NMU officials give fall update

NMU+officials+give+fall+update

Von Lanier

A number of key issues and university projects were discussed at the Fall University Forum held Thursday, Nov. 9 in the Reynold’s Recital Hall.

NMU President Fritz Erickson and Gavin Leach, vice president of finance and administration, updated roughly 150 NMU students, administrators and campus faculty members on facilities projects and the commencement speaker process at NMU. Potential state capital outlay projects and the upcoming fiscal budget cycle were also discussed. Gov. Rick Snyder will submit an executive budget proposal to the Legislature in early 2018, as required by the Michigan Constitution.

“Lately we’ve been finding out our state appropriation around late May or from early-to mid-June,” Leach said. “The recommendations from the campus-wide Strategic Resource Allocation process need to be taken into consideration as part of building the budget for the next fiscal year.”

Leach said winter enrollment will be a tell-tale on NMU’s budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year.

He explained how public universities are required to submit capital outlay requests to the state each year.

“Last year, the Jacobetti Complex renovation missed out on being in the top three selected for funding. It finished at number four. We hope it moves up and is included in either the governor’s executive budget or a future capital outlay this year. There have been no major renovations since the complex was built,” he said.

Leach said a renovation bid for the Edgar L. Harden Learning Resources Center (LRC) is

no longer on NMU’s state capital outlay request after it went for more than a decade without being selected for funding. He added, NMU will instead do a “phased approach” for the renovation project, starting with the second floor where the Lydia M. Olson Library is located.

The LRC will also receive an expanded parking area in the future and the space for it is expected to be paved sometime in the spring.

Two new housing units for The Woods will open in January, Leach said. The anticipated central hub of the new residence halls, known as The Lodge, will also open in January and renovations of the Marketplace will begin in May.

The two-year renovation of the University Center will also begin in May after design work and funding is finalized, Leach continued.


Currently, NMU students in the construction management program are building an on-site storage facility at the Forensic Research Outdoor Station (FROST). Site work on the FROST is complete and construction of the laboratory space will begin on Nov. 30, with expected completion by May.

Leach also discussed NMU’s acquirement of a space in the Legacy Building, currently under construction on Washington Street. The department of Health and Human Performance at NMU previously signed an agreement with U.P. Rehab Services LLC to co-occupy the space that will be known as the Cancer and Rehabilitation Center. It is expected to open in late February. Lastly, Leach highlighted the growth in subscriptions to the Educational Access Network.

President Fritz Erickson addressed how NMU is able to afford many of the new construction projects around campus saying, “The answer really lies in the way we that we were able to finance the new residence halls. So all the money that we would have spent on renovating an existing residence halls—because we wouldn’t have been able to get state funding for that—we would have had to use university resources. But, because of the unique public-private partnership, it enabled us to use the dollars that we planned to use on the residence halls to be able to do all of these other projects.”

Erickson also addressed the controversy surrounding NMU’s formal invitation to Gov. Rick Snyder to speak at the upcoming May graduation commencement.

He explained that anyone has an opportunity to nominate a speaker and the unfiltered recommendations are sent to the commencement committee for discussion and then a vote takes place. He said some names were rejected, but ultimately Snyder’s was accepted and the vote wasn’t unanimous. The NMU Board of Trustees gave the final approval to extend an invitation.

“I respect those who disagree with that selection,” Erickson said adding, “Universities should support the free exchange of ideas. Of course, it’s easier to do that if it’s some- thing we agree with. I don’t fault anyone who starts a petition or stands up and says it’s wrong. That’s what higher ed should be about.”

Erickson also highlighted NMU’s economic impact on the Marquette community as well as sustainability and diversity initiatives on campus.