Minutes of the Formal Session


Friday, May 4, 2018


A formal session of the Board of Trustees of Northern Michigan University was held on Friday, May 4, 2018 in Cohodas Hall of Northern Michigan University, Marquette, Michigan.  The meeting was convened at 9:01 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.



Provost and Vice President Schuiling read the following memorials:

·       Mr. James (Jimmy) St. Cyr, student from Marquette, MI, who died on February 25, 2018.

·       Mr. Steven Pozega, student from Marquette, MI, who died on March 18, 2018.


The Board of Trustees observed a moment of silence in their memory.



The following students addressed the Board of Trustees regarding campus sustainability and green fund development:  Ms. Georgia Harrison, Ms. Heidi Christiansen, Ms. Kit Collins, Ms. Olivia Walcott, and Mr. Bryce DeMers.  The students outlined the following:  supporting sustainability on campus and the larger community; Student Sustainability Educator Program (Eco-Reps Program) at NMU; Advocated for the creation of a Green Fund at NMU (a $5.00 fee that students could “opt out” of to fund socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable initiatives and activities on campus).  The funds would be used for Eco-Reps Program operating costs, operating costs for a center for sustainability, and potentially a grant program that would teach students how to write grants; Creating a Center for Sustainability, which would align with NMU’s strategic plan and outcomes.


Chair Mahaney thanked the students and said he was impressed with all the work they put into sustainability efforts on campus.  He said their comments and efforts draws him back to the Mission Statement which includes, “Our supportive, connected community empowers students, graduates, faculty and staff to contribute to a diverse and sustainable world.”  He then opened the floor to the Trustees for comments.


Trustee Mitchell asked the students how much money the opt in fee would generate and how much they needed for this program.  The students explained that they chose a $5 opt-out fee because it’s relatively low amongst peer institutions as it’s more common to have $1/credit hour per semester – they felt they could grow into this.  The $5 opt-out fee would not only allow them to fund Eco-Reps starting in the fall but would also allow them to gain some rollover funds to establish a grant fund and possibly operating funds for a center for sustainability.  They said they believed they could operate the program with $20,000/semester and run it well, with paid students who would be able to coordinate it; they could then grow the fund to pay a full-time staff to run it year-round; then possibly add an additional person to be the sustainability coordinator for NMU who could go beyond student efforts for campus-wide initiatives.  They also explained that President Erickson has a proposal from the Sustainability Advisory Council that has a three-tiered budget laid out with possible accomplishments and goals for each level.


The following action was taken:


It was moved by Trustee Mitchell, seconded by Trustee Popp, that Northern Michigan University establish a Student Sustainability Educator (Eco-Rep) Program on a one-year trial basis with the University funding $20,000/semester the first year as it begins to determine whether or not this is sustainable in the future. 


Discussion followed:


Trustee Mitchell said a $5 opt-out fee is terrific.  He said he has a son that is a millennial and he understands how important sustainability is and that this sounds like a good program to establish.


Chair Mahaney asked the administration what the process would be to turn this into an ongoing student fee.  Mr. Leach said it would be calculated out to see what dollar amount would be necessary for the University to achieve the needs of the plan and a formal recommendation would be brought to the Board for approval.  Chair Mahaney then asked if the students ultimately voted on the fee.  Trustee Popp said we should take a step to understand what we are trying to accomplish – what are the tangibles of this fund.  Mr. Tristan Ruiz, outgoing ASNMU President, clarified the question about the $5 opt-out green fund fee – the fee was on the ASNMU 2018 referendum ballot and the students did vote in favor of the opt-out fee.  Trustee Popp asked what percentage of the student body voted.  Mr. Ruiz said there were 912 votes; of those voting, 76% voted in favor of the opt-out green fund fee.  Trustee Popp said the evidence is there that the students are going to do something and, as previously stated, it aligns with the mission and vision of the University and these are the types of initiatives we want to see on our campus.


President Erickson said he believes this is the right way to step into this because there is a process that needs to be determined to build it out correctly.  The idea of the University funding this on a one-year experimental basis gives us time to look at this and see how it all fits together.


Chair Mahaney asked the students how much money was saved when they did the Turn Down the Lights day on campus this past semester.  They explained they worked with Ms. Kathy Richards who is on the Sustainability Advisory Council.  They turned down the corridor lights in most of the academic buildings and saved approximately 5,600 kwh, which is $700 over five days, and equates to approximately $36,000 annually if this were to be done every day.  Chair Mahaney said their initiative made NMU look fiscally smart and they are providing economic justification for this program – he commended them for their efforts.


Being no further discussion, Chair Mahaney called the question and the following action was taken:


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



Chair Mahaney said recognizing outstanding success and service is one of the best things about being the Board Chair.  He recognized the following individuals:


Ms. Rachel Helm – Ms. Helm was unable to attend as she is traveling home to Newcastle, England.  Chair Mahaney asked her coaches, Ms. Heidi Voight and Mr. Matt Williams, to join him on her behalf.  Rachel is a sophomore and a member of the swimming and diving team.  She won the national title when she finished first in the 200-yard backstroke at this year’s NCAA Division II Championships.  He said what makes this really impressive is that she is a two-time champion, as she won the 100-yard backstroke at last year’s championships.  At this year’s national meet, she was also named an All-American in three events and earned Honorary All-American status in two others.  She is also the GLIAC Women’s Swimmer of the Year after winning four individual titles at the league meet.  Chair Mahaney congratulated Rachel, coaches Voight and Williams, as well as the entire men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams.


Chair Mahaney also recognized the coach’s accomplishments – Coach Voight has 41 All- Americans and 37 Honorary All-Americans in her time at Northern.  He congratulated them on what they have done for the team, for the program, and for representing Northern Michigan University across the nation in their sport.


Mr. Ian Torchia – Chair Mahaney asked Mr. Torchia, coach Sten Fjeldheim, and Assistant Coach Andy Keller to join him.  Mr. Torchia is a junior from Rochester, MN.  He not only won a national championship at the NCAA Championship in Steamboat Springs in the 20-k freestyle race, he was also named the men’s Nordic Skier of the Year by the U.S. Collegiate Ski Coaches Association.  Mr. Torchia also earned first-team All-American honors with a 5th place win in the 10-k.  He was also a member of Team USA that competed at the Under-23 World Championships in Switzerland, and the winner of the Central Collegiate Ski Association’s 10-k Classic and the NCAA Central Regional 20-k freestyle.  Chair Mahaney congratulated Ian on his all-around outstanding year and success.


Chair Mahaney also recognized Coach Sten Fjeldheim’s accomplishments – Ian was Coach Fjeldheim’s 7th NCAA champion, he has coached 40 All-American’s during his time at NMU, and his skiers have received 97 All-American awards.


NMU Police Department Officers – Jeff Stampee, Jason Swanson, and Zane Weaver; City of Marquette Officers – James Britton and Ben Takala; Marquette County Central Dispatch Officers – John Devold, Cheryl Grove, and Andrew VanOosterhout; and three Good Samaritans – Michelle and Gene Gransinger and Terry Flynn.  Chair Mahaney invited those present to join him.  Chair Mahaney reported that these three citizens heroically came to the aid of Mr. Steven Ritola when he suffered a heart attack along Wright Street on March 2, 2018, by calling 911 and administering CPR.  The officers arrived on scene and took over rescue efforts with a defibrillator.  Because of these heroic efforts, Mr. Ritola survived his heart attack.  On March 26, 2018, the Marquette City Commission awarded members of the group Lifesaving Awards.  Chair Mahaney thanked them for their service to Northern Michigan University and the greater Marquette Community.



Vice President Gavin Leach provided a report on Northern Michigan University’s Strategic Plan: Investment and Innovation, changes being recognized nationally, transformational innovation and investment in academic and student programs and facilities, NMU affordability and costs, and FY2018-19 recommended tuition and fee rates.  (Addendum #1)


Mr. Leach said that as we look forward to next year and continue down the road of our strategic plan and making the necessary investments to drive Northern into the future, the administration is recommending that it maintain a tuition increase that stays within the tuition restraint language of the State at $245 increase per semester, which is the hard dollar cap put in place by the State in the current bills.  He said the administration is also asking to be given the authority to adjust tuition and fees to remain in compliance with tuition restraint language should any changes occur in the final higher education bill.  He said this supports the University’s Strategic Plan and investments in the future, will allow the university to continue investments in initiatives, transformational innovation, help adapt to inflationary costs, and will also help address the issue of increased State mandated costs such as MPSERS.  The administration is also recommending the same dollar adjustment in the non-resident undergraduate rate, graduate, and extension rates.


The following action was taken:


It was moved by Trustee Haveman and seconded by Trustee Hart that Northern Michigan University increase tuition and fees for fiscal year 2018 – 2019 as follows:


·       That the University remain in compliance with tuition restraint language and increase the resident undergraduate rate by $245 per semester and to authorize the administration to adjust tuition and fees to remain in compliance with tuition restraint language should the language change in the final fiscal year 2018 – 19 higher education appropriation bill


·       Increase non-resident undergraduate tuition and fees by $245 per semester


·       Increase graduate tuition by $24 per credit hour


·       Increase extension/online undergraduate lower and upper division tuition and fees by $19 per credit hour and graduate tuition and fees by $24 per credit hour


Discussion followed:


Vice Chair Mitchell said this is the sixth time he has voted on a tuition increase.  He said he knows it has an impact on the students, however, if you look at the Consumer Price Index (CPI), the cost of living is going up 9.6% while NMU is holding its costs at 2.4%.  He said we are being good stewards to the State of Michigan’s money and the money that students and their parents provide.  Vice Chair Mitchell said he believes Vice President Leach, President Erickson, and the administration is doing a wonderful job in operating this fiscally conservative university which is why he enthusiastically supports this motion.


Chair Mahaney said he echoes Vice Chair Mitchell’s comments especially in regard to the strong stewardship under President Erickson and Vice President Leach.  He said this university controls its costs and should be commended for that.  He said none of the Trustees wish to raise student’s fees in any way, shape or form; however, this increase does ensure Northern will maintain its position as an affordable institution and allow it to continue to aggressively invest in these innovative new programs that were outlined in Vice President Leach’s report and that many of the students have benefitted from.  He said he supports this motion.


Being no further discussion, Chair Mahaney called the question and the following action was taken:


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



Provost and Vice President Schuiling announced that Ms. Alexandra (Alex) Camarillo-Lugo, a Criminal Justice major, from Lake Forest, California, will represent the graduating class of spring 2018 at Commencement ceremonies tomorrow, Saturday, May 5, 2018.  On behalf of the Board, Chair Mahaney congratulated Ms. Camarillo-Lugo and presented her with a plaque.  A photo was taken with Ms. Camarillo-Lugo, Chair Mahaney, and President Erickson.



President Erickson announced that the Honorable Rick Snyder, Governor of the great State of Michigan, will be the Spring 2018 Commencement Speaker.


Chair Mahaney asked if any of the Trustees had any comments regarding the Commencement speakers.


Trustee Haveman said that at the end of last year, he submitted a document to the Trustees outlining Governor Snyder’s leadership, the economy, U.P. energy, what he’s done for Northern, the FROST program, the educational funding, road funding, Healthy Michigan Program which insures over 25,000 people in the U.P., and public safety.  He asked that this document to be part of the minutes.


Chair Mahaney said this is a good idea and asked for a motion.  The following action was taken:


It was moved by Trustee Popp, seconded by Vice Chair Mitchell, and supported unanimously by the full Board to append Trustee Haveman’s comments document he provided the Trustees in December 2017 regarding Governor Snyder’s leadership to these minutes. (Addendum #2)


Vice Chair Mitchell said Chair Mahaney made a statement about the 1st Amendment being alive and well at Northern Michigan University.  He thinks it is terrific NMU can have a diversity of speakers on this campus; the speaker program NMU had to discuss the fact that there is a need for the diversity of opinion is very important.  He said he understands some people may be protesting tomorrow and hopes they will be reasonable protests, done in a polite way consistent with what Northern Michigan University is about.



Mr. Tristan Ruiz, outgoing President of the Associated Students of Northern Michigan University (ASNMU), presented on the elections that were recently held for ASNMU:

·       Mr. Ruiz chaired the Election Committee

·       Goal was to increase voter turnout

o   912 students voted, almost twice as many as the previous year

o   Executive Board positions were contested

·       Referendum for a 50-cent Student Activity Fee increase per student per semester to The NorthWind passed

·       Referendum question regarding a proposed Green Fund $5 opt-out fee passed


Mr. Ruiz introduced Mr. Cody Mayer, the new ASNMU President.  Mr. Mayer reported the following:

·       NMU Food Pantry – 119 unique individuals came to the Food Pantry, for a total of 341 visits

·       ASNMU Career Closet – Partnered with local businesses in the community, such as St. Vincent de Paul and the Salvation Army, and NMU faculty and staff to restock the Career Closet.  The response was so high that an additional or larger room is needed.

·       ASNMU Mobile App – Teamed up with the IT department to update the outdated mobile app.  Surveyed students to see what features they would like to see on the app.

·       Rebranding – have been working hard this year at rebranding ASNMU

·       Bike Share Program – purchased 4 bikes – there is now a total of 16 – and purchased 6 new locks and 16 front and back lights for the bikes.

·       Cat Cleats – purchased large volume to be distributed to students to use for ice climbing, etc.

·       Working with others boards on TYE Empowering the Confident Initiative.  A survey was sent to the student body to receive feedback on how or if any student had been a victim or confidante.  Additional work will be done throughout the upcoming academic year.

·       Green Fund – high student support for this with 76% of the voters voting for this initiative.  Mr. Mayer thanked the Trustees for funding this initiative for the first year.  He also requested that for future purposes the student $5 opt-out fee be put to a vote.

·       NorthWind referendum – 50 cent increase to the Student Activity Fee was passed.  He urged the Board to approve this increase.


Mr. Ruiz and Mr. Mayer answered questions from the Trustees.


Trustee Popp acknowledged Mr. Ruiz for the work he has accomplished during his tenure as ASNMU president.


Chair Mahaney congratulated Mr. Ruiz on his success and presented him with a gift on behalf of the Board of Trustees.  A photo was taken.


Trustee Hart welcomed Mr. Mayer as the new ASNMU President.



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


President Erickson answered questions from the Trustees.




Academic Affairs

Trustee Seavoy, Chair of the Academic Affairs Committee, reported on a meeting held Thursday, May 3, 2018.  A copy of the report is appended to these minutes.  (Addendum #4)



Trustee Haveman, Chair of the Finance Committee, reported on a meeting held Thursday, May 3, 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 February 27, March 8, March 23, April 4, April 12, and April 25, 2018.  A copy of the reports are appended to these minutes.  (Addendum #s 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11)


Based on a recommendation from the Ad hoc Policy Review Committee, the Board took the following action:


It was moved by Trustee Haveman and seconded by Trustee Seavoy, that the Board adopt the Minors on Campus Policy. (Addendum #12)


Discussion followed:


Trustee Mitchell said the committee did a terrific job on this task.  He thanked Trustees Hart, Haveman, and Seavoy for the amount of work they did, as well as President Erickson and the NMU staff members who also worked so diligently on this policy.  He said this work is important and he is happy that NMU is at the forefront of taking a lead on this.


Trustee Hart said she is extremely impressed at the commitment and passion around NMU leaving no stone unturned to ensure the correct safety measures are on campus.  She thanked the following NMU individuals who worked on this policy:  Mr. Mike Bath, Ms. Mary Brundage, Ms. Jill Compton, Ms. Rhea Dever, Dr. Chris Greer, Dr. Dale Kapla, Mr. Jeff Korpi, Ms. Janet Koski, Mr. Jeff Mincheff, and Mr. Andrew Zerbel.


Chair Mahaney said we are very fortunate at NMU to have three Trustees who each bring specific levels of invaluable expertise in this area to this process and thanked Trustee Hart for an excellent job in leading this committee.


Being no further discussion, Chair Mahaney called the question and the following action was taken:


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



Trustee Mahaney, Chair of the Executive Committee, reported on meetings held via conference call on March 14 and April 2, 2018 and in person on May 3, 2018.  A copy of the reports are appended to these minutes.  (Addendum #s 13, 14, and 15)



Trustee Seavoy asked that before a vote was taken on the Formal Recommendations, she would like to request item D.10, “Music, Natural Sciences, and Technology and Occupational Sciences course fee increase of $1 per semester,” be removed from the Formal Recommendations.


The following action was taken:


            It was moved by Trustee Seavoy, seconded by Trustee Fittante, and supported unanimously by the full Board, to remove item D.10 from the Formal Recommendations.


            It was moved by Trustee Seavoy, seconded by Trustee Fittante, and supported unanimously by the full Board, to approve the Formal Recommendations as amended.  (Addendum #16)


            It was moved by Trustee Seavoy, seconded by Trustee Fittante, and supported unanimously by the full Board, to approve a Music, Natural Sciences, and Technology and Occupational Sciences course fee increase of $1 per credit hour.



President Erickson made this announcement for the public record.




Chair Mahaney adjourned the meeting at 10:26 a.m.



Respectfully submitted,




Cathy A. Niemi

Secretary of the Board of Trustees