking into allowing that option.

Dale Hamel, executive vice president, presented the Financial Committee’s review.

He said during the last financial planning process, they anticipated a rapid enrollment growth and a “strong or relatively strong” state appropriation growth, but “we don’t see that as the situation going into the current strategic planning process.”

Hamel added, “While our current situation is very strong … the current budget has a deficit projected and growing out of that deficit in the next couple of years. Looking even further out … we don’t see state appropriations at the same level they had been in the past, nor enrollment at those same levels.”

He said aggregated debt has “increased significantly” as a strategy of the board, but “has been more than made up for, if you will, through net investment and capital largely through funding coming from the Commonwealth.”

State appropriations over the past ten years average 3.7 percent, and Hamel said “on average, most states would take that.”

Additionally, student revenues have increased around 7 percent annually, expenditures have increased annually 7.4 percent and the debt burden ratio is below the University’s target of 5 percent and will stay within that cap for the next three anticipated borrowings, according to Hamel.

He said student support has shown the largest growth through investment in the First-Year program and “operations and maintenance has been very small.”

As for the University’s primary reserves, Hamel said, “We’re basically living within our means,” but “compared to our other sister colleges – which again we try to benchmark – again, we are in good financial standing here, as well.”

Claire Ramsbottom, chair of the Alumni Board for the past three years, said the Alumni Board, which now has two additional members, is supporting efforts to develop additional affinity groups for alumni of color, entrepreneurs, football and alumni employees for this year.

They also plan to increase funding for emergency grant funds for students and the alumni scholarship fund, according to Ramsbottom.

In other news, the deans of arts and humanities, STEM, education and social/behavioral sciences presented about professors who have been or will be on sabbaticals.

Vaden-Goad said, “We really ask that faculty be available to their students at all times, so it’s very hard for them to do the work they need to do in order to be current in their classes and bring their students forward.”

She added this year, 16 applications have been approved – three in the arts and humanities, two in education, nine in social and behavioral sciences and two in STEM.

Marc Cote, dean of arts and humanities, said English Professor Lisa Eck will be on sabbatical for the fall 2017 semester to read and research on her topic of Indian postsecularism. He said Eck is a “vibrant member” of the English department and has led trips to India with students over the winter session in previous years.

Susan Dargan, dean of social/behavioral sciences, said education professor Mary Grassetti took a sabbatical in fall of 2015. She co-authored, edited and published a textbook with education professor Silvy Brookby.

“She really needed that condensed time to get it done,” said Dargan, adding Grassetti also taught a third-grade math class and chaired the New England Educational Research Organization annual conference, “which is sort of like planning a wedding.”

Margaret Carroll, dean of STEM, said biology professor Walter Lambert studies invertebrate animals and invasive organisms, and his sabbatical at the University of New Hampshire allowed him to conduct his research and field work.

Carroll added biology professor Stephen Dinkelacker is currently on sabbatical.

Dinkelacker, who attended the meeting, presented senior biology student Ryan Hanscom, who has conducted research on snapping turtles at a facility in North Carolina.

Hanscom, who is also a supplemental instructor, said he was able to track the turtles and participate in education outreach.

In other news, Student Trustee Karl Bryan spoke about the Hope in Action Rally held after the election and the formation of the Hope in Action club as a way for students “to come together and move forward.”

Cevallos said he is “proud” of the way students responded to the election and of the Hope in Action’s formation.

Trustee Anthony Hubbard was also recognized as a new board member.

Hubbard said, “It’s an honor to be here and get acquainted with the University.”

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