NMU Gnome Gains Facebook Following

Three student employees in Communications and Marketing suggested it would be cool if Northern had its own traveling gnome. With supervisor support, they purchased a garden-variety resin figure, customized it with green and gold attire and named him Norman. The bearded fellow is featured exclusively on Facebook, where more than 600 fans follow his exploits on campus and beyond.

Humorous photos show Norman crowd-surfing at a Homecoming concert (bottom center), donning a wig and dress for the drag show, touring China (left), attending numerous NMU events and enjoying outdoor recreation such as snow-angel making (below).

Norman made his quiet debut on the social network in August. Through personal appearances, word of mouth and electronic “shares” and “likes,” he has morphed into a literal mini celebrity. Students want to be pictured with him and often ask where they can get their own NMU gnome. Based on popular demand, Norman has his own e-mail address (norman@nmu.edu) so fans can request the honor of his appearance at their activities or suggest places he should go and things he should do.


“We’re always looking for no-cost or low-cost ways to show the spirit of adventure, fun and friendliness at NMU,” said Anne Stark (Communications and Marketing). “Norman’s perfect for that. We’ve incorporated him into things already happening and students and alumni have been very receptive. To give an example of his appeal, at least one student dressed up like him for Halloween and another used his likeness for a pumpkin-carving contest at the Marketplace (below).

“Norman does all the things typical Northern students do. With our number of student organizations per capita off the scale compared with our peers, there are so many cool  things for him to do. But he’s an independent icon. Norman is not integrated with the university’s main Facebook page and he’s not trying to replace Wildcat Willy. He’s just a fantastic example of how our students came up with an idea to engage people on and off campus and ran with it. People love him.”

Stark said Norman has been extremely busy with student life activities, but he would love to attend classes in each academic department. To see the NMU gnome in action, visit Norman. Naturally.



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Updated: January 20, 2011

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