CMU global campus locations to reopen by end of weekend in wake of Hurricane Sandy

By Tony Wittkowski | Senior Reporter | Central Michigan Life

Several Central Michigan University global campuses along the east coast have been closed temporarily due to violent weather caused by Hurricane Sandy.

Locations affected by the hurricane that swept the coastal region include Aberdeen, Fort Meade and Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, Fort Belvoir, Fort Lee and Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Virginia, Fort Hamilton in New York and the global campus location in the Pentagon.

At Fort Hamilton, the damage was kept to a minimum, with only downed power lines and stranded tree branches littered across the town.

“Traffic lights are out and there is a lot of debris,” said Sharon Hall, the program administrator at Fort Hamilton. “Since this campus is along the highway, a lot of the water and sand has come across the highway. We are slowly getting back to normal.”

Hall said this is something she had never experienced before.

“We are currently in a cleanup process,” she said. “We have a lot of power outages and flooding. Yesterday was a time for people to get slowly back to normal.”

Fort Hamilton held classes on its regular weekend format, but the employees were not asked to come into the office on Monday. Students are not supposed to report until Friday.

Fort Belvoir was out of power into Wednesday afternoon, with only essential personnel allowed on the premises. After being closed earlier in the week, Fort Belvoir has remained closed.

“This morning, about 65 percent was without power on base,”  said Mary Pat Maybeus, program administrator at Fort Belvoir. “In the late afternoon, more power was opened up, but for emergency personnel only.”

While on vacation in Germany, Fort Meade’s Program Administrator Linda Zedan heard about the hurricane making its way to the east coast last week. With the various centers in Washington, D.C., Meade was affected; however Zedan was able to return to the United States before the airports closed.

“I’ve been on vacation for two weeks from Germany,” Zedan said. “If we had left Germany a day or two later we would have been stranded because they were canceling flights.”

Fort Meade was closed on Monday and Tuesday, while sending a notice to its students of the procedure.

Fort Meade offers one course per term, encompassing 12 or 13 students this semester. The weather got bad Monday afternoon and continued through the night. It rained a lot and there was a lot of wind, however no major damage other than power outages and downed trees were reported around the area, Zedan said.

Fort Lee was only supposed to have a two-hour delay but closed early afternoon Monday and reopened on Tuesday, said Program Administrator Shana Demby.

“There was a lot of rain and a lot of wind,” Demby said. “Classes were on the weekend, so it did not affect anyone.”

Despite the harsh wind and abundance of rain, there has been no damage reported so far.

“We got the brunt of everything starting Monday afternoon,” Demby said in regards to the center shutting down an extra day.

Aberdeen was still closed on Wednesday due to inclement weather since its closing on Monday. Almost all centers and global campuses expect to be open for weekend classes.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Nov. 1, 2012)

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CMU employees to receive $600 check for participation in wellness program

By Tony Wittkowski | Senior Reporter | Central Michigan Life

Central Michigan University will reward 247 employees for making healthy life choices through participation in the university’s wellness program.

“Ca$h in on Wellness” is a program with four components encouraging good health practices. Employees who completed all four components of the program will receive $600 dollars.

The money comes from a gain-share fund, which is the result of a positive cash balance in the university’s health plans at the end of each fiscal year, which occurs when claims for the year are lower than expected. In order to determine the amount received by each person, the balance is divided by all eligible employees.

This year’s payout was capped at $600 per person, although that cap has been removed for the 2012-13 fiscal year. Funds left by employees who don’t participate are divided evenly and put toward wellness programs and the university’s general fund.

“At the end of the day, we want to strive for good general health,” University President George Ross said Tuesday in a meeting with Central Michigan Life staff members. “It costs less for us and a huge plus is that our employees remain healthy.”

The four phases of healthy living that must be fulfilled in order to receive the stipend are: the completion of a health risk assessment, exercise for 30 minutes a day, three days per week, get an annual physical and lab work and participate in four wellness screenings or programs.

“Gain-sharing is a part of our wellness program to help make healthy living a priority,” Lori Hella, associate vice president for Human Resources said. “It is a challenge to complete all four phases. (Exercise) seems to be the hardest portion, while some is a challenge of just tracking.”

Just over 16 percent of the 1,490 employees eligible to participate completed all four components, which translates to 247 people. More than 850 employees completed at least one component in the last fiscal year.

“I think it’s been a great program, and it greatly impacts their benefits cost,” Hella said. “Last year, we saw around a 20-percent increase.”

The wellness program was originally launched in 2006-07, with payment added as an incentive the following year.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Oct. 23. 2012)

Subway restaurant to open in Towers Nov. 7

The new Subway franchise located in the Towers remains under construction Thursday afternoon. The location was once the C3 Convenience Store and will be ready for business next month. (Trisha Umpfenbach/ Staff Photographer)

The new Subway franchise located in the Towers remains under construction Thursday afternoon. The location was once the C3 Convenience Store and will be ready for business next month. (Trisha Umpfenbach/ Staff Photographer)

By Tony Wittkowski | Senior Reporter | Central Michigan Life

The fifth Subway restaurant in the Mount Pleasant area will open a week later than anticipated.

As reported by Central Michigan Life in July, CMU chose to renovate the C3 Convenience Store in the Towers, adding 700 square feet of space in order to install a Subway. The date of completion was originally set to be Nov. 1, but that date has been extended to Nov. 7.

The extended opening date was caused by Subway franchise equipment delivery delays.

“Subway equipment installation should be complete this week,” said John Fisher, associate vice president for Residences and Auxiliary Services. “The rest of the P.O.D Market installation will take place the week of Oct. 22.”

Despite the change in completion, the project has adhered to its budget of $810,000 for the renovation and expansion, Steve Lawrence, vice president of Facilities Management, confirmed.

CMU paid $50,000 for rights to the Subway franchise, in addition to having to pay royalty fees based on annual sales and installation expenses, which Fisher previously told CM Life could cost a couple thousand dollars.

“Overall, we are 90 percent complete with Subway equipment being installed this week,” Lawrence said. “Other casework installation is scheduled for next week.”

In preparation for the opening of the restaurant, applications have been accepted, and interviews have begun for student employees.

“(They’re) currently interviewing and hiring approximately 50 student employees for this location,” Fisher said.

Detroit sophomore Menuette Giddens applied for a position at Subway Sunday and was called back the next day.

“I heard about it this summer, and, once I got back to school, I heard it was a go,” Giddens said. “Campus dining came to talk to us about it at an RHA meeting two or three weeks ago.”

The applications can be found online, and, from the description, it gave Giddens the idea it would be similar to The Market on east campus. Her interview is scheduled for Thursday.

“Subway is on campus now because it is a healthier choice than Papa John’s,” Giddens said. “It’s a better option for everyone to eat after hours.”

With this addition, Central Michigan University will be host to Starbucks, Papa John’s Pizza, Quiznos and Subway among others.

Camilo Cobos, sophomore from Ecuador, said the restaurant will be convenient for students living on campus.

“I heard about it earlier this week when I was talking with some friends,” Cobos said. “I normally go to the Subway on Mission Road next to the gas station because I live on east campus.”

Fisher told CM Life previously the restaurant will not be considered a retail location.

“We won’t really get the on-campus traffic. That’s not really our intent,” he said in July. “We’re excited about having a Subway on campus because it is a popular franchise with students. I look at it as another option for students and one that is probably seen in a favorable light.”

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Oct. 18, 2012)

CMU has 250 tons of salt ready for winter season

Classes were closed Tuesday because of dangerously cold weather. (Samantha Madar/Photo Editor)

Classes were closed Tuesday because of dangerously cold weather. (Samantha Madar/Photo Editor)

By Tony Wittkowski | Senior Reporter | Central Michigan Life

About 250 tons of salt remains in storage at Central Michigan University for the upcoming winter season.

Steve Lawrence, vice president of facilities management, said last winter left the university with an abundance of salt.

“We are not going to order as many of the pounds as we were contracted for,” Lawrence said. “You don’t have to buy the total amount of salt, just the minimum.”

The city of Mount Pleasant and CMU spent considerably less money on salt last year due to an unusually warm winter season.

In 2010, the city of Mount Pleasant spent $43,510 on 750 tons of salt. In 2011, the city spent $26,360 on 450 tons. CMU ordered 750 tons of salt at $58.57 per ton for the 2011-12 winter season, and only used 525 tons, costing $30,749.25. For the 2012-13 winter season, the university has ordered 500 tons of salt at $58.27 per pound, for a total cost of $29,135.

Salt is generally ordered in the spring each year, and the university orders it with other colleges as well as the state. By going in on salt together, it saves the university money.

Being part of this purchasing deal requires the university to purchase a certain amount of salt for delivery, Lawrence said. Delivery occurs in the fall, however if requested it can be delivered earlier.

“We didn’t ask for early delivery this year because we have to use up the salt from last year first,” Lawrence said.

Another dilemma that arises is that the university cannot return the excess salt because it is a heavy material to deliver. It would cost more to return the salt for a refund than it would to store it for the next winter.

The salt is kept on campus in a salt shed, which is a three-sided building located in Lot 1. There is currently 250 tons of salt remaining from the end of last winter, Lawrence said.

“We’re pretty full right now,” Lawrence said.

Depending on the severity of the winter months, the Street Department purchases between 680 and 750 tons of salt per year.

Each year, the State of Michigan extends its bulk rock salt contract to universities and nonprofit hospitals through the State of Michigan’s Department of Technology, Management and Budget’s MiDeal Cooperative Purchasing Program, said Michelle Smith, an analyst for the state’s Department of Public Works.

“This program provides local governments, colleges and universities, schools and nonprofit hospitals access to the amount of salt needed for the upcoming winter season, and the chance to purchase it at a price much less than they could on their own,” Smith said.

It also guarantees the quantity of salt ordered and its availability of the product during high demand periods.

“Because of the extremely light 2011-12 winter season, the street department used very little of their road salt,” Smith said.

This turned out to be the norm in many communities, and as a result, an excess of salt was available at the 2011-12 price.

“Due to an inevitable price increase of road salt for the 2012-13 winter season, the street department purchased approximately 155 additional tons of salt at that time for $58.57 per ton,” Smith said.

This allowed for a complete fill-up of the salt storage barn and addressed the need for salt for the 2012-13 winter season, Smith said.

Over the last four years, the city has spent a total amount of $137,115 for 2,755 tons of salt. This averages to $49.77 per ton for the past four years.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Oct. 4, 2012)

Scandinavian tradition to bring good luck, growth to graduate housing project

Alma sophomore Mary Murphy signs her name on the final beam of the new graduate housing project Saturday morning on Bellows Street. (Zack Wittman/Staff Photographer)

Alma sophomore Mary Murphy signs her name on the final beam of the new graduate housing project Saturday morning on Bellows Street. (Zack Wittman/Staff Photographer)

By Tony Wittkowski | Senior Reporter | Central Michigan Life

More than 40 spectators were part of history as the last beam was placed on the graduate student housing complex Friday morning.

The ceremony accompanying the last beam’s placement is called a Topping Out Ceremony, which is a Scandinavian tradition where placing a tree atop a new building represents growth and is used to bring good luck to the structure. Audience members had an opportunity to autograph the final beam before it was raised and put into place.

“It’s ceremonial, and was also put on to thank (everybody) for all their hard work,” said Joan Schmidt, associate director of Residence Life.

After the last beam was put into place, a live tree, as well as flags from residence life, Central Michigan University, the state of Michigan and the United States were placed on top of the building. The tree represents a sacrifice to the gods for any trees that were destroyed in the building process, Schmidt said.

Schmidt originally got the idea for the Scandinavian tradition on Facebook when Bridgewater State University did it. Surprisingly, the construction workers had heard of it before.

“These guys were very helpful in the process,” Schmidt said. “Plus, they had heard of this before.”

Ithaca sophomore Mike Lehner and his fiancée Mary Murphy, an Alma sophomore, were in attendance.

Lehner and Murphy are apartment supervisors at Northwest Apartments and were invited through work.

“We were emailed about the beam, and since we are part of the apartment community we decided to come out,” Lehner said.

Lehner helped Brianna, his 17-month-old daughter, sign the beam as well.

“I think it’s great,” Lehner said. “She’ll be able to say for years to come that she was part of this building.”

One of the last people to sign the beam before it was placed was Robinson Residential Hall Director Bridget Dunigan.

“My signature is unreadable, so I had to make a second one that people could read,” she said.

Dunigan said she went to the ceremony to support her department.

“It’s amazing to be part of a tradition and to come back as an alumnus and see this,” she said.

The housing project costs approximately $28.5 million and construction began in late 2011. It is located on north campus along Bellows Street and when finished, it will be 94-unit facility.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Oct. 12, 2012)

Graduate housing 50 percent complete, construction on CMED labs to be finished by June

By Tony Wittkowski | Senior Reporter | Central Michigan Life

With winter fast approaching, the graduate student housing project is more than 50-percent complete.

“The goal is to try to get it all sealed up for winter,” Lawrence said. “That includes the continuation of brick, windows and finishing the roof.”

Parking lots and other entrances are still closed due to construction on the project.

“The Lansing Street entrance into Lot 8 is currently closed so we can extend the underground steam and data lines from the Franklin Street tunnel crossing,” Lawrence said.

Lawrence said having the steam connected is critical to having temporary heat later this fall.

The masonry work will continue wrapping around each building in sections, with faces being run up to the roof line.  The windows still have to be set into place and the roof installation is still a continuation.

All of the interior mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems are being routed in the walls and ceilings. Once the building is weather tight, the mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems will be inspected and wallboard will start being hung.

Permanent power will also be turned on in late October, allowing the activation of HVAC equipment and lights, Lawrence said.

The buildings are still on schedule to be completed by the end of March 2013, with the exception of some final spring landscaping and other exterior details set to be completed in April or May of that same year.

CMED updates

A research lab building will be constructed for the College of Medicine after being approved by the Board of Trustees during the Sept. 20 meeting.

The building will have a $7-million budget and should be completed by June 1, 2013, said Vice President of Facilities Management Steve Lawrence.

It will include eight labs, eight offices and enough space for 24 graduate students. One of those eight labs will be reserved for student use for the College of Health Professions.

These labs will be primarily used for the College of Medicine, when new staff is brought in for research.

“When we hire a new medical faculty, they bring the research with them,” Lawrence said.

There is a large variety of labs on campus ranging from academic labs in the Woldt Lower Level to the wet labs in Brooks Hall.

The labs meant for the College of Medicine will be wet labs equipped with sinks and vacuum hoods, Lawrence said.

Clark Construction Company, out of Lansing, is set to build the project. Recently, Clark was involved with the Events Center and Anspach Hall renovations.

Updates on other campus projects

The Real Food on Campus is about 99 percent complete after renovations and is now open for business.

RFoC is one of the largest cafeterias on campus, and many new features were added. The seating area was completely changed, providing booth-type seating, conventional self-standing tables, high top seating and smaller tables. Additionally, new flooring was added throughout the eating areas.

The area provides several private dining and meeting areas, and six separated spaces, providing a more “home –like” setting as opposed to a hall type dining room, Lawrence said.

“(There are) six large TVs in place for entertainment, as well as an upgraded lighting system which provides more control over the lighting and can be adjusted for different occasions and needs,” he said.

Several serving areas were created and food preparation stations were added, including the new Mongolian grill area where food is cooked in full view using the foods selected by the customer.

“There are still some minor punchlist items left to complete,” Lawrence said.

The project began on May 7, 2012, and, three months later, was completed by Aug. 14, 2012.

Lawrence said the final cost of the renovation is not in yet, but the estimated cost is below the $1.4 million budget.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Sept. 28, 2012)

CMU looks to increase international student enrollment

By Tony Wittkowski | Senior Reporter | Central Michigan Life

Central Michigan University is focusing on gaining more international students and increasing the number of students studying abroad this year.

Increased globalization, an appreciation of different cultures and compensating for CMU’s low enrollment numbers because of fewer Michigan high school graduates contribute to the interest in international student enrollment.

“A greater number of students from international backgrounds add an awareness of global cultures, issues and experiences to the classroom and the campus community,” said Tracy Nakajima, director of international student and scholar services.

International Affairs is working with the College of Graduate Studies and Vice Provost Claudia Douglass to establish recruitment goals and strategies. The university has not yet targeted a precise percentage of how many students are expected, but there are other things that have to be done first, International Recruiter Emily Liu said.

“We are first looking at expanding the number of countries and cultures represented on campus,” Liu said.

This semester, there are approximately 575 international students at CMU.

“Although we are not at our highest enrollment for total students, our new student enrollment has increased for the fall 2012 semester,” Liu said.

Internationalization has always been critical, to not only increase the number of students, but also to bring different perspectives and points of view to CMU.

“In the 10 years that I have been at CMU, we have always wanted an increase in the number of international students on campus,” Nakajima said. “It has always been recognized that they are an important part of the student body and the community.”

The university has always pursued more international students over the years, but now their enrollment is more critical to CMU due to the diminishing amount of Michigan high school graduates.

“It’s also important as the size of Michigan high school classes decline,” Provost Gary Shapiro said during an interview with the Central Michigan Life Editorial Staff. “We want to maintain, or at least moderate, enrollment declines.”

When Liu has been out recruiting internationally, she has begun to notice that students are excited to learn about the programs that CMU has to offer, as well as the services available.

“This combination helps me distinguish the university and attract students who are excited to join the campus,” she said.

Increasing the international student presence has become a campus-wide effort, with academic departments contributing through internationalizing their curriculum and the search for an executive director of the Office of International Affairs.

The number of students studying abroad continues to gain support among administration.

“We have recognized that not everyone is able to (study abroad), so we need to make some efforts to include international aspects in our curriculum,” Shapiro said.

Through the process of reaching out to colleagues abroad, International Affairs has increased the university’s recognition internationally, Liu said.

Shapiro and University President George Ross have contributed by allocating increased resources to recruitment for a more specific focus on international students as well.

“The student body contributes by providing a welcome atmosphere to our current students, thus encouraging word-of-mouth recruitment to friends and family back home,” Liu said.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Sept. 17, 2012)