Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2011

Forum Addresses Governor's Budget Proposal

“There is no more room for gimmicks or one-time tricks. Systemic changes are inevitable.” That was the key message NMU President Les Wong delivered to the audience at Wednesday's university forum. The governor has proposed a 19.7 percent cut in state funding for NMU, or 15 percent if the university does not raise tuition more than 7.1 percent.

“I really have to dispel any disbelief you have about the size and probability of this cut,” Wong said. “You have to understand the magnitude of this. A 15 percent cut is $6.77 million dollars in permanent money, not one-time money. This is an ongoing permanent reduction. That’s the cost of educating 521 students at NMU. It represents nearly 85-100 jobs. We are not going to stop serving students or eliminate 85 jobs. It is my goal to try to keep everybody working to the best of our ability. I can’t promise that, but it’s one of my goals." Full Story


Wong Shares Progress on Campus Projects

Before addressing the governor’s budget proposal at Wednesday’s forum, NMU President Les Wong gave progress reports on campus projects and reviewed the online threat response and President Obama's recent visit. Here are the highlights:

Prioritizing academic programs: the Education Policy Committee (EPC) will soon deliver its recommended “best practices criteria” for determining which programs to invest or disinvest in to Provost Susan Koch. The criteria and resulting recommendations will be shared for broad input serve as a guide as the campus begins budget discussions.

Prioritizing athletic programs: Athletic director Ken Godfrey’s health issues have postponed the review of varsity, club and intramural sports to determine the best mix of programs. However, a financial and programmatic review of the USOEC is under way. Full Story


Obama's Budget Proposal Maintains Maximum Pell Grant

President Obama’s fiscal year 2012 budget proposes two changes to federal student aid programs that would sustain the Pell Grant program and maintain its $5,550 maximum award. According to Mike Rotundo (Financial Aid), about 3,700 NMU students rely on Pell Grants.


“For Northern, the most important piece of Obama’s proposal is keeping the maximum Pell award at $5,550 so that our neediest students don’t see their funding impacted,” said Rotundo. “It’s important to maintain that level for some students to have access to higher education.”

Full Story


Employee Effort = Successful Obama Visit

A number of employees worked behind the scenes to ensure that President Obama’s campus visit flowed smoothly. Most of their efforts took place below the radar, not obvious to those who attended or watched the speech. While we can't name each individually, here are a few examples: electricians who calmed a frantic CNN producer by restoring power to the network’s disabled satellite truck; an audio-visual technician who camped out at Powell Township School in Big Bay to test the WiMAX connection for the demonstration; an employee who had a Secret Service agent shdadow him in the event he had to respond to a technical problem; and the telecommunications crew that beefed up the network infrastructure in the PEIF. Full Story


Wong Updates Board on Smoking Issue

The NMU Board of Trustees held a brief formal session before its annual retreat last week to receive project updates and vote on a limited number of business items. President Les Wong provided trustees with news articles that reflect the national trend toward smoke-free businesses and universities. He also pointed to the recently released federal and state budget proposals, saying both include a number of incentives geared toward healthier campuses. Full Story


             'Couch Show' Opens Feb. 24

More than 270 NMU students are sharing a couch this month, but not at the same time. The NMU Foundation wanted to provide students with an opportunity to "put themselves in the picture" and tell alumni about their Northern experience. Those who responded had their photos taken in various locations around campus. The faces and locations in each photo vary, but there is one recurring fixture: an '80s-era couch that was carted around to every shoot to emphasize the diversity of the students and provide a channel for self-expression

Participating students also filled out comment cards on which they completed the sentence, “I’m here because ____.” These expressions of pride, humor, inspiration and determination will be celebrated in an exhibit titled "The Couch Show." It will be on display at the Student Art Gallery in University Center from Feb. 24 through the closing reception scheduled from 5-7 p.m. on March 24.



Golf is his summer passion now, but softball consumed Bill Ombrello’s (Plant Operations) free time for more than 25 years. He saw the field from all perspectives: as a player on slow-pitch and fast-pitch teams that won local tournaments, league championships and U.P. titles; as coach of a woman’s team for a decade; and as an umpire behind the plate. Ombrello participated in state and national umpire school, which allowed him to call both styles of softball in games featuring players ranging from girls 8-10 years old through high school to men and women.


“If it sounds like I was on the field a lot, I was,” he said. “I played in two leagues and in some tournaments with other teams. I had three summers where I played up to 162 games. It sometimes reached seven days a week doing one thing or another with the sport. I had played baseball growing up in Lansing—from T-ball to my freshman year in high school—before we moved back up here.” Full Story



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Updated: February 23, 2011

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