MARQUETTE – The Northern Michigan University Board of Trustees has approved a 2005-06 operating budget request and a capital outlay request. Public universities are required to submit both to the state on an annual basis.

The operating budget increase request of $3.4 million reflects the amount that would be necessary for NMU to maintain its current level of operations in the next fiscal year. It factors in tuition revenue based on current rates and a projected 3 percent enrollment hike. It also includes anticipated rising costs associated with such items as health insurance, utilities, scholarships and financial aid, and compensation. NorthernÂ’s 2004-05 operating budget is $82 million.

The capital outlay request is part of NMUÂ’s rolling five-year master plan submitted to the state. It identifies two priority projects: the Cohodas Administrative Center renovation, at an estimated cost of $14 million; and renovations and an addition to the Learning Resource Center, $51 million.

“Both of these pieces represent the very first steps in the budget planning process,” said Gavin Leach, associate vice president for finance and planning. “As the process moves forward, we will be refining our projections and working with the governor and legislature. This can take some time. Last year, it started in the beginning of October and the final higher education budget wasn’t determined until this August.”

The board also authorized NMU to issue $32 million in general revenue bonds. Nearly half of that amount would be earmarked for construction of a new 300-bed apartment complex to meet the growing demand for student housing. Another portion – 12.2 million – would cover renovations of existing residence halls in need of updated mechanical, electrical, plumbing and roof systems.

“We can’t renovate unless we borrow and we are facing a housing shortage, so we have to move forward on these projects,” Leach said. “This will not be general fund borrowing. A majority of the bond amount will be funded through proceeds from the operation of the apartment and residence halls.”

No final decision was made on the NMU public broadcasting stations. Trustees asked for more information about their educational missions and value, particularly relating to Public TV 13. They also asked station managers and administrators to investigate potential sources of permanent, external funding that would equal the universityÂ’s current support level of $250,000. The issue will be discussed further at the next meeting in December.

The board took the following action at its Oct. 8 meeting:

•Elected officers for the 2005 calendar year. Karl Weber of Marquette will serve as board chair and Larry Inman of Williamsburg will be vice chair;

•Approved a new education specialist degree in literacy readership; and

•Accepted $12,500 in gifts and $845,000 in grants.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the NMU Board of Trustees is Dec. 16-17. Individuals wishing to address the trustees may do so with at least two weeks advance notice. The written request should identify the meeting, the name of the person who will speak, and the subject matter. It can be delivered in person or by mail to: Secretary of the Board, Room 602 Cohodas Administrative Center, Northern Michigan University, Marquette MI 49855.

Prepared By
Kristi Evans
News Director