On Dec. 15, 2021, the Millersville University Council of Trustees held one of their quarterly meetings at Gordinier Hall and over Zoom. The meeting was open to the public, featuring attendees to share thoughts on campus affairs. The Council voted on significant budgetary decisions for the next academic year.
As per Millersville’s website, a Council of Trustees is present in all Pennsylvania State-owned universities. The Council is responsible for discussing budgetary matters for the university, along with evaluating the performance of the university president. The Council is made of 11 Governor appointed members, one of which being a student member nominated by campus leaders to then be approved by the chancellor and then appointed by the Governor.
“The trustees are an active, valuable supporting force for Millersville University. The [University] President frequently consults with trustees on University issues and they assist with public relations and advancement,” the Millersville University website says. “Trustees further support the University by serving actively on the Strategic Advisory Council, Honorary Degree Committee, the boards of affiliated organizations and capital campaign cabinets. They also participate in various other University events.”
The meeting began with the approval of the minutes from the Council’s meeting on September 21, 2021. Millersville University President Dr. Daniel A. Wubah then gave his report on the Fall 2021 semester. President Wubah mentioned compliance from students and staff helping Millersville uphold low COVID-19 infection rates, stating there are only 19 total active cases as of Dec. 10, 2021. This aided with the transition back to campus activities and in-person learning, as President Wubah states 85% of academic activities were in-person this semester.
“I am grateful because we have made it this far,” Wubah said. “Last year, we didn’t know where we’d be, and we had no idea how the semester would go. I want to thank our faculties, students, staff, and trustees.”
Fundraising efforts were also highlighted by President Wubah, stating that the University’s goal of raising $90 million by 2023 is already 91% achieved.
The next portion of the meeting was dedicated to comments from select trustees and other university leaders. Faculty Senate Chairperson Jeri Robinson discussed the reworkings of Millersville’s general education requirements to “meet demands of student communities.”
Student Government Association President Leizel Schlott discussed results of student surveys about Dining Services and mental health on campus. In the dining survey of around 890 respondents, the consensus of food on campus was negative, and, after campus leaders listened to student feedback, Schlott hopes, “to see improvements in the spring semester.” For the latter survey of around 300 respondents, Schlott wants to continue to aid students and faculty to know what mental health services are available for them.
During public comments, Amy Denny, a member of the American Association of University Women at Millersville University, shared concerns with trustees and other Millersville leadership’s response to protestors who came to campus in early September. Denny shared that many LGBTQ+ and/or female students felt upset by protestors, sharing that 108 students signed a petition to have official university notifications given when protests are on campus. Millersville professor Jill Craven continued the critique on the response to protestors, sharing how her students were harshly affected by protestors’ message.
“We are tired of the silence and I hope you will support the marginalized groups with statements during these situations,” Craven said.
As an additional comment, Senator Scott Martin honored Vilias Prabhu, who retired this year after serving as provost and vice president of academic affairs at Millersville for 16 years.
“The real privilege of serving the students is the legacy I can leave behind,” Prabhu said.
As per the Programs Committee report, a vote was approved to grant emeritus status to Joel Pipenburg and John McLarnon.
The aforementioned financial votes were conducted under the resource committee report. More than 20 actions were voted and approved upon, including the complete removal of undergraduate application fee. For the upcoming 2022-23 and 2023-24 academic years, the housing rates for students will remain at $4,040 to $4,675 per semester based on suite choice.
The board fee and Health Services fee will increase by 4.7% and 2.7% respectively next academic year, as per a Council vote, due to supply chain issues.
“Our leadership team continues to focus on affordability for our students and their families,” Wubah said in an additional press release. “As the pandemic continues, we’re faced with challenges that are not unique to higher education. The supply chain interruptions are widely known and many of us have experienced long delays and increased prices for goods and services. Our campus is certainly impacted with higher costs for our food.”
Other financial matters were approved, such as granting the Vice Presidents of Advancement and Finance and Administration to receive financial gifts to be given to the university.
Thomas Waltz then provided a presentation with updates on the campus master plan. A new science building is the plan’s top priority, per Waltz, with design funds of $3.1 million programmed for the 2024/25 fiscal year. Other important plans include the renovations of Lehigh Hall, Lombardo Hall, and the Boyer building, along with repurposing currently vacant buildings such as the Student Memorial Center bookstore and printshop.
The final motion and approval of the meeting was the Council’s annual review of presidential leadership. The Council recommended that the Board of Governors “extend the employment agreement of Daniel Wubah” in a letter signed and approved by all trustees.
The Council’s next public meeting will be held March 30, 2022.