University Forum in Review


The focus topic of the university forum held Feb. 18 was an update on legislative and budget planning. It was based on the strategic planning discussion from the NMU Board of Trustees’ annual retreat in Ann Arbor the previous week.


Interim President Mike Roy outlined eight questions addressed by the board. The first was whether Northern is progressing toward its vision and how that progress is measured. When asked what it means to be the “public university of choice in the Midwest ,” the board considered two possible measurements: that NMU has reached its desired enrollment level and does not admit all qualified applicants; and that NMU is identified by 90 percent or more of new freshmen as their first or second choice.


Some of the other questions included:


How do we compare to peer institutions in acquiring and utilizing resources? This involved a comparison of not just NMU and other institutions in Michigan. The board also reviewed a comparison of NMU and 11 Midwestern universities located in non-urban areas in Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota. The schools have similar programs and Carnegie Classifications.


How were the enrollment goals set and what should they be in the future? The current enrollment goal of 10,400 by 2007 was set to help bring Northern’s per FYES appropriation closer to the average of its peer institutions. But Northern has a physical plant capacity for 12,000 students, based on existing facilities, the Art and Design addition and the Thomas Fine Arts and Cohodas renovations. The enrollment figure also assumes no significant change in the current mix of majors (given limited labs), utilization on a Monday through Friday schedule, and additional faculty offices that would be required.


If the university approached the 12,000 mark, additional campus housing may not be necessary beyond current plans to convert Magers back to a residence hall and build new student apartments. Roy said the university is studying how continued enrollment growth might impact the availability of community housing. He also said it would be necessary to add faculty to maintain the current student-to-faculty ratio and staffing would be reviewed and possibly increased to ensure high-touch student support services.


What initiatives are under way to move NMU toward its vision and what new initiatives should be instituted? Initiatives in progress include a community-wide wireless initiative, a joint effort with the City of Marquette ; and deferred maintenance for state building and residence hall renovations. New initiatives include a passport program, designed to bring more of a global perspective to the curriculum; a “residence hall of the future,” which is in the infant stages as Northern is in preliminary discussions with IBM and Steelcase; multimedia instruction; initiatives related to our environment; academic service learning; and student internships.


Other topics covered at the forum, aside from the new university identification policy, were:


Fall registration : begins March 22 with the new Banner system. The first priority, according to Felecia Flack (AdIT), is promoting self-service so that students can complete the process on their own. Staff training is also being offered for phone operations and to field questions that may surface.


Development Fund endowed scholarships : Martha Van Der Kamp (Development Fund) said there are 165 total scholarships: 75 are fully endowed and mature, with sufficient earnings at this point to support 161 awards totaling $198,000 for fall 2004; 70 are fully endowed and new, which means they do not yet have sufficient earnings to make awards; and 20 are not fully endowed. She added that awards are made solely from investment earnings. The actual gift money from the donor is never tapped. If an account sustains a loss, the value of the endowment is restored to the original gift amount through earnings, before any awards are made.






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Updated: April 23, 2004