The Northern Michigan University Board of Trustees today approved a 2016-17 general fund operating budget of nearly $108 million. The budget is $2 million, or 2 percent, higher than last year. The increase is attributed mainly to contractual obligations and rising utility costs.
The board also approved the facilities five-year master plan and the 2014-15 capital outlay project request. Both are required annually by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget. The top two priority projects identified by NMU are: a revitalized Technical Career and Engineering Technology Facility; and an Academic Teaching and Business Innovation Center.
The first project would modernize the Jacobetti Complex into a “vibrant, high-tech teaching facility for future engineers and technical career professionals.” A distinctive component would be a new manufacturing design center that offers tools and expertise to complement Invent@NMU, which guides entrepreneurs in taking their product ideas from concept to market. NMU students in engineering and industrial programs, along with art and design, could collaborate and help to develop physical prototypes and possibly assist with short-run manufacturing. NMU also would partner with the State of Michigan to use a portion of the facility as a regional training center for U.P. National Guard units.
“About 60 percent of the facility will be renovated, with a focus on labs, classrooms and public spaces,” said Gavin Leach, vice president for finance and administration. “The project will benefit the industrial maintenance, welding, hospitality management and engineering technology programs. This ties in well with the state’s current emphasis on career and technical education and the STEM fields [science, technology, engineering and math]. We are hopeful that this will help to increase the project’s point value and chance of success in the state’s capital outlay process.”
The second priority project would transform the McClintock Building into a state-of the-art teaching and business innovation facility. The project includes an addition for the College of Business, enabling the university to relocate the college to the core of campus and faculty offices closer to classrooms. It also incorporates space for Invent@NMU and Northern Initiatives, a local non-profit providing financial resources to small business owners and entrepreneurs.
The Learning Resources Center renovation and addition had been the university’s top priority project for a number of years. NMU has now decided to pursue a scaled-down, multi-phase approach to address the facility’s most critical needs and upgrades.
Trustees also unanimously approved an executive committee recommendation regarding NMU President Fritz Erickson’s compensation. He will receive a 2 percent base salary increase, consistent with the increase approved for other employee groups on campus, retroactive to July 1; a $20,000 bonus; and a one-year contract extension. Erickson’s contract is now set to expire June 30, 2019. The executive committee had reviewed the president’s performance evaluation and cited several accomplishments: advancing academic excellence and success for students; building a “great” leadership team; obtaining FCC approval to expand educational broadband through the Educational Access Initiative; successfully planning the new student housing project; completing the university’s strategic plan; investing in innovation; and redesigning the NMU Foundation and hiring its new CEO, Brad Canale.
Trustee Steve Mitchell said that enrollment is not at the level the president or board would like it to be, “but you need to build a foundation before you have the ability to move forward and get the enrollment back up. In light of the fact we’ve had so many outstanding achievements by your administration, you have my full confidence as we move forward.”
In other action at today’s meeting, the board approved the following:
▪A new one-semester, 16-credit certificate program in esthetics for students interested in pursuing a career focused on skin care. Students who complete the program will obtain limited licensure and be eligible to take the Michigan State Board examination. No additional instructional costs will be required.
▪Two capital and long-term maintenance projects with a total cost over $250,000: Marketplace renovation design services, $460,000; and University Center renovation design services; $1.3 million;
▪The list of 2017 long-term maintenance projects across campus;
▪A reorganization that will move oversight of Alumni Operations from the NMU Foundation to the vice president for extended learning and community engagement;
▪The following board appointments for NMU’s public school academies: Bahweting Public School Academy: Nichole Causley, Kara Batho and Steven Habusta; Burton Glen Charter School Academy: Rebecca Jackson; Nah Tah Wahsh Public School Academy: Geneva “Meg” Wandahsega and Parker Trudeau: North Star Academy: Katherine Beerling; and South Pointe Scholars Academy: Kristie Beckon.
▪The 2017 calendar year board meeting schedule: Feb. 16-17 retreat; May 4-5; June 29-30; Sept. 21-22; and Dec. 14-15;
▪Professor emeritus status for Brian Gnauck, Business, effective Oct. 1; and
▪Participated in a focus discussion on athletics presented by Forrest Karr, NMU athletic director.
The next regularly scheduled meeting of the NMU Board of Trustees will be Dec. 8-9.