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Board of Trustees enacts academic, personnel updates at June meeting

June 24, 2022
Trustee Foster speaks at the board of trustees meeting on June 24, 2022.
Trustee Foster speaks at the board of trustees meeting on June 24, 2022. —
Photo by Rahmya Trewern | The State News

The Board of Trustees met on Friday, June 24, in room 401 of the Hannah Administration Building. After a two-day retreat, the board voted to approve updates to academic life.

The operating budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year was approved as well as the tuition and fee rates for the 2022-23 academic year.

Tuition for undergraduate students will face a 3% increase for the 2022-23 academic year. Last June, the trustees set this budget for the coming three years, counting for inflation. The university will also be making a larger investment in financial aid. Deputy spokesperson Dan Olsen said this would contribute to offsetting that 3% increase for families with incomes lower than $75,000.

“That inflation cuts in both directions,” President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. said. “The university is paying more for its goods and services, more for its housing. So actually, if you look at some of the increases we’re doing, they’re below the expected level of inflation that would be taking place in society. Hopefully, wages for those families is keeping up with inflation more and I think we’re really trying to keep costs down overall.”

Board Chair Dianne Byrum also noted the budget would be put toward student success. She said helping students graduate on time will hopefully keep student debt down.

Another item approved was revisions to Policy 04-17-07, the emeritum title given to retired faculty. The revisions change the process of granting and revoking the status to a more rigorous process.

“It’s part of an ongoing effort out of the provost’s office to look at policies across the university,” Byrum said. “The emeritus title did a couple of things. It upheld the quality of the academy in terms of just the quality and the behavior, becoming a faculty member as well as the gender neutrality of the term.”

Provost Teresa Woodruff commented on the revisions.

“The current policy doesn’t have a gatekeeping mechanism to ensure past misconduct is reviewed and considered when a retiree is awarded the emeritus title,” Woodruff said. “This leads to circumstances in which the university’s own policy may inadvertently cause harm, particularly to survivors of past misconduct and the reputation of the institution.”

These revisions also allow for more inclusive language, changing the overall term to “emeritum” rather than the gendered “emeritus.” Faculty, academic staff, administrators and executive managers may choose a gendered term to describe their designation.

“This is another way for the university to infuse inclusion into MSU policy,” Woodruff said.

Another item approved was a fund functioning as an endowment for the Katherine B. and Floyd W. Miles Endowed Scholarship for Medical Education. This initial funding of $283,840.43 from the university’s gift account will establish the scholarship.

Trustees made a number of congratulatory comments toward university staff, including the hiring of three new coaches for hockey, softball and tennis, professor Lisa Cook’s confirmation to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, Stanley’s appointment to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and Woodruff’s award as a distinguished woman in higher education.

They also acknowledged a variety of retirees, including Vice President of university communications Merri Jo Bales, Executive Director of the Wharton Center Mike Brand and Dean of MSU Libraries Joseph Salem Jr.

Former MSU First Lady Joanne McPherson, who recently passed away, was honored at the meeting for her involvement with the creation of MSU Safe Place.

“Joanne was a remarkable woman whose loss will be felt deeply in our university community and beyond,” Stanley said. “She and (her husband) Peter both welcomed and supported me when I came to Michigan State and she continued to support the university they both love with the generous giving and engagement.”

The Union of Non-Tenure Track Faculty, or UNTF, reached an agreement on its contract with MSU from 2022 through 2026. This agreement outlined many changes, including a 3.5% salary increase for all union members. UNTF President Kate Birdsall made a public comment at the meeting, acknowledging the work the union did with the university and how the process went.

“We accomplish much more by working together, and the university’s bargaining team showed genuine willingness to work with us in the contract cycle,” Birdsall said. “To that point, a continued commitment to constructive and creative problem-solving lies at the heart of this agreement.”

Stanley mentioned the contract in his report to the board.

“This agreement is the outcome of successful collaboration between us and a testimony to the university’s commitment to faculty success,” Stanley said. “I’m very pleased with the budget that’s proposed today.”

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Also, during the public comment section, Ponsella Hardaway from the Defend Black Voters campaign spoke out about voter suppression and asked for the university’s support.

“The stakes couldn’t be higher,” Hardaway said. “If Black voters in Detroit have a harder time voting, the ramifications are national, and the architects of the voter suppression efforts know it. Blue Cross Blue Shield and Delta Dental of Michigan have been using taxpayer and tuition dollars through their contracts with Michigan State University to bankroll the legislators behind the effort.”

Trustee Rema Vassar acknowledged Hardaway during her comment period.

“I just appreciate you raising your voices,” Vassar said. “I urge us to analyze this moment. We’re at a critical time. Black voters, ... we change the outcome of the election. As a consequence, extremists are driving an aggressive agenda to make it harder for Black, Brown and working-class people (to vote).”

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