NMU strategically allocating resources

MARQUETTE — What will Northern Michigan University’s programs look like in the future? A draft of NMU’s Strategic Allocation Project — which has transformation as a goal — was addressed at Friday’s NMU Board of Trustees meeting.

An SRA Academic Task Force and Support Task Force had reviewed 607 program templates and made recommendations for change. The SRA process hasn’t yet revealed a definite dollar figure for new investment funding because many recommendations are in their preliminary stages.

“It’s all based on a fundamental idea that Northern is in an amazing position to be able to transform and be the leader in the next generation of higher education, particularly public rural higher education,” NMU President Fritz Erickson said.

Helping students obtain a diversified skill set is another goal, he said.

Each program was looked at carefully, although a lot of time was spent looking at “the big picture,” Erickson said.

“It’s not limited to looking at ‘How does this individual program contribute to the life of the institution?'” Erickson said. “It’s ‘How do you bank this into an overall transformation?'”

A major change listed in the SRA draft report concerns limiting the size of a major, so it’s manageable for students, allowing them to be able to change majors without delaying their graduation and to explore different entities, he said.

“Maybe you’re interested in the wonderful programs of art and design but also decide you’re interested in communication,” Erickson said.

Another idea is no longer requiring a minor for graduation.

“We actually think minors are very important, and we think that by not requiring a minor we provide and empower our students, and have the ability to do multiple minors,” Erickson said.

He said he envisions a time when a student will major in biology, for instance, but also have three minors.

Erickson said it was discovered that some programs examined through the SRA process are growing, and NMU has an obligation to provide more resources to those programs.

Other programs, however, might have a different fate.

“Some of the programs we looked at … we’re going to have to make the decision whether it’s time for them to ride off into a glorious sunset,” Erickson said. “Academic programs, and other programs we have on campus, have a lifespan, and some programs have lived a long and wonderful life, but it’s time for that program to either do something completely different or it’s something that we choose no longer to do.

“Those are always among the hardest things for us to do, but we think they’re an important part of this process.”

Erickson said that going into the next semester, the SRA process will be transparent, with open forums planned.

In the draft report, the Implementation Task Force made recommendations on a variety of initiatives, including one that indicates no major exceeds 36 credits unless state or professional requirements mandate it, and that no bachelor’s degree is greater than 120 credits without a rationale accepted by the provost.

Another recommendation was eliminating the associate of applied science degree in general university studies with its 62 concentrations, and placing it with either an associate of arts or an associate of science degree in general studies.

Keeping the general studies degree options is important, the report indicated, because many NMU students rely on Tuition Incentive Program funding to cover the cost of the first two years of college. Although many students complete a bachelor’s degree, TIP funding can be used only toward the completion of an associate degree.

It was recommended a transformation task group be formed to review all secondary education programs, and determine demand and need.

Other ideas include creating two new colleges — the Honors College and the College of Graduate Studies and Research — and looking into changing NMU’s academic organizational structure, which would eliminate program redundancies.

Programs were ranked by quintiles, with those in the first quintile recommended for enhanced resources. These include bachelor degrees in health and human performance sports science as well as biology fields, among others.

Programs in the fifth quintile were recommended for consideration of phaseout by senior leadership. These include many associate degree programs.

The draft report also outlined 10 suggested support transformation initiatives:

≤ Combine the Beaumier U.P. Heritage Center, the Center for U.P. Studies and the oversight of the Beaumier Alumni Welcome Center under one director.

≤ Redefine the role of the Multicultural Education and Resource Center in supporting Northern’s university-wide diversity and inclusion efforts.

≤ Develop an enhanced advising and student-faculty mentoring model.

≤ Remodel the First-Year Experience Program, including Freshman Seminar.

≤ Expand Career Services’ role in internships, corporate and alumni relations and use of next-generation technology in career planning and placement.

≤ Restructure Northern’s international student services, recruitment and activities, as well as faculty international activities.

≤ Re-envision the model for the Center for Student Enrichment to ensure success.

≤ Create a distinct unit that responds to changes in student preferences by quickly developing and launching experimental academic programs.

≤ Complete the external review of and new strategic plan for Wildcat athletics.

≤ Create more collaboration between custodial and maintenance service units.

Board of Trustees Chairman Robert Mahaney said the board has spent a lot of time learning about the SRA process.

“For me personally, it’s been very educational,” Mahaney said. “I’ve come to learn and appreciate so much about both the academic and the support side of the university, and we’re excited to see this go on now to the next chapter and see the implementation begin.”

It is expected the board will act on the SRA process in May.

For more information on the SRA report, visit nmu.edu/sra/home.

The board on Friday re-elected Mahaney as board chairman, with Steven Mitchell re-elected as vice chairman for calendar year 2019.

The board also:

≤ Agreed to rename three campus facilities. Edgar L. Harden Learning Resources Center will be renamed Elizabeth and Edgar Harden Hall and called Harden Hall. The New Science Facility will become Kathleen Shingler Weston Hall, named for a 1929 alumna and the first female graduate to go on to complete a medical degree. The atrium in the New Science Facility will be named the David J. Lucas Atrium in honor of the longtime physics professor and department head.

≤ Approved the appointment of Rob Winn as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, effective Jan. 1. He had been serving as interim dean.

≤ Accepted the WNMU-TV and WNMU-FM financial statements for fiscal year 2017-18.

≤ Granted Patricia Hogan the rank of professor emeritus of Health and Human Performance.

≤ Presented previously approved trustee emeritus status to Sook Wilkinson of Bloomfield Hills, who served on the board from 2009-16, including one year as chair.

≤ Recognized two outgoing trustees and NMU alumni whose terms end Dec. 31: Scott Holman (’65 BS) and Rick Popp (’88 BS; ’90 MPA). Holman was appointed to the board to fill a resignation-related vacancy for the remainder of the term. He had previously served eight years as a trustee, with one year as chair. He has a bachelor’s degree in business from NMU and is a past recipient of the Distinguished Alumni award.

Popp was appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder in January 2011 and served two terms as chair of the board. He holds a master’s degree in public administration, with an emphasis in personnel and labor relations, and a bachelor’s degree in computer science from NMU. He also was inducted into the NMU Sports Hall of Fame.

≤ Announced the board standing committees for the 2019 calendar year. Academic Affairs Chair Tami Seavoy will be joined by Alexis Hart and new trustee Stephen Young, with Mahaney and Erickson as ex officio members. Finance Chair James Haveman will be joined by Lisa Fittante and new trustee Travis Weber, with Mahaney and Erickson ex officio. The Executive Committee will be composed of Haveman, Mahaney, Seavoy and Mitchell, with Erickson ex officio. Ad Hoc Policy Chair Alexis Hart will be joined by Haveman, Seavoy and Mahaney as ex officio.

≤ Approved academic calendars for 2020-21 and 2021-22.

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is cbleck@miningjournal.net.