Minutes of the Formal Session


Friday, December 14, 2018


A formal session of the Board of Trustees of Northern Michigan University was held on Friday, December 14, 2018 in Cohodas Hall of Northern Michigan University, Marquette, Michigan.  The meeting was convened at 11:00 a.m. in the Board Room, 602 Cohodas Hall, by Chair Robert E. Mahaney.


Trustees present included:


Mr. Robert E. Mahaney, Chair

Mr. Steven M. Mitchell, Vice Chair

Ms. Lisa I. Fittante

Mr. Richard M. Popp

Ms. Alexis M. Hart

Ms. Tami M. Seavoy

Mr. James K. Haveman

Dr. Fritz J Erickson, ex officio

Mr. Scott L. Holman



Senior Staff and Counsel present included:

Mr. Brad Canale, Chief Executive Officer – NMU Foundation

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

Dr. Kerri Schuiling, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Dr. Steven A. VandenAvond, Vice President for Extended Learning and Community Engagement

Ms. Deanna Hemmila, Executive Director – Board/Government Relations

Ms. Cathy A. Niemi, Secretary of the Board of Trustees

Mr. Kurt McCamman, Legal Counsel     





Secretary Niemi took roll call of the Trustees and noted that all Trustees were present.



Provost and Vice President Schuiling read the following memorial:

·       Dr. William R. Ball, Professor, Department of Political Science, who died on December 6, 2018.



Chair Mahaney introduced Mr. Travis Weber and Mr. Steve Young, who were appointed by Governor Rick Snyder as Northern Michigan University’s two new Trustees, effective January 1, 2019.



The following individuals addressed the Board of Trustees:


Ms. Olivia Walcott, EcoReps Coordinator, provided the Board with an update on the status of EcoReps.  She said they had a two-day intensive training this fall with a cohort of 24 EcoReps and four (4) interns where they learned about sustainability at Northern Michigan University.  They divided into subcommittees to address the programming of their sustainability workshop series, energy conservation campaign (Turn Down the Lights), as well as regular EcoReps programming.  The group also represented Northern Michigan University at the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education national conference.  At the conference, Ms. Walcott said she had the honor of serving on a panel talking about peer-to-peer education in higher education, and two of the interns presented posters on NMU’s model for zero waste games and the sustainability workshop series.  Accomplishments this semester included engaging 42 different students at the sustainability workshop series, repairing over 40 bikes during Tune Up Tuesdays, promoting sustainable and smart transportation around campus, engaging 150 students in the energy conservation campaign – Turn Down the Lights, and repairing nearly 30 pieces of clothing at the monthly Fix-it Fridays.  The last week of March 2019 is their sustainability week where they will have a full week of programming focused around sustainability, which includes environmentalism, economic vitality, and social equity.  Once the schedule for that week is finalized, the group will invite the Trustees to attend.  Ms. Walcott said they are having a very successful first year and is looking forward to next year.  She thanked the Board for supporting EcoReps.



Provost and Vice President Schuiling announced that Ms. Liberty Turner, a Paralegal Studies and Economics major, from Harrison Township, MI will represent the graduating class of fall 2018 at Commencement ceremonies tomorrow, Saturday, December 15, 2018.  On behalf of the Board, Chair Mahaney congratulated Ms. Turner and presented her with a plaque.  A photo was taken.



President Erickson announced Dr. Gary Brunswick, Professor, Walker L. Cisler College of Business, was selected by the students as the Student Choice Award Recipient and December 2018 Commencement Speaker. 



President Erickson provided a report on the SRA process. A copy of the Executive Summary is appended to these minutes.  (Addendum #1)


Chair Mahaney said that the Board has spent a lot of time with regular updates, engagement, and the ability to participate in this SRA process.  It has been a tremendously good process and very educational.  He said he has come to learn and appreciate much about both the academic and support side of the university.  He said the Board is excited to see this process go on to the next chapter and see the implementation begin.  This is a reinvestment – a reallocation – an investment into the future into new programming and will help us achieve the mission and vision of this university.  He thanked everyone involved in the process for the great job they did.


Trustee Mitchell said there has been an enormous amount of time spent by a huge number of people in order to put this together.  All of those people should be acknowledged – this has been a huge task and the Board is aware of the hard work that went into it.



Mr. Connor Loftus, Vice President of the Associated Students of Northern Michigan University (ASNMU), presented on ASNMU activities that have occurred during the fall semester for Mr. Cody Mayer, President of ASNMU, as he was taking a scheduled exam.  His report is appended to these minutes.  (Addendum #2)


Mr. Loftus thanked outgoing Trustees Holman and Popp for their support of ASNMU during their tenure on the Board.


Trustee Popp said that Mr. Loftus, and Mr. Mayer, President of ASNMU, have done an impressive job and thanked them for everything they have done for the students at NMU.



President Erickson reported on university accomplishments since the September 2018 meeting.  His report is appended to these minutes.  (Addendum #3)


Chair Mahaney thanked President Erickson and said that this has been, in a very good way, one of the quietest semesters during his time on the Board.  He said there has been nothing but positive energy around this campus; it’s palpable – he feels it every time he comes to campus.  All of the programs that are underway – SRA, Campus Master Plan, etc. – are part of what is contributing to this energy.  He said he commends President Erickson, the Vice Presidents, the entire team – there are so many good things going on at Northern.




Academic Affairs

Trustee Seavoy, Chair of the Academic Affairs Committee, reported on a meeting held Friday, December 14, 2018.  A copy of the report is appended to these minutes.  (Addendum #4)



Trustee Haveman, Chair of the Finance Committee, reported on meetings held Friday, December 14, 2018.  A copy of the report is appended to these minutes.  (Addendum #5).


Ad hoc Policy Review

Trustee Hart, Chair of the Ad hoc Policy Review Committee, reported on meetings held via conference call on November 19 and December 5, 2018.  A copy of the reports is appended to these minutes.  (Addendums #6 and #7)


Chair Mahaney said that he has had the opportunity to attend the Ad hoc Policy Review Committee meetings as an ex officio, and the committee is doing yeoman’s work.  He said, in his humble opinion, Northern Michigan University, thanks in large part to President Erickson and his team, along with the Ad hoc Policy Review Committee members – Trustees Seavoy, Haveman, and Hart – is staying at the vanguard of these important matters.  He thanked them for all of their work on this committee.



Trustee Mahaney, Chair of the Executive Committee, reported on a meeting held via conference call on Tuesday, December 4, 2018 and a meeting held in person on Friday, December 14, 2018.  A copy of the reports is appended to these minutes.  (Addendums #8 and #9)



The following action was taken:


It was moved by Trustee Mitchell, seconded by Trustee Haveman, and supported unanimously (8 – 0) by the full Board, to approve the Formal Recommendations. (Addendum #10)


Trustee Mitchell said that as part of the Formal Recommendations, the Harden Learning Resources Center, also known as the LRC, has been changed to Harden Hall; therefore, there is no more Learning Resources Center or LRC.  The term that will be used is Harden Hall named after Edgar L. Harden who became president in 1956, who increased enrollment from 900 to 7,600 where we are today, which is why he is honored.  He said that since it was not previously called Harden Hall, we’ve made that change and he thinks it is an outstanding one named after both Edgar Harden and his wife Elizabeth.


Chair Mahaney thanked Trustee Mitchell for carrying the torch on this name change, bringing it to the Board’s attention, and seeing that this was done.



Chair Mahaney said that per the Board’s Bylaws, an annual election of the Board Chair and Vice Chair takes place each year before January 1.  Chair Mahaney asked for nominations from the floor.


Trustee Popp said the leadership of the Board is very important to all of us.  As he has had the opportunity to be the chair during his tenure, and as he leaves and there are two able-bodied replacements for himself and Trustee Holman, it’s important for all of us that we have a strong leadership of the Board and that the Board continues the momentum that’s happening.  He said he’s had individual and small group discussions over the last several months, and first, the good news is, this is a fantastic board, we have great leadership, and this Board is here for the university.  He said there are a lot of things that are going well at Northern.  He said that in light of all of the things that are going on, we could make a change – and he thinks it is healthy to consider a change every year – and generally we do make a change every year – but in light of the tremendous progress on several projects, especially with the SRA, he made the following motion:


It was moved by Trustee Popp, seconded by Trustee Holman, that we continue the way we are structured now with Trustee Mahaney as the Chair and Trustee Mitchell as the Vice Chair for the 2019 calendar year.


Trustee Popp called for discussion; however, being no discussion, the following action was taken:


            The motion passed unanimously (8 – 0).


Chair Mahaney thanked the Trustees for the honor.  He said he has been very fortunate to have great mentors from this Board and the past Board, one of whom we will be recognizing shortly.  He said he appreciates their support and looks forward to working with Vice Chair Mitchell.  He said that as Trustee Popp said we have a lot of things on the plate and he can’t wait to get started, can’t wait to see what this year is going to bring for Northern Michigan University.



Chair Mahaney nominated the following Standing Committee make-ups for calendar year 2019:


Academic Affairs Committee:

Trustee Tami Seavoy – Chair

Trustee Alexis Hart

Trustee Steve Young


Finance Committee:

Trustee Jim Haveman – Chair

Trustee Lisa Fittante

Trustee Travis Weber


Ad Hoc Policy Review Committee:

Trustee Alexis Hart – Chair

Trustee Jim Haveman

Trustee Tami Seavoy


The following action was taken:


It was moved by Trustee Holman, seconded by Trustee Hart, and supported by the full Board (8 – 0), to approve the standing committee appointments of the NMU Board of Trustees for calendar year 2019.



Chair Mahaney said that he will make ex officio appointments to the NMU Foundation Board for calendar year 2019 by the end of this year.



President Erickson made this announcement for the public record.



Chair Mahaney called former trustee Dr. H. Sook Wilkinson forward to be honored as Trustee Emeritus.  He presented Dr. Wilkinson with a plaque in honor of her service to NMU.  A photo was taken.  The Trustees each expressed their congratulations to Trustee Emeritus Dr. Wilkinson.  Dr. Wilkinson expressed her thanks to the Board of Trustees for this honor.



Chair Mahaney called Trustee Richard M. Popp forward to be honored for his service to NMU.  He presented Trustee Popp with a plaque in honor of his service to NMU.  President Erickson presented Trustee Popp with a Wildcat Statue in honor of his service to NMU.  A photo was taken.  Trustee Popp expressed his thanks to the Board and administration.


Chair Mahaney called Trustee Scott L. Holman forward to be honored for his service to NMU.  He presented Trustee Holman with a plaque in honor of his service to NMU.  President Erickson presented Trustee Holman with a Wildcat Statue in honor of his service to NMU.  A photo was taken.  Trustee Holman expressed his thanks to the Board and administration.


The Trustees each expressed their congratulations to Trustees Popp and Holman.



Chair Mahaney opened the floor to the Trustees for any Good of the Order comments they may have.


The Trustees watched a video of President Erickson presenting a diploma to a graduate student who works at Best Buy and is unable to participate in Saturday’s Commencement ceremony.  (Link)


Trustee Mitchell extended his congratulations to Trustees Holman and Popp.  He said they have both been extraordinary and you can’t find better people than them in terms of the amount of work they have put in and the type of leadership they have exhibited.  He said he has known Trustee Holman for around 6 decades when he moved back to Ishpeming as a young man.  He said Trustee Holman has given large donations and enormous amounts of time to the Alumni and Foundation, in addition to chairing this Board twice.  He said both Trustee Holman and Popp have been extraordinary and inspiriting leaders for Northern and all of us.  He wished them both well in all their future activities and thanked them for their service.


Trustee Hart said that it has been a pleasure to work with Trustees Holman and Popp and hopes the relationship can continue into the future.  She also said that she’s had an opportunity to meet Trustee Emeritus Wilkinson and that she has obviously been a great role model for all of the Trustees.  She said she is really excited about all of the amazing things going on around campus, the SRA is great work, and she really enjoyed the ASNMU update – its great to see how involved the students get and how much they care and the myriad of things they touch – politics, diversity, all of those topics – great job.


Trustee Haveman said that he really liked the pace of the agenda over the last couple of days.  He knows it takes a lot of work and preparation to put this together and he appreciates all of those involved with the process.  He said he really enjoyed the SRA and is understanding it more – the draft document that was presented is one of the most extensive, readable, and understandable ones to date.  He said that Trustees Popp and Holman have been fun people to work with.  He said it’s amazing when you come on Boards, these are all new people you haven’t met before and your grafted into the streams – you become a river as you put all your energy together.  He thanked Trustees Holman and Popp for their kindness and hospitality.  He also thanked the staff and people who make the Board meetings successful.  He said the image, the buzz, the modernization, the unique lineal approach of this university is something that we can really celebrate.


Trustee Seavoy thanked the team for their work to make this meeting so successful … there is a lot that happens and it doesn’t happen just on its own.  She said the video we just watched was really neat and that President Erickson doing this was very much appreciated.


Trustee Fittante thanked Trustees Holman and Popp for everything they have done for the university. She said they made it easy for her to come on the Board as they were very welcoming and that the Board will miss them and all their input, their great ideas.  She also welcomed incoming Trustees Weber and Young to the Board.


Trustee Holman said that it has been a great honor to work with the staff and fellow board members.  He said there have been really good, healthy debates and we have come up with helpful solutions.  He said he has had the privileged of hiring five presidents and this one has also been great and has made us proud.  He thanked everyone for the opportunity and their comments.


Chair Mahaney said that he appreciates all the mentorship from Trustees Popp and Holman.  He said there were times we agreed and disagreed but constructive dialogue and common ground was had.  He said he is proud to be on this Board because of the manner in which it conducts itself and as Trustee Mitchell has said, it doesn’t’ matter who appoints you to this Board, people come on this board and operate in the best interest of the university.  He said he was reflecting on the words and phrases that are being used today at Northern Michigan University, such as “premiere institution,” “investment,” “excellence,” … and that five years ago we did not use those words; we were kind of afraid to use those words but we’re not afraid anymore.  He said it speaks to the bright future we have, not so much under this Board, but the folks out in there in the room and the many people that couldn’t be here, and, of course, President Erickson and the vice presidents – kudos to you all.  He said he’s excited to see where we can take this.  He also thanked Ms. Hemmila and Ms. Niemi for their work; when this meeting is run well, it’s because of their efforts.  He also thanked NMU’s legal counsel, Mr. Kurt McCamman, who has been actively engaged in guiding the university through the ad hoc policy issues, among many others, and he has provided great counsel while working behind the scenes. 



Chair Mahaney adjourned the meeting at 12:39 p.m.


Respectfully submitted,



Cathy A. Niemi

Secretary of the Board of Trustees