April 9, 2003
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NMU Board Discusses Cost-Cutting Recommendations

The NMU Board of Trustees met in special session Tuesday (April 8) to review and discuss the Budget Alternatives Committee’s cost-cutting recommendations. The board approved a Reduction in Force plan for employees whose positions would be eliminated. Trustees will not act on the recommendations until their May 1-2 meeting. They spent the bulk of Tuesday’s session grappling with the complexity of the issues, absorbing public input and exploring the viability of potential alternatives.

“We are neither cursed nor blessed to have reckless spending on this campus, which makes the task even more difficult because nothing can be cut painlessly,” said Mary Campbell of Ann Arbor, board chair. “There isn’t fat to deal with. Instead, we are exploring which bones or muscles we can adjust.”

The meeting began with a public comment period. About 20 individuals – community members and students – addressed the board. A majority spoke in support of preserving one or both of the public broadcasting stations.

With respect to Public Radio 90, local businessman Ron Katers said, “It is a marketing tool for Northern Michigan University and it would be a mistake strategically to give up this license. I believe the radio station could become self-supporting over a period of time if it cut some operating costs, intensified its fundraising and secured more business sponsors.”

Current and former students mentioned the value of the hands-on training provided by Public Eye News that prepares them for internships and employment opportunities. The board was presented with a petition signed by nearly 1,300 students opposed to suspending public broadcasting operations.

Fred Joyal (Academic Affairs) told the board there are three options to consider for the radio and television stations: invest the absolute minimum required to maintain the licenses and operations; sell the licenses; or facilitate access to programming through other means. For example, the local cable provider could pick up another public television station and radio programming could be provided by Wisconsin or Minnesota Public Radio, similar to what occurred at Michigan Tech.

“We are working to ensure access to programming,” Joyal told the board. “We can’t guarantee it will be the same package as people have today, and we can’t guarantee television access for those without cable or satellite services, but we are looking for ways to preserve the cultural value of public broadcasting in the region.”

A separate petition was submitted on behalf of about 350 students who pledged support for a 1 percent tuition increase in order to preserve the health promotions office and the Wildcat Shuttle. The other interests represented during the public comment period were the communication disorders graduate program and the U.S. Olympic Education Center. Three people spoke about the latter being an asset to the community and university because of its unique mission and international visibility.

Herb Parsons said the 55 student athletes who train at NMU offer another benefit that should be considered: “The USOEC is not just an expense center. It brings income to the university that can be directly attributed to this program.”

Parsons listed the following examples: tuition and fees, housing and residence life costs, food services expenditures, the B.J. Stupak Scholarships, U.S. Olympic Committee support, and license plate revenues.

With housing at capacity levels, Mike Roy (Finance and Administration) told the board that there would be no impact on housing and dining, from a loss perspective. The student athletes generate about $200,000 in tuition revenue, but Roy said, “You have to offset that with the costs associated with those revenues. There would be some net loss in losing those students, but that was not factored into the calculations in the BAC recommendations.”

Trustees asked Roy to clarify the revenues-versus-expenses of the USOEC so they can gain a better understanding of the net impact of phasing out the program.

The board also received a summary of feedback submitted to the BAC Web site as of 10 a.m. Monday, April 7. More than 500 people have responded.

An update on the FY2004 budget proposal, including recommendations for cost-cutting measures, tuition and fees, and room and board rates, will be presented at the April 17 university forum, scheduled from 3-5 p.m. in Jamrich 102. The Board of Trustees will vote on the FY2004 budget at its May 1-2 meeting.

Vickers Promoted

John H. Vickers (Military Science) has been promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army. The ROTC Wildcat Battalion of NMU invited colleagues and friends to attend a pinning ceremony April 1 in the University Center.

Vickers’ wife, Bethany (left), and mother, Barbara, pinned the silver oak leaf clusters to his uniform. Vickers’ father – a retired U.S. Army colonel – and his son also attended the ceremony, which was followed by a reception.

Vickers began his NMU assignment in July 2002. The military science department and its ROTC unit were established by the Department of Defense in April 1969.

Facilities Update

The renovation of Hedgcock Fieldhouse into a student services center is scheduled to begin Monday, April 14, according to Kathy Richards (Engineering and Planning). She said the other capital outlay project – Art and Design North Building addition and Thomas Fine Arts renovation and pedestrian link – will go out for bids in late May or early June. Construction is expected to begin in August.

“Gov. Granholm had requested a further review of all capital improvement projects that had made it through the initial state approval process but had not yet gone out for bids,” Richards said. “The Art and Design and TFA projects were in that category, but we have now received the green light to move ahead per the original project schedule.”

Carl Pace (Facilities) told the President’s Council that a large, fenced area will be required by the contractors for trailers, steel, equipment, supplies and dumpsters. To accommodate this need, some parking lots will be closed during construction.

Lot 28 (near Lydia Olson Library), currently for commuters, will become both a faculty/staff and student lot for the summer. Effective with the fall semester, it will be for faculty and staff only. Commuter student parking will move to the Whitman lot, which will add approximately 320 spaces. A small section of the Whitman lot will be designated for faculty and staff whose offices are in the building.

Once the East campus projects are completed, lot 62 (between Hedgcock and Thomas Fine Arts) will be considerably smaller and designated primarily as visitor parking.

“I realize that there will be considerable congestion in the construction area," Pace said. "However, I would hope that we would have the same cooperation by all in dealing with the fenced areas, dirt, temporary rerouting and other changes, as we experienced during the Seaborg Science Complex project.”

Computerworld Honors TLC

Northern’s Teaching, Learning and Communication (TLC) initiative became part of the 2003 Computerworld Honors Collection on Sunday, April 6. Fred Joyal (Academic Affairs, pictured) represented NMU and accepted the medal of achievement during a ceremony at San Francisco City Hall.

“This is a significant honor, and a testament to the hard work and commitment of many people on campus," Joyal said. "I know faculty, staff and students are making effective use of technology in teaching and learning. It is difficult to document, but I see innovation happening every day.”

The medal is presented annually to individuals and organizations that “have made outstanding progress for society through visionary use of information technology.” The 2003 collection includes more than 300 case studies in 10 categories from 33 countries.

Northern’s case study summary reads: “The TLC initiative has created a learning environment that embraces technology to enhance student access, develops independent learners and encourages greater student-faculty communication and collaboration. The initiative provides the tools, training and support needed to rank NMU as a leader in ubiquitous computing in higher education.”

Samuel Palmisano, chairman and chief executive officer of IBM Corp., nominated Northern for inclusion in the education and academia category.

“IBM works with a lot of higher education clients and chose to nominate Northern,” Joyal said. “The nomination is not a function of how much money we spend with them – we are far from their biggest customer. It validates what we are trying to accomplish here, from the company’s perspective. IBM would not nominate something they don’t believe in, so it is clear that the company is truly impressed with our TLC program.”

The 2003 Honors Collection will be archived in libraries, museums and academic research institutions around the world. It will serve as primary source material for scholars – its primary function – and as a resource for individuals who hope to use information technology to build solutions that benefit society.

The laureates honored Sunday will be judged by a panel of independent judges to search for the five best examples in each category. These 50 worldwide finalists will be honored at an awards ceremony June 2 in Washington, D.C. At that time, 10 will be presented with 21st Century Achievement Awards as first among their peers.

To view an NMU Web page dedicated to the TLC and the Computerworld Honors Collection, go to NMU-Computerworld.