Dec. 5, 2001
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NMU Revises Enrollment Goal

It is rare that adjusting a goal downward can be perceived as a good sign, but that is precisely the message NMU administrators brought to Monday’s enrollment forum. They announced a shift in the Fall 2005 goal from 11,200 (“11-2 and You”) to 10,400 (“10-4 and More”). The decision was motivated by two positive trends: an increase in the number of full-time students and in the number of credit hours they average.

“This enrollment revision should not imply the university isn’t capable of reaching the 11-2 mark; it’s simply a reflection of the changing nature of our student body,” said Paul Duby (Institutional Research). “It will take fewer students to achieve the university’s objectives.”

A primary objective is to bring Northern's state-appropriated dollars per Fiscal Year Equated Student closer to the average of peer institutions. FYES funding is a key statistic used by the legislature and governor for a fiscal comparison of state universities. Northern distanced itself from peer institutions when K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base closed. Enrollment took a significant hit, but the state legislature – in keeping with its standard practice of not adjusting for headcount fluctuations – did not reduce Northern’s appropriation. As a result, funding per FYES jumped, making the university stand out from other state schools.

Northern developed an enrollment goal that would lower the state appropriation per FYES to $5,500 (the figure was $6,601 at the end of fiscal year 2001 in June). Because credit hours represent the common denominator in calculating FYES funding, the growing ratio of full-time students means the university will be able to reach its target with a headcount lower than initially anticipated.

Karen Reese (Academic Affairs) stressed that the adjustment to 10,400 was not tied to mass layoffs at the Empire Mine. “We had these revisions in the printer well before the recent local economic developments,” she said. “While the mine layoffs, the national and state economies and the events of September 11 might impact enrollment down the road, none of these factors influenced our decision to change the Fall 2005 target.”

Duby said increases in full-time students and credit hours can be attributed to a variety of factors. Flat-rate tuition, implemented in 1997, encourages students to take more credits in order to get more “bang for their buck.” Gerri Daniels (Admissions) said NMU has also expanded its recruiting coverage area, targeting lower Michigan and adjacent states in addition to its regional push in the Upper Peninsula. Students who travel from greater distances to come to NMU are more likely to attend on a full-time basis.

NMU President Judi Bailey told those attending the forum that one way to help ensure a balanced university budget for fiscal year 2003 is to meet or exceed enrollment goals. As of Nov. 1, the fall headcount stood at 8,528. The target for Fall 2002 is 8,930.

Bailey to Give 25 Cents' Worth

Sifting through her phone messages recently, President Judi Bailey came upon one from Gov. John Engler’s office. Not out of the ordinary, she thought. But when she returned the call and the governor himself came on the line to speak with her, Bailey at first couldn’t make heads or tails of what the ensuing conversation might be about.

She never would have guessed tails – as in the back side of the Michigan quarter. Engler had called to appoint Bailey to the commission that will oversee the design of our state’s coin, which the U.S. Mint is scheduled to release in the early months of 2004.

“At first I thought he might be kidding and that he actually called to discuss something else,” Bailey said. “When I realized he was serious, I accepted on the spot. But I had to wonder if I owed this appointment to the fact that, as a university president, I’m usually lobbying for more money to preserve the quality of higher education. I knew I couldn’t chalk it up to my expertise in artistic design.”

The “50 State Quarters Program” was launched in 1997. The Michigan Quarter Commission will meet to review proposals for the design of a state quarter. It will select three to five finalists by the end of February and submit the proposals to the U.S. Mint. A winner will be announced at the end of 2002.

“I hope residents of the U.P. will send in their suggestions and that teachers will use the opportunity to have their classes submit designs for the coin,” Bailey added.

You can submit design suggestions via mail or an Internet template at Michigan Quarter Design.

Custodian Volunteers Hidden Talent

When he’s not pushing a broom, Bob Kuhn (Plant Operations) can be found strumming a guitar. On the third Wednesday of each month, the Cohodas custodian joins a local group called the Backwoods Bandits and performs at the Norlite Nursing Home in Marquette.

“We all like going there because the residents and visitors really appreciate our efforts; they’re a good audience,” he said. “It also gives us a chance to do what we enjoy – play music and sing songs.”

Kuhn is partial to country tunes. He became involved in the volunteer effort back in April. “I’ve known one member of the band for quite a while,” he said. “He told me what they did each month and invited me to come on down. I did, and I’ve been doing it ever since.”

Tony Tollefson (USOEC), whose mother is a Norlite resident, has seen Kuhn perform. "When he does a solo, it's amazing because the room will get quiet. People are really enthralled and inspired by his singing. He has a distinct voice that carries very well."

Norlite recently named the Backwoods Bandits as volunteer organization of the year. Kuhn doesn’t include himself in that honor, saying he performed with the group for only part of 2001.

Next time you pass him in the Cohodas lobby, don’t bother asking Kuhn to belt out a tune. “I can’t sing without a guitar in my hands,” he’ll tell you. The broom just doesn’t cut it.

President's Holiday Message

Dear Faculty and Staff:
We have accomplished a lot this year. We have been through a lot this year. Both have strengthened the bonds of our NMU community. Thank you for your inspirational teaching, your outstanding work performance, and your commitment to making our students and our university the best that they can be.

Peace to you and yours throughout the new year.

Judi and Bren Bailey