Central Michigan University began as a college for teachers. The university was designed to educate those who would teach the next generation. Since its founding in 1892, the university has grown and adapted to the needs of its students.
Today, it offers nationally acclaimed programs in health, engineering, business, communications and science and technology with a strong liberal arts foundation at its core. With the main campus in Mount Pleasant, satellite locations across the country and online offerings, CMU has a small campus feel with a large reach.
“At CMU, we feel we are partners in learning with our students,” says Evan Montague, executive director of the Office of Student Success. “The faculty and the students are growing alongside of each other. We give our students the opportunity to partner with faculty on research and hands-on opportunities starting on day one.”
Montague says students who want to step into research roles can jump into activities in the 227 labs on campus as freshmen, working on large scale, meaningful programs.
CMU faculty member Jennifer Schisa has mentored students, including undergraduates, who have worked in her lab looking at the power of RNA and proteins under stress and aging. The research aims to improve fertility and make inroads into neurodegenerative diseases such as ALS, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Research and experiential programs are not just for the sciences. For example, the Threads Fashion Show is a student-organized event for providing experience in fashion production including public relations and marketing, photo and video production, graphic design, show management and choreography, set design and lighting.
“All of these programs are designed to take learning outside of the classroom,” Montague says.
CMU doesn’t confine the research or the students to the campus in Mount Pleasant. The university has more than 8,000 students enrolled online and at more than 30 locations across North America. Many of the satellite locations are on military bases, offering courses and degrees to military personnel and their families.
All CMU students also have the option to participate in internships and study abroad programs around the world. CMU students have earned internships at NASA, Walt Disney World, Amazon and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There are more than 400 study abroad programs in 40 different countries.
Other undergraduate and graduate students are spending their summer at the CMUBiological Station on Beaver Island, the largest island in Lake Michigan. They are looking at ways to preserve and maintain the Great Lakes.
“Our students are in state-of-the-art facilities and out in the environment engaging in large research projects that are having worldwide impacts,”Montague says.
CMU has more than 16,000 students on campus in Mount Pleasant, but nearly 90 percent of the classes have fewer than 40 students, with less than 2% of classes being held as 100-plus student lecture halls.
“Our small class sizes allow faculty to work closely with our students and build relationships with them to help them succeed,” Montague says.
Besides giving students hands-on experience from their first day, the university also hopes to develop leadership skills in every student.
“We immerse students in more leadership programming than any other university in the country to help them not only grow academically but also personally,” Montague says. The Sarah R. Opperman Leadership Institute helps students to become more socially responsible and demonstrate integrity and conviction in their actions. Students can engage in leadership opportunities and even minor in leadership at the undergraduate level.
The leadership experience begins for many students even before their first class at CMU. More than 2,000 incoming freshmen and transfer students participate in Leadership Safari, which helps them learn how to be academically successful at CMU. They move on campus early and acclimate to the college environment, programs and services available to them.
For more information on Central Michigan University, visit the CMU website.
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