Five takeaways from the MSU Board of Trustees meeting
MSU’s Board of Trustees met Thursday morning to make decisions from new room and board rates to building renovations. Here are the top five takeaways from the meeting.
1. University initiatives on Title IX
In light of recent controversies surrounding ex-MSU doctor Larry Nassar, the Board of Trustees provided an update on the internal reviews of the university and provided the next steps they will take in creating changes within the university.
MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon said an internal review of MSU HealthTeam policies and practices has been completed and that policies regarding informed consent and the role of chaperones have been strengthened.
She said MSU is now engaging a comprehensive third-party quality and safety assurance review, being consolidated administratively and financially under the MSU HealthTeam.
MSU will also engage independent experts to review MSU’s Title IX policy in fall 2017 as an effort to accelerate the review of the Title IX program.
Simon said the review of the Title IX policy will take place during the summer, when they will choose an external individual. Pepper Hamilton was used in 2015, the last time an outside expert reviewed the Title IX policy.
2. Room and board rate increase
The Board of Trustees voted to increase the price of housing for the 2017-18 year by 2.5 percent, the lowest price increase in 19 years. This leads to an overall $100 increase on room prices and $142 increase on food prices.
“We are the third lowest rate in the Big Ten,” Vennie Gore, Vice President for Auxiliary Enterprises, said. “We provide a really great value. In the state of Michigan, we’re currently fourth (lowest).”
Last year, the trustees voted to increase the price of housing by 2.75 percent, which was the lowest price increase in 18 years.
The price increase comes as a result of inflation, the contract costs for employees and money being put back into the facilities. However, Gore said the university has been fortunate that energy and food costs have gone down.
3. Administration comments on Nassar and on internal reviews
President Simon and the Board of Trustees made statements on university involvement with controversies surrounding Nassar and the internal review being conducted by Patrick Fitzgerald.
During a statement, Simon said MSU police have been working closely with the Michigan Attorney General and with federal law enforcement officials to investigate allegations.
“I have been told it is virtually impossible to stop a determined sexual predator and pedophile, that they will go to incomprehensible lengths to keep what they do in the shadows,” Simon said in her statement. “That may be true, but we at MSU must do all we can not only to ensure the safety of our patients but to protect youth who come to our campus in all capacities.”
Simon recognized the Sexual Violence Advisory Committee and student government programs ASMSU and COGS as playing key roles in contributing to sexual assault prevention.
Chairperson Brian Breslin read a statement in support of the initiatives that will be taken by MSU.
“The university’s response to this situation needs to be comprehensive, focused on helping to obtain justice for the victims, taking appropriate actions without undue delay and engaging in long-term improvements that help reduce the risk of anything like this happening again,” Breslin said. “We are confident MSU is doing just that.”
4. Addition to the Eli Broad College of Business
Renovations and an addition to the Eli Broad College of Business were approved by the trustees. The $62 million project will include demolishing the west wing of the Eppley Center and replacing it with a 100,000 square foot three-story addition with walkways from the Eppley Center to the North Business Complex.
The addition will include building a pavilion, new classrooms, meeting spaces and computer and teaching labs among other spaces.
The project, a donor-funded project, is expected to break ground in May and the projected time to complete the project is two years.
“The MBA program in the Broad College of Business is ranked 14th among public universities and 35th overall in the latest U.S. News and World Report, but the facility in which the MBA program,” the project proposal reads. “The current building lacks the appropriate quality and quantity of space commensurate with the College’s aspirations to improve rankings and increase competitiveness with peer institutions.”
5. Renovations of campus buildings
The trustees authorized several plans to update campus buildings. These projects include replacing Wharton Center seating, renovating Olin Health Center, Cook Hall and the Engineering Research Complex as well as making several campus buildings more energy efficient.
The trustees approved plans to replace Wharton Center seating in the Cobb Great Hall and in the Pasant Theatre. Updating the seating spacing will also improve accessibility for those who are handicapped.
Other renovations include making updates to Olin Health Center, Cook Hall and the Engineering Research Complex.
Cook Hall, which was built in 1889, will see new renovations while keeping its historic character. Elevators will be added to improve accessibility, restrooms will be upgraded and heating and cooling systems will be modernized.
Olin Health Center will see renovations for student health and wellness through engaging in a new structure to bring student health services together, particularly behavioral services. Simon said this is part of MSU’s commitment to bring dramatic change in behavioral health services on campus.
The Engineering Research Complex will be updated through a $6,700,000 project. The renovation, projected to conclude at the end of 2017, will include an addition of about 500 square feet for a new research lab, where two pieces of research equipment gifted to the university will be housed.