Minutes of the Formal Session


Friday, December 16, 2022


A formal session of the Board of Trustees of Northern Michigan University was held on Friday, December 16, 2022, in the Scott L. Holman Executive Conference Room, Northern Center, Northern Michigan University, Marquette, Michigan.  The meeting was convened at 10:00 a.m., by Chair Stephen E. Young.


Trustees present included:

Mr. Stephen E. Young, Chair

Mr. Jason T. Morgan

Ms. Lisa I. Fittante

Ms. Tami M. Seavoy

Ms. Alexis M. Hart, Vice Chair

Mr. Gregory J. Seppanen

Ms. Melissa A. Holmquist

Dr. Kerri D. Schuiling, ex officio

Mr. Robert E. Mahaney



Senior Staff and Counsel present included:

Mr. Brad Canale, Chief Executive Officer – NMU Foundation

Dr. Dale Kapla, Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

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

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

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

Mr. Kurt McCamman, Legal Counsel

Mr. Carrick Craig, Legal Counsel

Ms. Ashley Higginson, Legal Counsel


The meeting was live-streamed on YouTube at:



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



Chair Young introduced President-Elect Tessman noting that he will be starting his tenure as NMU’s 17th President on February 1, 2023.


President-elect Tessman thanked Chair Young and said he is looking forward to coming back in February for his formal start at Northern Michigan University.



The following action was taken:


It was moved by Trustee Hart, seconded by Trustee Seppanen, to amend the agenda to add the following item:  Presidential Compensation.


Discussion followed:


Trustee Seppanen asked where this item would be placed within the agenda.  Secretary Andrew noted it would follow Item 13, “President-elect Tessman Contract Approval.”


Being no further discussion, Chair Young called the question.


The motion was supported unanimously by a vote of 8 – 0.


The following action was taken:


It was moved by Trustee Hart, seconded by Trustee Seavoy, and supported by a vote of 8 – 0, to approve the agenda as amended.



Interim Provost Kapla read a memorial for Mr. Virgil Mongozid, a freshman majoring in Automotive Maintenance, who died on September 25, 2022.  A moment of silence was held in his honor.



Ms. Laura Whipple addressed the Board regarding current issues facing the NMU graduate student population and some solutions graduate students are currently working on.


Dr. Rick Mengyan, President – AAUP, addressed the Board regarding faculty/administration relations and staffing as it relates to retention and enrollment.


Chair Young thanked the speakers for their comments.



Interim Provost Kapla introduced Mr. Jeffrey W. Ferrington, a Global Campus student, majoring in Applied Workplace Leadership, with a minor in Business Administration, from Shelby Township, Michigan, who will represent the graduating class of fall 2022 at Commencement ceremonies tomorrow, Saturday, December 17, 2022.  Chair Young congratulated Mr. Ferrington and presented him with a plaque.  A photo was taken.



President Schuiling announced Dr. Diana Lafferty, Assistant Professor of wildlife ecology, Biology Department, was selected by the students as the Student Choice Award Recipient and December 2022 Commencement Speaker. 



Ms. Zora Binert, President – ASNMU, provided a report on the semester accomplishments. (Addendum #1)



President Schuiling reported on university accomplishments since the last meeting.  Her report is appended to these minutes.  (Addendum #2)




Academic Affairs

Trustee Fittante, Chair of the Academic Affairs Committee, reported on a meeting held earlier today, December 16, 2022.  A copy of the report is appended to these minutes.  (Addendum #3)


Finance Committee

Trustee Mahaney, Chair of the Finance Committee, reported on a meeting held Thursday, December 15, 2022.  A copy of the report is appended to these minutes.  (Addendum #4)



The following action was taken:


It was moved by Trustee Seavoy, seconded by Trustee Morgan, that the NMU Board of Trustees approve the following policy:  Title IX Compliance and Sexual Misconduct Prevention, which includes:


·       All Board members shall be trained in Title IX compliance and sexual misconduct prevention at least every other year they serve as Board members.

·       The University will comply with all state and federal Title IX compliance obligations, including investigating and addressing incidents, reporting Title IX matters, and providing training as required by law.


Discussion followed:


Trustee Seavoy said the Ad hoc Policy Review Committee has met and reviewed the training that is required for faculty, staff, and students.  She noted that some Trustees have received the training but there has been a lapse in terms of time.  This policy will ensure that every Trustee receive the training every two years they are on the Board, as this is one of the important items that Trustees are responsible for.


Being no further discussion, Chair Young called the question.


The motion was supported unanimously by a vote of 8 – 0.


Chair Young thanked Trustee Seavoy for chairing the Ad hoc Policy Review Committee noting the committee is one of the busiest committees and has undertaken a large amount of work over the last few years.



The following action was taken:


It was moved by Trustee Mahaney, seconded by Trustee Seavoy, and supported by a vote of 8 – 0, to approve the Formal Recommendations.  (Addendum #5)



Chair Young asked for nominations from the floor.  Trustee Holmquist nominated Trustee Young as Chair and Trustee Hart as Vice Chair.


Being no other nominations, the following action was taken:


It was moved by Trustee Holmquist and seconded by Trustee Seavoy to elect Trustee Stephen E. Young – Chair and Trustee Alexis M. Hart – Vice-Chair of the NMU Board of Trustees for calendar year 2023.


Discussion followed:


Trustee Mahaney thanked Chair Young and Vice Chair Hart for their work over the past year noting it’s been an extraordinary amount of work.  He noted that each year the responsibilities of the Chair and Vice Chair, and the Board, only increase and they have done yeoman’s work.


Being no further discussion, Chair Young called the question.


On a roll-call vote, the Board voted as follows:


                                    Aye                                                     Nay


                              Lisa I. Fittante

                              Alexis M. Hart

                              Melissa A. Holmquist

                              Robert E. Mahaney

                              Jason T. Morgan

                              Tami M. Seavoy

                              Gregory J. Seppanen

                              Stephen E. Young


Chair Young thanked the Board for the vote of confidence in their leadership – it is very much appreciated – and he and Vice Chair Hart are excited for the next year.  Vice Chair Hart said it has been a pleasure working in partnership with Chair Young and President Schuiling.



Trustee Mahaney noted the following general points related to President-elect Tessman’s negotiated contract:


·       The contract runs through June 30, 2027.

·       It defines the terms and conditions of his employment including duties and compensation as president.

·       It also appoints him as a faculty member with tenure in the Department of Political Science.

·       In addition, it provides for an annual performance review by the Board.


The following action was taken:


It was moved by Trustee Mahaney, seconded by Trustee Seavoy, that the negotiated contract for President-elect Dr. Brock F. Tessman effective February 1, 2023 be approved and that Chair Stephen E. Young be authorized to sign the contract on behalf of the Board of Trustees.


Discussion followed:


Trustee Mahaney thanked everyone involved in the effort to negotiate the contract and said he enjoyed the process and conversations with Dr. Tessman.  He noted they were very constructive and reaffirmed his optimism in Northern’s future under Dr. Tessman’s leadership.


Being no further discussion, Chair Young called the question.


The motion was supported unanimously by a vote of 8 – 0.



Vice Chair Hart said it’s been well over a year when the Board asked President Schuiling to step in as NMU’s Interim President.  Initially, the Board anticipated this would be a much shorter time than it turned out to be.  Putting aside her personal plans, it was no surprise that Kerri was willing to do whatever was needed to act in the best interest of the University and ensure a smooth transition for incoming President, Dr. Brock Tessman.  President Schuiling was not a place-holder – which is why as a Board we formally stated we would address her as “President Schuiling.”  President Schuiling is leaving a legacy as a true change agent in her time with guiding NMU’s campus community through a period of huge transition, her leadership on mental health initiatives, and the university’s short-term strategic plan that will help pave the way to NMU’s future, just to name a few.


The following action was taken:


It was moved by Trustee Hart, seconded by Trustee Mahaney, and supported by a vote of 8 – 0, that the Board of Trustees grant President Schuiling a performance bonus in the amount of $25,000.


Vice Chair Hart said this is well-deserved noting that President Schuiling very generously donated her last bonus directly to the NMU Foundation.



Interim President Schuiling made this announcement for the public record.



Trustee Mahaney recognized President Schuiling for her many accomplishments during her career at NMU, her dedication, passion, and integrity, as well as being a true change agent for the university as a whole.  He said it has been an honor to work with her as a colleague and a friend.  Trustee Seavoy read a resolution in honor of President Schuiling.  She was presented with a framed resolution and wildcat statue.  A photo was taken.


President Schuiling said she could not have done any of this without everyone across the entire campus – it takes a village.



Trustee Fittante recognized Trustee Mahaney for his dedication and service during his tenure on the Board, noting his friendship, guidance, and mentorship.  She presented him with a framed resolution and wildcat statue.  A photo was taken.


Vice Chair Hart recognized Trustee Seavoy for her dedication and service during her tenure on the Board, noting her many contributions and tireless energy and passion.  She presented her with a framed resolution and wildcat statue.  A photo was taken.


Chair Young recognized Trustee Morgan for his dedication and service during his tenure on the Board.  Trustee Morgan was elected as a State Representative for the State of Michigan so he has to step down from the Board.  He was presented with a framed resolution and wildcat statue.  A photo was taken.



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


Trustee Hart made the following comments:

·       She said she admires and respects all three Trustees who are leaving the Board.

·       She said she connected with Trustee Morgan immediately and thanked him for being a constant reminder of who the Board serves at the University – the students.

·       She thanked Trustee Mahaney for his mentorship, his diverse perspectives and ability to look at all sides of an issue, his many contributions of activities that support the university and always doing what is best for the university.

·       She thanked Trustee Seavoy for her advice, counsel, and perspectives that she brought to the Board.

·       She said this has been a year of uncertainty filled with challenges.

·       She thanked the students, faculty, staff, administration for having patience while the Board made sure they were putting in the right foundation for the future of the university.

·       She said there is a renewed energy, people are excited, and she is looking forward to working with Dr. Tessman beginning next year.


Trustee Mahaney touched on the following:

·       He said one of the most rewarding things about being a Trustees was getting to know and have the opportunity to work with everyone.

·       He said there is so much talent at NMU and the passion runs throughout the campus.  With that passion, there are many opportunities, exciting new leadership, etc.  He’s excited for Northern’s future.

·       He is confident that the Board and administration will take NMU to heights it hasn’t attained before.

·       He said people need to keep in mind that “as Northern goes, so does the U.P.;  as the U.P. goes, so goes Northern.” 

·       He said if Northern is to be successful and achieve and fulfill its message, the forefront of thinking and the strategic plan must be what is the impact, what is the benefit to the U.P., how do we serve the U.P.?


Trustee Seavoy commented on the following:

·       She said serving on the Board is an honor and a privilege.

·       She feels very privileged to have had an opportunity to work with such extraordinary people – her colleagues on the Board, the executive staff, faculty, staff, administration across the board, students, and alumni.

·       She said as she finishes her term, she’s proud and happy to say that the outgoing Trustees  are leaving Northern strong and prepared, well-equipped to meet the future challenges.  The current leaders have done a great job preparing the university for incoming President Tessman, it has been a wonderful opportunity to serve on the Board.

·       Go Cats!


Trustee Fittante touched on the following:

·       She said she enjoyed the tour of Construction Management to see where it’s going and what it has become.

·       She enjoyed the “What is a Cold Case” presentation during the Academic Affairs Committee meeting, noting what a great program that is and how the faculty and students collaborated with the Michigan State Police.

·       She is sad to say goodbye to Trustees Mahaney, Seavoy, Morgan, and President Schuiling, noting their passion, wisdom, and commitment will be truly missed.

·       She’s happy to welcome Dr. Tessman and looks forward to NMU’s future.


Trustee Seppanen said the following:

·       He noted the following regarding the outgoing Trustees:

o   Trustee Mahaney brought a laser focus on the budget and championed the capital projects we see on campus

o   Trustee Seavoy has an eye for details, a tremendous amount of energy, and the highest sense of standards and ethics

o   Trustee Morgan brought insight into those we are here to serve – the students

·       He thanked President Schuiling noting she has excelled in taking on the task of running the ship and successfully navigating NMU to a safe harbor where the helm can now be turned over to the very capable Dr. Tessman.  He thanked her for her leadership, wisdom, and guidance.

·       He welcomed Dr. Tessman as the incoming president.

·       He said he looks forward to Saturday’s Commencement Ceremony and congratulated the graduates and their families.


Trustee Morgan touched on the following:

·       He thanked everyone noting it is hard not to make a long list of everyone who makes the institution what it is.  He noted a special thank you to Secretary Andrew for keeping everyone on task and making things run in a way that he believes will forever be underappreciated.

·       He said what he appreciates most about his colleagues is everyone brings differing ideas and perspectives and have the ability to have real conversations.

·       He said is favorite part of being a Trustee is the students and seeing the great leadership they are exhibiting and the amazing things around campus.

·       He is proud of a few things that have  happened:

o   the strengthened relationship with the Marquette community

o   the recognition of the role of the faculty and staff and how important they are to making NMU a special place – he thanked President Schuiling for restoring that trust and balance that is critical in ensuring NMU continues to be the great place it is

o   the labor leadership who were involved in some tough conversations – being willing to come to the table and working together

o   the investments in the future in the facilities, infrastructure, and doing things in a smart way which is changing the institution for the long-term

·       He thanked the following individuals:

o   Vice President Gavin Leach, Chief Mike Bath, Cindy Paavola, for treating him the same since he was a student to a Trustee – this shows the true character of a person.

o   Dr. Dale Kapla and Ms. Rhea Dever for their role in expanding access to childcare.

o   President Schuiling for her leadership in taking an honest look at mental health on campus

o   Governor Whitmer for appointing him to this board

·       He said one of his greatest joys as a Trustee was being on the Presidential Search Advisory Committee in selecting Dr. Brock Tessman as Northern’s next president.

·       He said it is not lost to him the several identities he brought to the Board.  He hopes that his ability to serve will show others they too can serve in this prestigious and important role. (first generation, LGBTQ+, disabilities, etc.).


Trustee Holmquist made the following comments:

·       She thanked outgoing Trustees Mahaney, Seavoy, and Morgan for their leadership and dedication to NMU and for their mentorship to her.

·       She thanked President Schuiling for her work throughout the year.

·       She said she’s excited for Northern’s future and believes Dr. Tessman will be a phenomenal leader.

·       She said she’s looking forward to some new voices on the Board.

·       She is committed to continuing putting the students first, open communication and transparency, continuing to learn – she is impressed every time she hears about new programs and services.


Chair Young made the following comments:

·       He said this is a board made up of leaders and it is humbling for him to be elected to lead a board of leaders.  The vote of confidence given to him means a lot to him.  It’s an amazing thing to be chair of this board. 

·       He looks forward to the next year.

·       He said the presidential search was an interesting process and he is very excited to have Dr. Tessman and his family coming on board.

·       He thanked President Schuiling for her service stating it’s been a wonderful opportunity getting to know her and work with her.



Chair Young adjourned the meeting at 11:48 a.m.


Respectfully submitted,


/signed/Cathy A. Andrew

Secretary of the Board of Trustees