By Cesareo Contreras
The Board of Trustees voted in agreement with the Massachusetts State College Building Authority’s decision to sell portions of the recently acquired Warren Center property to the town of Ashland.
Dale Hamel, executive vice president, said two parcels of land, where an old house and barn are located, will be sold to the town of Ashland. While the property’s abandoned buildings are potential “liabilities” to the University, the town plans to renovate them for historical purposes.
The land will be sold for approximately $290,000, and the money collected will be used for future Warren Center capital projects, Hamel said.
Additionally, Hamel said the University is planning to receive $2.7 million dollars from the Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance to complete a series of projects that were originally intended to be completed during the Hemenway Science building renovations.
Also at the meeting, President F. Javier Cevallos said the University has presented its draft letter of intent to the Danforth Board and is drafting a final letter of agreement for the purchase of the Danforth Museum.
This week, the University met with Framingham administrators to discuss the logistics of the property transfer. Cevallos said the University hopes to complete the purchase by July 1.
In response to a Boston Globe article that reported on the rise of student homelessness and hunger among students at public institutions of higher education. Cevallos discussed a number of ways the University is working on addressing student homelessness at FSU.
Last year, FSU appointed Michelle Yestrepsky as the lead contact person for students who need assistance in food and housing.
Last semester, to understand the scope of the problem, the University distributed a food security survey throughout campus and is currently analyzing the data results, Cevallos said.
Assistant Dean of Students Melinda Stoops said based on her experience about five to 10 students ask for housing or food assistance every semester.
Stoops said, however, it’s challenging to put a number on how many students actually need assistance. She is hopeful the survey results will give “a better idea of the types of resources we need.”
Looking at the raw data results, Lorretta Holloway, vice president for enrollment and student
development, said among the most eye-opening statistics is that of those surveyed 20 percent said they didn’t know the University offered any housing or food aid, and another 21 percent didn’t know who to contact.
In Academic Affairs, Cevallos recognized Irene Porro, the director of McAuliffe Center, who was granted a fellowship in the Smithsonian Affiliation – Visiting Professional Program, the result of the University’s partnership with the museum, which went into effect last year, he said.
Additionally, Cevallos said in the coming weeks, the University will be putting on a “data day,” an all University meeting in which faculty members will analyze student data to understand student success. Cevallos said this day is part of the University’s “Re-Imagining the First Year,” an initiative which aims to renovate and change the way the University handle students’ first year.
Vice President Holloway said she worked with Kim Dexter, director of equal opportunity, to create a new employee onboard initiative with a focus on diversity and making sure new faculty understand they are part of the FSU community. This is part of the University’s broader “Re-Imagining First Year” initiative she said.
In her review of the Academic Affairs mid-year report Linda Vaden-Goad, provost and vice president, said the University has improved in diversity hiring since the inception of Academic Affairs’ five-year plan. Since the plan began, the University has improved in faculty diversity from 8.1 percent to around 19 percent, she said.
Vaden-Goad said approximately 280 students a year participate in study-abroad trips. This is up 192 people from when the plan first went into effect, she said.
Vaden-Goad also noted that Framingham State was second in the state for its involvement in the UMass Undergraduate Research Conference.
Yasser Najjar, dean of graduate studies, said there is an increase in graduate student enrollment. In Spring 2016, 711 students enrolled in the graduate studies program – an increase of about 58 students from the previous spring semester.
Najjar said graduate students say they choose FSU because of its location, course oZering cycle and the times at which courses are offered.
In regards to inclusive excellence, Cevallos noted the creation of the FSU Alumni of Color Network and the Beacon Award, an award given to those who have been recognized for their inclusive excellence.
Sean Huddleston, chief officer of diversity, inclusion and community engagement, said through FSU’s Strategic Plan for Inclusive Excellence, the University has been able to close a number of achievement gaps.
Since the implementation of the plan two years ago, Huddleston said the University has been able to move the retention achievement gap from 9.2 percent to 5 percent. Graduation rates for minority students increased from 38.1 to 53.8 percent, he said.
Tom Kelley, athletic director, gave a summary of the 2016 fall sports teams performance and discussed upcoming ways the department will work to comply with Title IX. Now, FSU’s Athletics program is not compliant with Title IX as there are 208 male athletes and 125 female athletes, he said. Kelley said the program has been looking to add more sports for women and that women’s track will most likely be added in the near future.
The board also recognized the accomplishments of senior studio art major Brittany Cormier, who has maintained a perfect 4.0 GPA average during her four years at FSU.
[Editor’s Note: Brittany Cormier is a design editor for The Gatepost.]