CMU President George E. Ross delivers State of the University address

Efforts to shape bold, strong future focus on student success
CMU President George E. Ross

National prominence, student success and the future of Central Michigan University dominated President George E. Ross’ comments today during his annual State of the University address.

Approximately 320 people attended the address, with another 130 watching online. During his speech, President Ross recognized the work and dedication of CMU’s 2,500 faculty and staff.

“Over the course of the past year, the range of important issues addressed on our campus has been as significant as any I’ve seen in a single year at a single university,” Ross said.  “We’re building on a remarkable history and shaping the future, meeting the needs of students, employers, the state and the nation.”

He cited CMU’s strategic plan, enrollment management plan, campus facilities master plan and expansion of shared governance as examples.  He noted approval of a new Biosciences Building and the opening of the College of Medicine, as well as creation of an Office of Student Success and plans to increase academic scholarships.

Ross talked about the cyclical nature of budget concerns and enrollments, citing the 1975 installation address of President Harold Abel, who spoke of a slow enrollment decline that would last through the 1980s. Ross said the current cycle is “the impetus that’s inspiring all of us to make CMU stronger than ever.”

“CMU is not alone,” Ross said. “Nine of the 15 public universities in Michigan and 23 of 28 community colleges are reporting a decline in total enrollment.”    

He noted that CMU is making its enrollment management processes more high-tech and high-touch, more comprehensive, strategic and all-inclusive than what the market demanded in the past.

He also said efforts are under way to determine the best size for CMU’s student body.

“We will consider what’s possible in enrollment next year and what’s possible over the next decade,” he said. “From that, we can set a goal and manage to it, rather than allowing ourselves to suffer the yo-yo effect of enrollments that go up and down.” 

Ross described CMU as strong and healthy.

“We’re extraordinary,” Ross said. “We’re national leaders. There’s a reason we’re a first-choice university for thousands of students.”

He repeatedly stressed that student success is CMU’s No. 1 strategic priority.

“CMU’s success will continue to rest solidly on academic excellence, premier programs and co-curricular initiatives that build tomorrow’s leaders,” Ross said. “It rests on the strong relationships our students build with faculty, staff and each other.”

The president issued three shared challenges for the campus community:

  • Stay focused on students;
  • Pay attention to what students, faculty and staff are achieving across campus, showing a collective pride in what’s accomplished; and
  • Make bold decisions for the future, in line with CMU’s strategic plan.

Ross closed his remarks with a favorite quote from President John F. Kennedy:

“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” 

A transcript of the president’s comments can be read here.

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