Camerius Carries Mace in Final Commencement

Saturday’s commencement ceremony will mark the last time that James Camerius (Business) will carry the mace and lead the academic procession into the Superior Dome as the longest-serving faculty member. The marketing professor is retiring after 44 years at his alma mater. Camerius is not only the veteran of the current NMU teaching force; he holds the university's record for faculty longevity.


The dated photo shows Camerius holding a historic wooden mace. It was created by Northern’s industrial arts department in the late ‘60s and eventually fell into disuse and disrepair. The modern version Camerius has actually carried since the tradition was reintroduced nine years ago as part of the university’s centennial celebration was crafted by Dale Wedig (Art and Design).


According to the NMU encyclopedia A Sense of Time by Russ Magnaghi (History), the mace is used as a piece of academic regalia to represent the authority of the university and is usually carried by the longest-serving faculty member, who is considered the “grand marshall.”


Camerius earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing and retailing from NMU in 1961. His appointment as an instructor two years later – after he had obtained his master’s degree from the University of North Dakota – was a fluke.


“I was training for a management position with the Dayton Company, which is now Target Corporation, and I decided to make a quick trip from Minnesota back to campus to visit my former professors,” he said. “Before I knew it, reminiscing over a cup of coffee turned into a career offer. They wanted me to fill a teaching vacancy in the business department. Northern was a fine school and was experiencing big-time growth, so I accepted. It’s been a long road, but it went by quickly. It’s been rewarding, thought-provoking and fulfilling. I’ve enjoyed the people I’ve worked with, both faculty and administrators. They’ve always been supportive.”


Camerius’ career has spanned eight NMU presidents. He has achieved international recognition for his case studies of management and marketing techniques at some of the nation’s largest businesses and retailers. His cases have appeared in about 135 textbooks.


While officially retired from teaching, Camerius plans to remain active within the College of Business. “I’ll maintain an office here in Cohodas and my intent is to guide the professional development and scholarship of Northern students,” he said. “I also plan to do some counseling and writing.”


It is rare in these times for people to start and end their careers in the same place. Because the average person switches employers five to seven times or changes careers two to four times, Camerius’ milestone is one that few, if any, others are likely to achieve.


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Updated: December 14, 2007

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