MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - The Northern Michigan University Board of Trustees held a university forum on Wednesday, breaking down the investment plan for 2020.
The plan, approved in December of 2019, would normally have been brought to the attention of the campus community.
However, the board pushed the $5 million plan with urgency, and took the forum to explain their reasoning.
"We felt that they had been very well-researched, we felt that they were on the right point, but more importantly, we felt an urgency to do it," says Steve Mitchell, chairman of the Northern Michigan University Board of Trustees.
The urgency stems from numbers that say Midwestern schools can expect to see a 15 percent enrollment decline over the next few years.
"These are huge investments, but at the end of the day, but at the end of the day, these investments are going to pay huge dividends, and will offset what could be a $9 million cut that we'd have to make if we didn't do these things," says Mitchell.
That enrollment decline is something NMU has been working to fight, through additions of their Medicinal Plant Chemistry major and the FROST program, to name a few.
So far, the track record has been positive.
"Not many people know it, but only two universities in Michigan had a higher enrollment in 2019 than in 2018. One was the University of Michigan. The other - Northern Michigan University," says Mitchell.
The administration hopes the trend will continue, as their new plan includes retention initiatives, addition of a rural health center, alpine skiing, esports, and faculty investments.
Career services will see an expansion, with the addition of 15 new advisers over the next three years. Success coaches will also be embedded in various departments.
Ideally, these programs will create a robust college experience for students, leaving them in a good place post-graduation.
Documents breaking down the plan can be found here.