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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas Wiertella April 30, 2024

Erickson email debunks rumors across campus

In an email released Monday, NMU President Fritz Erickson attempted to dispel a laundry list of rumors he says have been circulating around campus.

“All colleges and university campuses have active rumor mills,” Erickson said. “Right now, Northern’s is running at full capacity.”

Worries over budget reductions, staff cuts, class availability and the bookstore were discussed, as well as the effect of what some tentatively planned renovations would have on the resident director faculty.

On the subject of teaching faculty cuts, Erickson expressed curiosity over the speculated amount of cuts. The number 150 has been thrown around by professors and students alike.

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“To most of us, as soon as we hear this, we immediately think ‘that number makes no mathematical sense,’” Erickson said. “We are down 423 students this year, which is 4.92 percent of last year’s student population…If we were to cut 150 faculty (regardless of level) that would be 33.7 percent of the overall teaching population at Northern.”

According to Erickson, one student asked him if the university would be dropping its baccalaureate programs to become a community college.

“You can imagine my surprise, and to be more accurate, my horror,” Erickson said. “I thought she might be kidding, but she was serious, having overheard faculty members venting about budget cuts…Northern is not even remotely considering becoming a community-college only institution.”

Located for many years in the University Center, the NMU bookstore has been rumored to be in the process of privatizing with an outside company.

Erickson neither confirmed nor denied the question.

“Northern is exploring options for the bookstore, as many universities have done,” Erickson said. “This fall we are putting out a request for proposal (RFP) and will have more information once those are available. We have a very good bookstore with  great staff, but changes in online book purchasing have impacted our store in the same way it has bookstores across the country. Because of that, now is the time to explore various options.”

Senior bio-physiology major Jacqelyn Guth said she heard a deal had been struck with bookstore chain Barnes & Noble to take over the operation, but she said she wasn’t very enthusiastic about it.

“This doesn’t really bring a lot of NMU spirit because that’s where everyone goes when they need something,” Guth said. “And now a private company is taking it over.”

Last but not least, the hiring or promotion by of numerous new vice presidents, and the salaries they tend to require, has led some students to question why budget cuts and not salary cuts are being implemented.

“When I arrived it became clear that we needed someone to focus on and expand our off-campus and online offerings,” Erickson said. “To do this, we needed to do two things: First, develop a budget model that would not impact the general fund and would be based on new revenue. Second, we needed to hire someone to do this.

For this reason, we have added a new vice president who is required to ‘pay for his position and operation.’ He is well on our way.” For the full email, go to https://www.thenorthwindonline.com/ericksons-faculty-email-in-its-entirety/

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