Minutes of the Formal Meeting


Thursday, February 19, 2009




An Orientation Session for new Board of Trustee members was held on Thursday, February 19, 2009, at Marriott East Lansing, E. Lansing, Michigan.  The meeting was convened in the University A Room at 9:30 a.m. by Chair Douglas Roberts.


Trustees present included:


Douglas B. Roberts, Chair

Jon G. LaSalle

L. Garn Lewis

H. Sook Wilkinson


Senior staff and counsel present included:


      Theresa M. Nease, Secretary to the Board of Trustees

Catherine L. Dehlin, General Counsel

      Susan J. Koch, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

      R. Gavin Leach, V.P. for Finance and Administration and Treasurer of the Board


Chair Roberts opened the session by welcoming the new Board members.  Topics covered in the session included:  1.)  Mission/Vision/Road Map to 2015, 2.) 10 Things to Know about NMU, 3.) University Organization and Faculty/Staff Profile, 4.) Bylaws/Procedures/Best Practices/Role and Function of the Board of Trustees, 5.) University Overview, 6.) The Road Ahead, and 7.) Legal Issues.  (Addendum #1)


The session was adjourned at 11:45 a.m.





A Formal Meeting of the Board of Trustees of Northern Michigan University was held on Thursday, February 19, 2009, at Marriott East Lansing, E. Lansing, Michigan.  The meeting was convened in the University A Room at 1:15 p.m. by Chair Douglas Roberts.


Trustees present included:


      Douglas B. Roberts, Chair            Larry Inman                            H. Sook Wilkinson

      Stephen F. Adamini                      Jon G. LaSalle                         Gilbert L. Ziegler

      Brian D. Cloyd                             L. Garn Lewis                         Leslie E. Wong, ex officio



Senior staff and counsel present included:


      Theresa M. Nease, Secretary to the Board of Trustees

Catherine L. Dehlin, General Counsel

      Susan J. Koch, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

      R. Gavin Leach, V.P. for Finance and Administration and Treasurer of the Board







Dr. Koch led the Trustees and staff in a moment of silence for an NMU faculty member, Dr. Susan Martin Goodrich, Associate Professor of Modern Languages and Literatures, who passed away unexpectedly on January 11, 2009, and for NMU student, Amber Kulju, who died in an automobile accident on

December 24, 2008. 





Chair Roberts welcomed the new Board of Trustee Members:  Mr. Larry Inman, Dr. L. Garnet Lewis, and Dr. H. Sook Wilkinson.





The Board took the following action regarding the Formal Recommendations:  (Addendum #2)


            It was moved by Trustee LaSalle, seconded by Trustee Cloyd, and unanimously supported by the Board of Trustees to approve the Formal Recommendations.





President Wong made this announcement for the public record. 





Chair Roberts reviewed the current committee structure assigning new members as follows:


Academic Affairs Committee           Executive Committee                        Finance Committee


Mr. Jon G. LaSalle, Chair                 Mr. Brian D. Cloyd, Chair                  Mr. Stephen F. Adamini, Chair

Mr. Brian D. Cloyd                             Mr. Stephen F. Adamini                     Mr. Brian D. Cloyd

Dr. L. Garnet Lewis                            Mr. Jon G. LaSalle                              Mr. Larry Inman

Dr. H. Sook Wilkinson                      Dr. Douglas B. Roberts, ex officio     Mr. Gilbert L. Ziegler

Dr. Douglas B. Roberts, ex officio      Dr. Leslie E. Wong, ex officio            Dr. Douglas B. Roberts, ex officio

Dr. Leslie E. Wong, ex officio                                                                         Dr. Leslie E. Wong, ex officio


Recruitment and Retention

Mr. Gilbert L. Ziegler, Member, Board of Trustees (Committee Chair)

Dr. L. Garnet Lewis, Member, Board of Trustees

Mr. William Bernard, Associate Provost for Student Services and Enrollment

Ms. Cindy L. Paavola, Director of Communications and Marketing


NMU Foundation Board of Trustees

Mr. Stephen F. Adamini, ex officio

Mr. Gilbert L. Ziegler, ex officio


Dr. Roberts presented an idea to bring action items through the committee structure to the full Board for discussion and action similar to the legislative process.  This method would encourage more initiative from the chairs and would use the committee structure more constructively.  As an example, a tuition recommendation would come to the Board through the Finance Committee.  The President would appear before the Finance Committee with a tuition recommendation, and the Finance Committee would discuss the recommendation and take a vote.  The chair of the Finance Committee would then bring a recommendation to the full Board.  The Board would discuss the recommendation and take action.  This proposal is consistent with the current charges to the Committees, but it is not the recent practice of the Board.  If questions are raised as to which committee the item should go to, it would be the Chairís responsibility to assign it.   The Board agreed with this proposal.


Questions were raised on committee meetings and how application of the Open Meetings Act applies.  Ms. Dehlin will follow up with an advisory to the Board on the Open Meetings Act. 





The Board discussed a proposal presented by Ms. Nease to convert from paper to electronic Board Books. Some trustees indicated a willingness to convert to a fully electronic Board Book, some trustees indicated a willingness to attempt the conversion, and others indicated a desire to retain the current paper Board Book.  Connectivity concerns were expressed for the Web-based model, and trustees indicated the desire to be able to take notes within the documents.  After discussion it was decided that Ms. Nease would proceed with the conversion.  It was noted that trustees may request to have a paper version as well as the electronic version of the Board Book.





Mr. Leach reviewed the history of the Cogeneration project.   NMU has unique heating issues as heating days in the Upper Peninsula are 20-27% higher than the rest of the state.  Utility costs to the general fund have increased from $2.7 million in 1998 to $5.4 million in 2008 primarily due to natural gas price increases.  This increase is the equivalent of a 4-5% increase in tuition.  The Cogeneration Plant would be a combined heat and power facility utilizing primarily wood with coal as back up.  This project would create 90-120 jobs, save on heating and electricity costs, and eliminate dependency on a single-source fuel (natural gas).  In addition the project will serve as an energy research facility enabling NMUís heating and power plant to facilitate scientific research for Northern students, allowing hands-on study of current and future biofuel production.  Other research possibilities include CO2 sequestration and wood gasification.    





Chair Roberts recessed the meeting at 2:10 p.m.





Chair Roberts reconvened the meeting at 2:37 p.m.





Mr. Leach updated the Board on the State budget situation.  The Governor issued an executive budget that had a 3.2% reduction for NMU.  This is comprised of a 3% reduction for operations for all the universities plus the elimination of the King/Chavez/Parks program which equals a total of 3.2% for NMU.  The executive budget also includes language for a tuition freeze.  They donít expect the budget to be settled until June; however, parts may need to be settled sooner due to federal requirements for use of stimulus dollars.  The situation is currently fluid.  Mr. Leach will keep the Board up to date as things progress.  President Wongís testimony before the House is scheduled for March 10 at 9:00 a.m. at the State Capitol in Lansing.  He encouraged Board members to attend.


Mr. Leach gave an overview of NMUís budget and budget timeline.  (See addendum #3.)  Key points to the presentation 1.)  NMU has the second lowest tuition rate, 2.) NMU appropriation is at the same level as it was a decade ago while serving 1,800 more students, and 3.)  NMU has the lowest student to staff ratio in the State.


The Board suggested looking at tuition strategies to correspond with possible scenarios taking into consideration State funding levels, affordability, accessibility, and quality of service.  There is a need for discussion on how to bridge value and cost from the vantage point of students so NMU can attract more students.  In addition, how will NMU manage the scholarship level relative to enrollment?  NMU has been a trend setter in this area and has been good at leveraging financial aid and scholarship relative to enrollment.  There is a need to look at different kinds of tuition models.  The tuition gap between NMU and our Michigan and Wisconsin peers continues to widen.  This adds an unnecessary negative relationship between value and tuition.  NMU wants to maintain its current high value and not appear to be losing the quality by the apparent decline in tuition relative to competitors.  In addition, NMUís net cost per student is low compared to others.  With NMUís tuition being second to lowest and NMUís state aid per student being the highest, this shows that NMU provides a great education at a great cost.  The fact that NMU is a rural university should also be a taken into consideration. 


The Board discussed the need for contingency plans for various legislative directives.  Unique facts about NMU compared to other Upper Peninsula universities are 1.)  NMU has the most comprehensive portfolio of programs, 2.)  NMU has the leanest, low-cost delivery of these programs, 3.)  NMU has more students per faculty, more students per administration, and more students per staff, 4.) NMU is able to deliver programs with high quality and low cost, 5.) and NMU has great impact on the surrounding region in economic development terms and business impetus.  President Wong encouraged Board members to look at the website for facts and information regarding NMU to assist them in advocating for the university.





Chair Roberts adjourned the meeting at 4:05 p.m.