Forum Addresses Technology


Aside from the budget update, “Technology at NMU” was the primary focus of the Oct. 22 university forum. Here is a brief summary of some of the presentations addressing that topic:

Gavin Leach (Finance and Planning) and Dave Maki (AdIT) discussed the future of the wireless network. Campus-wide implementation has focused on classrooms, lobbies, hallways, student lounges, eating areas, the library and student apartments. Leach said Northern plans to continue expanding wireless to areas of campus where access is not available. Another effort is under way to provide community-wide wireless access to students, faculty and staff. The university has begun testing access in select areas of the city. Antenna towers installed on university buildings, Mount Mesnard ( Marquette ) and the Pine Ridge apartments are in test mode.


The university will use GIS maps to review future locations for antennas based on areas with a high concentration of students, faculty and staff. Wireless access will be limited to the NMU community through a required virtual private network connection. The software is available via download, but will eventually be pre-installed on university-issued laptops. Wireless capability may eventually extend to other parts of the city and perhaps the Upper Peninsula at large.


Felicia Flack (AdIT) presented an updated timeline for conversion to Banner administrative software. Here are the remaining elements and the respective month they are scheduled to go live: alumni, December; human resources, January; admissions and financial aid, February (for Fall 2004 applications); and registration, March. Flack said the mainframe will be unplugged on Aug. 31, 2004. Flack demonstrated some of the differences between the current mainframe processes and Banner, in particular the different screens faculty and staff will be using. For more information, go to .


Ed Niemi (Dean of Students) reviewed the Student Call Center initiative, which was implemented at the beginning of the fall semester rush in anticipation of a large number of questions pertaining to the new online payment plans. The goals were to eliminate the number of callers put on hold without “live” contact; reduce the reliance on phone trees; decrease the need for front-line student services staff to answer calls when long waiting lines exist; refer callers to online resources to answer questions; and improve the speed of response or referrals to appropriate departments.


Of the 7,061 calls received, 3,164 callers had their questions answered by center staff. Frequently-asked questions related to financial aid and loans, transcripts, address changes, adding/dropping a class, registering for classes, withdrawing from the university, and setting up a payment plan. Niemi said 1,251 NMU students took advantage of the new online payment plans. The easy-pay installment option was the most popular choice, followed by the early deferral and late deferral options.


Niemi said data collected on the types of queries will be studied for potential ways to communicate certain issues more effectively to students and parents.





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Updated: April 23, 2004