MARQUETTE, Mich.— The Northern Michigan University Board of Trustees today approved three related items: a fiscal year 2012 capital outlay request required annually from the state, which includes the Jamrich Hall modernization; a plan to move forward with the design of a scaled-down version of a cogeneration heat and power plant; and the university’s five-year facilities master plan.

The Jamrich project is in the capital outlay bill awaiting the governor’s signature after the House and Senate approved it last week. If it goes through, the state would cover the bulk of the $33.9 million cost. NMU’s share of $8.5 million would be funded through deferred maintenance reserves, capital equipment replacement reserves and a bond issue. The university’s primary classroom building has not been updated since it was built in 1969. The plan is to redesign classrooms into high-tech, flexible learning rooms that can adapt to various sizes and layouts; repurpose existing lab space; add academic department office space; and increase sustainability through a new, energy-efficient infrastructure.

“About 40 percent of all NMU classes are held in Jamrich, so there will be a lot of adjustments required on campus during the renovation period, which is expected to last about 18 months,” said NMU President Les Wong. “NMU especially thanks Rep. Mike Lahti, who chairs the House capital outlay committee and ensured that the U.P. projects remained in the bill. We also thank the remainder of the U.P. legislative delegation: Representatives Steve Lindberg, Gary McDowell and Judy Nerat; and Senators Mike Prusi and Jason Allen.”

Remaining projects identified in the request, in descending priority order, are: Learning Resources Center renovation and addition; academic facilities upgrades; and Cohodas Hall renovation.

The board authorized NMU to proceed with the design and validation phase for a cogeneration plant. If the project is validated, an addition to the existing Ripley Heating Plant would use a solid fuel stoker boiler capable of burning wood chips and by-products with natural gas as a backup. It is expected to meet 87 percent of the thermal needs on campus. A steam turbine generator will produce about 16 percent of the university’s electrical load. Debt-service payments for the $16.4 million project would be funded by energy savings. Gavin Leach, vice president forFinance and Administration, said an additional $8.8 million in energy savings would be generated over 20 years.

Trustees also approved an executive committee recommendation to increase Wong’s $194,225 base salary by 4 percent, or $7,770. Wong had previously rejected a board-proposed $10,000 increase in May 2009 and hadn’t received a salary adjustment since July 2008. He is in his seventh year at NMU. His salary is second-lowest among Michigan’s public university presidents. The most recent average for peer institutions—excluding Michigan State, Wayne State and the University of Michigan—is about $266,000.

In other action, the board:


▪Approved two new academic programs: a graduate certificate in Teaching of English to the Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), effective in January; and an online Master of Arts in Education-Instruction, effective fall 2011. The latter builds on the foundation of the two Master of Arts in Education programs in elementary and secondary education, which the board agreed to eliminate because of declining enrollment, and is designed to meet the needs of 21st century learners. Its online format will make the program accessible to K-12 professionals and other educators regardless of location.


▪ Established the Center for Rural Community and Economic Development, which will launch in January. Seed money to cover the first three years of operation will come from external funding designated solely for economic development activities. The center will become self-sustaining by January 2014. Its mission is to combine research, public service, education and training to enhance economic development and improve the quality of life in the Upper Peninsula and surrounding region. The center will collect, analyze and disseminate private and public-sector data, conduct and publish applied research, provide training and professional development and serve as a vital link between the region’s public, private and non-profit sectors. Co-directors are Brian Cherry, professor and head of the political science and public administration department, and Tawni Ferrarini, economics professor and Sam M. Cohodas Professor. 


▪Accepted nearly $57,000 in gifts and $2.3 million in external grants


▪Granted emeritus status to Kenneth Chant, former director of Public Safety and Police Services


▪Approved a new golf class fee of $35 to cover the cost of supplies


▪Appointed Priscilla Kidd to fill a vacant board position at the Burton Glen Charter School Academy, with a term expiring June 30, 2013


▪Received a summary of the campus energy audit conducted by Johnson Controls


▪Participated in a focus discussion titled “Health Care at NMU”

Prepared By
Kristi Evans
News Director