State of the University Meeting: DCU Center announced as spring commencement location

By Cesareo Contreras


During the first State of the University Meeting Sept. 5, President F. Javier Cevallos announced the DCU Center in Worcester will be the new location for spring commencement.


Commencement has typically been held at the Framingham Town Green. The move was brought about by the results of a 2016 student commencement preference survey.


In the survey, students were given three commencement locations to choose from: The Framingham Town Green, Bowditch Field and the DCU Center.


“The students overwhelmingly wanted the DCU Center,” Cevallos said, citing the arena’s ample seating as the main reason for the large number of the votes.


In past years, when commencement was held on the Town Green, students were only given four family tickets. At the DCU Center, they can bring as many family members as they choose, according to Cevallos.


Cevallos said he recognizes that a major disadvantage of the new location is that it is not in close proximity to campus, while the Town Green is.


Despite the inconvenience, Cevallos said he’s hopeful students will have a positive attitude about the change.


“I think that opening it up to families so they can all have seating is certainly something that students will appreciate,” he said.


On Wednesday, Sept. 6, Cevallos sent out a campus-wide email informing the FSU community about the change in venue.


Also at the meeting, Dale Hamel, executive vice president, said because of last year’s state deficit, this year, the University received less state funding than expected.


Last January, Gov. Charlie Baker and the legislature recommended a slight increase in public higher education spending. The governor and the House of Representatives recommended a 1 percent increase, while the Senate recommended a 3.5 percent increase, according to Hamel.


In its planning, the University accounted for a 1 percent increase in state funding, but that 1 percent was “ultimately” denied by the governor’s o[ce as part of his $350 million budget increase veto.


In an interview with The Gatepost, Hamel said the University received approximately $200,000 less than what was planned.


“Another way to look at that ,gure is that represents $70 per day student,” he said.


Hamel said the House has requested an override on the governor’s public higher education funding veto. Action still needs to be taken by the Senate, however, which could take a month.


Hamel said the deficit won’t affect student fees and the University will manage the deficit through “selective expenditure reductions.”


During the summer, the University updated the Sodexo and eFollet contracts. As part of its new contract, the bookstore now offers “a price match guarantee” for students, according to Hamel.


“So, if the kids go on Amazon and they see a [book] for a certain amount, they could always get it here as well,” he said.


Additionally, Hamel said under FSU’s ownership, the Warren Center had its most profitable year.


In admissions, Lorretta Holloway, vice president for enrollment and student development, said there are 787 first-year students and 470 transfer students enrolled at FSU this fall.


Last year, The Gatepost reported 749 freshmen enrolled in the 2016 fall semester.


The incoming ,rst-year class has an average 3.03 GPA and an average SAT score of 1040, she said.


To combat food insecurity issues, Holloway said the University recently decided to convert the bike room in West Hall into a food pantry and a resource center. Currently, the University is raising funds to refurbish the space.


Looking forward, Linda Vaden-Goad, provost and vice president of academic affairs, outline projects in the University’s next strategic plan.


The current strategic plan will end this September.


The University has developed a list of ideas and considerations for the new plan, which was created during a May faculty retreat, Vaden-Goad said.


Vaden-Goad said many of the ideas brought up during the retreat focused on connecting to students “locally, regionally, nationally and internationally.”


Additionally, during the retreat, faculty brought up concerns about transportation, workforce

preparation, sta_ development and ,eld work opportunities for students.


In the new plan, instead of offering a non-credit remedial math course, the University will now have “math co-requisite remediation,” a program that supplements in-class instruction with an online math lab. The University now has a math emporium in O’Connor Hall.


She said this new program was “tested carefully” with faculty in the University’s STEM college and will allow students to get the help they need on a more timely basis.


Some of the initiatives and programs created during the current strategic plan, including FSU’s Diverse Scholars Program, will expand and be continued in the new plan, she said.


The Reimagining the First-Year program will continue to be a big focus in the new plan, Vaden-Goad said.


Millie Gonzalez, newly appointed interim chief officer of diversity, inclusion and community

engagement, outlined the University’s diversity efforts for this academic year.


This year, the Center for Inclusive Excellence will continue mentoring and training students.


Additionally, the University will “continue to nurture diversity inclusion in the curriculum” by offering its “Widening the Circle” faculty workshops.


According to the Framingham State website, these workshop will help faculty understand how to promote “themes of diversity and inclusion into all areas of teaching and assessment including curriculum design, pedagogical techniques, facilitating class discussions, assignment design and assessment methods.”


Typically, FSU’s executive board updates faculty and staff during All University meetings, which are held throughout the semester.


Cevallos said with the change in meeting structure, FSU hopes to utilize All University meeting time to have focused, “in-depth” conversations on specific initiatives, rather than on executive board outlines. These All University meetings will be similar to the ones held last year, which focused on strategic planning and the Reimagining First Year project.

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