State Funding, NMU Budget Finalized

NMU will receive its anticipated 3 percent, or $1.5 million, boost in state funding under a higher education budget bill signed Aug. 15 by Gov. Jennifer Granholm. Five days earlier, the NMU Board of Trustees had approved the university's $96 million general fund operating budget for the fiscal year that began July 1. The figure is $1.5 million higher than the previous year.

The bulk of the increased expenditures can be attributed to contractual compensation adjustments, facilities maintenance, supplies and services, rising student labor costs associated with the state’s minimum wage hike, and utilities.            

NMU trustees also approved an additional capital improvement project to include in the fiscal year 2007 capital outlay project request that will be submitted to the state in the fall. All public universities are required to file the requests annually. The number two priority – behind renovations to the Cohodas Administrative Center – is a combined heat and power (CHP) cogeneration addition to the Ripley Heating Plant.            

A high-pressure boiler capable of burning wood chips, coal and natural gas would be integrated with an extraction steam turbine that could supply both NMU and Marquette General Hospital. The project’s estimated cost of $50 million includes construction of a steam line extension from the campus distribution system to MGH.            

In outlining the benefits, administrators wrote: “This facility will be an example for the university and its students to showcase a CHP cogeneration plant that is burning renewable fuel, reducing dependency on foreign oil and natural gas; generating steam and electricity more efficiently; and meeting the most stringent environmental regulations.” They also identified potential job growth in the wood industry and a new market for waste wood products generated by small wood suppliers.            

In other action, the board:              

● Approved a procedure to make NMU President Les Wong’s contract an “evergreen” or “rolling” contract with a compensation review each spring and a performance review each fall.  Wong’s original three-year contract reaches completion in June 2007.  “This is meant to ensure Dr. Wong that we are very happy he is here and we’d like to keep him at Northern Michigan University for a long time. He will not have to worry about whether his contract will be renewed every three years since it will automatically extend with compensation adjustments made as deemed necessary,” said Sam Benedict, chair of the board’s executive committee.              

●Accepted more than $4,800 in gifts and $1.7 million in external grants.              

●Granted emeritus status to the following employees upon their retirement or by Sept. 1: Jacqueline Schneider, administrative assistant, office of the president; Eugene Stenberg, professor of technology and occupational sciences; Richard Wittman, director of dining services; and Donald Zalewski, professor of mathematics and computer science.               

●Approved 13 tenure-earning faculty appointments, effective Aug. 23.              

●Participated in a retreat discussion that addressed the NMU Board of Trustees’ roles and responsibilities, as well as President Les Wong’s vision for the university.


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Updated: August 23, 2006

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