Transparency strengthened by new focus group

Von Lanier

More transparency has come to the NMU campus community in the form of a new committee that serves as an advisory counsel to University President Fritz Erickson and assists with strategic planning implementation.

rere-FritzThe Strategic Planning and Budgeting Advisory Committee (SPBAC) was created in April 2016 and is comprised of 44 active members, including three NMU students. It is charged with working directly with Erickson as well as primary ex officio administrators to develop and input opportunities that relate to strategic plan initiative proposals.

The committee is also tasked with regularly sharing information about strategic planning decisions with the rest of campus and communicating decision rationale with each of the campus components it represents.

Erickson said he has a hands-off approach when it comes to the committee and it is a co-dependent advisory group that has impressed him so far.

Prior to the SPBAC, Erickson said there seemed to always be a clash between transparency on campus and administration deciding what would be the fastest course of action.
It can take a long time to make things happen when you have to consider transparency and inclusion to make a decision, Erickson said.

He also stressed the importance of transparency and inclusion being the primary and most important function of the committee and said SPBAC is something for future university presidents to keep around indefinitely.

Co-chairs Brent Graves and Leslie Warren help facilitate the expectations and goals for members of the SPBAC. Student members are chosen for delegation to the committee by the dean of students.

Christine Greer, dean of students and assistant vice president, said she sees giving feedback on the effectiveness of the strategic plan to the president and to the leadership group as the most important function of SPBAC.

“A close second [function] is communicating with the campus community about what’s going on,” Greer said. “It’s a large group that’s got people from all different areas of the university so I think it’s an effective group to communicate.”

The committee has only held several meetings since it was created in April so members are still getting a feel for the whole process of being a collaborative, according to Greer.

“Effectively communicating back to the university community is where we need to put the most emphasis and that was one of President Erickson’s reasons for pulling this committee together,” she added.

All employee groups, unions and levels of the NMU campus community is represented by at least one SPBAC member. Each member was chosen in one of four ways: selected by Erickson; selected by a vice president, dean or a department head to represent a division or a college; selected by American Association of University Professors and Northern Michigan University Faculty Association per union contract stipulations; or nominated by multiple peers with an employee group.

SPBAC members are scheduled to meet once a month as a minimal requirement during fall and winter semesters and possibly for one meeting during the summer if it’s needed. Winter 2017 meetings are scheduled for 3 to 5 p.m. on the first Wednesday of each month.

The next SPBAC meeting will be held at 3 p.m. on Sep. 7, 2016 in the Cadillac Brule Rooms of the University Center to address and finalize budget reduction proposals.