Feb. 4, 2002
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NMU Joins in Continuation Budget Agreement

A major piece of Northern’s Fiscal Year 2003 picture fell into place Friday when Michigan’s 15 public universities were told by Gov. John Engler that he has proposed a continuation budget for higher education next year. Engler will release his full state budget on Thursday.

The higher education proposal, however, is based on the universities voluntarily holding tuition and fee increases for next year at or below 8.5 percent or $425 – whichever is greater – and includes funding penalties for schools that do not adhere to the agreement. Northern’s state appropriation funding for Fiscal Year 2002 is $52 million, which makes up about two-thirds of NMU’s operating budget.

“Governor Engler called this agreement a ‘moment of historical significance,’ and one would have to agree that it was an unprecedented effort of cooperation between all branches of the state government, the Department of Treasury and the state university presidents,” said President Judi Bailey. “In particular, Northern would like to thank Governor Engler; Senator Joe Schwarz and Representative Sandy Caul, who chair their respective higher education appropriation subcommittees; and the other Michigan legislators involved in coming up with a plan to ensure access, affordability and quality for Michigan’s college students while at the same time preserving the universities’ governing board’s right to establish tuition rates.”

Bailey said that being better able to anticipate state appropriation resources this early in the year greatly aids NMU in its budget development, but she added that even with a continuation budget Northern is expecting to face a $2.3 million shortfall.

“Northern started its budget development from an advantageous point – we currently have a balanced budget,” said Bailey. “The anticipated deficit is due to rising operating costs.”

The budget reallocation recommendations from across campus that were brought to the division leaders in late January are currently under review by NMU’s division leaders, according to Bailey.

“I don’t want to make any announcements of changes until I’ve had a chance to meet with as much of the NMU campus community as possible. Everyone needs to understand what we’re up against in the upcoming year and the ramifications of the decisions we will be making,” said Bailey.

Bailey is asking that all full- and part-time NMU employees attend one of three university meetings scheduled for next week in Jamrich Hall, Room 101: 4-5 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 13; 8-9 a.m. or noon-1 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 14. About half of the hour-long sessions will be designated for open discussion.

“We will not pass on a $2 million deficit to the NMU students in the form of drastically higher tuition and fees, so two things have become critical: making wise budget reallocation plans and continuing enrollment growth. The more students we retain and new students we enroll at NMU, the better our budget situation will be.”

Winter Enrollment, Retention Numbers are Positive

Enrollment and credit hours have charted a positive course for the Winter 2002 semester. Total headcount is 7,912 with improvements noted at each class level. The overall increase is 489 – or 6.6 percent – above last winter’s figure. Credit hours are also up by 6.9 percent over last year.

“The credit hours will give an additional boost to our 2002 Fiscal Year Equated Student goal,” said Paul Duby (Institutional Research). “Another positive trend we are seeing is increased retention of students throughout the cycle. Retention from fall to winter is up 3.5 percent from a year ago. This success applies to both genders and all racial groups, so no single entity is losing ground. The new retention efforts instituted this past fall appear to be working; this is a real positive set of data.”

One initiative involves freshman probationary students. Virtually all are required to participate in Northern’s First Year Experience (FYE) program. Statistics show that nearly 86 percent of probationary students who took the UN100 course in the fall reenrolled for the winter semester.

“Freshman probationary students traditionally have had a lower success rate than regularly admitted students,” Duby added. “The goal of the University’s intervention strategy has been to ease the transition to college for students most at risk by offering them UN100 and other avenues of support. Academic success breeds enhanced retention."

Fall 2001 represented the highest first-semester GPA ever for first-time, full-time new freshmen. Duby said more than 78 percent of these new freshmen earned a "C" average or better in their first semester at NMU.

"These indicators of success bode well for enhanced student success and retention in the future," he said.

NMU Wellness Celebration to Begin

The 9th Annual Celebrate Wellness Health Fair will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19, in the University Center Great Lakes Rooms.

Employees are granted one hour of release time to attend the Health Fair.

Students Have Fingertip Access to Foreign Language Broadcasts

Northern students can access news broadcasts from around the world with their laptop computers. Satellite Communications for Learning, or SCOLA, is a non-profit consortium that transmits television programming from more than 50 countries in their original languages.

“I am amazed at the far-ranging points of origination – from Japan and China to Turkey and Ethiopia to Slovenia and Croatia,” said Tim Compton (Modern Languages and Literatures). “As a department, we are just becoming familiar with it and are formulating ideas on how to use it in our classes. I am impressed with Susan Martin of our department for her insight in getting this service to campus. The newscasts allow us to see the world through other nations’ lenses.”

Most SCOLA subscribers access the video feeds via satellite, but NMU is the first to receive the broadcasts over Internet 2. NMU pays about $2,100 annually for the contract, which covers all campus users. If SCOLA had not made the Internet 2 option available, NMU would have had to purchase a new satellite dish and receivers for an estimated $15,000.

“This is a high-end video application for the laptop – not just word processing or spreadsheets – and it’s an appropriate educational use for Internet 2,” said Eric Smith (Audio-Visual Services). “You need a high bandwidth connection to operate the service. The imagery is better than with your typical dial-up connection and the audio is crystal clear. It’s been up and running for two weeks and we’re very pleased with the quality.”

Smith credits Bruce Hanninen (Academic Computing) for setting up a mirror site on one of the NMU servers to make bandwidth use more efficient. He said SCOLA has two additional video channels that should be available on Internet 2 in the coming months. One is exclusively entertainment; the other features Chinese information. SCOLA also offers Vatican Radio, Radio France Internationale and World Radio Network.

To access SCOLA over Internet 2 and link to the programming schedule, visit SCOLA.