Northwestern Michigan College fact sheet

TRAVERSE CITY — As the election nears, we assembled a brief fact sheet on some of the main topics currently being discussed. Please use the following information and citations as background information for any voter discussions or coverage.


Total enrollment this fall is 4,167 students, which generated 43,956 contact hours. This is an approximately 4.6% decline in contact hours. There are two major trends influencing enrollment at the college:

  1. A decline in the traditional student age population, predicted to continue past 2020.
  2. Improved state of the local economy causing older, potential students to choose employment over education.

Budget and Tuition

Based on a number of factors including expenditures and declining enrollment, NMC increased tuition from $96.35 per credit hour to $103.70 for in-district students. For comparison, as cited by the Traverse City Record Eagle, students attending one of Michigan’s 15 state universities will pay “about $350 while some cost more than $460 per credit hour.”

Campus Improvements

  1. Residence Hall and Fitness Center: This building has broken ground and the new 140-bed residence hall and fitness center has the target opening date of August 2017.
  2. The Dennos Museum Center: In October 2016 NMC broke ground on a 14,000 sq. ft. addition, made possible because of kind contributions from Richard and Diana Milock and Barbara and Dudley Smith. Additional funding is being raised as part of larger efforts from the NMC Foundation.
  3. Okerstrom Fine Arts Building: Updates and improvements are coming for this building including: facility repairs for this building, windows, drainage, exterior siding repairs and internal restroom redesign.

Union Negotiations

The NMC faculty chose to recognize the Michigan Education Association (MEA) as their collective bargaining agent on March 12, 2015. Since that time NMC has participated in almost 25 bargaining sessions with and without a mediator and has bargained in good faith. The College bargaining team arrives prepared at each session and in the most recent session on October 7, 2016, additional progress was made. NMC is committed to a contract that will best serve the faculty, our students, the college and our community.

Specifically, since the faculty voted to unionize in March 2015, NMC has done the following:

  • Presented numerous written proposals and counter proposals for the union’s consideration, the first on June 12, 2015; a comprehensive proposal and set of tentative agreements on June 29, 2016; and, most recently, a revised comprehensive proposal and set of tentative agreements on October 7, 2016.
  • Followed established negotiating practices, engaging in 17 collective bargaining sessions with union negotiators between May 15, 2015, and March 7, 2016.
  • Requested mediation through MERC on March 7, 2016.
  • Participated in eight sessions with MERC mediators between March 22 and September 29, 2016.
  • Petitioned MERC on August 8, 2016, for fact finding analysis to advance negotiations.
  • Reached at least 18 tentative agreements with the union.

Committee Involvement

Faculty and staff are invited to participate in dozens of NMC councils, committees, task forces and project teams. Some of the many opportunities include:

  • Four faculty members, of the total thirteen members, serve on Policy Council.
  • Faculty comprise four of the sixteen members of Planning and Budget Council.
  • A faculty chair and seven faculty members of the fifteen members, serve on the Developmental Education Committee.

Specifically regarding curriculum, all new curriculum issues continue to flow through the Curriculum Committee comprised of 11 faculty and 5 staff. This committee makes recommendations to the president who then takes appropriate items to the Board. During his 16 years as president, President Nelson has never overruled a recommendation from this committee. Additionally, faculty lead their classes and develop curriculum under NMC’s academic freedom guidelines.

Faculty Reports at Board of Trustees Meetings

Faculty Council asked to have the faculty report removed from the Board of Trustees agenda via email on November 9, 2007. After hearing from faculty that they would like the reports reinstated, the College proposed to immediately reinstate faculty reports on the Board of Trustees agenda on March 7, 2016, and presented a modified version based on discussions and feedback on May 17, 2016. Thus far, the Union has not responded to that proposal.


Issues of compensation, including salaries/wages and benefits, are mandatory subjects of all collective bargaining, and it is something the MEA has brought up in negotiations. It is important to take the following facts into consideration:

  • Average NMC faculty salaries are above the national averages for community college faculty as reported by the AAUP (American Association of University Professor).
  • All other salaries on campus are being benchmarked against national averages.
  • NMC has never proposed to reduce faculty compensation.

Release date: October 19, 2016



Northwestern Michigan College is committed to a policy of equal opportunity for all persons and does not unlawfully discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, disability, genetic information, height, weight, marital status or veteran status in employment, educational programs and activities, and admissions.