Capital improvement projects should help NMU enrollment
Northern Michigan University decision makers are on the right track in approving a palate of big-ticket capital improvement projects last week.
NMU will invest $90.6 million, with funding coming from various sources, to undertake the work.
Robert Mahaney, chairman of the NMU Board of Trustees Finance Committee, recommended approval of the investment, calling the action “a milestone moment.”
“I do not apologize if I sound like a salesman here, because this is a great thing for Northern,” Mahaney said in a Mining Journal story on the matter. “I hope that everybody on campus can celebrate this because it doesn’t end with this.
“By having new facilities, it gives us a chance to be more competitive in recruiting students. It gives us a chance to grow enrollment. All things begin and end with enrollment.”
The Journal story detailed priority capital projects and associated costs:
≤ transformation of the Jacobetti Complex into a career and engineering tech facility for $28.6 million. This was previously approved for $20 million in capital outlay funding from the state of Michigan;
≤ construction of the Northern Enterprise Center next to the McClintock Building for $19.1 million. It will provide a new, identifiable home for the College of Business and other academic programs;
≤ modernization of the library in Harden Hall, $12.5 million. The second and third floors will be renovated and specialty centers such as All Campus Tutoring, the Writing Center and the Central U.P. and NMU Archives will be relocated;
≤ new science labs at $5.2 million, which will address the need for additional teaching labs for high-demand programs in biology, chemistry, psychology and nursing;
≤ a new Health and Wellness Center to improve the campus community’s access to physical and mental health services, $5.2 million;
≤ renovation of existing unoccupied space in the Northern Center to accommodate the cosmetology and hospitality management programs, $4.8 million;
≤ a new facility for the NMU Behavior Education Assessment and Research Center to better serve patients, improve instructional delivery/training for students and provide space for program expansion, $1.2 million; and
≤ McClintock classroom upgrades associated with the Northern Enterprise Center, $1.1 million.
Two buildings are slated for demolition: West and Gries halls.
And major maintenance projects will include $6.5 million to replace the Berry Events Center’s existing ice-making system, which is more than 30 years old and whose required refrigerant is no longer available; $2 million to replace the turf in the Superior Dome; and $400,000 to construct a new 60-space parking lot south of the Northern Center.
All of the above will, as Mahaney noted, help improve the university’s chances to attract more students.
Everyone knows NMU’s enrollment has slid in recent years. We believe these and other projects are a step in the right direction to stopping that trend.