Four takeaways from Friday's Board of Trustees meeting
The MSU Board of Trustees held its first meeting of the fall semester on Friday. Here are the main takeaways from the meeting.
1. The trustees acknowledged MSU enrollment trends
According to a report given by Provost June Youatt, MSU welcomed almost 13,000 new students this academic school year, which makes a total of approximately 50,000 students enrolled. These new students come from every corner of the world, including all 50 states, all 83 counties in Michigan and 97 countries.
The freshman class of 2021 is rumored to be the biggest and best.
“MSU’s class of 2021 will be one of the largest planned freshman cohorts in the university’s history and the best in terms of academic profiling,” President Simon said.
According to the report, the freshman class stands at about 8,000 students.
2. The trustees commented on the proposed city income tax
When the floor opened up for the Board of Trustees to make their comments, their time was primarily used to voice their dismay for the city of East Lansing’s proposed income tax.
The tax affects residents and businesses — who would pay a one percent income tax — while non-residents who work in East Lansing would pay a 0.5 percent income tax.
Trustee Dan Kelly said he appreciated the administration making attempts to avoid the tax.
“As an individual, I would just say that I’m not supportive of the income tax,” he said. “I think that the Spartan community should support our faculty who actually will be bearing the brunt of that increase.”
Trustee Dianne Byrum utilized her time to snowball on Kelly’s comment.
“I think it’s the wrong direction, the wrong decision,” Bryum said. “For not only the city of East Lansing but the university community and the region as a whole. I’m committed to find the win-win here.
Byrum said that the the offer of a revenue sharing payment is still on the table, and she hopes that the city will accept it.
Vice Chairperson Joel Ferguson compared it to the three-legged sack races he played in elementary school.
“There has to be recognition that the two parties in the sack race need each other,” he said.
He continued that both parties are codependent on each other by pointing out that MSU is in East Lansing.
“I don’t feel that we’re on an island by ourselves and I think that we all have to recognize that.”
“We are stronger together,” Byrum said. “My fear is this proposal will make us separate and weaker.”
3. The trustees remembered Jud Heathcote
The trustees and President Simon made a point to pay tribute and “mourn” the passage of former MSU men’s basketball coach Jud Heathcote.
President Simon took a moment to remember him and share anecdotes of his time at MSU.
“He is a good example, from my perspective, of someone with enormous wit and could use humor as a way of connecting to almost any individual around the world,” she said. “And potentially a little crusty, but with a heart of gold.”
4. Discussion of new construction on campus
The Board voted and approved two different campus renovation projects at the meeting.
One of which was a “Teaching, Learning, and Student Support Renovation” that will affect the first and second floors of Wonders Hall. They authorized the renovations to begin being planned.
The project would convert the former dining and kitchen areas to create space for students and professors alike. According to the report given, the area would accommodate 400 to 500 students and faculty.
The second proposal approved new roofing for the Communication Arts and Sciences building with a project budget of $1.7 million to $2.2 million.
A large fundraising project for the past year, the “Empower Extraordinary” campaign funded a $60 million pavilion addition to the Eli Broad College of Business.
Ground broke on the project today.
“Today we celebrate a tremendous milestone in our Empower Extraordinary campaign as we break ground on the business pavilion,” Simon said in a press release. “This pavilion shows how our campaign is making a difference at MSU, yet reminds us that there is still work to be done.”
The next Board of Trustees meeting will be held Oct. 27.