MARQUETTE – The Northern Michigan University Board of Trustees has requested a firm recommendation on the future of the NMU public broadcasting stations in October.

After a focus discussion this week that included an update on Public Radio 90 and Public TV 13, trustees asked NMU Provost Fred Joyal to come to the October board meeting with a proposal identifying no more than three concrete options for the stationsÂ’ future.

“We have been talking about this for a year now and I think it’s time we made a final decision,” said Mary Campbell, chair of the board.

The board had previously approved recommendations to phase out university support for public broadcasting as part of university-wide budget cutting measures. The board later approved a one-time $250,000 allocation to assist the stations in operating through June 30, 2005, to give them an opportunity to pursue additional external funding.

Another entity that lost most of its university funding through cost-saving measures was the U.S. Olympic Education Center. At the same focus discussion, USOEC Director Jeff Kleinschmidt told the board that he is confident the center will continue to operate, despite losing $600,000 in annual general fund support from NMU.

“We have made up about $530,000 of that amount ourselves through a combination of cuts and increased revenue sources,” Kleinschmidt added. “We have made a lot of progress in a year. We’re not quite where we need to be, but we are exploring other fundraising and revenue-generating opportunities and I believe we will be able to make up the difference.”

NMU now allocates $80,000 per year to the USOEC, which is equivalent to the net tuition revenue its student athletes contribute to the university.

In other action at its Aug. 5-6 meeting, the board:

•Approved a general fund base budget for 2004-05 of $81.9 million, an increase of $3.4 million from the previous year. The budget reflects $3 million in cost-cutting measures. It also assumes a partial restoration of state funding cut during fiscal year 2004 and no increase in state appropriation for fiscal year 2005. Both factors are dependent upon the higher education bill yet to be approved by the Michigan legislature and signed by the governor;

•Accepted about $2.7 million in external gifts, grants, contracts and agreements;

•Received an update on the increased need for student housing at NMU in response to growing enrollment. Magers Hall will be converted back to a residence hall after serving as faculty and staff office space since 1988. Bids for the estimated $5 million project will be accepted through the middle of September. Construction is scheduled to begin in January with a target completion of April 2005. The board also received a report that a Chicago consulting firm conducted a feasibility study and is recommending NMU move forward with construction of a 300-bed campus apartment complex. No action was taken on the recommendation and no specific timeline discussed;

•Agreed that the renovated C.B. Hedgcock Physical Education Building will be renamed C.B. Hedgcock. Within the facility, the area previously used as the fieldhouse will be named the Student Services Center, the food area on the third floor will be named the Fieldhouse Food Bar, and the previous gymnasium will be named the Reynolds Recital Hall in honor of longtime university donors Max and Phyllis Reynolds of Marquette. C.B. Hedgcock will open by the start of the fall semester; 

•Granted emeritus status to the following retirees: Robert Aikala, director of computer center; John Bekkala, director of engineering and planning; Patrick Dooley, manager of financial services; Richard Harbick, bookstore manager; Robert Herman, director of personnel; Ernest Johnson, director of applications development; Whitney Johnson, director of data and telephone systems; Drusilla Kierzek, administrative assistant in finance and administration; Kenneth Pierce, budget director; Scott Seaman, director of learning resources; and Robert Sibilsky, purchasing manager;

•Received notification that the State Auditor General’s Office will conduct a “performance audit” of NMU beginning Aug. 23. All Michigan universities are audited periodically. The last time NMU went through the process was 1990; and

•Approved a new tax-deferred 457 (b) salary plan that will allow employees to defer additional compensation beyond the existing 403(b) limitation. The plan will be available through TIAA-CREF.

Prepared By
Kristi Evans
News Director