Minutes of the Formal Session


Friday, July 13, 2018


A formal session of the Board of Trustees of Northern Michigan University was held on Friday, July 13, 2018 in Cohodas Hall of Northern Michigan University, Marquette, Michigan.  The meeting was convened at 8:30 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. 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.



The following action was taken:


It was moved by Trustee Haveman and seconded by Trustee Seavoy to amend the agenda to add consideration of Section 265b of PA265 of 2018, commonly referred to as the appropriations boilerplate regarding sexual misconduct, to appoint the Board Chair and/or his designee, and the President, to review sexual misconduct investigation reports and submit certifications as required and take other action necessary to comply with its requirements.


Discussion followed:


Chair Mahaney noted that this requirement is a result of the recent state appropriations bill that was passed in the legislation and ensures that Northern Michigan University proactively complies with requirements of that bill as it relates to sexual misconduct.  He commended legal counsel, Mr. McCamman, for his work in this area to ensure that we are in full proactive compliance.


Trustee Mitchell said this this board should be commended, both President Erickson and the ad hoc committee that is delving into all of the sexual misconduct provisions Northern Michigan University has, which is chaired by Trustee Hart and includes members Trustees Haveman and Seavoy.  He said that NMU has been proactive from the beginning and he also thanked Mr. McCamman for his work in this area.


The following actions were taken:


            The motion to amend the agenda passed with eight (8) for and zero (0) against.


The motion to appoint the Board Chair and/or his designee, and the President, to review sexual misconduct investigation reports and submit certifications as required and take other action necessary to comply with its requirements passed with eight (8) for and zero (0) against.



The following action was taken:


It was moved by Trustee Mitchell, seconded by Trustee Seavoy, and supported unanimously by the full Board, to approve the Formal Recommendations. (Addendum #1)





Trustee Mahaney, Chair of the Executive Committee, reported on a meeting held on Thursday, July 12, 2018.  A copy of the report is appended to these minutes.  (Addendum #2)


Based on a recommendation from the Committee, the Board took the following action:


It was moved by Trustee Mitchell and seconded by Trustee Seavoy to approve the President’s new contract as presented to the full Board.


Discussion followed:


Trustee Mitchell said that you don’t have to be a great observer to walk around campus and see the tremendous energy and the number of new buildings that have gone up using the public/private partnership that was an idea Vice President Leach brought to President Erickson and he brought to the Board; the new programs that we have – Provost Schuiling and the outstanding team that made us the first school in the nation to have a medicinal plant chemistry program and FROST program – all of which are having an enormous impact on the positive vibe that can be felt now at Northern.  When things are going well, and they did not go so well the first couple of years when we had an enrollment dip, by building a strong team, President Erickson has really done a terrific job turning around the campus and the university.  Trustee Mitchell said the picture was a lot bleaker when he started on this Board in January 2013, so he thinks it’s very important that Northern Michigan University provide compensation that is commensurate with what other university presidents are getting and certainly commensurate with the outstanding job that’s been done over the past four years Dr. Erickson has been our president.  Trustee Mitchell also said he strongly supports this motion and believes it is an important step for the Board to do to ensure that Northern Michigan University has the long-term leadership of President Erickson.


Chair Mahaney said this is a significant compensation increase and the public may legitimately ask why.  As fiduciaries of the public’s funds in the State of Michigan, the Board should be asked that question.  He said the reasons are quite simple – 1) it’s to recognize exceptional performance.  He said it bears noting that over the past eight years, the State of Michigan’s high school senior graduates have declined by 10%.  Many of NMU’s peer institutions across the State and the nation have suffered significant enrollment declines.  There are reports, almost monthly, of institutes being threatened with bankruptcy, shutting down, or significantly reducing operations.  During this time, NMU has seen a double-digit enrollment increases – this a remarkable and exceptional track record – something this Board is proud of but more significantly is a result of President Erickson’s leadership, along with the leadership team.  2) a president’s job today is probably tougher than it has ever been.  When you have a successful president with a track record such as President Erickson has established, a lot of institutions would love to have that kind of leadership.  The stark reality is we need to remain competitive – we want to be competitive because we want Northern Michigan University to be an exceptional university – not just for the Upper Peninsula, but for the region.  If you’re going to be exceptional, you have to attract and retain exceptional talent.  That’s what this contract allows us to do – we can remain competitive on a state and national level.  He said the contract is reasonable because it keeps the compensation package below the median of NMU’s 15 peer institutions in the state.  Chair Mahaney thanked President Erickson and the leadership team for the accomplishments that Vice Chair Mitchell summed up.


Trustee Popp said he is in his eighth and final year as a Trustee and he is thankful for what President Erickson has been able to accomplish.  He said he knows it is a team and that President Erickson will deflect some of the accolades, but in the end he is the leader and his accomplishments are appreciated.


Trustee Mitchell said he wanted to thank Mr. Canale and Vice President VandenAvond for their accomplishments as well.


The following action was taken:


            The motion passed with eight (8) for and zero (0) against.




Chair Mahaney adjourned the meeting at 8:39 a.m.


Respectfully submitted,



Cathy A. Niemi

Secretary of the Board of Trustees