Wong Delivers Fall Convocation Address


In his inaugural fall convocation address, NMU President Les Wong said the university will begin deliberate discussions on how it can position itself to offer a “Curriculum for the 21 st Century.”


Wong said some campuses have been forced into similar discussions through budgetary distress, enrollment decline, or a desire to re-brand themselves in a new market.


“But our enrollment, relative budgetary stability and, more importantly, the human talent and potential in place suggest we can embark on this discussion from a position of strength,” Wong said. “One condition of these discussions is that we will refrain from decision making to the best of our ability. The purpose is to explore and examine what kind of curriculum will offer us the ‘superior edge.’”


Wong said the university must also explore and examine how each area of campus – not just academics – may play a role in the creation of the curriculum. He cited several examples, including the following:


•How does NMU incorporate important initiatives like service learning, international education and other active learning modes without adding to the credit demands of the major?


•How can the university bear fruit with a ramped-up international education program if it fails to reach out to Native America and underserved adults who are its neighbors?


•In what ways can NMU provide incentives to develop curriculum products and their delivery that exploit the technical environment and do not necessarily mean only online or distance education?


•Will NMU be the first to fully integrate academics and student support into on-campus residential opportunities to create a living-learning community and, if so, how might this impact the architectural design for planned residence hall renovations?

•Are Northern’s academic majors designed to meet the learning demands of its students in the worlds they choose to live and do they support the goals of the discipline?


“You’ll find me to be a person who is reflective, thoughtful, respectful and inquisitive,” Wong said. “I admit, my thinking can even be edgy. After all, we want to be out of the box. Maybe that will be the lasting legacy of our work together: creative, well thought out, edgy and effective teaching and learning in the 21 st century. … I am not comfortable with the notion of president-centric organizations, though I endorse the idea that an effective president is at the center of the consensus-building process – a process that respects and honors shared governance, shared responsibility and academic freedom.”


Wong credited his predecessors of the recent past and the “hard working, high quality” faculty and staff for promoting student success and making NMU a healthy, vibrant institution.


“There is a spirit here which is uniquely NMU and one which we should not take for granted,” he added. “I am intrigued by it and hope to learn and enjoy more of it as the year progresses.”

The full address can be viewed at Convocation.



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Updated: August 25, 2004