Board of Trustees discuss alternative college initiatives

Student fees will increase next year “whether we like it or not,” said Michael Grilli, finance subcommittee chair, during the Board of Trustees meeting on April 4.

Tuition and fees during Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 totaled $9,920, the total for FY2019 will increase this price by $570.

Richard Logan, chair of the board, announced he will not be seeking a fourth term as chair.

Logan said, “This has been the time of my life and I’ve enjoyed it thoroughly.”

This meeting was the first at which Ann McDonald attended as general counsel and secretary to the board. McDonald filled this position after Rita Colucci left the University in January.

Also during the meeting, Colleen Coffey, executive director of The College Collaborative, college access, equity and community engagement at FSU and MassBay, presented to the board about early college initiatives the MetroWest College Planning Center is spearheading in local communities to encourage younger students to enroll in classes that will prepare them for college and careers.

“About half of the population of the MetroWest – which is a huge surprise to most – is not engaged in post-secondary activity,” said Coffey. This means they do not attend college or may have attended but not completed college.

She added, “The numbers are alarming, but if you go out and talk to the community, you’ll find out it’s a logical pattern.” She noted the changing demographics as well as the socio-economic diversity in the MetroWest are factors that contribute to this trend.

Coffey said to encourage more people to attend and complete college, we need to “train the pipeline.” She suggested engaging different high school grade levels in different ways and stressed teaching high school students that dual enrollment classes should be taken with a major or career path in mind.

According to Scott Greenberg, associate vice president for academic affairs and the dean of continuing education, FSU has been participating in dual enrollment programs for about 10 years.

Sara Mulkeen, manager of digital communications and interactive media at FSU, presented to the board about website accessibility after the University received complaints from a federal civil rights organization regarding accessibility problems on “framingham.edu.”

Sunny Tam, director of the biotechnology graduate program, and Steve Moysey, director of the MBA program, spoke about the recent addition of a biotechnology operations concentration to FSU’s existing MBA program.

This concentration allows students to pursue careers with an MBA specializing in biotechnology operations. According to Moysey, skilled workers in this field are in high demand in the area, as Boston and the MetroWest hold the second highest number of biotechnology companies after San Francisco.

Karl Bryan, student trustee, spoke from his own experience about the recent Alternative Spring Break (ASB) trip to Memphis, Tennessee. Bryan said his group helped with an urban gardening project and worked on boarding up abandoned homes to decrease their availability to house illegal activities, such as drug use and prostitution.

“It was harder work than I thought it would be,” said Bryan.

Trustee Nancy Budwig asked Bryan if students had to pay to be a part of ASB or if it is financially accessible for all students.

Bryan said he had to pay roughly $300 out of pocket to participate in the trip. He added SILD works with students regardless of their financial situation if they are chosen to participate in the trip.

Lorretta Holloway, vice president for enrollment and student development, added she has been a chaperone during previous ASB trips and said it is more of an issue of space and commitment, not cost. She noted the rigorous application process students must go through to be selected and the year-long time commitment students must make to fundraising and meetings in order to participate.

Echoing Holloway’s point, Bryan said he applied to last year’s trip to New Orleans, Louisiana and was not chosen.

During the President’s report, President Javier F. Cevallos reported 70 percent of students receive financial aid. This was in response to a question raised during a subcommittee meeting about financial aid at FSU. He added 33 percent of students receive Pell Grant funding, 68 percent receive loans and 31 percent receive aid from grants, scholarships and other funding sources.

Alyssa Figueiredo, a junior majoring in elementary education and psychology, addressed the board as the Student in the Spotlight. She is the president of the Education Club, treasurer of the Kappa Delta Pi Honor Society, a first-year peer mentor and a member of the Dance Team.

“I would not have been able to accomplish everything I have without the incredible faculty and staff Framingham State University has. There were many times when I doubted myself and faced difficulties, but there was never a time when I felt alone,” said Figueiredo.

During the enrollment and student development report, Holloway said the University has recorded a higher number of acceptances this year compared to last year. She attributed this to admissions informing applicants whose applications were incomplete what they were missing and giving them a chance to complete the admissions requirements. In the past, students who submitted incomplete applications were automatically declined.

“Despite having a lower number of applicants, we have a higher number of acceptances than we have had in the past. … I always say it’s too early to get excited – I’m actually not excited until October when I know exactly how many” students enroll, said Holloway.

Budwig, who is a member of the Presidential Review Subcommittee, told the board the Presidential Review is getting underway after a letter was received from Carlos E. Santiago, commissioner of higher education for Massachusetts, “The letter we received this year was really special. It really spoke highly of our president.”

She added, “I just wanted all of you to know – not only that we have the thanks of the commissioner, but we also have a great deal of respect for the leadership team here.”

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