Traverse City Record-Eagle

March 25, 2013

NMC 10-year vision shows growth in technical education

By Anne Stanton astanton@record-eagle.com
Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Northwestern Michigan College hopes to recruit hundreds more international students, build new student housing, and add more space for technical education over the next decade.

The community college’s master plan, recently approved by its board of trustees, outlines the physical vision for its observatory and three campuses: the Front Street campus, Aero Park Drive and the University Center on Cass Street.

NMC hopes to multiply its current number of 17 international students to a total of 250 students in five years. Recruiting efforts will focus on NMC’s specialty offerings of aviation, robotics, and water studies that often draw lucrative salaries, said Vicki Cook, vice president for finance and administration.

“When you are recruiting international students, you have to focus on what is your uniqueness,” she said.

International students would bring diversity to the NMC campus not known for its mix of ethnicity. Foreign students, ineligible for federal student loans, usually pay full-price, out-of-state tuition dollars — $212 per credit hour compared to $85. Even so, community college is still a much better deal than a four-year university, Cook said.

“They get to know us and we get to know them, and they can take their experience back to their country, too,” she said.

Depending on the need, NMC would invest up to $26.5 million for new housing near the Oleson Center to replace three aging apartment building. Capacity would jump from 138 to 300 students, the master plan showed.

Academic buildings on the central campus generally would remain the same size, while instructional facilities for aviation, engineering technology, and automotive services on Aero Park Drive could grow by as much as 76,000-square feet. Renovation was recommended for Osterlin Library, as well as the physical education and fine arts buildings.

A top priority is to renovate and more-than-triple the size of West Hall. The 47-year-old building formerly served as a dormitory and now houses a radio station, the student newspaper, administrative offices, a cafeteria, student services, counseling, and a bookstore.

The plan is to remodel and grow the building to nearly 150,000-square feet. The one-stop student center would also include a health clinic, a fitness and wellness center, student services, library services, and instruction and medical simulation for the nursing program.

The college will call the building the Multi-Disciplinary Student Learning Center, but it won’t become a reality unless the state of Michigan’s can match half the $38.5 million project costs. NMC would also have to borrow money and solicit donations, said Cook, adding that NMC has $8 million in plant reserves.

School officials also outlined plans to relieve the scarcity of parking. Dennos Museum, for example, seats 400 people, but only has 127 parking spaces. The college could either build a parking structure in the nearby Aspen Lot at a cost of $15,000 to $18,000 per space or add 75 spaces for a fraction of that cost — about $3,000 per space. The structure would take up a smaller footprint and keep more existing natural ground area, the master plan report stated.

Another option is to build a parking structure in the more remote Cherry Lot, across the road from West Hall.

“It would take a partnership to be able to afford the parking structure,” Cook said.

The plan recommended relocating a portion of College Drive to add almost three acres and 244 new parking spaces. The master plan showed an addition of 50 spaces to Cedar Lot, the most central and popular lot for student parking. There was no time frame to add parking, which was not cited as a high priority.

The architectural and engineering firm of TowerPinkster put together the master plan at a cost of $84,400.