Board Approves State Budget Request


The NMU Board of Trustees today finalized the current fiscal year’s $94 million operating budget and approved a request for an additional $3.9 million in state funding for FY2007.


“It is an annual requirement for all universities to submit their initial budget requests to the state, based on anticipated cost increases and projected revenues,” said Gavin Leach (Finance and Administration). “But this is only the first step in the legislative budget process.”


Prior to the business portion of the meeting, the NMU Board participated in a focus discussion on the following topics: the future of the NMU Foundation; public television’s annual report and update on digitalization; an NCAA update for informational purposes; a continuation of the funding/formula funding discussion held previously; and a look at faculty productivity and compensation in relation to peer institutions.


The latter also included an analysis by Terry Seethoff (College of Arts and Sciences) of how the mix of tenured/tenure-track faculty and non-tenured faculty impacts average instructional costs. NMU’s mix is approximately 74 percent tenured/tenure-track and 26 percent non-tenured, while the state’s average is approximately 60/40. Seethoff said Northern’s average instructional costs are higher than the state average and that these costs vary as the percentage tenured/tenure-track faculty changes; as the percentage increases, so do the average instructional costs.


“I’m not saying I’m a proponent of the 60/40 mix,” Seethoff said. “I’m just presenting this information to the board and asking if this is an element that warrants additional thought as this university moves forward. There are pros and cons to changing the mix. The assumption is that a way to change it is to hire a bunch of adjuncts. But with a smaller pool of candidates here than in larger metropolitan areas, it would require creativity and looking at other options in addition to adjuncts such as post docs or term faculty.”


In other action items, the NMU board:


●Approved allocating $200,000 in one-time funding for two consecutive years to the NMU Foundation. The money will cover a portion of the cost for a staffing increase in advance of the university’s next comprehensive fundraising campaign.


●Agreed to two academic changes: deleting the architectural technology associate degree program; and changing the name of Communication Disorders to the Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences Department. Both will be effective in Fall 2006.


●Accepted more than $61,000 in gifts and $3.6 million in grants to the university.


●Granted Professor Emeritus status to the following, effective Jan. 1: Duane Fowler (Physics); Carol Johnson (Business); Katherine Payant (English); John Renfrew (Psychology); and Frank Verley (Biology).


●Agreed to hire an architectural firm to conduct a facility review of Kaye House to bring it up to modern standards. According to Mike Roy (Finance and Administration) there have not been any major renovations to the facility since it was first occupied in 1980 – only general maintenance repairs on an as-needed basis.


●Approved the following Board of Trustees standing committees for calendar year 2006:

Academic Affairs – Mary Lukens, chair; Brian Cloyd; Larry Inman; and Jon LaSalle;

Finance – Douglas Roberts, chair; Alan Ackerman; Samuel Benedict; and Larry Inman;

Executive – Samuel Benedict, chair; Larry Inman; Mary Lukens; and alternate Douglas Roberts.

Karl Weber and Les Wong will serve as ex officio members of each committee.


The next meeting is scheduled Friday, Feb. 11, and may be a retreat format.


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Updated: December 19, 2005

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