Erickson announces aims in new reallignment plan

Mike Klarin

Multi-million dollar investments, improvements in athletic attendance, enrollment issues and community engagements—all are on the table in NMU President Fritz Erickson’s new university alignment plan, released Monday. The recently approved measures will include 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,” Erickson said in a written report sent to faculty and staff. “The goal is to thrive through innovation, and this alignment plan builds upon our strengths and embraces new directions for us to grow.”

At the forefront, a comprehensive plan to increase private donations to the university will commence in order to aid in reaching the five-year goals for NMU. The NMU Foundation will hire a chief executive officer, and the university will eliminate the position of vice president for advancement while restructuring office staffing to more adequately support fundraising efforts.

In the enrollment and student services office, the chain of command will shift so that the enrollment team will now report directly to the president, and the vice president for enrollment management position currently held by Steve Neiheisel will be eliminated.

“[The] long-term success and sustainability of the university is based on stabilizing and growing enrollment,” Erickson said.

“It is critical that we have a high degree of focus by the entire university community with regard to enrollment.”

With regard to finance, there will be reductions in funding in some areas with increases in others. The administration did not specify which areas would see a loss in resources, but did say increases would occur in the form of housing and dining services modernizations, a potential $100 million public/private partnership. A state-funded $40 million renovation of the Learning Resources Center was also planned, along with a $15 million facelift and renovation of the University Center, the implementation of a $10.5 million academic teaching and business innovation center and a $9.5 million military and veterans education center.

The administration expressed that the athletic department has been instrumental in supporting enrollment, but said changes will have to be made to make the NCAA Division II programs and the Division I hockey program more successful. Substantial private donations will be solicited with specific targets for each program, as well as a coordinated effort to increase attendance. An athletic events coordinator will be responsible for attendance and community engagement.

Finally, the newly implemented chief diversity officer will be charged with expanding minority recruitment while increasing retention of students from diverse communities and developing meaningful partnerships across academic departments to promote a welcoming campus for all students.