NMU board addresses ‘conflict of interest’ at meeting

MARQUETTE — During Friday’s meeting of the NMU Board of Trustees, board member Robert Mahaney addressed a potential conflict of interest. Mahaney is the president and founder of Veridea Group, LLC.

His company has a couple of hotels that has contracts with the university for discounted rooms. Mahaney says he’s never negotiated any of those contracts and has no knowledge of them.

Mahaney brought the situation to NMU’s legal counsel, who investigated the matter to see if he violated any laws. It was determined that there was no conflict of interest.

“It’s really important for us that whenever there’s a potential conflict with a board member that we address it openly,” said Erickson. “If we didn’t do things like this, then we would never have anybody from Marquette or the Upper Peninsula on our board because everybody does business with us one way or another.”

During President Erickson’s report to the board, he mentioned that there is a plan to renovate the University Center.

“We really need a facility that engages our students more than this does, but also engages us with our community” said Erickson. “Our plan is to add a 900+ seat auditorium and a set of meeting rooms to expand our meeting rooms that we have up here and to really create a place for our students and our organizations to be able to work.”

Erickson says the cost of the project is expected to be between $17-18 million. Also at the board meeting, Scott Holman was elected as board chairman, replacing Sook Wilkinson, whose term with the board expires at the end of the year.

“The board chair is an important leadership position and I think we have some challenges ahead of us,” said Holman. “I’m looking forward to working on enrollment with the president, staff and the rest of the board.

“I’m definitely planning to continue my friendship with everybody and my relationship with the university in whatever way that I can,” said Wilkinson. “It’s been such a pleasure and privilege to be a part of the community.”

Wilkinson and Garnet Lewis are both done with the board come December 31st. They were recognized for their years of service to the university.

NMU is now waiting on Governor Snyder to appoint three new trustees to the board, to replace Wilkinson, Lewis, and Thomas Zurbuchen resigned earlier this year.

“As you’ve seen today, this is a very close knit board. They support one another. They have a unified commitment to support the university and we expect the same thing will happen with the new appointees,” said Erickson.