MARQUETTE — The Northern Michigan University Board of Trustees approved a 2020-21 general fund operating budget of nearly $117.1 million. While the figure represents a 1% decrease from the previous year, NMU is able to increase its scholarships and fellowships by nearly $300,000. It will also invest in strategic initiatives previously authorized by the board.

“The budget incorporates the enrollment decline we experienced this fall, the tuition adjustment previously passed by the board and a flat state appropriation,” said Gavin Leach, vice president for Finance and Administration. “The budget allows us to continue to drive forward in investing for the future through new enrollment initiatives while addressing the challenges of a flat appropriation, lower current year enrollment, and the operational challenges presented by COVID,” added Leach.

The board also approved a new two-year contract ratified Oct. 12 by the AFSCME union, which represents 130 food services staff, maintenance employees and police officers. The first year includes a 1% one-time payment. The second year features no increase or payment, but there is an option for a wage re-opener.

“We thought we really demonstrated our value to the university from mid-March through the summer, when we continued working on campus despite COVID-19 to make sure everything was ready for students to come back this fall,” said AFSCME President Rick Schwemin. “When people come to campus, we’re often the first people they see. Our members are genuinely friendly and enjoy communicating with students and others beyond their job duties. It’s important to keep quality people like that around.”

In other action at today’s meeting, the NMU Board of Trustees:

-Approved the NMU Facilities Five-Year Master Plan, as required by the Department of Management and Budget, and the fiscal year 2021 long-term maintenance project list.

-Agreed that the volleyball locker room/team room be named the “Ron and Barb, ’89, Neaves Volleyball Team Room.”

-Granted recent retiree Steven Nelson the status of Professor Emeritus of Political Science.

-Approved the donation of five original oil paintings by Leon Lundmark through the NMU Foundation to the DeVos Art Museum’s permanent collection.