Minutes of the Formal Session


Friday, September 20, 2019


A formal session of the Board of Trustees of Northern Michigan University was held on Friday, September 20, 2019 in the Northern Center of Northern Michigan University, Marquette, Michigan.  The meeting was convened at 10:06 a.m. in the Scott L. Holman Executive Conference Room, by Chair Robert E. Mahaney.


Trustees present included:

Mr. Robert E. Mahaney, Chair

Mr. Steven M. Mitchell, Vice Chair

Ms. Lisa I. Fittante

Ms. Tami M. Seavoy

Ms. Alexis M. Hart

Ms. Bridget N. Summers

Mr. James K. Haveman

Mr. Stephen E. Young


Dr. Fritz J Erickson, ex officio


Senior Staff and Counsel present included:

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. Andrew, Secretary of the Board of Trustees

Mr. Kurt McCamman, Legal Counsel     


Senior Staff absent included:

Mr. Brad Canale, Chief Executive Officer – NMU Foundation



Chairman Mahaney welcomed everyone to the Scott L. Holman Executive Conference Room in the Northern Center.



Secretary Andrew took roll call of the Trustees and noted that a quorum was met with all Trustees being present.



The following action was taken:


It was moved by Trustee Young, seconded by Trustee Seavoy, and approved unanimously (8-0) to approve the agenda as presented.




Provost and Vice President Schuiling read the following memorial:

·       Mr. Dillon Belden, a sophomore majoring in Finance and Risk Management, who died on July 18, 2019.  In recognition of his academic achievements, Mr. Belden is being granted a posthumous associate of applied science degree.



Mr. James Gallant, representing the Marquette Suicide Prevention Coalition, requested and received an additional two minutes (for a total of five minutes) to address the Board of Trustees on topics related to suicide prevention, mental health services provided by the Marquette community, and assessing the need for legal services for individuals with mental health issues.  He asked that the University integrate the family court into the available services through the NMU counseling center to provide legal services and to approve a resolution that states that “no mental health assessments will be administered under its jurisdiction unless it’s approved as to content and form by your legal counsel,” and to refer the resolution to the Governor and ask for attorney general opinion.


Chair Mahaney thanked Mr. Gallant for his comments and said the Trustees would take his request under advisement.



Dr. Russell Magnaghi, University Historian, was unable to attend the meeting in person.  Chair Mahaney introduced a video provided by Dr. Magnaghi, on a Moment in NMU’s History.  (Addendum #1)



Mr. Cody Mayer, President – ASNMU reported on the following:

·       Wildcat Wallet Program – a collaboration with local, small businesses.  Promotes local businesses that offer discounts to students – currently have 20 small businesses partnering with ASNMU.

·       1UP Conference – November 2, 2019 – ASNMU hosting LSSU and MTU student governments.

·       Student Association of Michigan possible trip to Lansing on October 2, 2019.

·       EcoReps Update (Addendum #2)

o   Bike Share Program – EcoReps will be taking over that program for ASNMU

o   Green Fund $5 opt out fee – passed the student referenda in April 2018.  Discussion followed regarding the Green Fund Fee.

·       Indigenous Peoples Day – Mr. Mayer provided further background on the day the students selected to recognize this day on campus (second Monday in October) … this date was selected by the International Conference on Discrimination Against Indigenous Populations in Americas which was sponsored by the United Nations in Geneva.  Mr. Meyer formally asked the Board of Trustees to vote and recognize the second Monday of October as Indigenous Peoples Day on all current and future academic calendars.  He said that 80% of the students who voted in April 2019 voted in favor of the proposal.  Following full and frank discussion, Chair Mahaney suggested creating a committee comprised of one or two members of the Board of Trustees, members of ASNMU, and the administration to sit down and work through the available options to have an Indigenous Peoples Day on campus.


The following action was taken:


It was moved by Trustee Young, seconded by Trustee Hart, and approved unanimously (8 – 0) to form a committee comprised of one or two members of the Board of Trustees, members of ASNMU, and the NMU administration to form a committee to work through the available options to have an Indigenous Peoples Day on campus.


Trustees Mahaney and Seavoy volunteered to serve on the Committee.


Trustee Mahaney said he has had the opportunity to work with Mr. Mayer and he is representing the student body very well with many important and relevant issues.  He thanked him and said he appreciates the respectful, constructive dialogue they have had to find solutions and common ground on the issues.



President Erickson reported on university accomplishments since the July 2019 meeting.  His report is appended to these minutes.  (Addendum #3)




Academic Affairs

Trustee Seavoy, Chair of the Academic Affairs Committee, reported on a meeting held Friday, September 20, 2019.  A copy of the report is appended to these minutes.  (Addendum #4)


Extended Learning and Community Engagement (ELCE)

Vice Chair Mitchell, Chair of the ELCE Committee, reported on a meeting held Friday, September 20, 2019.  A copy of the report is appended to these minutes.  (Addendum #5)



Trustee Haveman, Chair of the Finance Committee, reported on a meeting held Friday, September 20, 2019.  A copy of the report is appended to these minutes.  (Addendum #6).


Trustee Summers left the meeting at this point.



The following action was taken:


It was moved by Trustee Haveman, seconded by Trustee Seavoy, and supported by a vote of 7 – 0, to approve the Formal Recommendations.  (Addendum #7)


Trustee Summers returned to the meeting at this point.



Chair Mahaney noted that there were two elements of the President’s contract that need to be addressed.  The first regarding salary and performance bonus.  In accordance with the terms of the contract, the Board is obligated to annually review the President’s salary and consider a performance-based bonus.  In preparation for this, Chair Mahaney and Vice Chair Mitchell conducted a performance review of President Erickson’s body of work over the past year.  He said he is pleased to share that President Erickson received very high marks for the accomplishments for not only the past year, but over the course of his 5+ years at Northern.  After consultation with President Erickson and the Trustees, Chair Mahaney recommended that President Erickson receive a 2% increase in his base salary for the current fiscal year and a $38,500 performance bonus.


The following action was taken:


It was moved by Trustee Mitchell, seconded by Trustee Young, that President Erickson receive a 2% increase in his base salary and a $38,500 performance bonus.


Discussion followed:


Trustee Seavoy said President Erickson has done a wonderful job.  The transformation seen across the campus is spectacular and she is excited to see the enrollment going up.


Trustee Fittante said you can feel and see the energy and excitement across campus.


Trustee Hart said the enrollment numbers are reflected in the changes across campus, especially during a time that is critical with only two universities in Michigan that have seen enrollment increases.


Trustee Young said he appreciates all that President Erickson has done.  During his short time on the Board he has seen a lot of changes and appreciates all of President Erickson’s accomplishments.


Chair Mahaney said the job of a university President today is perhaps tougher than any other time in the history of American higher education.  He feels NMU is fortunate the results the university is seeing are not a result of a happy accident but of hard work, skillful work, vision, and execution, along with assembling a great team.  As Trustee Hart mentioned, NMU is one of only two universities in the State to have an enrollment increase.


Trustee Mitchell said this is well-deserved because the university is doing so well.


Being no further discussion, Chair Mahaney called for the vote:


            The motion was approved unanimously (8-0).


Chair Mahaney said the second area of the President’s contract to be addressed is the formula for determining the amount of long-term disability and term life insurance policies.  The formula makes them very costly, in large part due to being tied to the President’s base salary, which can change each year.  Chair Mahaney reported President Erickson has agreed to a solution that will cap these policies at a fixed amount throughout the term of his contract, thereby saving the university significant dollars.  Specifically, his long-term disability benefit would be capped at $385,000 and his term life insurance policy benefit would be set at $1.5 million, which is significantly below his current benefit amount.


The following action was taken:


It was moved by Trustee Summers, seconded by Trustee Haveman, and supported unanimously (8 – 0) to amend the policies for the President’s long-term disability benefit be capped at $385,000 and term life insurance policy be set at $1.5 million.



President Erickson made this announcement for the public record.



Chair Mahaney called Trustee Summers to join him at the podium.  He shared that Trustee Summers and her family have made the decision to move out of State.  He said this is a loss to the Board and the University.  He has been impressed by her insight and knowledge during her tenure on the Board.  He presented Trustee Summers with a wildcat statue on behalf of the Board of Trustees.


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


Trustee Seavoy touched on the following:

·       She is very excited about what the Board heard and saw from the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance at the Academic Affairs Committee meeting earlier in the morning.

·       She is going to miss Trustee Summers and will be keeping in touch.


Trustee Fittante touched on the following:

·       She will miss Trustee Summers and plans to keep in touch.

·       She likes what’s going on around the campus with the buildings – the Scott L. Holman Executive Conference Room, the Northern Center, the Wildcat Den/Pub, etc.


Trustee Hart touched on the following:

·       She said the momentum of what is happening around campus is coming to fruition – the new board room, the Northern Center – the excitement around it

·       She is sad to see Trustee Summers leave and enjoyed working with her.

·       She thanked everyone who works so hard to make Northern great.


Trustee Haveman commented on the following:

·       He thanked Trustees Summers for her time on the Board.

·       As Chair of the Finance Committee he has worked closely with Vice President Leach and his staff and thanked them for the wonderful job they do.

·       He thanked Provost and Vice President Schuiling for her work on the rural health issues and what the University can do for the Upper Peninsula in rural health.


Trustee Summers made the following comments:

·       She said it was an honor and privilege to work with everyone and serve on the Board and serve this University.

·       She has never seen so much commitment and heart and bravery going in to what the Board and university do.

·       She is excited about everything that is happening with rural health, NMU’s investment in the community, the innovation institute, and extended learning – she will be following it very closely.


Trustee Young made the following comments:

·       He will miss working with Trustee Summers and wishes her and her family the best.

·       The changes on campus since his time here as a student, are astounding.  He thanked President Erickson and his team for leading the charge.


Trustee Mitchell

·       He said to see the changes on campus now since he was a student so many years ago is fabulous; to see the enthusiasm and commitment from the staff, the President, the Vice Presidents, and everyone on campus is terrific – he believes it will only get better.

·       He announced that Provost and Vice President Schuiling has been awarded one of the Outstanding Women in Educational Leadership in Craine’s Detroit magazine.  This a great honor for the hard work she does as the Provost

·       He thanked Trustee Summers for her time and said she was an asset to the Board.  Whether at informal gatherings, formal meetings, or when we were all in our gowns and mortarboards at graduation, he enjoyed working with her during her tenure.


Chair Mahaney stated the following:

·       He thanked Ms. Gerri Daniels and Dr. Lisa Eckert and the team that worked on enrollment this year.  We have had on overall enrollment increase and sustained freshman enrollment – this is a result of some very hard work.

·       He thanked Provost and Vice President Schuiling and Vice President VandenAvond on the innovation institute and is excited to see where it goes.

·       He thanked Ms. Hemmila and Ms. Andrew for their work in organizing the meeting and keeping it running smoothly.

·       He thanked the facilities staff for getting the rooms in the building completed – a lot of hard work and extra time went into ensuring the Northern Center would be up and running.

·       He said the community has mentioned to him on several occasions, as well as seeing it first-hand, how the faculty have gone out of their way to help a student – going above and beyond – they also deserve credit for the enrollment increase.



Chair Mahaney adjourned the meeting at 11:12 a.m.




Respectfully submitted,



Cathy A. Andrew

Secretary of the Board of Trustees