NMU board starts prez search

MARQUETTE – The Northern Michigan University Board of Trustees has secured an executive search firm and established a campus advisory committee to initiate the search for NMU’s next president.

Meeting Friday, the board outlined its first steps toward finding a successor for current interim president David Haynes when his appointment ends on June 30, 2014.

The board has selected Witt/Kieffer to identify potential candidates from across the U.S. with the “best mix of skills, experience, vision and character” to fulfill the NMU mission. According to its website, the firm has locations in 17 major metropolitan markets and is devoted to a client base representing higher education, health care, life sciences companies and not-for-profit organizations.

“We exercised due diligence in reviewing the search firm candidates and Witt/Kieffer seemed the best fit and most responsive to the needs we identified,” said NMU Board Chair L. Garnet Lewis. Lewis said the board also approached campus leaders for input on the qualities they want in the next president.

In reviewing nominations for the Presidential Search Advisory Committee – which will assist the board in identifying potential presidential candidates – Lewis said the board looked for people who demonstrated an understanding of NMU’s operations and a “big-picture view” of the university. She said the board also spent a lot of time in order to “ensure a good cross-representation of employees, students, alumni and board members.”

The committee will be chaired by NMU Trustee Sook Wilkinson, according to an NMU press release. Wilkinson said the committee will “review candidates according to the selection criteria approved by the … board,” and the board will have the final say.

“The committee will submit to the board its recommendations of the most-qualified candidates, but ultimately the final decision on Northern’s next president will rest with the board,” he said.

Lewis said Witt/Kieffer will develop a job description over the next few weeks, with the goal being to begin candidate interviews early in 2014 and make a decision by spring.

In other action, the board ? Approved a $110.5 million general fund operating budget for the current fiscal year – an increase of $2.5 million over last year, which is mainly due to “contractual obligations and inflationary adjustments,” according to the press release.

  • Green-lighted the facilities five-year master plan and the 2014-15 capital outlay project request. Both are required annually by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget. The top three priority projects identified by NMU remain the renovation and addition to the Learning Resources Center; an academic facilities upgrade project involving Forest Roberts Theatre, the McClintock Building and the Physical Education Instructional Facility; and the renovation of Cohodas Hall.

The board’s finance committee was updated on the new Jamrich Hall – where a traditional ironworkers’ “topping off” ceremony was held Wednesday – and the privately funded Wahtera Pavilion at the site of the former Carey Hall.