Minutes of the Formal Session


Thursday, July 18, 2019


A formal session of the Board of Trustees of Northern Michigan University was held on Thursday, July 18, 2019 in Cohodas Hall of Northern Michigan University, Marquette, Michigan.  The meeting was convened at 8:33 a.m. in the Board Room, 602 Cohodas Hall, by Chair Robert E. Mahaney.


Trustees present:


Mr. Robert E. Mahaney, Chair

Ms. Tami M. Seavoy

Ms. Lisa I. Fittante

Ms. Bridget N. Summers

Mr. James K. Haveman

Mr. Stephen E. Young

Mr. Steven M. Mitchell, Vice Chair

Dr. Fritz J Erickson, ex officio




Trustees absent:

      Ms. Alexis M. Hart


Senior Staff and Counsel present:

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

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

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

Mr. Kurt McCamman, Legal Counsel


Senior Staff absent:

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




Secretary Andrew took roll call and noted Trustee Alexis Hart is absent but a quorum is present.



The following action was taken:


It was moved by Trustee Seavoy, seconded by Trustee Haveman, and approved unanimously (7 – 0) to approve the agenda as presented.



Associate Professor Mark Matteson addressed the Board of Trustees regarding the Aviation Maintenance Technology (AMT) program.  (Addendum #1)


Chair Mahaney thanked Mr. Matteson for his comments, noting that a lot of work has gone into the multi-year SRA process, the decisions that are emanating from this process are being carefully vetted, and the Board is very actively engaged in those decisions.  Chair Mahaney stated he appreciates Mr. Matteson’s comments.


FOCUS DISCUSSION – Tuition and Fees

Chair Mahaney noted the discussion on tuition and fees will be incorporated in the Finance Committee report as discussion was held at length at the Committee’s public meeting yesterday, Wednesday, July 17.





Trustee Haveman, Chair of the Finance Committee, reported on a meeting held June 18, 2019 and July 17, 2019.  A copy of the reports is appended to these minutes.  (Addendums #2 and #3).


The Board took the following action:


It was moved by Trustee Fittante, seconded by Trustee Summers, that the Board approve the following tuition rate adjustments for Fiscal Year 2019-2020:


a)     Increase the resident undergraduate rate by $270 per semester, which is in compliance with the proposed state tuition restraint language.  (And authorize the administration to adjust tuition and fees to remain in compliance with tuition restraint language should it change in the final fiscal year 2019-2020 higher education appropriations bill.)


b)    Increase non-resident undergraduate tuition and fees by $270 per semester.

Discussion followed:


Chair Mahaney noted the following:

·       A lot work and analysis went into the tuition and fees rate adjustment.

·       On a percentage basis the increase might appear high; it’s important to keep in mind the University has the second lowest tuition in the State, over $2,300 below the State public universities median tuition rate.

·       Because of its significantly lower cost, NMU is always playing catch-up in absolute dollars with the other Michigan public universities.

·       Our decision on tuition setting is driven by how we are going to invest these dollars.  Over the past year, NMU has invested $6.5 million in new academic programs, facilities and equipment to support those programs.  Those new programs have been successful and are driving the growth of the university.

·       NMU’s tuition and room and board costs overall continue to remain competitive, as evidenced by our success in recruiting new students, noting the 20% plus freshman enrollment increase over the past two years.

·       With thanks to the hard work of a lot of people at the university, we’ve been able to limit our overall blended rate of tuition and room and board increases to 2.9%, for the upcoming year, which is among the lowest increases in the State.

·       He thanked Finance Committee and administration for the hard work that was put forward on the increase and said that the Board came away very comfortable with the increase and feels it’s the best thing for the university.


Trustee Mitchell noted the following:

·       This is the seventh time he has voted on a tuition increase and has done so unapologetically because this university is very good at taking care of the dollars the State gives, and, more importantly, the dollars given by the parents and students that attend NMU.

·       NMU provides a very high quality education and continues to be the second lowest tuition in the State

·       The increase percentage-wise gives NMU $500 compared to $700 at MTU because their base tuition is higher

·       This is a tremendous institution and we cannot provide the education we provide the students without having to do these tuition increases

·       The administration has been tremendous stewards of the University’s monies


Trustee Haveman noted the following:

·       The administration and Board looked very hard at the numbers, compared various scenarios, and looked at what was best for the future growth and continued investment in scholarships; included in the budget is $1million for scholarships.

·       The Committee felt this was the best recommendation, a solid recommendation, and the Committee is pleased to make this recommendation to the full Board.

·       The Michigan legislature has yet to finalize a budget, so the Committee and Board have to go with what is available and took the most conservative solution.


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


            The motion passed unanimously (7 – 0).



Trustee Mahaney, Chair of the Executive Committee, reported on a meeting held via conference call Tuesday, June 11, 2019 and a meeting held in person Wednesday, July 17, 2019.  A copy of the reports is appended to these minutes.  (Addendums #4 and #5)


The Board took the following action:


It was moved by Trustee Seavoy, seconded by Trustee Summers, and supported unanimously (7-0) to establish a standing committee for Extended Learning and Community Engagement (ELCE) with the Vice Chair serving as the Chair of the Committee.


Chair Mahaney noted in his report the Executive Committee was informed Northern is establishing an academic partnership with Shimadzu Scientific Instruments Inc., which includes an $851,000 in-kind donation to equip a new chemistry laboratory, as well as a framework for research collaborations and internships opportunities for students.  The new lab, located in West Science and featuring cutting-edge analytical core laboratory equipment, will open this fall.  As part of the agreement, Northern will be a participating institution in the Shimadzu Partnership for Academics, Research, and Quality of Life (or SPARQ) Program.  The new laboratory will benefit students in several of Northern's science programs, but will particularly help to advance the medicinal plant chemistry program.  A dedication ceremony for the new laboratory is being planned for early fall.



The following action was taken:


It was moved by Trustee Haveman, seconded by Trustee Summers, and supported unanimously (7 – 0), to approve the Formal Recommendations. (Addendum #6)



Chair Mahaney called Trustee Emeritus Scott Holman to come forward.  He noted the following:

·       Trustee Emeritus Holman has been a tremendous supporter of NMU with his time, talents, and stewardship, some of which are:

§  he served on the Board 13 years, twice as Board Chair

§  the exciting work that is happening at Granite Island for NMU students, which also includes NASA

§  years ago Mr. Holman donated funds to establish the Scott L. Holman Alumni Suite in the University Center (now known as the Northern Center)


Chair Mahaney said with the improvements and renovations to the Norther Center, a new and improved conference room is being established which will be used by incoming executives and this Board for future meetings.  Given all that Mr. Holman has given to the University, as a way to thank him for his stewardship, this new room will be named the “Scott L. Holman Executive Conference Room.”


The following action was taken:


It was moved by Trustee Mitchell, seconded by Trustee Fittante, that the Alumni Suite be renamed the “Scott L. Holman Executive Conference Room.”


Discussion followed:


Trustee Mitchell noted the following:

·       He and Mr. Holman go back 58 years

·       Mr. Holman has done a yeoman job and has been an outstanding member and Chair of this Board

·       It’s difficult to find anyone who has done more both with his involvement in the Alumni Association, his time on this Board, the amount of money and time he has contribution to the university – there are very few people who have done as much for Northern Michigan University as Mr. Holman.


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


            The motion passed unanimously (7 – 0).



Chair Mahaney noted that with the creation of the ELCE Committee, Committee members need to be appointed.  He is recommending Trustee Alexis Hart and Trustee Bridget Summers be appointed.  The following action was taken:


It was moved by Trustee Seavoy, seconded by Trustee Haveman, and supported unanimously (7 – 0), to appoint Trustees Alexis Hart and Bridget Summers to the Extended Learning and Community Engagement (ELCE) Committee.



Chair Mahaney opened the floor to the Trustees for Good of the Order comments.


Trustee Seavoy said it’s always difficult to ask students to pay more for tuition and this is an important decision for the Board to make.  Our State is not supporting education with the dollars that are needed for us to deliver a quality education so we have no other choice but to increase tuition.


Trustee Mitchell made the following comments:

·       Noted Dean Leslie Warren was going to be biking across the state of Iowa next week.  Dean Warren stood and was recognized, noting the NMU jersey designed by Mr. Derek Hall for use during her ride.

·       His wife met a parent whose child has a slight disability and was at NMU for orientation.  She was concerned about him being so far away from home but after being here for orientation, she has no concerns because of how welcoming everyone was and how wonderful the orientation process was.  This a real tribute to everyone.


Trustee Haveman made the following comments:

·       He arrived early on campus this week and had a chance to walk around the campus.  He complimented the administration, maintenance, and grounds staff on how well the University looks. 

·       It’s been fun to see the different decisions that have been made during his 3-1/2 years on the Board for facilities, improvements, and enhancements.  It’s all about the students and their convenience and the comfortableness of this campus is truly impressive.

·       Parents he’s spoken to mention the welcoming spirit and how comfortable and secure the campus is.


Chair Mahaney made the following comments:

·       NMU has invested $172 million in this campus over the past five years.  It’s not just facilities, it’s what you do in those facilities.  What we’re doing in those facilities is very exciting. 

·       He encourages everyone to take a stroll through The Woods when the students return to campus to see the energy and excitement, as well as the learning that is happening in the residence halls with the tutoring centers, etc.

·       The new programming currently underway is equally exciting.

·       The Shimadzu donation, medicinal plant chemistry, FROST, a number of other new programs – these are cutting edge, best in class, best in the nation, that is providing a lot of exposure for NMU

·       He is excited to see what we do next, where we go from here – NMU is poised for great things.


Trustee Young made the following comments:

·       He thanked the Finance Committee for the work they did on the tuition proposals.  This was his first time voting on a tuition increase and he was appreciative of the information provided, the openness of the discussion.  These are not easy decisions, but are necessary ones.

·       He was appointed to replace Trustee Emeritus Scott Holman and noted the big shoes he has to fill.  He thanked Mr. Holman for everything he has done for NMU.



Chair Mahaney adjourned the meeting at 9:06 a.m.


Respectfully submitted,



Cathy A. Andrew

Secretary of the Board of Trustees