TRAVERSE CITY -- Traverse City's community college president got an A for his efforts over the last year, just short of a perfect score.

Northwestern Michigan College President Tim Nelson received an overall score of 3.6 points on a 4-point scale after evaluations on core competencies and key responsibilities. The review glows for the most part, but trustees highlighted a couple points for continued improvement.

"If you're not improving, you're either dead or not paying attention," Nelson said.

Regardless, he's happy with NMC's recent year, "in light of the economy and business environment factors that are beyond our control," Nelson said.

Included in the evaluation are comments by college trustees. Most speak to Nelson's effectiveness as president, his reliability, professionalism and ability to accomplish tasks under pressure. Only a few critical comments appear in the review.

Among them are concerns about Nelson spending too much time on non-essential work and at downstate events. Also, maritime, energy and water studies seem to lag in direction and the college is under- or over-staffed in some areas, according to written trustee comments.

Otherwise, remaining comments are complimentary.

Nelson's strengths include an ability to envision how NMC should respond to and prepare students for the rapidly changing world, and maintaining the college's fiscal health, said Bill Myers, trustee and chairman of Nelson's evaluation committee.

Core competencies include communication, teamwork, productivity, dependability, quality, problem solving, ethical behavior and shared governance. Nelson scored an average 3.64 points in those areas, an "outstanding" rating.

Key responsibilities involve community relations, effective strategic planning, the college's fiscal health, an employee base and physical assets to meet the college's needs, effective relationships with trustees and maintained excellence in educational offerings. Nelson rated an average 3.54 points under key responsibilities, falling under the "commendable" rating.

"I can't say enough about Tim's performance. I think he's done a superb job running the institution during some difficult times," said Jay Hooper, trustee.

It's a challenge to manage a growing student population amid falling state funding, he said.

Additionally, trustees voted to freeze Nelson's salary for a year at his request. Nelson said he didn't want a pay raise this year and his salary will hold at $164,035 until July 2010. Nelson was hired in 2001 for $102,000 annually.

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