FBI out of hate crime investigation

(The Framingham State Foundation updated the trustees during their January meeting. Photo by Madison Rosbach.)

The FBI will “not be able to assist any further” in the investigation of the six hate crimes that occurred last semester, according to Millie González, interim chief officer of diversity, inclusion and community engagement.

She announced the update during a Board of Trustees’ meeting on Jan. 24.

González said while she had been informed of the FBI’s decision she was not aware of the reason at the time of the meeting. She said she would be reaching out to the offices of Senator Elizabeth Warren and Congresswoman Katherine Clark to ask for their assistance in moving forward with the investigation.

She added Barbara Holland, founder and CEO of BreakThrough Partners, a consulting firm specializing in diversity and inclusion, has completed focus groups with students, faculty and staff of color and is now creating a report of her results and conclusions about their experiences at the University.

González also announced the winners of this year’s Beacon Award during her report.

Marcie Dineen, area director of Larned Hall, Rebecca Shearman, biology professor, and LaToya Tavernier, sociology professor, were chosen for their contributions to inclusive excellence on campus and were presented their awards on Thursday, Jan. 25.

Also during the meeting, President F. Javier Cevallos said an offer has been extended to an individual for the position of chief of staff and general counsel. He said he hopes to have the position filled by the end of the week.

The position was previously filled by Rita Colucci, who left the University in December for a position at Salem State.

During his report, Student Trustee Karl Bryan said he would like the University to consider renaming a residence hall after FSU’s first African-American graduate, Mary Elizabeth Miles, who graduated in 1840. Bryan said he has already suggested this change to Cevallos, but was informed it would be up to the Board of Higher Education (BHE).

Bryan said the residence halls were not named for students.

“There’s an idea on this campus with students – not just students of color – that the administration or the University in general doesn’t care for them,” said Bryan.

Matt Noyse, director of trustee and government relations for the BHE, attended the meeting. He said he would take Bryan’s request into consideration with his colleagues.

Bryan said he spoke to Noyse after the meeting and thought he was very receptive to the idea. Noyse told Bryan he would find out if it was a possibility considering the BHE typically prioritizes donors when naming university buildings.

During the Student Spotlight portion of the meeting, Diane Inman, a student in the master’s of art education program, spoke to the board about her experience as a veteran of the army national guard and student at FSU.

Inman said she knew she wanted to pursue elementary education and chose art education after positive experiences she had while taking art classes at FSU.

“I really feel that I can work well with that demographic. I’ve been working for 26 years with soldiers, so they’re not too different in terms of giving direction,” Inman said.

Lorretta Holloway, vice president of enrollment and student development, updated the board regarding changes being made to the University’s website to increase accessibility. She also shared data about how students are using the counseling center.

“Our website has just become unwieldy – with 3,800 pages – and it just doesn’t make a lot of sense. I compared it to that junk drawer that you have in your kitchen. You just put everything in there that doesn’t fit anyplace else and that’s not necessarily what you want the website to be,” said Holloway.

She added since the new landing page was launched, traffic on FSU’s website has increased by 22 percent.

Holloway said she met with Paul Welch, director of the Counseling Center, about data the center has collected about the students using the facility and what issues they are being helped with.

“More male and minority students are being seen, which is good in a sense because nationally, there tends to be a lower number of those students who avail themselves” to mental health services, said Holloway.

Holloway also spoke to the board about a new behavioral health kiosk that will be moved to different areas on campus to allow community members to get information about resources available for mental health.

The kiosk, called MindKare, is currently in the lobby of the Health Center, but will soon be moving to CASA. According to promotional material about the kiosk, it “will help you to determine whether the symptoms you have been feeling may be consistent with a common mental health disorder.”

Trustee Michael Grilli reported the University’s budget and finances for the upcoming year. He said, “The University has shared in the success of the market” and will not have to “dip into our portfolio” to account for last year’s budget deficit.

He added the University has done “an excellent job” of blending construction costs into the budget.

Grilli said an increase in fees should be expected based on the evolving budget presented during the meeting. He also said while FSU’s tuition and room and board costs have been lower than other state universities’ in previous years, this year, they will most likely increase to the average cost among the universities.

“The legislature isn’t good to us in any way – nor is the governor. And we have to manage our affairs here the way we always do. We’ll have the budget for you – we’ll spoon feed it to you in March and have it for you in May,” said Grilli.

Cevallos concluded the meeting by inviting everyone to the men’s basketball game on Saturday, Jan. 27 at which players from the original men’s basketball team, including Richard Logan, chair of the board, will be recognized for creating the team 50 years ago.