Absorbing Executive Order Cut Only First Step
Northern administrators had been bracing for Gov. John Engler’s budget-balancing executive order, which was approved last Thursday. It was never a question of if – only when and how much. The plan trims a total of $45.3 million from higher education for the current fiscal year, which began in July. It cuts Northern’s state funding by $1.3 million.
“Our goal is to find ways to absorb that amount through internal cost-saving measures so that students are not impacted,” said President Judi Bailey. “At this time, we are not projecting a mid-year tuition increase. We are also not projecting employee layoffs.”
A supplemental budget bill that remains under consideration would restore .5 percent to state universities, amounting to $260,000 for NMU. The supplemental is expected to be voted on this week.
Bailey said administrators are not factoring in the possibility of restored funding. They are working on a recommendation to adjust the FY03 base budget downward by the full $1.3 million. The proposal will be discussed by the Board of Trustees at its Dec. 12-13 meeting.
Gov. Engler's executive order is only the first step in what is expected to be a long state budget process for Michigan's public universities. Anticipating the possibility of additional executive orders after Gov.-elect Jennifer Granholm takes office and bleak state appropriation prospects for the next fiscal year, Bailey established a Budget Alternatives Committee on campus.
"The BAC is charged with recommending budget reductions, cost avoidance opportunities, operational savings and identifying additional revenue that total $8.5 million for FY2004 and $4.25 million for FY2005," said Mike Roy (Finance and Administration, who co-chairs the committee with Fred Joyal (Academic Affairs). "We have met once to discuss our mission and to plan how we will proceed over the next few months. The committee will present its recommendations to President Bailey by March 1.”
A university forum will be held in March or April for campus-wide discussion on the proposed changes. Prior to that time, NMU faculty and staff are encouraged to submit suggestions and comments to their immediate supervisors or department heads.
Bailey said NMU was fortunate to start FY03 with a balanced budget. Also, enrollment figures surpassed the expectations used in formulating the budget, generating additional tuition revenue.
“One option is leaving vacant positions open,” she added. “There will also be reductions passed on to departments and offices, but we have not determined the specifics of those yet.”
To see a listing of Budget Alternatives Committee members, go to BAC. To view the complete budget-balancing plan submitted by Gov. Engler, go to Executive Order.
Red Cross CEO Commencement Speaker
Marsha Johnson Evans, president and CEO of the American Red Cross, will be the speaker at Northern’s mid-year commencement exercises Dec. 14. She will also receive an honorary doctor of public service degree.
Evans was appointed to her position with the American Red Cross in August. She previously served as the national executive director of the Girl Scouts from 1998 to 2002.
Her professional background also includes 29 years with the Navy. Evans retired at the rank of Rear Admiral. She was the first woman to serve as chief of staff of the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis and led the first program to ensure equal opportunities for male and female midshipmen.
Evans earned a bachelor’s degree from Occidental College in Los Angeles, Calif., and a master’s degree in law and diplomacy from Tufts University in Medford, Mass.
The commencement ceremony is scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 14, in the Superior Dome. It will be broadcast live on WNMU-TV 13..
Enrollment Hits 9,000
Northern’s final enrollment for the fall semester will hit or exceed 9,000 students, according to Paul Duby (Institutional Research).
“At the beginning of the fall semester, we indicated to the NMU Board of Trustees that our target was 8,980 students. As of December 4th, we are at 9,000 students exactly,” said Duby.
This represents a gain of 423 students, or 4.9 percent, over Fall 2001. Credit hours are also up, with 114,000 credit hours being taken this semester, an increase of more than 5,000 credit hours from a year ago, or a 4.6 percent gain.
According to Duby, the last time Northern had an enrollment of 9,000 or more was in Fall 1981. “This has been a long recovery from the closure of K.I. Sawyer (Air Force Base) and its devastating impact on enrollment, but we have completely overcome those losses."
The closure of Sawyer in 1995 resulted in a loss of 16 percent of Northern’s enrollment over a year-and-a-half period. Duby added that Northern is “on track” to reach the 10,329 enrollment target for Fall 2005.
“It will not be an easy goal, but the range of 10,400 by 2005 is attainable with an all-out effort from the university community,” he said.
NMU Site of Granholm Inaugural Event
The University Center will be the site of an Upper Peninsula inaugural celebration for Gov.-elect Jennifer Granholm. It is scheduled from 6-9 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 11, in the Great Lakes Rooms. Conference and Catering Services at NMU is working closely with Granholm’s staff to prepare for the event, which is expected to draw up to 1,000 ticketed attendees. The governor-elect's inaugural committee is sponsoring the event and will release additional details in the near future.
Poet to Visit Campus
William Watt, the author of two books published by the NMU Press, will lead a discussion titled "About Ezra Pound" and read from his own book, Poems Sacred and Profane, on Friday, Dec. 13. The event is scheduled from noon to 2 p.m. in room 325 Gries Hall. Refreshments will be served.
Watt's visit is co-sponsored by the NMU Press, the MFA program in creative writing, the English and Psychology departments and the NMU Bookstore.
Northern has revitalized its Center for Economic Education (CEE) in the hope of preparing Upper Peninsula youth to become effective participants in the global economy. As a member of a statewide delivery network coordinated by the Michigan Council on Economic Education, the NMU center will develop and implement courses, workshops and materials for K-12 teachers.
“We are going to help them introduce economics to the curriculum by incorporating the vocabulary in activities they are already completing in the classroom,” said Tawni Ferrarini (Economics), center director.” Economics dominates every aspect of our lives. It’s not just part of politics, business or commerce. It’s also strategic thinking through life in terms of costs and benefits of anything we do.”
In October, Ferrarini received the Outstanding Rookie Award from the National Association of Economic Educators. Two months earlier, she assumed the role of center director, which involves developing and evaluating programs. These include graduate credit courses on integrating economics across the K-12 curriculum, professional development offerings on how to meet Michigan Standards and Benchmarks, and in-service workshops on virtual economics.
The regional network consists of two components in addition to the NMU Center for Economic Education. One is a strong base of K-12 Michigan Educator Associates – classroom teachers or other specialized individuals trained to assist the center in working with educators, students and parents. The second is a consortium of school districts that recognize and support the value of economic education. At this point, there are eight participating districts.
NMU first established a Center for Economic Education in the early ‘80s. Ferrarini said the revitalized version will enhance Northern’s presence and impact in the Upper Peninsula.
“This is further evidence that Northern is interested in extending its service beyond campus by reaching out to other facets of the region,” she said. “We have a lot of human talent in the area and it makes sense to mobilize those resources and tap the expertise of state and national associations to increase the quality of economic education in the Upper Peninsula. By doing so, we promote the growth of responsible, productive citizens who are knowledgeable consumers, savers and investors and lifelong decision makers.”
To fund the activities of the center, the College of Arts and Sciences has committed office space, granted reallocation time for the director and promised funding for the center’s Web site, brochure and annual expenses. The Michigan Council on Economic Education has also provided administrative grants.
Dear faculty and staff,
Thank you for your commitment to our students and to making NMU the university of choice in the Midwest for students seeking quality academics, personal attention and a high-tech learning environment. Your efforts to teach, inspire and guide our students do not go unappreciated. Enjoy the holiday break and the time with your family and friends. Peace to you and yours in the new year.
Judi and Bren Bailey