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NMU approves 2020-21 budget: Figure down 1% from last year; scholarships, fellowships increase by nearly $300K

MARQUETTE — The Northern Michigan University Board of Trustees on Friday approved a 2020-21 general fund operating budget of nearly $117.1 million.

While the figure represents a 1% decrease from the previous year, NMU increased its scholarships and fellowships by nearly $300,000. It will also invest in strategic initiatives the board previously authorized.

“The budget incorporates the enrollment decline we experienced this fall, the tuition adjustment previously passed by the board and a flat state appropriation,” said Gavin Leach, vice president for Finance and Administration, in a statement. “The budget allows us to continue to drive forward in investing for the future through new enrollment initiatives while addressing the challenges of a flat appropriation, lower current-year enrollment, and the operational challenges presented by COVID.”

The board also approved a new two-year contract ratified on Monday by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union, which represents 130 food services staff, maintenance employees and police officers.

The first year includes a 1% one-time payment. The second year features no increase or payment, although there is an option for a wage reopener.

“We thought we really demonstrated our value to the university from mid-March through the summer, when we continued working on campus despite COVID-19 to make sure everything was ready for students to come back this fall,” AFSCME President Rick Schwemin said in a statement. “When people come to campus, we’re often the first people they see. Our members are genuinely friendly and enjoy communicating with students and others beyond their job duties. It’s important to keep quality people like that around.”

In other actions at Friday’s meeting, the NMU Board of Trustees:

≤ Approved the NMU Facilities Five-Year Master Plan, as required by the Department of Management and Budget, and the fiscal year 2021 long-term maintenance project list;

≤ Agreed that the volleyball locker room/team room be named the “Ron and Barb, ’89, Neaves Volleyball Team Room”;

≤ Granted recent retiree Steven Nelson the status of professor emeritus of political science; and

≤ Approved the donation of five original oil paintings by Leon Lundmark through the NMU Foundation to the DeVos Art Museum’s permanent collection.

Also at the meeting, NMU President Fritz Erickson mentioned a recent accolade for the Safe on Campus dashboard, which shows statistics related to COVID-19. The dashboard received an A grade from the team at RateCovidDashboard.com, which reviewed 245 college and university sites nationwide.

“I’ve heard from so many people that that’s been one of the tools that they’ve used all the way through,” Erickson said. “We’ve had people that check this dashboard every day.”

It can be found at https://nmu.edu/safe-on-campus/.

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

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