Feb. 26, 2003
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Electrical Upgrade to Impact Most of Campus

Northern’s underground medium-voltage electrical cabling system will be upgraded this summer. The age of the existing cables, combined with a few electrical failures in recent years, prompted engineering and planning staff to put the $1 million project on the summer priority list.

They hope to avoid a major failure that could shut down campus during the academic year. Michigan Tech experienced such a predicament in November when there was a problem with direct-buried underground cables. MTU will undertake a similar project this summer that will replace all of the underground cables and some of the switchgear.

“The majority of the cables here at Northern are almost 40 years old,” said Kathy Richards (Engineering and Planning). “They need to be replaced because they are past their useful life and we want to prevent any failures. We replaced the cables between the University Center and Cohodas last summer because a fault occurred. We are trying to prevent those types of occurrences from happening, so we will upgrade the remaining cables this summer. The new system will be much more reliable.”

Construction is scheduled from May to August. The project will cause intermittent power outages in all buildings that feed off the university heating plant. Those that operate on a separate system – the campus apartments, Superior Dome, PEIF and Berry Events Center – will not be impacted.

“The contractor will be pulling in new cable and we’ll have to swap over the building connections,” Richards said. “We will be doing a building at a time and scheduling outages so not all buildings will be affected at once. As we make the swap from the old to the new, there might be up to a six-hour outage for that building.”

Some buildings will require more extensive work. They include Gries, Spooner, the Services Building, Jacobetti, West Hall and possibly the LRC. Outages might last longer in those cases, but Richards said the contractor is required to provide an emergency generator in buildings where the power will be out for more than six hours.

The outside contractor, VanErt Electric of Kingsford, will handle the majority of the work. NMU trades personnel will also be involved in the project. Richards said electricians will assist with the switchovers, plumbers might be on site to shut down the steam so buildings don’t overheat when the electricity to the chillers is shut off, and energy management personnel will make sure the air handling units function properly once power is restored. Building attendants will help when a shutdown impacts specialty labs, coolers and computer systems.

“The greatest challenge during the construction will be coordinating outages with occupants and user groups,” Richards said. “Brandon Sager (Engineering and Planning), project coordinator, has been working out a detailed schedule with the contractor, which should be completed by the end of March. We have received feedback from faculty and staff with critical events or systems and we are trying to accommodate everyone’s needs. When we schedule a specific building for an outage, we will double-check with the occupants and make necessary accommodations.”

Any comments or concerns about the electrical loop upgrade project should be referred to Sager at brsager@nmu.edu.

NMU Hosts Gov. Budget Briefing

Gov. Jennifer Granholm gathered input from Upper Peninsula community leaders on how to address the state budget crisis. She held a briefing from 9-10:30 this morning (Wednesday) in the Mead Auditorium in West Science. It was linked to four other U.P. college campuses via ITV.

NMU President Judi Bailey introduced Granholm and served as a moderator for the discussion. The three U.P. university presidents did not testify today because leaders of Michigan's public universities recently met with Granholm in Lansing and will have an opportunity to testify before the house and senate during the spring budget process. Today's hearing was intended to elicit feedback from community and business leaders who typically do not have a chance to address the governor.

Descendents of Jefferson, Hemmings to Speak at NMU

Two descendants of former President Thomas Jefferson and his slave Sally Hemmings will visit NMU on Wednesday, March 12. Julia Jefferson Westerinen is a former educator turned businesswoman and her “new” cousin, Shay Banks Young, is a preventative health trainer and a poet who has hosted her own public affairs talk show.

Together and separately they have appeared on national television programs and been interviewed by national news magazines. In their presentation, the audience will have an opportunity to hear these women discuss their differences and similarities. They will also interact with the audience. The presentation begins at 7 p.m. in the Great Lakes Rooms. It is free for NMU students and $2 for non-students. Tickets will be available at the door. Platform Personalities is sponsoring the event.

Student is Snow Day Winner

Adda Lamon, a sophomore zoology major from Eagle River, Wis., is the winner of the annual Snow Day Contest at NMU. She is pictured with Fred Joyal (Academic Affairs), the contest sponsor. Lamon was one of 10 people who correctly picked Feb. 4 as the first day of the year that classes were canceled due to inclement weather. Her name was selected in a drawing. She received a $50 gift certificate to a local restaurant of her choice.

Junior Faculty Interact Socially, Intellectually

Nell Kupper (Modern Languages and Literatures) discusses French literature of the 18th and 19th centuries with Robbie Goodrich (History). Both teach French authors such as François Voltaire, Jean Molière and Émile Zola – one in a French conversation class and the other in a course about Western Civilization.

Situations and conversations like this are common at the monthly meetings of the Junior Faculty Interdisciplinary Colloquium (JFIC), an organization composed of new NMU faculty. Participants visible in the photo above are (clockwise from lower left): Karin Steffens (Economics), Carol Strauss (Modern Languages and Literatures), Kupper, Goodrich, Kia Jane Richmond (English) and Bob Quinn (Economics, partially hidden).

JFIC was initiated by Goodrich, who discovered the need for a group that would sponsor interdisciplinary conversation, social gatherings and cultural support for NMU faculty without tenure.

"Many new professors come to the Upper Peninsula from totally different areas and much larger campuses," Goodrich said. "JFIC helps them to become integrated socially and intellectually; otherwise people can feel very alienated here.”

Richmond added: “We talk about politics of working in various departments, what kind of students attend classes at NMU and how Northern might differ from where we come from.”

Despite the variety of disciplines, the professors can relate to each others’ experiences in the classroom.

“What we talk about here is teaching,” Goodrich said. “It always comes back to teaching—that’s our passion.”

For more information on the JFIC, contact Goodrich at rgoodric@nmu.edu.