HOUGHTON - Michigan Technological University's Academic Senate kicked off a new year of meetings Wednesday night with a welcome from Provost Max Seel and an outlook for 2012-13.
Seel opened by thanking faculty and staff for a successful 2011-12 fiscal year and gave an update from the last Board of Control meeting in August. Seel said there are four key points administrators are working with: Budget, enrollment, programs and marketing.
The university ended with a slight deficit of about 1.5 percent, or equivalent to $3 million. Seel said health care, financial aid and an additional charge to Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System were three factors among many which contributed to the university's deficit.
Stacey Kukkonen/Daily Mining Gazette
Michigan Technological University Provost Max Seel gives a presentation to the University Senate Wednesday evening on campus. Seel gave an update concerning the 2012-13 fiscal school year.
"Freshmen enrollment is up compared to last year," he said. "That's a positive sign. It means our programs, our university is attractive to students."
However, because a larger class graduated last spring, enrollment numbers are down overall and the university has a slightly lower number of graduate students this year.
For programs, Seel said they are keeping an eye on new programs and if the university can afford them. For marketing, Seel said the university has room for improvement and would like to see the number of applications increase.
"These are key items we need to face," Seel said.
Seel said lately, administration, faculty and staff have been working with a new smoking policy to make Tech a smoke-free campus and parking has been a topic of discussion.
"More and more campuses are going (smoke-free)," Seel said.
Administration, faculty and staff are now required to purchase parking permits to park on campus, as the university is trying to make parking self-sufficient. Students are charged to park on campus.
Mechanical Engineering/Engineering Mechanics Senator Nancy Barr asked how parking will be handled at off-campus Tech facilities, such as the the Lakeshore Center in Houghton and the Keweenaw Research Center near the Houghton County Memorial Airport.
"There's some confusion as to whether the employees who work at the KRC, (Advanced Technology and Development Center), Citizens Bank in Hancock or the Lakeshore Center are going to have to pay the same $125," she said.
Seel said for many employees who work at off-campus locations, the difference is made up in fuel spent to get to campus. Some of the employees pay some fee for parking in Houghton and Hancock, he said. The university has received feedback for ideas as parking is continuously being explored, he said.
Seel fielded questions from senators concerning health care and benefits and asked if the university can share with faculty and staff the kinds of options being considered.
Chemical Engineering Senator Mike Mullins asked about total compensation and said employees have not been compensated to keep up with the rate of inflation. It's been a year or two since some employees have gotten raises and employees have never gotten raises equal to the cost of inflation.
"The average compensation for employees at Michigan Tech has fallen every year for five years at a rate of 3 to 5 percent, in constant dollars," he said.
Additionally, there will be cuts to benefits, Mullins said. Chair William Bulleit, Civil and Environmental Engineering, suggested Mullins make a presentation to bring to the University Senate so the senate can discuss the issue more at length.
In his remarks to the senate, Bulleit said he hopes to see the group become more involved and ask more questions.
"My main goal is to get us more active," Bulleit said.