Possibilities and Unparalleled Opportunities'
Wong was officially invested with the NMU chain of office
as the university’s 13th president at an Oct. 16 ceremony.
with Wong are (from left) emcee Fred Joyal (Academic
Affairs); Board of Trustees Chair Mary Campbell; Wong’s oldest son,
Isaac, who works for a medical software company in New York City;
youngest son, Brian, a 2nd Lt. in the U.S. Army on a special leave
from Seoul, Korea; wife, Phyllis; and son, Nathan, a professional
flutist in Hayward, Calif.
his speech, “Everybody Counts – Everybody Matters,” Wong cited chronicles
of the Lewis and Clark expeditions, which according to one historian
exemplified "[America's] sense of limitless possibilities and
unparalleled opportunities." He said higher education could
take a lesson from how the explorers reacted to the possibility
of encountering unknown people whose smoke trails were visible on
the horizon of the Dakota prairie.
an adventurer, there are options, and that is the key to this historical
metaphor,” Wong said. “What do we do? One is certainly to decide,
right now, whether they will be friend or foe. That initial assessment
defines all further moves. All too often today, people – about whom
we know so little – are presumed to be foe. Another option is to
avoid them, steer clear, stay away. And the third option is to respond
to the smoke with curiosity to find out who’s there.”
said Lewis and Clark chose option three. They did not lose a single
person to hostile action and they met numerous tribes of Native
people. "Their journal represents the triumph of a curious,
positive engagement with the unknown," he said. "Everyone
on the Corps of Discovery and everyone they met mattered."
Wong said he envisions an NMU education as using curiosity to contain
fear, minimize ignorance, and prepare students to respond to the
unknown. A challenge, he added, is to begin to recognize the value
of the journey and not just the rewards of the outcome. He said
the journey would include:
NMU students into the world and bringing the world to NMU (understanding
different cultures and religions within a social and corporate context,
and learning a second language);
to demonstrate exemplary teaching and learning with technology-enhanced
the high-touch value system;
the vocational motivations of students with a renewed sense of social
and ethical values grounded in service to the community, other students
and – more importantly – those less fortunate; and
upon the wisdom of retirees, alumni and community experts.
highlight of the ceremony was the performance of a commissioned
musical piece, “The Wind,” by composer Jackson Berkey. It featured
the University Choir, under the direction of Floyd Slotterback
(Music), and accompanists Jan Broderson on piano and Nathan
Wong on flute.
of the platform party making brief comments included Campbell, Academic
Senate Chair Tawni Ferrarini (Economics), ASNMU
President Rebecca Thompson, Alumni Assocation President Barry Axelrod,
and Ferris State University President David Eisler, who welcomed
Wong on behalf of the Presidents Council of State Universities of
investiture was followed by a reception/block party in the Superior
Dome before the NMU homecoming football game.
full speech is available at NMU