Board raises tuition

OKs increase of $270 per semester

Robert Mahaney, chairman, NMU Board of Trustees

MARQUETTE — The Northern Michigan University Board of Trustees on Thursday approved tuition and fees for the 2019-20 academic year.

The combined average cost for full-time resident undergraduates will be $5,796 per semester, an increase of $270 per semester, or 4.9%, from the 2018-19 academic year. The combined rate increase of tuition and fees and room and board amounts to a 2.9% increase.

NMU still has the second-lowest tuition rate and fees among Michigan’s 15 public universities, with only Saginaw Valley State University having a lower rate.

“A lot of work and analysis has gone into this tuition-rate adjustment,” said Robert Mahaney, chairman of the board of trustees.

He pointed out that NMU’s rate is over $2,300 below Michigan’s public university median tuition rate.

“So, in absolute dollars, we’re always playing a catch-up game relative to the other universities, if you will,” Mahaney said, “but more importantly than that, and what really drives the decision setting, is: What are we going to do with those dollars? Where are we going to invest them?”

He said that over the last year alone, NMU has invested $6.5 million in new academic programs as well as the facilities and equipment to support those programs.

Board Vice Chairman Steve Mitchell said Thursday marked the seventh time he has voted on a tuition increase.

“I have done so unapologetically for all seven times because this university is very good at taking caring of the dollars the state gives us, and more importantly, the dollars given to us by the parents and by the students that attend here,” Mitchell said.

Because the state of Michigan has yet to finalize a fiscal year 2020 budget, the NMU board considered the preliminary Executive, House and Senate proposals in making its tuition and fees decision. Trustees indicated they would amend the increase to align with tuition restraint language, if necessary, following final passage of the FY 2020 state budget.

“We took the most conservative position,” said Trustee James Haveman, also chairman of the board’s finance committee.

The board also increased university-funded financial aid by $1 million and emphasized the importance of continued strategic investment to enhance the student experience and value of an NMU degree.

In other action at Thursday’s meeting, the board:

≤ Approved the purchase of new Chemistry Department equipment needed for the medicinal plant chemistry program, in the amount of $1.2 million, and a related academic partnership with Shimadzu Scientific Instruments Inc. Shimadzu offered an in-kind donation of instrumentation for a new analytical core laboratory valued at nearly $851,000.

≤ Approved the following: a business, clinical lab sciences and nursing differential tuition increase of $1 per credit; a music, natural sciences and technology and occupational sciences course fee increase of $1 per credit; a graduate tuition increase of $25 per credit; and a refundable student recreation pass fee increase of $3 per semester. The board also authorized the extension/online undergraduate tuition rate be increased by the same amount as the on-campus undergraduate tuition rate.

≤ Confirmed the upcoming academic year notebook computer program annual purchase of 1,410 additional ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 7s, model 20QE and 70 Apple MacBook Pros, model Z0UH.

≤ Agreed to transfer the Center for Native American Studies to the School of Education, Leadership, and Public Service.

≤ Approved the following personnel appointments: Lisa Eckert, dean of graduate education and research; Mlado Ivanovic, assistant professor, philosophy; April Lindala, associate professor of Native American studies, a permanent tenure appointment; and Alexander Van Blommestein, communication and performance studies tenure-track faculty appointment. The board also approved a promotion of Shaun Thunell to associate professor in the School of Clinical Sciences.

≤ Agreed to rename the expanded and modernized Alumni Suite in the renovated Northern Center the Scott L. Holman Executive Conference Room. Holman is recently retired from the NMU Board of Trustees.

≤ Approved the deletion of the associate of applied science-general university studies program. This recommendation is a result of the Strategic Resource Allocation review. New programs added include associate of arts-general studies and associate of science-general studies, both effective fall 2019.

≤ Approved the funding request for the proposal to the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs grant.

≤ Established an Extended Learning and Community Engagement standing committee. Board Vice Chair Mitchell will chair the committee, which is also comprised of Trustees Alexis Hart and Bridget Summers.

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