The President's Parent Partnership

Volume 17, Issue 1 -- July 20, 2018

Dear NMU Parents,

We are about one month away from the start of the fall semester. Are you ready? Is your NMU student? Our campus activity level is steadily increasing as we prepare for the new academic year. I hope you have a chance to spend quality time with your Northern student before he or she returns for fall classes. We look forward to having you both on campus soon. Until then, here are some updates on several university matters.

START OF SCHOOL LOGISTICS: The NMU student service offices will send communications to students on logistics related to the start of the school year, but because I am regularly asked three questions at this time of year, let me share that information with you now.  

Tuition and room and board bills will be posted on MyNMU on July 25 and have a due date of August 10. Students can give parents access to their billing information by following the instructions to add an "authorized user" on eBill. We also recommend completing a Release of Information, which enables the Financial Aid Office and Student Service Center to discuss your student’s financial information with you, in person or over the phone. The short form is available online. Students and parents are encouraged to review the various payment plan options Northern has available. Learn more at nmu.edu/paymentplans.

The Financial Aid Office has been busy preparing financial aid packages throughout the spring and summer. Student eligible for aid should have either completed award information or an estimated award on their student record at MyNMU (http://mynmu.nmu.edu), unless they just recently applied for aid.  Please encourage your student to take a moment and visit the MyNMU’s Student Services “Financial Aid-Information” link to ensure that all of their financial aid requirements have been completed. This is a great way to have peace of mind that the process is finalized, or it not, it reminds them to take care of any of the remaining requirements.

For residence halls and on-campus apartment students, roommate names and contact information will be emailed to students via their NMU email account on or before Aug. 1. The halls officially open at 8 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 23. Most questions about moving into the residence halls can be found at nmu.edu/housing/moveindates.  

WATER TESTING UPDATE: After much testing, retesting, review of water lines and water system fixtures, the best fix for addressing the three campus facilities with elevated lead levels (out of 50 tested) is to install filtering systems on any used for drinking water. Thus, we are in the process of installing water fountains with that feature in-unit filters, as well as adding filtering capabilities on any kitchenettes. We are not filtering hand sinks and custodial areas, only those that are used for drinking water purposes. We are still on target for having all of the filtering equipment in place by the start of the fall semester. Throughout the summer, we have been supplying these three buildings with bottled water. We thank everyone for their patience as we’ve worked our way through this situation. Last spring, we tested the water sources in all NMU facilities. None of the other buildings had elevated levels for which we are very thankful.

SUMMER CAMPUS PROJECTS:  In the last newsletter, I updated you on the University Center renovation, Marketplace Dining Hall renovation (now to be called Northern Lights Dining) and the completion of the last two halls – Maple East and West – of the new residence hall complex, The Woods. Let me tell you about a few other projects that have been taking place this summer. We brought down Gant Hall a few weeks ago. Spalding Hall is now all that remains of the former Quad I residence halls. We’ll monitor our enrollment growth for another year, but plans are to bring that down Spalding at some point as well. We will finish the demolition of the final Summit Street Apartment buildings shortly. We’ve also been installing a water sprinkler system using an already existing on-campus well that will save costs on lawn maintenance for portions of the campus.

We just completed a comprehensive upgrade of New and West Science classroom media equipment to the same “smart” level as what is in Jamrich Hall. We have created a new series of gardens in the Academic Mall, all of which had private gift funding. The one in front of Jamrich Hall is a gift in memory of our late provost, Dr. Paul Lang. We’re completing work on a new media room that can be used for a wide variety of digital media teaching and learning opportunities, including upgraded faculty lecture capabilities for online courses. Two other donor gifts being worked on are the Football Center (coaches’ offices and student study area) and a bronze Wildcat sculpture for the Academic Mall. Both will be done for the start of the fall and dedicated during Homecoming Weekend.

PRIVATE GIVING SUCCESS: Speaking of donor gifts, in the past three years we’ve completely revamped our philanthropic operations and are realizing impressive results.  In 2016-17, we saw a 60 percent increase in giving over what we had in 2015-16. This past year, we had a 34 percent increase over the 2016-17 rate.  I told you about the $1 million endowed professorship by the Mark and Eileen Lovell family this spring, which was our first endowed professorship in 40 years. Private giving has become so important to institutions of higher education and we deeply appreciate the investment in our students, campus and initiatives made by Northern alumni, parents, friends of the university and corporate partners.

SRA REVIEW: Last academic year, Northern began a Strategic Resource Allocation (SRA) project as part of our continuing strategic planning. During the 2017-18 academic year, every NMU program or service that receives university funds was required to complete a report of information that outlined its alignment to the university’s mission and strategic plan.  These reports were then reviewed by one of two task forces – the Support Task Force, for programs and services that support academic programs, and the Academic Programs Task Force. The task forces then put each program or service into one of five categories: Candidate for enhanced resources; candidate for current resources; candidate for continuation but with reduced resources; candidate for transformation and candidate for phase-out, subject to additional review. We are heading into the next stage where the task force reports will next be reviewed by the SRA Implementation Task Force (ITF). The ITF will make a proposal to me as to which recommendations it feels should be implemented. There will be a one-month campus community feedback period while the ITF works on its proposal. Once I have the ITF’s recommendations and the campus feedback, I will bring my proposal to the NMU Board of Trustees for approval to begin implementation planning. 

The goal of this project is to confirm that university resources are being allocated in a way that is mission-centric and advances Northern’s strategic plan. I want parents to understand the project as I anticipate much discussion about the recommendations. Please know that if an academic program is identified for phase out, it does not mean it will automatically or immediately be eliminated. It means the program will undergo additional evaluation.  If a program ultimately is recommended for phase out, students enrolled in it will have every opportunity to complete their degree before it is discontinued. Doing an SRA review is complex, but it helps universities realize the return on their investments. It gives universities flexibility to explore new opportunities, which is important to Northern because the title of our strategic plan is “Investing in Innovation.”

AWARDS AND RECOGNITION: Former NMU student Bruce Konefe joined the rescue effort that successfully transported a Thai boys’ soccer team and coach to safety. … Student-veteran Traci Dietz won second place in the photography category of the 2018 National Veterans Creative Arts Competition for her submission titled “broken.” … NMU offers one of the most affordable online Master of Public Administration degrees in the nation, according to a new ranking by bestvalueschools.com. … Two recent NMU alumni received a National Geographic Society Early Careers Grant for a joint study on how last year’s hurricanes impacted reptiles and amphibians on St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands. … The NMU Center for Upper Peninsula received the 2018 Superior Award from the Historical Society of Michigan. … NMU is involved in a collaboration with NASA on Granite Island, which is owned by NMU Board of Trustees member and alumnus Scott Holman, to monitor the energy cycle in global climate change.

LONG-TERM CONTRACT: On July 13, the NMU Board of Trustees approved a new five-year contract for me as president. During the meeting, several comments were made about my role in Northern’s recent success, such as our double-digit enrollment increases, innovative new academic programs, the development of the Educational Access Network, the development of the strategic plan, and the significant increase in private giving.  I appreciate the board’s support, but it is important that everyone recognizes how these and other initiatives are team efforts of so many on campus. For my part, I would like to think that I have helped to create a campus culture that has allowed the university to begin to reinvent itself in a way that is making Northern a leader in higher education’s 21st century transformation. I am extremely proud of our recent accomplishments, our bold initiatives and the direction we are collectively moving Northern.  It is exactly that energy, drive and willingness to pursue innovative transformation that makes me want to be your president for the long term. Jan and I are delighted to continue to be members of the Upper Peninsula community. I am committed to helping NMU students, faculty, staff, alumni and UP members excel. I hope you share the sense of enthusiasm and optimism I have for Northern’s future.

Thank you for your continued support of Northern. I look forward to seeing you on campus this fall.

Sincerely,
Fritz Erickson, President