Nov. 20, 2002
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Commission Releases Report on Higher Education

A report released to Governor-elect Jennifer Granholm and state legislators last Thursday by the University Investment Commission recommends state and university officials enter into a compact regarding higher education issues in Michigan. The 30-member group made up of state business and civic leaders encouraged increases in state appropriations for public universities if universities assume greater accountability for spending and cost controls. The commission also recommended developing long-term strategy to address capital needs. The commission’s report makes four recommendations to the presidents and governing boards of Michigan’s 15 public universities, three recommendations to the governor, and three to incoming state policymakers.

President Judi Bailey will comment on the report during the final university planning forum of the fall semester. “The Future of Michigan Higher Education" will be held from 3-5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 21, in the Pioneer rooms of the University Center. The forum will cover the report, the possibility of an executive order for state funding cuts, the new legislative landscape and the budget outlooks for Fiscal Year 2004.

Among the findings of the University Investment Commission was that state appropriations in 1972 made up on average 75 percent of a university’s general budget, but in 2001 accounted for 52 percent. The report uses data from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) to point out that the state’s 1999 higher education investment of $1.5 billion netted an economic impact of $39 billion.

The MEDC’s findings suggest that two factors are aggravating the state's labor shortage: 23 percent of the state’s adult population has college degrees, which is below the national average of 25 percent; and only 45 percent of the state’s freshmen graduate within six years. However, the commission did find that 89 percent of Michigan public college students choose to stay in the state following graduation, which is 10 percent higher than the national average.

The commission strongly encourages Granholm to convene an annual State of Public Universities address to be presented at a statewide summit of business, civic, labor, political and university leaders. Other recommendations include more and better documentation on the part of the universities for the uses and benefits of resources, including standardized data for measuring cost factors; a thorough review of the state’s existing student aid programs and strong advocacy for increased federal aid; and measures by the administration and legislature to support policies that recognize universities that demonstrate cost containment and tuition and fees restraint “while not sacrificing the education of students and research.”

Recommendations to policymakers include creating a multi-year strategy to bring Michigan’s public higher education funding to a level comparable to other Great Lakes states and states that are Michigan’s top economic competitors. The commission states the plan should include a “regular, dependable stream” to meet universities’ capital outlay needs.

The report was commissioned by the Presidents Council of State Universities of Michigan to create an outside review of public higher education and raise public awareness of higher education issues. It was chaired by former speaker of the House Paul Hillegonds, president of Detroit Renaissance. In 1984, Gov. James Blanchard appointed a similar commission, as did Gov. John Engler in 1992.

CLS Reaccredited

Clinical Laboratory Sciences has been reaccredited at the bachelor’s and master’s levels for seven years – the longest term available.

A site visit report submitted to the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences failed to identify a single deficiency, concern or suggestion for improvement.

“It was spotless; there was nothing on it,” said Lucille Contois (CLS). “I like to make the analogy of a white-glove inspection. They left with white gloves and that made us feel very good.

"Site visitors are volunteers from different programs, so you never know what their interpretation of the criteria will be. And very few schools offer the career-ladder programming like we do, so it’s sometimes worrisome when the site visitors have a different frame of reference. Fortunately, it all worked out very well in the end.”

NMU is one of only a few schools in the country to offer both associate and bachelor’s degrees in CLS. In 1997, it was singled out by the national publication, Laboratory Medicine, for setting a standard that enables students to climb the “perfect career ladder.”

Contois said Northern’s dual role of community college and university helps ensure a smooth transition for students who have achieved an associate degree. They can either enter the work force as a medical laboratory technician (MLT) or press on toward a bachelor’s degree and the title of medical technologist (MT).

“The real selling point for our program is that all of the credits students earn in the first two years are directly applicable to the four-year degree because we only have to articulate within this one institution,” she added.

Another strength is Northern’s affiliation with the world-renowned Mayo Clinic. Both Mayo and Marquette General Health Systems support the baccalaureate program. Affiliations for the associate degree include several Upper Peninsula hospitals and one medical facility in Duluth. Contois said the department enrolls about 100 students.

Holiday Open House Planned

Conference and Catering Services invites university employees to enjoy a free sampling of holiday desserts and flavored coffees. Featured items will be available for order. The holiday open house is scheduled from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 3, in the Charcoal Room.

Equipment Purchased Through Collaborative Effort

Northern has a new $55,000 science instrument. The Simultaneous Thermal Gravimetric Analysis-Differential Scanning Calorimeter (TGA-DSC) is demonstrated above by Tom Getman (Chemistry) and graduate student Gretchen Froehner. The equipment purchase would not have been possible without the combined efforts of two academic colleges and the Seaborg Center.

"The fact that groups across colleges and disciplines joined forces to benefit students from different colleges and disciplines is an excellent example of Northern's collaborative spirit," said Eugene Wickenheiser (Chemistry). "We are very thankful to Terry Seethoff (Arts and Sciences), Cam Howes (Professional Studies), and Peggy House (Seaborg Center) for making this possible."

The calorimeter measures both mass and energy changes within a sample as it is heated from room temperatures to as high as 1450 degrees Celsius. It is used to study decomposition reactions, which is when a compound or other material loses fragments upon heating. It is also used to study phase changes such as melting and vaporization.

“It is a good investment for NMU since it will expose students to this technique which is broadly used,” said Tom Getman (Chemistry). “It will be used in CH215, chemistry of the elements, which is popular with education and chemistry majors. Students learn to correlate properties of compounds with the elements of which they are composed.

"It is also likely to be used in our inorganic chemistry and physical chemistry courses and for student research projects."

Snow Day Contest Announced

Northern's annual “Snow Day at NMU Contest” will award a $50 restaurant gift certificate to the person who predicts the first day that on-campus classes are canceled due to inclement weather.

The contest is sponsored by the snow day czar, Fred Joyal (Academic Affairs). It is open to all NMU employees and students, but only one entry per person is allowed. For more information or to participate, click on Snow Day Contest.