Monday, March 5, 2012

State Budget Update: MPSERS and Academic Building

One element of Gov. Rick Snyder’s executive budget not covered in our initial report the day it was unveiled is proposed funding that begins to address the growing financial strain of annual retiree pension liability and retiree health care costs through the Michigan Public School Employee Retirement System (MPSERS). NMU is one of seven public universities that has an unfunded annual liability and cash health costs related to MPSERS. The universities have no control over these costs, which represent 11 percent of their state appropriation. NMU pays about $4.2 million annually for the state-mandated pension liability and retiree health care. Snyder is recommending about $446,000 in funding to help offset some of the projected increase in these costs for the seven schools. Full Story


Grad Students Fuel Slight Increase in Winter Enrollment

The winter semester 10th-day enrollment report shows NMU’s student headcount increased by 37, or 0.4 percent, from the winter 2011 figure. Much of that can be attributed to graduate enrollment, which rose by 55 students. Total credit hours are down by 386, or 0.3 percent.

“The discrepancy between total headcount and credit hours is due to the fact that graduate students are driving up our enrolled numbers, but they take a significantly lower average course load than undergraduates,” said Paul Duby (Institutional Research). “Still, the credit hour picture is better than expected and the increase in freshmen is a pleasant surprise.”

The freshman headcount is up by 45, but a slump at the sophomore level led to a slight decrease overall in the number of undergraduate students.


Faculty Research Grants Awarded

Graduate Education and Research has announced 10 recipients of faculty research grants that cover a project period of up to two years, beginning March 1. To see the list of individuals selected to receive funding and their project titles, read the Full Story.


NMU Receives NEA Grant to Revitalize Anishinaabe Arts

NMU’s Center for Native American Studies has been awarded a $22,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. The center will partner with the tribal historic preservation office at the Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa to launch “Creating and Learning Art in Native Settings,” or the CLANS project. The goal of the project is to revitalize traditional Anishinaabe dances, songs and art through an intensive week-long summer program featuring 11 recognized American Indian artists. The program will be held at the Old Indian Village in Watersmeet, Mich. Full Story


Fancy Shawl Pow Wow Marks 20 Years

The 20th Annual "Learning to Walk Together" Traditional Pow Wow will be held at NMU's Vandament Arena Saturday and Sunday, March 17-18. Admission is $5 daily or $8 for a weekend button. NMU students are admitted free with an ID. Doors open at 11 a.m. both days. Grand entry times are noon and 6 p.m. Saturday and noon on Sunday. A feast meal and hand drum contest will be held from 4-6 p.m. Saturday at the NMU Jacobetti Center (weekend button required for feast). The pow wow is sponsored by the NMU Native American Student Association.

"The pow wow is a public, community event," said April Lindala (Center for Native American Studies). "It’s a celebration of life through song, dance and feasting. The drums represent the heartbeat of the people and the dances honor those who can no longer dance. For Native American students, the pow wow celebrates who they are on campus and Native alumni consider it their homecoming.”


Full screen previewMeetMe Conferencing Service Available

MeetMe, a new dial-in conferencing service built by NMU staff members, makes it possible to hold a meeting in your office even if the other participants are scattered among different locations on campus or around the world.

“Over the past several years, we've seen the need to create the MeetMe conference bridge because people are looking for ways to reduce travel expenses and use time more efficiently,” said Don Salo (Information Technology-Technical Services). “We’ve been offering physical conference units like speakerphones for a while, but MeetMe doesn’t require any special equipment. We offer both one-time conferences with a per-conference fee and permanent conference numbers for a monthly fee." Full Story


Prather Featured in 'UP Focus' Exhibit at DeVos

The DeVos Art Museum's annual exhibition highlighting artists who live in or are heavily influenced by the Upper Peninsula opened Friday. This year’s “UP Focus” show features works by Susanne Kilpela, Carol Phillips and Russ Prather (English), whose "Pyramid of Polymorphous Perversity (mixed media on plexiglas) is pictured.


Kilpela lives in Hancock and teaches in the Michigan Technological University visual and performing arts department. Phillips is based in Marquette. She directs the Liberty Children’s Art Project in Big Bay and serves as curator at the Marquette Arts and Culture Center. Prather's visual art has been featured at a number of U.P. galleries.


The trio will lead a tour of the exhibit at 6 p.m. Friday, April 6. A closing reception will follow until 8 p.m.


It’s a good thing Gary Walimaa (Plant Operations) enjoys a change of scenery because his job as a carpenter takes him all over campus.

He might shuttle from the president’s house one day to the PEIF pool the next, or from the top of the Superior Dome to the depths of an underground tunnel. Variety in the location and nature of his assignments has been the spice of his professional life for about 32 years at NMU. Full Story



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Updated: March 5, 2012

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