Relationship between NMU board, AAUP is turning toxic

The relationship between the Northern Michigan University Board of Trustees and the NMU-chapter of the American Association of University Professors hit what can reasonably be described as a new low late last week.

That’s because the union, by an overwhelming 141-20 margin, approved a resolution of no confidence in the board.

“The NMU chapter of AAUP has no confidence in the ability of the Board of Trustees of Northern Michigan University to oversee and carry out the general supervision of the institution and the control and direction of all expenditures from the institution’s funds,” the union said in a statement given to media. “As evident in the Board of Trustees’ recent handling of executive personnel and ongoing labor relations, this board has created an environment of chaos and dysfunction which is not conducive to an effective institution of higher learning.”

Leading up to the resolution, the faculty cited numerous issues, including what it believes was the board’s poor handling of ex-university president Fritz Erickson’s termination, its “numerous” failures during the faculty contract negotiation process and its “unwillingness to solve serious financial allocation problems” at the university, the statement said.

It also mentioned the board allowed “public lies from their top employees to go uncorrected” and the board’s movement of critical university resources toward administrative expenses and away from instructional costs.

The board commented with a no comment.

It’s unclear what the union’s strategy is in taking such a vote. And equally unclear is what impact the vote will have on future talks.

What is abundantly clear, however, is that the trickle of toxic bile that has been running through the ongoing contract talks is turning into an all-out torrent.

We hope it doesn’t drown both sides.


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