Wong Shares Progress on Campus Projects
Before addressing the governor’s budget proposal at Wednesday’s forum, NMU President Les Wong reported the following progress on campus initiatives:
▪Prioritizing academic programs: the Education Policy Committee (EPC) will soon deliver its recommended “best practices criteria” for determining which programs to invest or disinvest in to Provost Susan Koch. The criteria and resulting recommendations will be shared for broad input serve as a guide as the campus begins budget discussions.
▪Prioritizing athletic programs: Athletic director Ken Godfrey’s health issues have postponed the review of varsity, club and intramural sports to determine the best mix of programs. However, a financial and programmatic review of the USOEC is under way. Wong said USOEC staff, national governing boards for the individual sports and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) are involved in the discussions.
“When I met with [CEO] Scott Blackmun of the USOC in Washington, D.C. and with two other leaders here in Marquette, they indicated that business as usual is over. There seems to be a willingness to work with a different model for marketing and fundraising. The USOC has a stranglehold on who you can talk to, who you can approach for funding. But the new leadership has indicated we might be able to have more control over regional vendors—not those who work with the USOC—and they would entertain the idea of the USOEC approaching regional vendors about offering support. We think that’s an opening to an opportunity we’ve never had in the history of the USOEC. So that part of athletic review is moving ahead at full steam.”
▪Jamrich Remodel: It takes about a year to set up the Request for Proposals (RFPs) for architects and for an internal committee to plan components of the remodel. Wong said the hope is to begin retrofitting and construction during the 2012-13 academic year. “All of us will be affected because we will have to close the building entirely. Forty percent of the curriculum will have to be moved to other location on campus.”
▪Biomass Plant: The construction timeline for the modified biomass facility developed with Johnson Controls Inc. will run parallel to the Jamrich remodel. “It is a multi-fuel, biomass-based plant. It looks like we’ll be able to recover about $500,000 a year in energy savings.”
▪Online Threat: Mike Bath (Public Safety) is holding internal debriefing sessions related to the emergency response. Wong said the university will require every employee with an NMU-subsidized cell phone to register immediately for the emergency text alerts. He also encourages employees to conduct safety review processes at the departmental level.
“We’re going to expect department heads to conduct those. One of things we learned from our experience is the unevenness of emergency response preparation. For example, if the department head is gone, who’s next in command? If both are gone, who’s the third one? We have to be very, very clear about who’s present and who’s in charge in the face of potential threat. We also need departments to work out exit strategies. Have a Plan A and a Plan B and if you work in a large facility, perhaps you’ll even need a Plan C. Then meet as a department so everyone knows what the exit strategies are. If you need help with that, Mike Bath is your man.”
▪President Obama’s Visit: Wong thanked employees who put aside other duties that week to ensure a memorable visit that established NMU as the model for high-speed broadband delivery in rural areas and generated international media coverage valued at $35-50 million.
“We must now step up with content, programming and degree options and continue to work with our public and private partners to expand our influence and innovation. We will also continue work with the White House technology initiative. It’s even possible we might get another visit, either from [Obama] or other federal technology experts. They were impressed by what they saw at NMU.”