The Michigan State University Board of Trustees held its first meeting of the spring semester Feb. 11. Agenda topics included revisions to the discipline and dismissal policy for tenured faculty and spring semester COVID-19 updates.
During his report, President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. discussed MSU’s decision to start the spring semester remotely due to COVID-19 concerns.
“I believe our decision to hold the first three weeks of the semester online helped mitigate the spread of the omicron variant on campus and — very importantly — reduce the impact of absences in our classrooms and to the success for these vital three weeks,” Stanley said. “We're now seeing a significant drop in cases, although not yet to the pre-omicron or delta levels, but the trends are very, very encouraging.”
Stanley said the university will continue to evaluate all of our campus health measures for effectiveness and necessity as the semester progresses.
In a roll call vote, the discipline and dismissal policy revisions were approved by the trustees 8-0, which resulted in applause of support from the board and meeting attendees.
Provost Teresa Woodruff noted that the unanimous vote to approve the revisions is historic.
According to Woodruff, a task force was charged to review the institution’s discipline process and sanction structure to ensure clarity, appropriateness, consistency and implementation of sanctions for violations of the relationship violence and sexual misconduct policy.
Additionally, the task force identified the timeliness of the disciplinary processes and key barriers to ensuring a safe and respectful working and learning environment. The task force then recommended a streamlined approval process to a timeline of 120 days.
“The task force identified and committed to take into consideration all stakeholders and increase for possible transparency and communication,” Woodruff said. “This action is intended to instill confidence in the community about the nature of this matter and remove troubling bookcases. We will increase leadership accountability and responsibility to centering our work and actions.”
“MSU cannot undo the past, but it must do better in its future and changing policy changes lives,” Woodruff said. “Today's vote by the board completes the governance circle. February 11, 2022, may be a little appreciated date on our calendar in the past, but I call upon all of us to remember February 11 as a fulcrum from our past to our collective future.”
Woodruff added that the university is not yet satisfied with its work and will continue to build a better, safer and more respectful MSU.
Board Chair Dianne Byrum said the revisions to the policy started with survivors asking the university to do more.
“It's part and parcel with our RVSM Strategic Plan with a high priority for the board, the Provost Office, but the broader campus community because we do not want people on campus in any capacity that have egregiously violated the RVSM policy,” Byrum said. “It streamlines that. It's fair, it's transparent, it's trauma informed, it has anti-bias training, and it has the full support of the broad campus community, which is why it had unanimous support in every step of the way. That's the significance of it.”
During the meeting, the board approved the authorization to plan biomedical animal resources and provisions of large animal imaging to the clinical center.
Siemens health will be providing state-of-the-art imagine equipment in the facility, valued at about $5 million, director of Facilities Planning and Space Management Barbara Kranz said.
“The renovations will again provide imaging for large animal clinical trials, research and for training of our future biomedical scientists,” Kranz said.
Trustees also approved the authorization to proceed with additions and renovations to the Packaging Building, which was originally constructed in 1964.
The addition will be approximately 5000 square feet, while renovations will be done to about 14,000 square feet of the existing building. The budget for the project totals $10,900,000.
Lastly, the board approved the purchase of a 20-acre parcel in Lansing Township to increase the plant holdings on MSU’s south campus in the agricultural district.
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