President Erickson holds forum for students

President+Fritz+Erickson+addresses+a+crowd+of+students%2C+staff+and+faculty.++Prior+to+NMU%2C+Erickson+served+asprovost+and+vice+president+for+academic+affairs+at+Ferris+State+University.%0APhoto+by%3A+Emma+Case

President Fritz Erickson addresses a crowd of students, staff and faculty. Prior to NMU, Erickson served asprovost and vice president for academic affairs at Ferris State University. Photo by: Emma Case

Isabela Ney

President Fritz Erickson hosted the Winter University Forum at 3 p.m. yesterday in Jamrich Hall to address students, faculty and staff on matters of importance this semester.

He informed the audience that NMU has recently joined a cohort of 12 other universities in the JED Campus initiative to address issues of mental health and substance abuse on campus.

Erickson explained that despite an 11.6 percent increase in freshmen enrollment, net student enrollment is down 3 percent this year, causing lower revenue levels for NMU. Erickson advised departments to be conservative in their spending due to a tight budget. Spring will continue donor funded projects, like the tree planting project which added 120 trees to the campus. One donor is speaking to university officials about constructing a statue of Wildcat Willy in the academic mall.

The Student Resource Allocation Committee (SRA) is heavily into the process which evaluates current programs and departments and takes recommendations on what to add or subtract. One audience member, a member of the board of the SRA, explained that everyone is working hard to review suggestions from faculty, staff and the public but nothing will be decided until the fall.

One professor asked whether NMU is attempting to recruit international students to which Erickson replied that efforts have been made but it’s a really tough market. He mentioned that Trump’s immigration policy has not helped the situation. Overall, enrollment is expected to increase with the construction of new facilities on campus, he said.

Vice President for Finance and Administration Gavin Leach said, “We are also beginning to work on renovations of the Marketplace which will be connected to the Woods Complex… The completion [is] expected early August, and we’ll begin serving food at the end of August when we have students back on campus.”

Leach explained that demolition of the University Center will begin the week after final exams and offices have already begun relocating. Phase two of the project will begin with tackling the Great Lakes Rooms Leach said, adding that the new building will offer more space for student activities and events including a ballroom that seats up to 1,000 people.

The library is scheduled for renovation in the spring of 2019. The last two buildings in the Woods Complex are projected to be completed this summer and will include a new tutoring center. Gant Hall and the Summit apartments are being demolished this summer but other dorm buildings like West and Spalding will be kept open for student overflow during the projects.

One student asked if the stance taken by the university on substance abuse would strike down the idea to put a bar in the new university center.

Erickson said, “No. I think the idea of having a pub on campus is not contradictory to our commitment, but it is a reflection of our recognition that it might actually be better to have legal students on campus have a comfortable, safe, controlled place if that’s what they’re going to do.”

He went on to point out that beer and wine sales at sporting events have been successful and there have been fewer incidents of students binge drinking before games or running out to the parking lot to drink.

Employee satisfaction surveys received a 50 percent response rate and over 70 percent of those agreed with the statement that they were satisfied with their jobs here at NMU. “And that doesn’t mean we’re perfect we’re far from it but it is encouraging to hear from people that this is a good place to be, this is a good place to work and a good place to live.”