Policymakers at Northern Michigan University are on the right track by approving a series of expensive capital improvement projects last week.
NMU will invest $ 90.6 million, with funding from various sources, to undertake the work.
Robert Mahaney, chairman of the finance committee of the NMU board of directors, recommended approval of the investment, calling for action “a defining moment.”
“I don’t apologize if I sound like a salesman here, because that’s a good thing for Northern”, Mahaney said in a Mining Journal a judgment on the matter. “I hope everyone on campus can celebrate this because it doesn’t end there.
“By having new facilities, it gives us a chance to be more competitive in recruiting students. This gives us a chance to increase the number of registrations. It all starts and ends with registration.
The Journal article details the priority capital projects and the associated costs:
≤ transformation of the Jacobetti Complex into a career and engineering center for $ 28.6 million. This had previously been approved for $ 20 million in Michigan state capital funding;
≤ 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 Harden Hall Library, $ 12.5 million. The second and third floors will be renovated and specialized centers such as All Campus Tutoring, the Writing Center and the UP and NMU Central Archives will be relocated;
≤ new science labs at $ 5.2 million, which will meet 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 university community‘s access to physical and mental health services, $ 5.2 million;
≤ renovation of the existing vacant space in the North Center to accommodate cosmetology and hotel management programs, $ 4.8 million;
≤ a new facility for the NMU Behavior Education Assessment and Research Center to better serve patients, enhance student education / training 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: the West and Gries halls.
And major maintenance projects will include $ 6.5 million to replace the existing ice-making system at the Berry Events Center, which is over 30 years old and whose required refrigerant is no longer available; $ 2 million to replace the sod in the Upper Dome; and $ 400,000 to build a new 60-space parking lot south of the north center.
All of the above, as Mahaney noted, will help improve the university’s chances of attracting more students.
Everyone knows that NMU registrations have declined in recent years. We believe these and other projects are a step in the right direction to stop this trend.