Forum Covers Provost Search, Other Topics

At Wednesday’s university forum, NMU President Les Wong announced the co-chairs for the provost search committee – Peter Goodrich (English) and Darlene Walch (AIS) – and invited nominations for the remaining 11 positions. The committee will work with a professional search firm to find a successor to Fred Joyal (Academic Affairs). The goal is to have a new provost in place by July 1.

The composition of the committee will include two members from each of the following: the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Professional Studies, and Student Services. There will be one representative each from the College of Business, Academic Information Services, an academic dean, ASNMU, and the Marquette community. Catherine Dehlin (Human Resources), the new equal opportunity officer, will serve in an ex officio capacity.

Nominations should be submitted to by Dec. 9. It is likely the full search team will be announced before the holiday break.

Wong also shared his vision for the role of athletics on campus.

“I’ve been giving this a lot of thought, particularly as the football team goes through a transition, and I’m being asked a lot of questions by alumni and people in the community,” he said. “It’s challenging when you’re confronted with tough budgets to admit you can cut things free. I’m not convinced athletics can be. It provides a connection to the community and to our alumni base. Unless things really go sour for Northern, athletics will remain an important part of the university’s portfolio. Many of you received an indication of this when I decided to move athletics back under the president’s division. Ken (Godfrey) reports directly to me. The discussion isn’t over, but I wanted to let you know where I stand.”

Wong listed the six elements of his vision for athletics at NMU: providing a high-quality, student-athlete experience in high caliber, competitive events; providing quality coaching and facilities to support the experience; creating a venue for student excellence no different than art, dance, leadership and other total campus experiences; activating potential and developing character among student athletes; promoting the university experience via the media; and developing a successful program. In regard to the latter, Wong said, “Is winning the only measurement of success? No. I won’t deny that it’s very cool to win, but the important thing is that student athletes and coaches walk away with the feeling they’ve optimized their abilities.”

Other forum highlights were as follows:

Paul Duby (Institutional Research) said Northern’s current enrollment of 9,422 is the highest ever, surpassing the previous mark of 9,370 in 1980. Retention has also increased steadily since 1993. NMU is exploring new academic initiatives to increase enrollment. These include a master of arts degree in teaching; programs in wildland fire certification and loss prevention; graduate certificates in criminal justice, training and development, and psychology; options to expand surgical technology programs; a United States Olympic Committee coaching certificate which is already in place; an ESL program; and an entrepreneurship minor for non-business majors.

Mike Hellman (Facilities, pictured right) said total utility costs are projected to reach $7.7 million this year, an 83 percent increase since FY 2003. Heating costs have jumped 200 percent in that time frame, due to skyrocketing natural gas prices. To combat this trend, NMU is replacing two existing boilers that are more than 40 years old, at a cost savings of $125,000 per year. The university is also pursuing an addition to the heating plant that would include a cogeneration solid fuel high pressure boiler and steam turbine to facilitate more efficient use of thermal energy. Hellman said the system will be capable of burning wood chips – a renewable resource readily available in the Upper Peninsula -- natural gas, oil, and coal in accordance with EPA standards.


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Updated: December 1, 2005

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