Â Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚   Â Ã‚ MARQUETTE – A Northern Michigan University committee has announced its recommendations for reducing the NMU general fund budget by $12.8 million over the next two fiscal years.

 Â Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚   Â  NMU formed a Budget Alternatives Committee (BAC) last fall in response to the fiscal crisis in Michigan and the likelihood of a drop in state support for higher education. The BAC was charged with finding ways to cut costs while preserving the quality of the academic experience for students.

Recommendations that emerged from the committee’s effort would impact 95 full-time equivalent positions. This includes  58 employee layoffs, 19 vacant positions that would not be filled and seven positions notched down from their current 12-month status to a reduced appointment.

Of the positions identified for layoffs, the breakdown by employee groups is as follows: 13 clerical/technical, 14 non-represented and 28 administrative professionals. Some teaching vacancies will be filled at a lower rank and/or salary, with adjuncts, or by administrators who are returning to the classroom.

“These recommendations represent the loss of great people who do their jobs extremely well, which is what makes this situation even more difficult to face,” said NMU President Judi Bailey. “But the bottom line is that we need to maintain a balanced budget.

“This is not just a Northern problem – all state universities are facing similar fiscal crises. Also, the material presented here is strictly in the form of recommendations, not final decisions. We will accept constructive feedback before taking the final recommendations to the Board of Trustees.”

In the academic area, no undergraduate majors would be impacted, but two graduate programs would be eliminated: communication disorders and psychology. The university will place a hold on bringing in a new cohort for the graduate-level nursing program, based in part on increased demand at the undergraduate level.

“The BAC looked at every area and evaluated every recommendation based on how it would impact students, the NMU mission and the university’s enrollment growth strategies,” said Fred Joyal, provost and vice president for academic affairs.

Some student services are recommended for elimination or restructuring, including health promotions and counseling and consultation services. On-campus employment will be reduced by about 3 percent of this yearÂ’s student labor costs. The BAC did not recommend changing the universityÂ’s commitment to financial aid, including scholarships. Students would see an increase in some optional fees, such as parking and recreation memberships.

Mike Roy, vice president for finance and administration, said the university hopes to bring a tuition and fees recommendation to the May meeting of the NMU Board of Trustees. Â 

“There will be tuition increases in this climate, but we won’t know how much until we have a clearer understanding of how the final budget will shape up,” said Mike Roy, vice president for finance and administration. “The BAC recommendations are significant and hit virtually every office or department on campus, but they do not completely offset the university’s $10.2 million shortfall for fiscal year 2004.”

The recommendations call for reducing and eventually suspending operations at both Public Radio 90 and Public TV-13. The U.S. Olympic Education Center would also be phased out over the two-year period.

“These are very difficult cuts because we know these programs are valued by the community, but the cuts cannot be avoided unless permanent funds can be secured to keep the stations and USOEC operating,” Bailey said. 

Northern will increase some service charges for facility use and reduce the operating hours of some buildings used by the public.

An economic impact estimate provided by James Scheiner, dean of the Cisler College of Business at NMU, indicates that the ripple effect of the recommendations in the Marquette community could exceed $20 million.

The NMU Board of Trustees will make the final decisions on both tuition and the BAC recommendations. Following campus discussion of the latter, the board will hold a special meeting April 8 to review the recommendations. Trustees are not expected to take formal action until their next regular meeting May 1-2.

"For more information, contact Cindy Paavola at 227-2720. The complete BAC presentation is available at www.nmu.edu/bac."

Prepared By
Kristi Evans
News Director