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Use your voice!

February 21, 2009

Over the weekend, CM Life will accept letters to the editor regarding University President Michael Rao’s decision to accept the presidency of Virginia Commonwealth University on Friday. We would like to hear your reaction to his leaving and what he has meant to you and to the university, in your opinion. Just be sure to keep it clean, and leave your contact information so we can get a hold of you in case we need anything.

Address all letters to, and keep them at 400 words or less, if at all possible.

Also, be sure to follow CM Life on Twitter for instantaneous updates on not only Michael Rao, but for every breaking news story.

Thank you!


-Brian Manzullo
Online Editor


NEWS UPDATE: Rao accepts presidency of VCU, leaves June 30

February 21, 2009

By: Jackie Smith

Updated at 8:50 p.m. First post at 7 p.m.

University President Michael Rao has been named the new president of Virginia Commonwealth University.

Rao, Central Michigan University’s 12th president, will take office as VCU’s fifth president on July 1, succeeding 69-year-old Eugene Trani, who is retiring to teach as a professor at VCU.

The VCU Board of Visitors made the announcement after a closed meeting tonight to finalize his contract, which includes an annual compensation package totaling $615,000.

Rao’s VCU approved salary is $488,500, of which $176,113 is paid by state funds and $312,387, according to a VCU release.

His total package includes $66,500 in deferred compensation, a $60,000 housing allowance and use of a car.

Rao will receive a signing bonus of $275,000 and will be required to repay $200,000 if he leaves VCU within five years.

“He did share with me that he’s had offers in the past,” said former CMU Trustee John Kulhavi. “But at that conjucture he expressed interest in staying at CMU.”

Kulhavi said he isn’t surprised Rao would take a new position because the average tenure for a CMU president is eight years, whereas Rao’s has held the reins for nine.

“In that industry or that field, you have to keep moving up or your not going to have those opportunities,” Kulhavi said.

Rao, 42, has served as CMU’s president since 2000. Before that, he was the chancellor of Montana State University-Northern, and president of Mission College in Santa Clara, California.

VCU is the state’s largest state-affiliated university with two campuses in Richmond, the capital of Virginia, and has an enrollment of more than 32,000 students. The school has a heavy emphasis on medical programs.

“I believe it’s a great move for Mike and his family,” said Sid Smith, the former board of trustees chairman and vice chair of the search committee that brought Rao to CMU.

“But, they’re a very good friend of ours, so we hate to lose him,” he said.

Through a university listserv, Rao sent an e-mail to all CMU students, faculty and staff at 7:04 p.m. today.

He encouraged the CMU Board of Trustees and faculty, staff, students and alumni to “keep their perspective on your greatness and keep an eye toward the long-term future of the university.”

“There cannot be any slippage of plans for achieving the significant goals that will continue to shape this great institution,” Rao wrote.

Rao is currently under a recently renewed contract at CMU. The Board of Trustees increased Rao’s annual salary by 3 percent in December, from $293,550 to $302,357.

His contract was extended through 2016 on Jan. 1.

Under his current contract, Rao’s retention bonuses increase each year by 10 percent, starting at $100,000 in 2009, and his retirement and compensation packages increase from $46,000 to $49,000 and from $15,500 to $16,500, respectively.

Board of Trustees Chairwoman Gail Torreano said Rao will leave with “significant accomplishments” and “a great deal of positive momentum” when he departs from the university.

“We sincerely thank President Rao for his dedicated service, forward-thinking vision and extraordinary commitment to student success,” Torreano said in a press release.

Torreano and the Board of Trustees plan to engage in a “thoughtful and comprehensive” executive search in the coming weeks.

“As we face unprecedented challenges in higher education and the State of Michigan, it is imperative the Board of Trustees hires an experienced leader who is well-suited to continue our positive momentum during this critical period,” Torreano said.


A career administrator
A timeline of Michael Rao’s administrative positions

1992 to 1994: Dean of Mission College in Santa Clara, Calif.
1994 to 1998: President of Mission College.
1998 to 2000: Chancellor of Montana State University- Northern.
2000 to Present: President of Central Michigan University.
July 1, 2009: Will become fifth president of Virginia Commonwealth University.

Check for updates as the story develops.

NEWS UPDATE: Rao may take job in Virginia

February 20, 2009

University President Michael Rao could have a new job by 7 p.m. today.

The Board of Visitors at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond will have a special meeting tonight to decide between finalists for their new university president, one of which is Rao.

“All we can say at this point, of course, is that President Rao is a finalist for president at Virginia Commonwealth University,” said Director of Media Relations Steve Smith.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch is reporting this afternoon that Rao is in Virginia today to accept the presidency on VCU’s campus.

Smith said he doesn’t know when Rao first took interest in the job, but that the news quickly developed over the last couple of days.

The CMU Board of Trustees increased Rao’s annual salary by 3 percent in December, from $293,550 to $302,357.

As of Jan. 1, Rao’s contract was extended through 2016.

Smith said he does not yet know how Rao’s candidacy will conflict with his current CMU contract.

“He has to get the job first,” Smith said. “We don’t know what their vote is going to be.”

Under his current contract, Rao’s retention bonuses increase each year by 10 percent, starting at $100,000 in 2009, and his retirement and compensation packages increase from $46,000 to $49,000 and from $15,500 to $16,500, respectively.

If approved by the VCU Board of Visitors this evening, Rao will succeed Eugene P. Trani as president. Trani has said he will step down June 30 because of health reasons.

VCU is the state’s largest state-affiliated university with two campuses in Richmond, the capital of Virginia, and has an enrollment of more than 32,000 students. The school has a heavy emphasis on medical programs.

Check for updates.

Graduation speakers are lame

April 9, 2008

By David Harris, Editor in Chief

I bet I can guess what reaction the class of May 2008 had when they say who graduation speakers were.
All of us let out a collective “who?”
Yes all three graduation speakers are people no one has heard of. David Baker Lewis (5 p.m. ceremony), Robert Froelich ((9:30 a.m. ceremony) and Chuck Leavell (1:30 p.m. ceremony) are the three graduation speakers this year.
Perhaps my dreams were too grandiose last year when Bill Clinton spoke at the University of Michigan’s commencement. I thought CMU could bring in a big name who could inspire me to do great things. But such is not the case.
I will get to hear Lewis speak. I’m sure Lewis, who is chairman of law firm Lewis & Munday and has sat on boards for The Kroger Company and H&R Block, will have good things to say. He has been successful in his field.
But graduation is supposed to be memorable. In 20 years, you are supposed to remember that great graduation speaker you had. It is a special day in your life.
I will probably forget by the end of May.
But I will cease to bicker and I will offer a solution. Move the damn ceremony to Kelly/Shorts!
Michigan does it at Michigan Stadium. Why can’t CMU move it to its football stadium? Sure, you are playing with fire when you plan something outside in early May. So what?
You can have one ceremony, bring in a big-time speaker and more people could go because of the bigger venue.
Simple as that.
But I suppose that would make too much sense.

Lifeline section — again

March 26, 2008

Another lifeline section, another controversy.
What else is new?
Wednesday’s lifeline section depicted several sex toys on the cover with an accompanying story about the products. There also was a story about a CMU alumna, Susan Colvin, and her rise to prominence in the exotic novelties industries.
Of course, several people have been criticizing the taste of the article. It’s “yellow journalism” one reader says.
Again, as I said with the Pope Benedict illustration, GROW UP! Sure it’s racy. Sure it’s unconventional.
But we are all college students (which makes up the vast majority of our readers). Don’t you think we can look at this stuff intelligently — maybe learn a little?
For instance, by reading the article you will find that the industry is growing, Colvin said. No longer is the stereotype about sex toys of men buying them about women. Women, Colvin says in the story, are becoming more comfortable buying them.
Doesn’t this say something about society? It shows that more people are becoming comfortable with their sexuality.
At the root of the Colvin article is a good old American success story. A minority broke into the field dominated by the majority and proved she could be successful. Nevermind that it is an “unacceptable” industry — she proved she could do it and it is a great human interest story.
So act like you’ve been there before. Looking at a dildo really isn’t that bad. It won’t hurt you.
Look past that stuff, and read into the story. You, as I was, can be enlightened.

David Harris
Editor in Chief

Wednesday’s illustration of Pope causes controversy

March 14, 2008

By David Harris, Editor in Chief

Call me insensitive. Call me stupid.
But I don’t really see anything wrong with the illustration depicting Pope Benedict XVI in Wednesday’s lifeline section front of Central Michigan Life.
Apparently others feel differently.
I have received a number of phone calls and letters to the editor expressing that depiction was in poor taste. People have said they were offended by the picture.
They say it is demeaning toward the pope. One caller even suggested it reminded him of the sex scandal with priests and little boys.
Another caller said that the media often portrays Catholics in the negative light, and he is tired of it.
All I see is an illustration poking fun of how the Catholic Church moved St. Patty’s day from Monday to Friday. It’s light-hearted.
It has nothing to do with previous Church scandals nor is it trying to demean the pope.
A caller said that my position was ignorant. I guess we have a difference of opinion.
If you were to put an illustration of a black man with a big lip and he was being hung, the caller said, there would be an outrage. True, there would be an outrage.
But to compare an illustration of that nature to the one in Wednesday’s CM Life is way out of whack.
Two callers demanded a retraction and apology. There will be none, not because it would hurt my ego, but because it is unnecessary.
Obviously, we welcome any and all criticisms in CM Life. It is important that we get as many voices as possible.

Before hanging up, a caller asked me not to put anything like that in the newspaper anymore. All I ask is that you have a bit of a sense of humor.

Get real President Rao

February 24, 2008

University President Michael Rao is just doing his job when he lobbies for more money from the state.

Like any other good university president, he wants the best for his institution. But he needs to get back to reality if he thinks CMU is going to get more funding from the state of Michigan. He made his case in a guest column in Sunday’s Detroit Free Press.

He writes how CMU is receiving the same appropriation in real dollars as 10 years ago. He talks about how most CMU students are from the state of Michigan and stay after graduation.

All of the above are true.

But if he can find a way for the state to churn out more money, then he should be Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s chief financial officer. More funding for CMU — or for any other Michigan institution for that matter — isn’t coming anytime soon.

It’s a shame, but it’s the harsh reality. President Rao needs to get back to that reality.

Competing with the Big Ten

February 12, 2008

The wrestling team’s dominance against Mid-American Conference opponents is well documented.

Central has won the regular season conference title nine consecutive times, and the MAC Tournament six straight times.

But could CMU win the Big Ten?

The Chippewas aren’t switching conferences by any means, but just for the sake of debating, it’s an interesting question. The topic was posted at thematforums.

The Chippewas have wins against Michigan State, Ohio State, Michigan and a loss against Minnesota. Iowa and Penn State also would be top competitors for CMU.

The Golden Gophers have had CMU’s number the last few years and are 8-0 all-time against CMU. This season at least, the Chippewas would have a realistic shot at winning the Big Ten regular season or the tournament. At 165, 174, 184, 197 and heavyweight they match up as well as any team.

We’ll probably never know, but coach Tom Borrelli and his team are probably content with owning the MAC. We will know in March, however, how Central stacks up with the Big Ten’s best, and other conferences. An article from the Saginaw News looks at the wrestling team in the national spotlight.

Elsewhere, the basketball team lost Wednesday at Bowling Green. Here are the highlights in case you missed it.

The MAC report also looks ahead to the postseason for men’s basketball. Also, Central is ranked eighth in the site’s weekly rankings.

Also, it’s never to early to talk football. Jahleel Addae, the recently signed running back, seems excited to be coming to CMU.

– Robbie Sgro

Media issues

January 29, 2008

Is there such a thing as an off-the-record speech at a public event?
According to Meghan O’Sullivan, former deputy national security adviser to President Bush, who was set to speak at Indiana University, there is.
O’Sullivan canceled her speech last Tuesday in part because the school newspaper, Indiana Daily Student, wanted to cover the event. The IDS refused to keep the speech off the record because the speech was free and open to the public.
Suddenly O’Sullivan felt “sick to her stomach” and the speech was canceled when the it was supposed to begin.
There are several issues with this.
First, contrary to some beliefs, there are no such thing as an off the record speech at a public event. The idea is proposterous.
A public forum is meant to be just that — public. If O’Sullivan wanted to have a private meeting, she should have made a list of guests and allowed only those people to attend.
You don’t send out a press release (which coincedintally said the event was off the record) and not expect a media outlet to come.
Central Michigan Life sometimes experiences these issues. Sometimes a reporter is not allowed in because people at the event “may not feel comfortable to speak freely with you here.”
To me, not allowing a media outlet to attend an event for that reason is defeating the purpose of a culture of exchanging ideas.

Monday package

January 14, 2008

You may be wondering what today’s package on page 3 is today. We are starting a new package called “Snippets about…” Last Monday we did it about students moving in, and today it was about things to do on the weekends.

We want to have quick-reading tidbits. I hope you enjoy.

Any ideas for future topics? Let me know!