A Thanksgiving message to the university community

As we prepare to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, I thought I’d share a few of the things I feel most thankful for this year.

I am thankful for the wonderful experiences CMU is providing my daughter. Every time she shares something new she has learned from her faculty, mentors and friends, I am proud she chose Central Michigan University to be her academic home.

I’m thankful for the excitement and enthusiasm I feel on campus for the new direction in which CMU is moving. I’ve gotten some terrific feedback on the plans for our strategic envisioning process, and I am excited to share more about our next steps with you very soon.

I’m thankful we are seeing an uptick in engagement in enrollment activities. Applications are significantly up from this time last year, and I feel confident we’ll see more excitement about CMU in the months and years ahead. So many of you have played — and continue to play — a role in this success.

And, most importantly, I feel thankful to work with and for some of the most incredible people I’ve ever met. To our Central Michigan University students, staff, faculty, alumni, trustees and friends: Every day, you give me reasons to be proud of this university.

I am particularly thankful for our passionate, thoughtful and insightful student leaders. Last week, some of these leaders took to social media to discuss and debate food insecurity. This is an important issue that affects many students on our campus, and one I addressed extensively in my blog last week.

Members of the Student Liaison Committee first shared the idea of a meal swipe donation program at the September Board of Trustees’ meeting. This committee had been working with members of the Residence Housing Association on several programs to confront student hunger.

Last week, additional student voices joined the conversation, adding important perspectives and insight and sharing new ideas to combat food insecurity.

I met Monday with some of these student leaders to discuss this complex issue. I learned a great deal as they voiced their concerns and suggested solutions. I also believe that, through this direct dialog and sharing of ideas, they learned from me as well.

Together, we reached a better understanding of the issues, and we are pleased to announce that the university will move forward with several new programs to assist students battling food insecurity. These include:

  • A “food swipe bank,” supported initially by unused guest swipes. These meal swipes, which can be used at any of the university’s residential restaurants, will be given to students who need additional meals by crediting them to their campus ID card.
  • A $1 meal option at the Down Under Food Court. These meals will take advantage of food not purchased during the day, which will be packaged and sold for $1.

We plan to launch these programs Jan. 6, in time for the start of the spring semester. Information about how students can access the food swipe bank, as well as how they can donate to it, will be shared before the end of this semester.

With the input of our passionate students, we also are considering additional options, such as incorporating flex dollars into the program to provide an additional tool in combating food insecurity.  We also will continue to support the ongoing work of the Student Food Pantry and seek ways to expand its services.

The student leaders and I agree that these are good next steps and that we must continue to work together to further these efforts. I am grateful to work with students and staff who are creatively, innovatively and passionately seeking new ways to serve our students.

Thanksgiving is a time to take stock of our blessings and to focus on all we have to celebrate in our lives. I hope you count CMU among those blessings. Know that today, and every day, I am thankful for all the ways you have chosen to be part of our university community.

Over the next few days, I hope you’ll take a moment to reflect on and give thanks for the things that bring you joy in life. And, if possible, I hope you’ll commit an act of kindness or do a good deed that brings joy to someone else, whether you know them or not. The immense joy that comes through the spirit of giving is something to be thankful for every day.

I wish all of you a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.  I hope you enjoy this time with family, friends and loved ones.

Be well,

Bob Davies