On Monday, Dec. 7, the College of Eastern Utah held a meeting to discuss the merger between the Utah State University system and CEU. State regents as well as USU president Stan Albrecht and other administrators were in attendance via video conferencing to discuss any issues or concerns with the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The floor was opened to those wishing to express thoughts or concerns. One concern that was addressed was the model of the merger referred to as the Penn State model. In addition, there was discussion about making sure that CEU keeps some semblance of its own history, as well as retaining retiree benefits and faculty tuition benefits.
Kim Booth, director of financial aid, stated that the MOU would make CEU a subsidiary of USU, very similar to how the Penn State model works which he thinks will not best suit USU-CEU. Penn State, which has satellite campuses around the state, but centralized financial aid as well as other administrative responsibilities, does not seem to be a good fit because of the centralized decisions that are made.
Missouri State, on the other hand, has been successful with having both a research university and a two-year institution under one title. Finances and human resources are handled by central positions, whereas the financial aid and student services are kept at the local level. Classes are broadcast back down to the two-year institution and advisers help students with transferring.
For CEU to adopt a central financial aid system, all records must be housed in Logan. Students would have to apply for admission to USU have to apply for admission to USU. In this scenario, all problems would be dealt with in Logan.
Regents members and President Albrecht both agreed that more investigating is necessary. The time restraints are not set in stone. Before any arrangements are finalized, regents want to talk with Missouri State about their system. They said that making these institutions better for students is of the utmost priority for all involved.
Willy Woodruff, CEU student body president, had questions regarding accreditation and how the first school chancellor would be chosen. As a third generation student at CEU, he said it is important to him that his diploma reflect the fact he attended school in Price.
Regents responded by saying that, while they will be involved along with students and other people in choosing the first chancellor, the ultimate decision will be made by the president of USU.
According to USU Provost Ray Coward, the accreditation board mandates that since the two schools will, in effect, be one, diplomas should reflect that. Discussion was passed back and forth about the option of creating a logo or other designation with CEU's name on diplomas, but no final decisions have been made at this time.
Hank Savage, who recently retired from CEU, wanted to make sure retiree benefits that he enjoys will not change.
"There is no expectation that any benefits you currently have will be negatively affected by this merger, so, no, they will not change," said Albrecht.
Susan Neel, CEU college senate chair, had a question in regard to the tuition benefit that CEU faculty currently have. Presently, some CEU faculty members receive 100 percent tuition benefits. She pointed out that, on campus, there seems to be a general sense that the opportunity of having access to upper division and graduate level classes would make it very reasonable for most to move into this process by just modifying their benefits so everyone is on the same program. She suggested that, rather than trying to grandfather in an MOU, they adopt a USU system.
Regents responded by saying that they are leaving the decision in that area up to CEU staff and those new benefits will be carried over into the new system.