By Emily Rosenberg
The Board of Trustees approved a new major in sports management under the College of Business at the Jan. 25 meeting, which was held remotely due to inclement weather.
The major is an upgrade to the sports management concentration, which has 24 participating students and is expecting to add up to 122 in the next five years, Trustee Nancy Budwig said.
The major will not require additional faculty and requires only “modest marketing.”
Budwig said since 2014, there has been a “dramatic increase” in the number of students attracted to the sports management concentration. She said conversations with the Admissions Department and Athletic Department coaches indicated the addition of the sports management major may help with both recruitment and retention.
She added that according to a report by the Department of Higher Education, the new major will be the only Sports Management program in the New England area for “this price point.”
Vice President of Academic Affairs and Provost Kristen Porter-Utley said the major may be implemented as soon as Fall 2023.
During the finance report, Executive Vice President Dale Hamel provided a preview of what is expected to be proposed in the FY24 budget.
He said it is expected that tuition and fees will increase 2.2% or $250. The cost of room and board may also increase 2.5% and 5.6%, respectively, leading to an overall addition of $720 to a student’s bill.
“Building off of two years of maintaining level academic fees, without additional fair share funding, you know, bills have to be paid,” Hamel said.
In addition, Hamel said they may schedule $2 million in reserves to be used toward general operations in FY24. “One of the reasons you build up reserves is to use them in periods like this.”
He said the budget also plans for collective bargaining with state funded employees to fulfill an expected 4% salary increase annually due to contracts with the state.
Hamel added the budget plans for the elimination of two full-time faculty positions as well as the addition of two full-time staff admissions positions. An additional staff position in admissions will be added in FY25 to serve the strategic enrollment initiative under the five-year plan.
Hamel said, in terms of a five-year plan, the goal is to have a balanced budget toward the “out years.”
Budwig said on the topic of strategic planning, “We're really looking at processes of how we do business, and I keep coming back to this issue in higher ed that we've always had the problem of more. And we keep wanting to add on faculty or add on students and we never really like to do a deep dive and say, ‘Are there other ways to do business?’”
Trustee Robert Richards said, “I think what are our majors, who are they serving, and how many people are they serving and what faculty levels do they have. … We have to make some tough decisions.”
President Nancy Niemi said, “There's all kinds of opportunities to think differently so that we help plan for the future rather than the future planning for us.”
Hamel said so far, the budget is based on the assumption the University will not be receiving Fair Share funding but may be adjusted “last minute” if the state approves Fair Share allocations to higher education in April.
The FY24 budget will be officially voted on in May.
The trustees also voted unanimously to install a ballroom at the Warren Conference Center. Trustee Anthony Hubbard said less than 10% of the funds will be provided by Framingham State, while the rest of the project will be financed by Warren Center management.
Hamel said the ballroom will generate additional funding for Framingham State because by contributing to the project, it will receive a percentage of “top-line” revenue brought in by weddings and conferences.
The construction for the project is expected to begin in Fall 2023, Hubbard said.
In the Enrollment and Student Development report, Trustee Claire Ramsbottom said Residence Life collected data which showed 73% of resident students stay on campus on weekends.
“We want to move away from this idea that Framingham State is a suitcase campus and how do we demonstrate that to folks,” she said.
She also highlighted the importance of mental health services on campus, noting data which showed a 6% increase of Counseling Center appointments scheduled last year. She said 76% of scheduled Counseling Center appointments were with female students whereas 23% of appointments were scheduled by male students.
Ramsbottom said 22% of students responded to the Student Satisfaction Survey sent out in October, noting the national average for survey responses is typically 20%.
Budwig shared a slide previewing data she said is being explored by the committee. In the survey, students were asked to rank the quality of certain services versus how important the service is to them.
An example given is how several students responded that high-quality instruction in their major was highly important to them and is also being received. On the other hand, students ranked their ability to receive help registering for classes as low satisfaction while also ranking it as high importance.
About student satisfaction with instruction in their major, Budwig said, “That's a really important thing for a school to be hearing about and to continue fostering.”
She said the data from the student satisfaction survey is important to consider in the strategic enrollment planning as well as thinking about communication with enrolled students.
In her President’s Report, Niemi introduced the Board to new Vice President of Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Engagement (DICE) Jeffrey Coleman.
Coleman said he will be looking into how he can best serve as an advisor and support to his colleagues as well as the committees that focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion.
He added DICE wants to create an environment for enhanced education which is more inclusive of areas of diversity which are “not always at the forefront,” such as LGBT+ and accessibility equity.
Coleman said, “I have a main overarching goal for us as a university community to be equipped to position ourselves as a national model for inclusive excellence. By doing that, we would be aligning our pursuit of excellence with anti-racism and weaving that into the very fabric of the institution.”
He said DICE will be focusing on advancing antiracism and diversity, equity, and inclusion practices in recruitment and retention efforts. “One of the things we’re going to want to work on is to strengthen our awareness and understanding of our affirmative action plan.”
He noted according to enrollment data, the University is within “10% of becoming a minority-serving institution and within 5% of becoming a Hispanic-serving institution.”
He added he was looking to strengthen the University’s collaborations with the MetroWest Planning Center and make further partnerships with community organizations as well as expand the Alumni of Color Network.
In the Development and Alumni Relations Report, Eric Gustafson said the Danforth Art Museum was granted $15,000 from the Foundation for MetroWest.
He added revenue from the Danforth Art School was up 9% from last year.
Gustafson also reported that President of the WooSox, Charles Steinberg, will be visiting campus soon for an alumni and student networking event.
During the Chair’s Report, Kevin Foley said the Board hired a consultant to work with all of its members on anti-racist training.
“I want to make sure we are all focused on anti-racism and inclusive excellence,” he said.
Foley also invited Student Trustee McKenzie Ward to present on Black History Month.
“Without the recognition of Black history, the history of the United States is incomplete because there is no American history without Black history,” she said.
Ward said the next Board of Trustees meeting will be a hybrid student open forum on Feb. 27.
“I think this will be a really great opportunity for all of us to be able to connect with the students and be able to educate them more on what the role of the board is,” Ward said.
The Student in the Spotlight was SGA President Dara Barros. Barros, an international business major, was introduced by the Chair of Business & Information Technology and Coordinator Hospitality and Tourism Department, John Palibyik.
Palibyik said Barros was a leader who “in the future, I’m sure will create leaders, too.”
Barros highlighted her experience growing up in Cape Verde, Africa until she moved to Brockton when she was 8 years old.
She said despite switching schools multiple times, she managed to be learning in fluent English by middle school. “When I first stepped foot in the United States, I took advantage of all the opportunities that I could have.”
Along with her role of SGA President, Barros is also the Senior Orientation Leader and was the Student Representative for the Presidential Search Committee last year.
She said, “All those leadership experiences here at FSU have really shaped who I am today.”
[Editor’s Note: McKenzie Ward is the Opinions Editor for The Gatepost.]