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NMU to consider vaccine initiative for campus community

MARQUETTE — The Northern Michigan University Board of Trustees will guide the NMU administration to develop a plan by June 1 to incentivize achieving herd immunity for COVID-19 in the campus community for the coming fall semester.

Steve Young, vice chairman of the board, addressed the issue at the board’s regular meeting on Friday, noting that NMU has had low positivity rates.

“We really need to now look at that next level, now that vaccines are out there,” Young said. “They’re in ready supply. Access doesn’t appear to be an issue as it was a few weeks ago.”

He stressed that NMU has a “social obligation” to protect not only the campus, but the community.

Part of the guidance provided to the administration, he said, involves an incentive program for students, faculty and staff to get vaccinated.

“It’s not a requirement, but an incentive,” Young said.

The board agreed that incentive would be $100 per individual to get vaccinated, he said.

“You’d think that an education process regarding this incentive should start probably no later than June of 2021, so that we can make sure our students are aware of what we’re asking of them when they come back to campus and that that vaccine is critical,” Young said.

Herd immunity, which is estimated to reached when 70-80% of the campus community is immunized, he noted, would be the goal.

“If we reach that prior to school starting in late August, we successfully completed this program, I think, and there’s no need to do anything else,” Young said. “If we do not reach the herd immunity number, I think that those that come to campus that are not vaccinated should be required to be tested every two weeks and produce a negative test.

“But it would be an ongoing thing. Once we reach herd immunity, that testing would cease.”

The administration will factor in the fluid state of the pandemic and determine a university response if herd immunity cannot be achieved through voluntary compliance, officials said.

NMU President Fritz Erickson said the administration appreciates the guidance.

“We are definitely committed to coming back to you by June 1,” Erickson told the board. “We think that gives us enough time to make sure that we are engaging our full campus community in this discussion.”

Trustee Robert Mahaney acknowledged that he supports the guidance but has some philosophical concerns.

“It’s pretty sad that we have to, if you will, provide a financial inducement for someone to do something that is really for the better good of society and individual responsibility, in my opinion,” Mahaney said. “Students say that they want to be involved in university governments. Well, with that comes the responsibility, and that responsibility is to do what’s in the best interests of their fellow students and the entire university community.”

Mahaney said he doesn’t support providing financial incentives to staff and faculty.

“The vaccine doesn’t cost anybody any money,” he said. “Our faculty and staff don’t have to work here if they don’t want to. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask faculty and staff to go and get vaccinated.”

No increase in standard room and board rate

The board approved a recommendation that there be no increase in the standard room and board rate for a traditional residence hall for the 2021-22 academic year.

The combined cost of a double-occupancy room and base meal plan will remain at $5,396 per semester in the traditional halls. The rate for the same package in the newer housing complex called The Woods will be $5,825 per semester, an increase of 0.2% or $12.

“This is a challenging year, so we challenged our housing and dining staffs to come up with proposed solutions for keeping costs down for students while maintaining quality and an outstanding experience,” said Gavin Leach, vice president for finance and administration, in a statement. “On the meal side, they restructured the base plan so that it offers a greater value, while also providing great enhanced options for students who want those.

“I really appreciate the creativity and hard work the staffs put in to making it possible for students to have virtually no increase next year while experiencing the same high quality in campus housing and dining.”

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

≤ Approved new academic programs that will be offered this fall: a bachelor’s degree in human resource management; a graduate certificate in clinical molecular diagnostics; and associate degrees in dance, theater performance, and theater technology and design. The board voted to delete both the office information assistant and health information processing associate degree programs, as well as the office assistant certificate program.

≤ Agreed to continue general fund, auxiliary operations, housing and residence life and general fund budgets at the same level as 2020-21, until state appropriations are determined and new budgets are approved. The only exception to each will be increases required by existing or newly negotiated union contracts.

≤ Approved the following capital and long-term maintenance projects: Superior Dome women’s wrestling locker room, $325,000, and Cohodas Hall lobby renovation, $285,000.

≤ Authorized the purchase of property and a structure located at 1738 Presque Isle Ave. for $470,000 plus related miscellaneous expenses.

≤ Agreed to a three-year extension on the contract with external auditing firm Anderson, Tackman & Company.

≤ Authorized the following purchases for the university’s notebook computer program: 2,000 additional ThinkPad T495s, model 20UJ, including warranty, engineering services, software imaging and shipping, 235 Apple MacBook Pros, model Z11C; and 16 MacBook Pros, model Z0XZ.

≤ Agreed that senior directors in the Business Intelligence/Information Services Department should now report directly to the vice president for finance and administration.

≤ Agreed that the Innovation Center be renamed “The SISU Innovation Institute” effective today.

≤ Approved Chair Tami Seavoy’s appointment of new trustee Jason Morgan to two committees: Extended Learning and Community Engagement, and Ad Hoc Policy Review.

≤ Revised the Ad Hoc Policy Review Committee charge to reflect that it will also review the board bylaws and present proposed changes to the full board for discussion and approval.

≤ Approved a revision to the board’s meeting schedule. Remaining meeting dates for the calendar year are: July 22-23, Sept. 30-Oct. 1 and Dec. 9-10.

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

Journal Staff Writer

MARQUETTE — The Northern Michigan University Board of Trustees will guide the NMU administration to develop a plan by June 1 to incentivize achieving herd immunity for COVID-19 in the campus community for the coming fall semester.

Steve Young, vice chairman of the board, addressed the issue at the board’s regular meeting on Friday, noting that NMU has had low positivity rates.

“We really need to now look at that next level, now that vaccines are out there,” Young said. “They’re in ready supply. Access doesn’t appear to be an issue as it was a few weeks ago.”

He stressed that NMU has a “social obligation” to protect not only the campus, but the community.

Part of the guidance provided to the administration, he said, involves an incentive program for students, faculty and staff to get vaccinated.

“It’s not a requirement, but an incentive,” Young said.

The board agreed that incentive would be $100 per individual to get vaccinated, he said.

“You’d think that an education process regarding this incentive should start probably no later than June of 2021, so that we can make sure our students are aware of what we’re asking of them when they come back to campus and that that vaccine is critical,” Young said.

Herd immunity, which is estimated to reached when 70-80% of the campus community is immunized, he noted, would be the goal.

“If we reach that prior to school starting in late August, we successfully completed this program, I think, and there’s no need to do anything else,” Young said. “If we do not reach the herd immunity number, I think that those that come to campus that are not vaccinated should be required to be tested every two weeks and produce a negative test.

“But it would be an ongoing thing. Once we reach herd immunity, that testing would cease.”

The administration will factor in the fluid state of the pandemic and determine a university response if herd immunity cannot be achieved through voluntary compliance, officials said.

NMU President Fritz Erickson said the administration appreciates the guidance.

“We are definitely committed to coming back to you by June 1,” Erickson told the board. “We think that gives us enough time to make sure that we are engaging our full campus community in this discussion.”

Trustee Robert Mahaney acknowledged that he supports the guidance but has some philosophical concerns.

“It’s pretty sad that we have to, if you will, provide a financial inducement for someone to do something that is really for the better good of society and individual responsibility, in my opinion,” Mahaney said. “Students say that they want to be involved in university governments. Well, with that comes the responsibility, and that responsibility is to do what’s in the best interests of their fellow students and the entire university community.”

Mahaney said he doesn’t support providing financial incentives to staff and faculty.

“The vaccine doesn’t cost anybody any money,” he said. “Our faculty and staff don’t have to work here if they don’t want to. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask faculty and staff to go and get vaccinated.”

No increase in standard room and board rate

The board approved a recommendation that there be no increase in the standard room and board rate for a traditional residence hall for the 2021-22 academic year.

The combined cost of a double-occupancy room and base meal plan will remain at $5,396 per semester in the traditional halls. The rate for the same package in the newer housing complex called The Woods will be $5,825 per semester, an increase of 0.2% or $12.

“This is a challenging year, so we challenged our housing and dining staffs to come up with proposed solutions for keeping costs down for students while maintaining quality and an outstanding experience,” said Gavin Leach, vice president for finance and administration, in a statement. “On the meal side, they restructured the base plan so that it offers a greater value, while also providing great enhanced options for students who want those.

“I really appreciate the creativity and hard work the staffs put in to making it possible for students to have virtually no increase next year while experiencing the same high quality in campus housing and dining.”

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

≤ Approved new academic programs that will be offered this fall: a bachelor’s degree in human resource management; a graduate certificate in clinical molecular diagnostics; and associate degrees in dance, theater performance, and theater technology and design. The board voted to delete both the office information assistant and health information processing associate degree programs, as well as the office assistant certificate program.

≤ Agreed to continue general fund, auxiliary operations, housing and residence life and general fund budgets at the same level as 2020-21, until state appropriations are determined and new budgets are approved. The only exception to each will be increases required by existing or newly negotiated union contracts.

≤ Approved the following capital and long-term maintenance projects: Superior Dome women’s wrestling locker room, $325,000, and Cohodas Hall lobby renovation, $285,000.

≤ Authorized the purchase of property and a structure located at 1738 Presque Isle Ave. for $470,000 plus related miscellaneous expenses.

≤ Agreed to a three-year extension on the contract with external auditing firm Anderson, Tackman & Company.

≤ Authorized the following purchases for the university’s notebook computer program: 2,000 additional ThinkPad T495s, model 20UJ, including warranty, engineering services, software imaging and shipping, 235 Apple MacBook Pros, model Z11C; and 16 MacBook Pros, model Z0XZ.

≤ Agreed that senior directors in the Business Intelligence/Information Services Department should now report directly to the vice president for finance and administration.

≤ Agreed that the Innovation Center be renamed “The SISU Innovation Institute” effective today.

≤ Approved Chair Tami Seavoy’s appointment of new trustee Jason Morgan to two committees: Extended Learning and Community Engagement, and Ad Hoc Policy Review.

≤ Revised the Ad Hoc Policy Review Committee charge to reflect that it will also review the board bylaws and present proposed changes to the full board for discussion and approval.

≤ Approved a revision to the board’s meeting schedule. Remaining meeting dates for the calendar year are: July 22-23, Sept. 30-Oct. 1 and Dec. 9-10.

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

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