NMU Board Meets
Northern Michigan University’s Board of Trustees today approved three finance-related items: a revised general fund operating budget, a 2008-09 state budget request, and a bond issuance proposal to fund the renovation of Hunt Hall.
The revised budget reflects Northern’s receipt of a delayed state appropriation payment of $4.2 million. All Michigan universities received their scheduled August payments two months later to fall within the state government’s new fiscal year, which began Oct. 1.
The state budget request, submitted annually, includes an increase of about $4.1 million. The amount assumes a modest boost in next year’s enrollment and covers operational adjustments related to compensation, staffing, facilities maintenance and capital equipment replacement, in addition to unfunded state mandates. Northern’s current state appropriation is $46.2 million.
“Even if the increase request were approved, the university’s state support would remain below its 2000-01 appropriation level,” said Gavin Leach (Finance and Administration). “That’s despite an enrollment that is 1,100 higher and an increase in unfunded state mandates.”
Hunt Hall will be the fourth NMU residence hall renovated on a “fast-track” schedule during the summer months while it is unoccupied. The board agreed to fund the $9.6 million project by issuing general revenue bonds, which will be paid back by auxiliary services through occupancy income and not through general fund dollars.
In other action, the board:
●Approved the School of Education’s request to pursue accreditation through the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC) instead of the previous agency, the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). The move was supported unanimously by NMU faculty because TEAC aligns more closely with the school’s mission and goals, costs less, is more “authentic” and provides more accountability.
●Approved a new three-year contract for the university’s American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Local 1094. The contract was ratified Monday by a vote of 64-30 and includes across-the-board salary increases of 1.85 percent the first year, 2.5 percent the second and 2.75 percent in the final year.
●Accepted $750 in gifts and about $1.9 million in external grants
●Appointed Tom Kuczera to the board of the Burton Glen Academy
●Agreed to change the name of the JOBSearch Center to Career Services, effective Jan. 1
In the president’s report, trustees were informed that NMU is exploring the possibility of adding women’s fast-pitch softball as a sport. Two reasons were discussed: the sport’s increasing popularity and potential recruitment value; and continued compliance with NCAA Title IX requirements that athletic opportunities correlate to the student body ratio of females, which is growing at NMU. Trustees also heard about technological innovations and how they will impact the “next-generation” wireless network at NMU and received on update on the campus master plan. Based on feedback from students and employees to the initial proposal, the university’s consulting firm is developing other configurations and will fine-tune a proposal to present for approval at a future meeting.
The board received an update on the Academic Quality Improvement Program (AQIP), which provides an alternative process for universities to maintain their accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission and emphasizes continuous quality improvement. Northern is pursuing three AQIP “action projects” this year: creating a more sustainable NMU; enhancing the campus climate for scholarship; and improving and expanding online learning.
The next meeting of the NMU Board of Trustees will be a strategizing session scheduled for Feb. 21-22 at a location to be determined.