MARQUETTE – The Northern Michigan University Board of Trustees voted 8-0 on Friday to terminate the employment of NMU President Fritz Erickson, effective immediately.
Vice-Chairman Steve Young mentioned the need to “a change and a direction in the direction” as grounds for termination during the extraordinary session of the board of directors held via Zoom.
Erickson had served as president of the NMU on a contract that began on July 1, 2014, the most recently amended contract on July 1, 2018, said board chair Tami Seavoy. The contract was to enter into force until June 30, 2023.
Young brought a motion to terminate the contract “not for cause” effective immediately and authorize the Chairman of the Board to sign the documents and take any action necessary to carry out the directives of the Board. Council unanimously adopted the motion.
“It has been a difficult few weeks for me personally and as a member of this board”, said Young. âI do not take my duties as a board member lightly and I am always guided in my decision making by the principle of what is in the best interests of this university.
âThis is the main thing for me, as I know it is also the case for all the directors on this board. “
Young acknowledged that Erickson did an outstanding job during his time at the NMU.
âFor example, he and his team have helped us navigate the rough and uncertain waters that COVID has presented to all of us, and his team has implemented several new programs that have been successful, such as Medicinal Chemistry, FROST (Forensic Research Outdoor Station) and many others, to name a few â, said Young.
âFinancially, we have maintained a level of stability that other universities our size have not been able to maintain, either before or during the difficult time of COVID. “
However, Young said more needs to be done in some areas.
“I think we need more leadership and forward thinking in the areas of strategic planning, more thinking and action on what we want this university to look like, not tomorrow or in the next 48 hours. , but in the next six years, 10 years, and into the future, and not just that, how do we get there? “ said Young.
âI believe we need more critical thinking and idea generation from the president’s office. In the area of ââeducation, we need bold action. Falling enrollment is never something we should come to terms with. Rather, it’s something we should wake up to every day thinking about it. How can we reverse this trend and grow? “
There should also be better communication to a “micro level” with the board, said Young, who also said he wanted to see more leadership in fundraising and capital improvements. “Who are critical” in the future of the university.
âThere have been some good things that have happened, but we can and must do more, and it all comes back to what I said earlier: what is in the best interest of this university ? “ said Young.
Ongoing negotiations between the administration and the faculty union NMU-American Association of University Professors were not mentioned at the meeting, who have disagreed for months on a contract, including base salary increases. and other forms of remuneration.
A ratification vote for the union is scheduled for Tuesday from 4 to 6 p.m. at Jamrich Hall, Room 1100. If a majority of union members vote to ratify the contract, the NMU board will vote on it next week. Its regular formal session is Friday.
AAUP President Dwight Brady made the following statement:
âEveryone on campus, including the faculty, was surprised at how quickly this meeting went, and we are still dealing with the magnitude of the board’s decision. Nonetheless, we will continue to move forward with the proposed contract ratification vote on September 28.
Seavoy said that until a special meeting could be scheduled to appoint an interim president, she asked Gavin Leach, vice president of finance and administration, and Kerri Schuiling, vice president and vice president of academic affairs, to work together and provide the NMU with executive leadership. She also asked them to help Erickson with a “departure in good order” from his office.
In a statement prepared by Seavoy, she said she expected “Thoughtful and critical action” Erickson on many issues.
“For these reasons, we have lost confidence in his ability to run the university effectively,” she said.
It was his intention as well as Young’s intention to come to a deal that would have allowed Erickson to voluntarily step down by the end of this year.
“Unfortunately, we were unable to reach such an agreement after several weeks of negotiations”, Seavoy said. “Therefore, we have determined that termination would be in the best interests of the university.”
Seavoy said that at the formal session on Oct. 1, the board will discuss appointing an interim chair until a permanent replacement can be appointed.
A search committee will be appointed to search for Erickson’s successor, she said.
Erickson said in a telephone interview that he is “hard to say” whether the faculty union issue affected his dismissal and wishes it went better.
“I really appreciate the opportunity I had to run this excellent university” said Erickson.
His plans call for a transition from administration to faculty as he holds a position in education and psychology.
Christie Mastric can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. His email address is [email protected]