Campus Closeup: Russell Ault
Russell Ault (Printing and Mail Services) knows all about perfect timing. Thirty-one years ago, a former roommate told him about a job opening at the NMU public television station and he's been working for NMU ever since. He's now a graphic artist, designing promotional materials for department and faculty events, performing arts programs and athletic media guides.
Ault says that the point of graphic design is making something that communicates. “People generally have a need for an ad or brochure and it’s my job to take that information and make a printed piece that communicates what they want,” he said.
Ault was born in Akron, Ohio, and went to high school in Birmingham, Mich. “My father said I was trying to run away from society by coming up here,” he said with a laugh. “But there was a lot of snow and I was a downhill skier back then.”
Ault graduated from NMU with a BFA degree in painting. He hasn't done much painting since, but he has delved into landscape photography. His favorite subjects are Lake Superior, clouds and trees.
When he was a freshman, Ault worked for the Northern News (currently The North Wind). The writers for the paper met in the basement of Kaye Hall, surrounded by boilers and trash. “It’s interesting that I didn't know what I was going to do with my life back then and now I'm in the print industry and working just a few blocks from where I spent so much time as a student."
After a whole day of creating art, Ault likes to “relax” with numerous off-campus activities. He is the president of the Neguanee Lion’s Club, is on the board of the Marquette Community Federal Credit Union and has been involved in the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program. He is an avid outdoorsman who enjoys turkey hunting, fishing and his ongoing task of building a camp, where he hopes to retire in a couple of years. Another, perhaps slightly offbeat, outdoor hobby of Ault’s is snowmobiling with his dog. “I sit him on the seat between my legs. He loves it."
Ault also spends as much time as he can with his family, including three grandchildren who live in Minnesota. “I try to get them up here as much as possible and I look forward to spending more time with them in my retirement,” he said.
Another activity Ault enjoys is traveling. He visits family in Jacksonville, Fla., once or twice a year and partakes in some fishing on the Florida Keys. He also travels outside of the United States. A recent destination was Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, where Ault took a humpback whale cruise. “It was a neat experience. They were that close to us,” he said, pointing just feet away. "And a trip we took into the Sierra Madre mountains opened my eyes to the plight of some of the natives."
Ault and his family share something else: a strong enthusiasm for NMU. “I just did a count the other day and between my wife, my daughter, Chelsea, two stepdaughters and a son-in-law, we have eight degrees from Northern.”