Minutes of the Regular Session


Thursday, July 14, 2011


A formal session of the Board of Trustees of Northern Michigan University was held on Thursday, July 14, 2011, in Cohodas Hall, at Northern Michigan University, Marquette, Michigan.  The meeting was convened at 9:05 a.m. in the Board of Trustees Room, 602 Cohodas, by Chair Brian D. Cloyd.


Trustees present included:


      Brian D. Cloyd, Chair                   Jon G. LaSalle                         H. Sook Wilkinson (via phone)          

      Stephen F. Adamini                     L. Garnet Lewis                                  Gilbert L. Ziegler                   

      Stephen L. Gulis, Jr.                     Richard M. Popp (via phone)  Leslie E. Wong, ex officio     



Senior staff and counsel present included:


      Catherine L. Dehlin, General Counsel

Paul L. Lang, Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

R. Gavin Leach, Vice President for Finance and Administration and Treasurer of the Board

Theresa Nease, Executive Assistant to the President and Secretary of the Board










President Wong made the following introductions:  1.) Dr. Paul Lang has replaced Dr. Susan Koch and will serve as Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs for 2011-2012; 2.) Dr. Harvey Wallace has replaced Dr. Paul Lang and will serve as Interim Dean of the College of Professional Studies for 2011-2012; 3.) Mr. Brian Gaudreau has replaced Mr. Jeffery Kleinschmidt and will serve as Interim Director of the USOEC; and 4.) Dr. David Luoma has replaced Dr. Michelle Shields and has been appointed as Medical Director of the NMU Health Center.  Chair Cloyd congratulated them on their new positions.


President Wong reported on the NMU Emergency Response Team professional development activities.  The team has completed an individual 12-hour,

4-module FEMA certification training and will participate in mock training on various crises ranging from a natural disaster to a gun threat.


Dr. Wong said there will be another forum in the fall to discuss a smoke-free campus.  After the forum he will be working with ASNMU to conduct another campus-wide vote.  A decision will be made soon afterward on whether NMU will go smoke free.






Budget and Tuition Discussion

Mr. Adamini reviewed the discussion held on Wednesday at the Finance Committee meeting.  Trustee Adamini said unfortunately NMU is faced with having its appropriation cut by 15 percent, and there are certain substantially increasing costs that we don’t have any control over.  NMU has made a commitment to its students, their families, faculty and staff and is obligated to keep those commitments to provide a quality education and to make sure the NMU diploma stands for something.  Unfortunately, that is going to require NMU to ask those students and families to pay more for that education. 


It was moved by Trustee Adamini and seconded by Trustee LaSalle to accept the recommendation of the Finance Committee to increase full time resident undergraduate tuition and fees by $275 per semester, to increase non resident undergraduate tuition and fees by $431 per semester, to increase resident graduate tuition and fees by $27.50 per credit hour, non resident graduate tuition and fees by $38.75 per credit hour, and the MBA graduate tuition by $38 per credit hour, and that there be no increase in the student athletic fee.             



Discussion followed.  President Wong and Mr. Leach presented on the analysis of the tuition setting process. (Addendum # 1).  President Wong said this particular year has been a challenging year.  He expressed his appreciation to the faculty, staff, and the teams around the vice presidents and president.  Input has been provided by various sectors to put this particular model together.  The campus has been through nearly a decade of disinvestment by the State.  The tuition in 1991 was just barely $2,000.  The State was paying about 70% of the cost, and that has now completely reversed itself to where the vast proportion of the tuition is paid by students and their family.  The history of disinvestment is very clear.  He is hoping that now that the State is restructuring itself there is hope in the future for a commitment to public higher education.  He is proud of the persistence of faculty and staff to maintain levels of quality far and above NMU’s peers in the region and State.  Quality is his number one concern, and he is proud of the work that is done at NMU.  Faculty and staff are incredibly efficient and hard working on behalf of students.


Trustees shared thoughts and opinions on the motion to increase tuition:


Trustee Cloyd applauded the President’s team for the great job working through tough times and said he appreciates faculty and staff for their patience, tolerance and sacrifice.  The Board will continue to have discussions about maintaining quality as this is the number one priority for faculty, staff and students.


Trustee Ziegler said he sometimes feels like a salmon swimming upstream.  He worries about higher education in general.  His votes are not predicated on Northern, which he loves dearly.  It is predicated on the escalating cost of higher education on the average family.


Trustee Lewis commended the faculty and staff.  She continues to be very appreciative of and proud of the education she received at NMU.  It made many things possible for her educationally.  As a member of this Board she firmly believes that this is still the case—that what NMU does for its students is to provide a great education that presents great opportunities for them.  She is committed to making sure that continues.  It is a difficult decision, but it is the right thing to do.

Trustee Adamini also commended the faculty, staff, administration, and the Board as they are all committed to making sure that a degree from NMU means something and that it represents the high quality of education they received here.  For the five years he has been on the Board going through this process we continue to ask for sacrifices from students, parents, faculty, and staff.  We ask everyone to pay more.  What bothers him is that in 1787 the Michigan Congress under the Article of Confederation adopted the Northwest Ordinance.  Michigan was one of the five states that was created under the Northwest Territory.  This was the first expression of any government body that guaranteed the right of education to its citizens.  It said “schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.”  Michigan, being one of those territories and then states carved out of the Northwest Territories, carried on with that tradition.  There is a rich history in Michigan of commitment at the K-12 and university level in providing a quality education, (if not entirely free, then very affordable), and that is an essential part in making sure that the American dream that we talk about is a realistic dream that can be dreamt by every young person in this country and in this State.  He sees a steady erosion of the commitment in providing an affordable, quality education at a public university in the State.  Every step that is taken down that road means that dream is not a realistic dream for some students.  He doesn’t like that.  He is participating in this process but bemoans the fact that the public university education system in the State of Michigan is slowly being dismantled, and he is without the power to correct or reverse that trend.  He hopes collectively, if we get our fiscal house in order in the State and country, that we commit ourselves to reversing this trend.


Trustee Gulis also commends the administration not just for this year but prior years.  Looking at NMU’s rate structure going into this year there is a lot of quality for NMU students.  There are also efficiencies in NMU’s process that it appears on a per student basis other universities have not reached yet.  NMU needs to give the faculty and administration the tools they need to provide value in a quality education.  It is unfortunate that we have to increase tuition, but we have to keep the tool chest open so they can have the right tools in their box.  Part of that is a cost increase, but NMU leads almost all the state universities in efficiencies metrics on both the administrative and faculty basis.  If those metrics were not there, he may feel differently.  He feels that NMU’s efficiencies exceed other universities in the State, but NMU cannot keep cutting if it wants the quality and comparable value to remain so the NMU diploma means something to the outside world when students graduate.


Trustee LaSalle shares with his fellow trustees a lot of anxiety with the picture of State funding over the last 10 years.  The State’s ever receding participation in higher education is disturbing.  It is without question and without debate that higher education is directly tied to higher income levels over the course of most work lives.  There is a direct tie between a baccalaureate degree and a certain level of income.  Who is arguing that the value of a baccalaureate degree does not warrant the kind of support we need to run these institutions without constantly going into the pockets of our customers, our clients the student and their parents?  It is simply a tax shift from all to a few, but the benefits to society accrue to everyone when more and more people are educated and able to make their way and to contribute to the totality of knowledge in our country and our country’s ability to produce and perform in a productivity sense.  When we are forced to reduce the State budget and you put the P-20 system at the top of the list for multiple years, he has to disagree with that approach as sound public policy.  We take a chance and roll the dice when we continually cut budgets of that mechanism that allows our society to move forward for people to become more productive and to lead better, higher quality lives.   He knows students and parents are not interested in declining quality.  All parents want better things for their children and for their children’s future.  The charge as Trustees is to work through these challenges and dilemmas to do the right thing and to preserve the quality of education and the value that is tied into the price of that education at NMU.  For those reason he will vote to continue a path of quality and vote for this motion.


Trustee Wilkinson said she appreciates all the comments that have been made and echoes the same sentiment.  She is very proud of the tradition that NMU has preserved which is to provide higher education with wonderful accessibility and affordability in delivering a quality education.  Even though the proposed tuition hike is adding more burden to the families she believes it is still affordable and is the best deal we can get at this point.  As a Board member she is fully committed to continuing the tradition of accessible and affordable with quality.


Trustee Popp said he does not want to raise tuition.  He commends President Wong and Vice President Leach on the great work in laying out the multifaceted challenge and the progress made in cutting costs and in trying to do things differently.  It is beyond what he wants to do at this point.  As he assesses the whole picture he believes that the recommendation is one that is responsible.  He challenged the Board to keep thinking about the pain they are going through in making this decision as they make future decisions so NMU can be kept special.  Even with this change it still positions NMU as a great value, but he agrees we can’t do this every year.  It will continue to challenge the Board and the staff to be creative.  They might have to change things and to change things in ways to keep NMU special.  NMU may not look the same as it does today, and it doesn’t look the same today as it did ten years ago.  He commended everyone for the hard work that has gotten NMU to this point and hopes to keep this in mind as the Board and administration make decisions on every aspect of the University.



Chair Cloyd called the question on the motion to increase tuition and fees.  On a roll-call vote, the Board voted as follows:


                                         Aye                                                Nay

                                    Stephen F. Adamini

                                    Brian D. Cloyd

                                    Stephen Gulis, Jr.

                                    Jon G. LaSalle

                                    L. Garnet Lewis

Richard M. Popp

                                    H. Sook Wilkinson

Gilbert L. Ziegler       



The motion was thus approved with seven (7) for the motion and one (1) against.





President Wong said with the announcement of the two new hockey leagues he is recommending to the Board of Trustees that the Board charge President Wong to seek membership in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA).   If and when that invitation is formally offered, NMU would be prepared and would have done due diligence to move from the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) to the WCHA for the 2013-2014 season.  He said NMU is very happy and content with its membership in the CCHA and looks forward to a very successful season this coming year, but NMU needs to look into the future and its long-term presence.  NMU’s identity to the west is much stronger than the south, and it just resonates to a much greater degree if NMU were to seek membership for its Division I hockey program to be in the WCHA with schools of similar programs and personality.


After discussion the Board took the following action:


It was moved by Trustee Adamini, seconded by Trustee LaSalle and unanimously supported by the Board to accept the recommendation of the President and authorize the administration to seek membership and admission into the WCHA.



Mr. Steve Reed, Interim Athletic Director, and Mr. Brian Gaudreau, Associate Director of Programming/Intercollegiate Athletics/Recreational Sports gave an overview of the Athletics and Recreational Sports areas and identified challenges these departments will face in the future

(Addendum #2).  President Wong commended Mr. Reed and Ms. Berube for stepping up this past year during the absence of the Athletic Director.  He introduced members of these departments present including Mr. Carl Bammert, Associate Director of Facilities; Dr. Julie Rochester, NMU Professor and Faculty Athletic Representative with the NCAA; and Mr. Calvin Larsen, Sports Information Director.  The Board recognized Mr. Ken Godfrey, Athletic Director, who has been on leave for the past year. 



RECESS – Chair Cloyd recessed the meeting at 10:51 a.m.  



RECONVENE -- Chair Cloyd reconvened the meeting at 11:12 a.m. 





Mr. Justin Brugman, President of the AAUP, updated the Board of ASNMU activities. (Addendum #3)






Mr. LaSalle, Chair of the Executive Committee, reported on the meeting held on Wednesday, July 13, 2011.  A copy of the report is appended to these minutes. (Addendum #4)


The Board took the following action:


It was moved by Trustee LaSalle, seconded by Trustee Adamini to and unanimously supported by the Board to approve the implementation of a 403(c) annuity for President Wong.


Academic Affairs

Dr. Lewis, Chair of the Academic Affairs Committee, reported on a meeting held on July 13, 2011.  A copy of the report is appended to these minutes.  (Addendum #5)



Mr. Adamini, Chair of the Finance Committee, reported on the meetings held on June 28,

July 6, and July 13, 2011.  A copy of the reports are appended to these minutes (Addendums #6, #7 and #8).


Strategic Planning Committee

Dr. Lewis, Chair of the ad hoc Strategic Planning Committee, reported on the activities of the ad hoc Strategic Planning Committee.  (Addendum #9)





Chair Cloyd announced the appointments to the Ad Hoc Nominating Committee as follows:


            Chair:              Mr. Stephen F. Adamini        

            Members:        Dr. L. Garnet Lewis

                                    Dr. H. Sook Wilkinson


The Committee will make a recommendation of Chair and Vice Chair for 2012 at the September 2011 meeting.





        It was moved by Trustee Lewis, seconded by Trustee Adamini and unanimously supported by the Board of Trustees to approve the Formal Recommendations.






President Wong made this announcement for the public record. 





Chair Cloyd thanked the Board for their deliberations during this difficult fiscal time.  Chair Cloyd adjourned the meeting at 11:37 a.m.



Respectfully submitted,




Theresa M. Nease

Secretary of the Board