With the recent approval of the new strategic plan by the Northern Michigan University Board of Trustees, President Fritz Erickson today announced the first steps toward implementation, including changes across all divisions of the university.
“Among the first and most important steps in implementing the strategic plan is to ensure that critical aspects of the university are aligned with the desired outcomes,” said Erickson. “The goal is to thrive through innovation and this alignment plan builds upon our strengths and embraces new directions for us to grow.”
“Investment and enhancements in the core function of the university is critical, with academic excellence central to the success of our students and our university,” said Erickson. With a commitment to that excellence President Erickson is launching a program investment fund of $1 million available directly to academic departments, colleges and collaborations to support innovation and investment in academics programming.
“Now is the time to make investments in academic innovation and this fund will mark the beginning of a series of investments,” said Erickson.
A significant challenge for academic affairs is to balance faculty numbers with student enrollment. Some departments need additional faculty and some departments need to reduce faculty. According to Erickson reductions can happen through rebalancing term positions, buyouts, retirements, reduction of adjuncts or overloads, or other alternatives. Rather than following a top-down process, academic departments will identify the most appropriate mechanisms for aligning faculty with enrollment.
Additionally, academic affairs will complete an administrative and programmatic review of the division to determine the optimal number of administrative units, academic departments and programs. Part of this review will include an analysis of the programs in the Jacobetti Center on the future directions, partnerships and program offerings for the full range of career and technical programs. This process will commence immediately with recommendations due no later than Feb. 11.
It is essential to increase private giving in order to achieve the outcomes of the strategic plan. A comprehensive review of the division is now underway and is intended to enhance private giving to the university. This review will identify a reachable five-year goal and determine the best and most cost-effective configuration of the operation. The NMU Foundation will hire a chief executive officer and the university will eliminate the position of vice president for advancement.
Additionally, office staffing will be restructured to better support fundraising and one existing staff position will be converted to a development officer.
Enrollment and Student Services
“Long-term success and sustainability of the university is based on stabilizing and growing enrollment,” said Erickson. “It is critical that we have a high degree of focus by the entire university community with regard to enrollment.”
These critical units will be empowered to reach the student recruitment goals of the university. As part of the alignment process the enrollment management team will report directly to the president. Operational units within the division will be realigned to better link functions with campus academic areas and the vice president position will be eliminated.
The director of admissions and the assistant vice president and dean of students will now report to the provost, the director of financial aid will report to the vice president for finance and administration, and the assistant vice president for marketing and communications will report to the president.
Finance and Administration
Investing in the future of NMU students and the university demands reductions in some areas while simultaneously directing additional resources to other areas. A long-term investment plan is needed. NMU will seek to invest up to $175 million into modernization and asset preservation over the next five years through capital reserves, state capital outlay, bonding, private giving and public/private partnerships. The finance and administration division will continue to look for ways to provide high-quality service at the lowest possible cost. Investments include modernization of housing and dining facilities, a potential $100 million public/private partnership, a state-funded $40 million transformation of the Learning Resources Center, a $15 million renovation of the University Center, a $10.5 million academic teaching and business innovation center, a $9.5 million military and veterans education center and a yet-to-be-determined update of the Jacobetti Complex.
The division also has made or will make various staffing adjustments to better serve students and employees.
Extended Learning and Community Engagement
Growing off-campus student enrollment through K-12, community college and business and industry partnerships is a high priority, as is expanding international student recruitment and international partnerships, conference services and online and off-site programming. A new global campus initiative will focus on utilizing a variety of distance education technologies to expand educational opportunities for students who cannot attend classes on the main campus.
Additionally, the division will develop a revenue sharing budget model for online and off-campus programs to encourage new and innovative academic offerings.
Supporting enrollment through athletics has been effective and is only sustainable with highly successful NCAA Division II athletic programs and a premier NCAA Division I hockey program. Achieving a level of excellence will require a significant private giving campaign with specific targets for each athletic sport. It will also require a coordinated effort to increase attendance and community engagement with NMU athletic programs. An athletic events coordinator will be responsible for increasing attendance and community engagement and a development officer will be assigned to athletics.
Chief Diversity Officer
The chief diversity officer will be charged with expanding recruitment of minorities, retaining students from diverse communities, identifying barriers to broader engagement of diverse populations and developing a comprehensive strategy for addressing these barriers. The chief diversity officer will develop meaningful partnerships with a wide range of academic and operational departments to promote a welcoming campus for all.
Editors: This release was prepared by Derek Hall, NMU assistant vice president for marketing and communications.