Kia Jane Richmond, right, a professor in the English department at Northern Michigan University, participates with some of her colleagues in what she called an “information picket” outside the Northern Center on Friday, where the NMU’s board of directors held its meeting that morning. . Faculty and administration disagreed over a faculty contract. (Diary photo by Christie Mastric)
MARQUETTE – Kerri Schuiling, who most recently served as president and vice-president of academic affairs at Northern Michigan University, was named interim president of the NMU at the NMU board meeting on Friday.
She succeeds Fritz Erickson, who was fired by the board of directors on September 24. Vice Chairman of the Board Steve Young mentioned the need for more leadership and forward thinking as the causes of Erickson’s dismissal at this meeting.
The board unanimously approved Schuiling as interim chairman, effective immediately, until the board selects a new chairman. The Chairman of the Board, Tami Seavoy and Young, were authorized to negotiate an employment contract with Schuiling to present to the Board of Directors for review and approval, and to authorize a request for a recommendation to the Board of Directors regarding a presidential recruiting firm.
“I want to say that I am personally deeply impressed that there was no need to search outside Northern Michigan University to identify an interim president,” Administrator Donna L. Murray-Brown said.
Seavoy said the board has full responsibility for hiring the new chairman.
“We look forward to involving others to help identify the greatest needs of this university so that we can align the qualities of our next leader with the needs of the university and move forward in the right step at the right time.” said Seavoy.
Administrator Robert Mahaney said the actions taken regarding Erickson were not taken lightly.
“We understand that this has consequences for the university”, he said. âIt caused us to make a difficult decision. Today, as I think of Northern – both as an administrator and as a member of this community and as Yooper – the future of Northern, I think, has never been brighter.
Mahaney said the biggest challenge is “ourselves.”
“Shall we meet? Are we going to work together? Are we doing to seize these opportunities? “ He asked. âIt’s very easy to focus on the things that maybe aren’t going as well as we would like. But at the same time, we have accomplished so much. I hope that very soon we will announce some exciting news regarding further investments in this university in infrastructure, academic innovations, facilities and programming, which will propel this university to the next level.
Mahaney also congratulated Schuiling and expressed appreciation for her willingness to be interim president.
“She was to retire in January”, he said.
Schuiling was appointed Marshal and Vice-President in 2014. In this capacity, she was the lead developer of the Forensic Research Outdoor Station, the NMU Center for Rural Health and SISU: The Innovation Institute. She also supported the creation of the Medicinal Plant Chemistry Bachelor Program launched in 2017.
Previous roles have included Dean of NMU College of Health Sciences and Professional Studies, Dean of Oakland University School of Nursing, and Associate Dean and Director of NMU School of Nursing. Schuiling graduated from NMU in 1973. She holds an MA from Wayne State University and a PhD from the University of Michigan. She is certified as both a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner and Nurse Midwife.
“I look forward to continuing the positive collaboration underway, working with my colleagues in administration, faculty and staff to continue to move the university forward to achieve its mission and goals,” Schuiling said in a statement.
In other business at Friday’s meeting, the board:
â¤ accepted four new academic programs: Herbal Wellness Certificate, Cannabis Exploitation Certificate, Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Science in Administration and Outdoor Recreation and Tourism of nature. All of them will come into effect in the fall of 2022.
â¤ approved the new ratified contract for the union of administrative professionals UAW 2178, which nearly 67% of voting members supported. It includes increases of 2% of base salary in year one, a one-time payment of 2% in year two and 2% of base salary in years three to five. The agreement also includes a revenue sharing program linked to specific growth in student numbers. The union represents 215 employees and the contract remains in effect until September 30, 2026.
â¤ Approved the five-year facility master plan and investment request that universities are required to submit annually to the Michigan Department of Management and Budget. The priority project identified by NMU in its investment request is a new Business Innovation Center.
â¤ authorized the purchase of two Marquette properties – 1700 Tracy Avenue and 908 Center Street – at a cost of $ 327,000 plus miscellaneous related expenses.
â¤ agreed that the operations of broadcast and audiovisual services be reorganized under the direction and supervision of the vice president of the finance and administration division, that the Office of Graduate Studies and Grants and Contracts be renamed College of Graduate Studies and Research, and that the Research, Planning and Evaluation institutions be renamed Institutional Effectiveness.
â¤ has agreed to grant emeritus status to the following: Alan McEvoy, professor of sociology; John Rebers, professor of biology; Jaspal Singh, English teacher; Linda Hares, Administrative Assistant, Academic Affairs; and Eric Smith, director of broadcasting and audiovisual services.
â¤ approved the following meeting schedule for calendar year 2022: February 17-18; April 28-29; June / July to be determined; Sep 23-24; and December 15-16.
Faculty negotiations continue
Several members of the NMU-American Association of University Professors’ union spoke at the meeting to address the current lack of a faculty contract.
The union rejected an agreement in principle on Tuesday, the tally being 137 “no” and 92 “Yes” voice.
The union and administration had negotiated increases in base wages and other forms of compensation, with the two parties unable to come to an agreement before the one-year contract expired on July 1. Mediation between the two parties began that month.
Mediation is provided free of charge by the Michigan Employment Relations Commission, which resolves labor disputes involving public and private sector employees through a variety of means, including the appointment of mediators.
Seavoy stressed that the board has no role in negotiating a contract.
“We look forward to a contract being submitted to us once the parties have continued their negotiations in good faith, which have continued,” said Seavoy. âWe really appreciate everyone’s work on this contract.
Lesley Putman, the union’s chief negotiator, said that in 2020 a “State of uncertainty” existed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. So, the faculty took steps to help NMU, including a salary freeze.
“We are there, a year later, and we see no reason to maintain these concessions”, Putman said. âThe university has not suffered financially from COVID. The university has been compensated by the federal government for all additional expenses necessary to deal with the pandemic. “
NMU-AAUP Chairman Dwight Brady said that over the past 24 hours, by “Respectful and thoughtful speech”, significant progress has been made towards an agreement that will guide faculty and administration over the next five years.
âAt the very least, this process has shown that it is possible to engage in collective and collaborative negotiationsâ, Brady said. âIt doesn’t always have to be adversarial or dramatic, but it always has to be fair. “
Christie Mastric can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. His email address is [email protected]