NMU Board Approves Investing in New Facilities
Demonstrating its confidence in the university's future, the Northern Michigan University Board of Trustees voted to invest $90.6 million in capital projects, major maintenance and campus improvements. These projects are consistent with the goals previously outlined in the campus master plan and the university's strategic plan. Each project is a direct investment in NMU students, in faculty, and in the quality of academic programs and student services.
Bond proceeds will cover slightly more than one-third of the total cost. Other funding sources include capital and maintenance reserves, state capital outlay funds and private donor support.
“Timing is really what's driving these investments,” said Gavin Leach, vice president for Finance and Administration. “We have a series of bonds that are expiring and we want to take advantage of the low interest rates during this limited window and reinvest in priority projects through a bond issuance without a major impact to the university's budget structure. We can also refinance some of the bonds that aren't expiring at the lower rate. This is an excellent opportunity to make campus improvements while the cost to the university is lower.”
“This investment will have a positive impact on the student and academic experience at Northern, addressing several facility issues we've been discussing, such as the need for more teaching labs, and many of the innovative ideas in our Campus Master Plan, such as a new Health and Wellness Center,” said Robert Mahaney, chair of the NMU Board of Trustees Finance Committee, which recommended approval.
The priority capital projects and associated costs are:
-Transformation of the Jacobetti Complex into a Career and Engineering Tech Facility, $28.6 million. This was previously approved for $20 million in capital outlay funding from the State of Michigan.
-Northern Enterprise Center, $19.1 million. This project next to the McClintock Building will provide a new, identifiable home for the College of Business and other academic programs currently located outside of the academic mall.
-Harden Hall Library modernization, $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, $5.2 million. The project will address the need for additional teaching labs for high-demand programs in biology, chemistry, psychology and nursing.
-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. The two programs are currently located in the Jacobetti Complex.
-New facility for the NMU Behavior Education Assessment and Research (BEAR) Center to better serve patients, improve instructional delivery/training for students and provide space for program expansion, $1.2 million.
-McClintock classroom upgrades associated with the Northern Enterprise Center, $1.1 million.
Two buildings are slated for demolition. West Hall has been vacant due to its declining condition. Gries Hall requires significant long-term maintenance, and the offices and functions within it will be accommodated elsewhere on campus.
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 to accommodate additional traffic for the cosmetology and hospitality management programs.
In other action during today's meeting, the board:
-Approved a 2021-22 general fund operating budget of $118.2 million. That figure represents a 1.0% increase from the previous year.
-Approved the following budgets: auxiliary services operating budget, $12.1 million; designated operating budget, $7.6 million; housing and residence life operating budget, $10.8 million.
-Approved NMU's financial statements and all related transactions for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2021. Rehmann CPA conducted the audit.
The next regularly scheduled meeting of the NMU Board of Trustees is scheduled for Dec. 9-10.