NMU's Communit Connection

Volume 13, Issue 1 - July 10, 2013

Dear NMU Community Connection Member,

I hope you had a wonderful Independence Day celebration, spent with your family and friends. It was great to see so many friends, alumni and university supporters while walking with the NMU contingent in the Ishpeming and Marquette parades and at the other holiday activities.

FIRST YEAR:  It’s been just a little over a year since I had the honor of being named Northern Michigan University’s president – the school’s first alumni president. Prior to this position, I had worked with six NMU presidents over three decades, so I came into the position with a good understanding of the demands of the job. What I feel I’ve been able to further develop over the past year is a better understanding of the scope of complexity involved in university operations and decision-making that takes place on campus. I want to thank the community members who have supported me and NMU, in particular those of you who are always ready to step forward to help the university. NMU is extremely proud of its hometown and we hope that area residents are proud of the world-class university they have in their backyard.

THE FUNDING FACTORS:  The higher education bill that was signed into law in June includes an overall 2 percent state appropriations increase to Michigan’s 15 public universities. Northern will receive a 2.1 percent increase per the performance funding formula, or an additional $863,000 over last year’s $40.9 million appropriation total. The NMU Board of Trustees will discuss tuition and fee rates for 2013-14 when it meets on Thursday and Friday (July 11-12). Universities must keep their rate increases to 3.75 percent or less are eligible to receive their appropriations increase. Thus far, tuition increases have ranged from $148 to $978 per year (1.07 to 8.90 percent). The final factor that directly impacts the budget is enrollment. Right now, our enrollment numbers look solid; we might have a small increase, which would defy the national demographic trend of a declining number of traditional college-aged students. We’ll see how that turns out in the fall, but right now there are signs that we’ll maintain or slightly grow in enrollment.

WHAT IS 1 PERCENT? The state and federal governments require universities to report numerical figures in percentages, and the media usually follows suit.  However, comparing tuition increases in percentages means little to the person paying the bill in dollars because what 1 percent represents in dollars is determined by the tuition rate of the previous year. Universities with high tuition in 2012-13 can have a lower percentage increase, but actually charge the student more money than a university that raises its tuition at a higher percentage but had a lower starting rate. To help with the math when following the NMU Board of Trustees’ tuition discussion, if tuition were to go up 1 percent, it will cost our students an additional $44 per semester; 2 percent, an additional $88 per semester; 3 percent, $132 per semester; and 4 percent, $176 per semester. Northern has ranked second-most affordable in tuition and fees among Michigan’s 15 public universities since 2000. Our faculty, staff and administrators work exceptionally hard to keep the quality of the education experience high but the cost affordable.

INTERESTING ARTICLE:  Last Sunday, the Detroit Free Press ran an article titled, “Michigan colleges more affordable than others, national study finds.”  The story said Michigan ranked 39th among the 50 states in net tuition increases when comparing 2009-10 to 2010-11. Net tuition is the actual dollar figure paid by the student when all financial aid resources are factored in.  It is the price point that prospective students should be most aware of when considering cost in their college decision-making process. The study found that Michigan was one of nine states to see a drop in the amount of net tuition, which fell 1.9 percent. When you consider that Michigan was 39th of 50 and that NMU is the second most affordable of the Michigan schools, you start to understand how impressive it is that a student attending Northern gets such a high-caliber education for such an affordable price compared to others.

MEETING THE TALENT GAP: Recently NMU was featured in a CBS-Detroit television program on meeting Michigan’s workforce talent gap.  In the program, I had the opportunity to remind viewers that Northern is one of few public universities in the state (actually the region) that provides one- and two-year degrees in addition to bachelor’s and master’s degrees. This broad range of degrees (we have about 180 academic programs) gives NMU students an excellent opportunity to train for the careers they are most interested in, including fields that do not require a four-year or more degree but that have high job demand and great salaries. You can view the program here; it’s in four segments. The changing needs of a company like Cliffs Natural Resources is also discussed in this program.

FACILITIES UPDATE: Our two major construction projects are moving along well. The new renewable energy plant next to the Ripley Heating Plant on Wright Street has tested well and will be fully operational in a little over a month.  The steel frame of the new Jamrich Hall is going up quickly. You can see the progress via a time-lapse camera we have on the structure, which can be accessed at www.nmu.edu/webcam.   

NMU RECOGNIZED:  I’m proud to announce that Northern Michigan University received the 2013 Engaged Campus of the Year Award from Michigan Campus Compact. We think this award is very special because we know other colleges and universities across the state are doing a great job of engaging students in their communities and preparing them to be engaged citizens and leaders, so to be chosen as the top school in this area is a very prestigious honor. At Northern, we have made a conscious, serious and determined effort to provide a community-based education for our students. It’s great that we’re gaining statewide recognition for our work.

MARK YOUR CALENDARS:  Here are a few key dates to note in your calendars regarding the upcoming fall semester. The first day of fall classes is Monday, Aug. 26; that’s also the day of Fall Fest.  If you’re interested in participating in Fall Fest, contact the Lake Superior Community Partnership at 226-9658 to register.  Homecoming is the week of Sept. 15-21, with the football game at 3 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 21. Family Weekend is Friday through Sunday, Oct. 25-27. The two Presidential Scholars Competition dates, which bring hundreds of prospective students and family members to Marquette, are Sunday and Monday, Nov. 3-4 and Nov. 10-11. Commencement is Saturday, Dec. 14. For more university event dates, go to www.nmu.edu/calendar.   

VETERAN ASSISTANCE: The NMU Volunteer Center and Wells Fargo are looking for area veterans in need of a free home rehabilitation project to be completed by volunteers this fall. Applications are due Monday, July 15. They are available from the front desk of the Jacobetti Home for Veterans or online at www.nmu.edu/cse. One project will be selected. Qualifications include being a veteran with low to moderate income and owning your own home that is in need of a small- to medium-sized improvement project. Examples of eligible projects include, but are not limited to, painting, porch rebuilding and outdoor beautification. For more information, contact Carrie at the NMU Volunteer Center at 227-2466.

I’d like to close by inviting you to join my Twitter community for short, daily updates about what’s happening on campus and links to NMU and higher education-related resources. You can view my Twitter posts at www.nmu.edu/president or join the community at twitter.com/davidshaynes. As always, thank you for your support of Northern Michigan University.

Sincerely,
David Haynes, NMU President