Board Sets Housing, Dining Rates

The NMU Board of Trustees today approved 2006-07 student housing and dining services rates. Tuition rates will not be announced until this summer, when administrators have a better handle on the state funding outlook.


The cost of a standard double-occupancy room with the “constant meal pass” and a comprehensive residence hall fee will be $6,874 per student for the next academic year. That represents a 6 percent increase from the previous annualized rate.

The board authorized the university to continue operating at a budget level no greater than in 2005-06, with the exception of negotiated union contract increases, until a new general fund budget is approved.

During a focus discussion that closed out the meeting, trustees received updates on the legislative timeline, NMU budget planning and enrollment. The state funding proposals on the table right now – ranging from the House’s 0.3 percent increase for NMU to the governor’s and Senate’s versions calling for a 1.8 percent increase – will go into conference committee in June.

In the meantime, the university will continue its Lansing-based grassroots effort to convey key messages to legislators. NMU President Les Wong said one point of contention is that the House’s formula funding model fails to recognize differential variables. These include the seven universities that, because of their mandated participation in the MPSERS retirement system, must absorb the increased costs with no state support. Other variables include each university’s unique breadth of mission and the type of students who enroll there – particularly at rural institutions like NMU, where financial need is greater.

“We don’t mind a formula if it’s applied fairly and provides an apples-to-apples comparison, but in its present form, it doesn’t,” Wong said. “Some legislators are starting to grasp what we’ve been saying, for example with regard to MPSERS, but we need to continue to make our case. They seem to be impressed with our willingness to offer solutions. We come in very prepared and we have offered alternative modeling strategies.”

The administration previewed the 2006-07 general fund budget goals. Because the university has met its obligations to the Severance Incentive Program and Reduction in Force plans, those funds will be reallocated for other uses. Administrators have also identified $500,000 in operational reductions. Anticipated expenditure adjustments include $1.2 million for long-term facilities and capital equipment maintenance; $156,000 to support internationalization efforts; $200,000 for increased administrative staffing; and $840,000 for increased faculty staffing to reduce the student-faculty ratio.

Gavin Leach (Finance and Administration) used a planning model to illustrate the different state appropriation increases and how they might impact tuition. With a projected 3.4 percent increase in total operating costs, and factoring in the reallocations and reductions described above, Leach said it would take a 5 percent tuition increase to balance the budget if the state appropriation increased by 1.8 percent – the highest level proposed so far. He cautioned that the figures are very tentative at this point.


In other action, the board:


●Approved $799,000 for the following summer maintenance projects. The projects and projected costs are as follows: replace exterior doors/windows in the south side of McClintock and in the connector between the building and Thomas Fine Arts, $315,000; steam distribution expansion joint repair, steam pipe insulation and replacement cooling tower in Jamrich, $155,000; humidity control and other maintenance/updating in Kaye House, $120,000; campus lighting, $107,000; and general maintenance such as catch basin and manhole repairs, Jamrich water main replacement, Gries Hall stair repair, and sidewalk repairs, $102,000.  


●Agreed to delete the surgical technology certificate program and add a surgical technology associate degree program, effective fall 2007.


●Accepted more than $8,100 in gifts and $645,000 in external grants.


●Approved one-year contract renewals, effective July 1, for two NMU charter schools: the Nah Tah Wahsh Public School Academy and the Bahweting Anishnabe Public School Academy.


●Voted to increase the one-time student athletic fee for new freshmen and transfer students from $150 to $175.


●Approved increasing President Les Wong’s TIAA-CREF retirement annuities contribution from 10 percent of his salary to 12.5 percent, which is consistent with the rate for other employees.


●Supported a recommendation to name the new student apartment complex Woodland Park Apartments.


●Approved Professor Emeritus of Education status for Dennis Badaczewski, Lois Hirst, Lorana Jinkerson and Earl Kaurala. Others who will earn the emeritus distinction upon their retirement, or by June 1, are: James Inch, energy management supervisor of plant operations; Lt. Col. John Vickers, department head of military science; and Connie Williams, administrative assistant in the office of the president.


●Promoted the following faculty to the rank of professor: Robert Winn, biology; Larry Pagel, business; Thomas Getman and Suzanne Williams, chemistry; Cheryl Teeters, health, physical education and recreation; and Teresa Delpier, nursing. The board promoted Michael Andary of technology and occupational sciences to the rank of assistant professor-TAS.


●Granted tenure to the following NMU faculty members: Robert Quinn, economics; Robert Goodrich, history; James McCommons, Jaspal Singh and Robert Whalen, English; Alan Willis, history; and Kristi Robinia, practical nursing. Quinn, McCommons, Singh and Whalen were also promoted to the rank of associate professor. 


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Updated: May 5, 2006

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