Assigns 'Homework' at Forum
President Les Wong gave the campus community two homework
assignments at Monday's university forum, where he presented a "State
of NMU " update. One is to provide feedback on Northern's priorities,
the most recent of which were identified in October 2003 as the
basis for determining cost-saving recommendations. The other is
to offer input related to the qualities or programs that positively
distinguish Northern from other universities.
first assignment on priorities stems from the state legislature's
new approach to formulating the budget. It follows steps outlined
in The Price of Government by David Osborne and Peter Hutchinson.
The book is required reading for state lawmakers. Wong said he distributed
copies to NMU senior staff members as well so they can prepare for
the new direction the appropriations process is heading.
starting to experience some of the realities of this model in terms
of requests for data coming in, which are focused on outcomes,"
Wong said. "It used to be that legislators came up with a number
and entities would either defend what they got or figure out how
to make cuts. With this new model, it's a matter of establishing
clear priorities and funding them in their respective order until
you have no more money to work with.
legislature has set up ten task forces that will help determine
the priorities of the state. Then they will decide the price they're
willing to pay for each priority item, determine how to deliver
each priority item at the identified price, and spend what they
have to attain the priorities. If something is not a priority, no
money will go toward it. This runs counter to previous Michigan
last set of NMU priorities used to make budgetary decisions was
comprised of the following: quality programs (academic, student
life/environment/activities); high touch (responsive administrative
services and student support services); and high tech (maximize
use of technology in the classroom and in operations, and improve
communication across campus).
important for all units to ask if these are still the driving values
as we move forward," Wong said. "Are they still relevant?
If not, I need to know what you feel needs to be changed, added
or clarified. Are we all in agreement that internationalization
and service learning are characteristics of a successful program?
These decisions play a role in how we deliver the curriculum, recruit
and retain students, and develop values that drive decisions about
our budget. They affect everyone, so I need responses from all areas
– not just academic. Get your responses to me as soon as you can."
said it will also be important for Northern to maintain its independence
and differentiate itself from other institutions. He cited examples
such as the notebook computer initiative, U.S. Olympic Education
Center, Student Leader Fellowship Program, and the First Year Experience.
some more homework for you: in what other ways is NMU different
from everyone else? What other things distinguish us and how do
those things fit our priorities? I would like to get your thoughts
year's state budget – for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 – wasn't
settled until Northern was a quarter of the way through its fiscal
year, which began July 1.
is hoping for a quicker process this time around, but I don't think
it will be any different than last summer. Many on campus have asked
why we're not meeting institutionally to plan, but we don't know
what to plan for. Because we're underpowered in many ways, I thought
it would be smart not to burn up a lot of staff time planning in
the dark. We want more parameters in place before we unleash the
hearings on the proposed executive budget are the next step. They
are scheduled from March through April and will be followed by senate
hearings from April through June.