'Limitless Possibilities and Unparalleled Opportunities'

Les Wong was officially invested with the NMU chain of office as the university’s 13th president at an Oct. 16 ceremony.

Pictured 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.

In 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.


“As 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.”


Wong 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."

Similarly, 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:


-Putting 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);


-Continuing to demonstrate exemplary teaching and learning with technology-enhanced pedagogies;


-Maintaining the high-touch value system;


-Balancing 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


-Drawing upon the wisdom of retirees, alumni and community experts.


A 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.


Members 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 Michigan.


The investiture was followed by a reception/block party in the Superior Dome before the NMU homecoming football game.

Wong's full speech is available at NMU President.



1401 Presque Isle Ave | Marquette, MI 49855 | 1-800-682-9797
Technical questions? E-mail webhelp@nmu.edu
Admissions questions? E-mail admiss@nmu.edu

©1999-2004 by the Board of Trustees of Northern Michigan University

Page created by: NMU Webteam

Northern Michigan University is an AA/EO Institution.

NMU logo

Updated: October 21, 2004