MARQUETTE – In her annual address to faculty and staff, NMU President Judi Bailey said the university will have to navigate some challenging curves in the road ahead – from a bleaker state budget picture to rising health care costs and reaccreditation.

Higher education was held harmless in the state appropriation reductions last year, but Bailey said Fiscal Year 2004 might be a different story.

“The silver lining is that all of the work done by the faculty and staff last year to prepare for possible reductions gives us a jump start for our planning this year,” she added. “I think we have a very good handle on our priorities as a university and within departments, which is the key to developing a budget.”

Bailey discussed two other challenges originating in Lansing: the Healthy Michigan Amendment, which would move tobacco money from the Michigan Merit Award scholarship program into the health care arena, potentially impacting 40,000 college students statewide who receive $91 million in Merit Awards and 885 Northern students who receive $1.8 million; and the turnover caused by legislative term limits, which might delay the higher education appropriations bill and make the budget planning process

more difficult for each university.

On a campus level, Bailey said reaccreditation is a top priority. She explained the benefits of the AQIP method over the traditional NCA method: “The AQIP model's very foundation is on campus-wide input. The old way used a 10-year cycle; 10 years in this day and age is not a very practical method for quality improvement. AQIP demands that we focus on our processes and the outcomes of those processes across the campus, at every level, both academic and non-academic.”

Exploding health care costs is another issue confronting NMU. Bailey encouraged all employee groups to seriously consider the proposed change to a Blue Cross/Blue Shield Community Blue PPO plan, which would save an estimated $1 million a year.

In addition to discussing the road ahead, Bailey looked in the rear-view mirror and praised the following achievements over the last year: national awards and honors for individuals and programs; accreditation for Education, Business and Clinical Laboratory Sciences; some gains in retention; and a major increase in the number of student credit hours.

Prepared By
Kristi Evans
News Director