President Identifies Eight Targets in Convocation


In his fall convocation this afternoon, NMU President Les Wong outlined eight targets he has set for the coming year and emphasized the need to confront three existing issues in creative ways.


With respect to the latter, Wong said, “The budget situation hasn’t changed and might get more challenging as we enter the era of formula/performance funding. The dramatic decline in the number of high school students nationwide that we’ve been talking about is starting to really impact universities and it’s impacting NMU today. Employee health and wellness issues continue to play an increasing role in any organization’s financial picture and this is something we’ll engage this year.”


Here are the eight targets Wong outlined toward achieving the goal of reaching NMU’s potential:


1. Improve internal communications: “We’re going to develop more formal and innovative tools and methods to ensure that ideas, comments and concerns go more smoothly both up and down the communication channels and we’re going to improve the training of university leaders in how to communicate effectively with their units—which they may already do—but also how to work with their unit members to empower them to be better communicators.”

2. Become better NMU ambassadors in the political arena, community, departments and with students: “We will never succumb to being ‘just Northern,’ so if you’re one of the ones talking about us that way, you gotta knock it off. Now. It hurts us in recruiting. It hurts us in retention. It hurts morale. And it simply is not true.”

3. Examine health and wellness practices on campus and search for a new model that takes advantage of athletic training, HPER, the Health Center, the USOEC, the on-campus injury clinic and partnerships with Marquette General Health Systems, Superior Health Partners and Blue Cross Blue Shield: “We need to bring down healthcare costs and, simultaneously, produce a healthier workforce and student population. This will include re-opening the discussion about a smoke-free campus, but it will also be about many other wellness opportunities.”

4. Take a serious look at NMU’s branding through an extensive branding audit being conducted by national research firm Stamats, which should be completed by early 2012: “What do we promise NMU students, their parents and all of our stakeholders, including the state of Michigan, that they will get from a Northern Michigan University education? How are we fulfilling that promise? Do we need to change the promise and, if so, to what and how?”

5. Have an impact on the Upper Peninsula and rural areas of Michigan through the Center for Rural and Economic Development, the university’s work with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the Governor’s Rural Development Initiative, along with NMU’s continuing collaborations with school districts and local governments.

6. Continue to seriously examine everything NMU does and decide whether it should continue: “What’s the return on the investment of your time and our resources? What are you doing in your job today that you could stop doing on behalf of a new idea or project that improves NMU? Is there something in your duties that could be changed, but you didn’t know who to ask to make that happen? Let’s get realistic and creative about how we spend our work week. Speaking of new work weeks, we’ll be surveying everyone on how the 4-10 summer schedule worked for you and your area.”

7. Complete three projects left over from last year: a review of athletic programs; a review of the Educational Policies Committee (EPC) recommendations by the budget division; and support the Enrollment Management Network’s recommendations to achieve NMU’s recruitment and retention goals.

8. Continue to move from “silos to inter-department, inter-disciplinary innovation. It’s been our signature in the past; it will be our strength in the future.”

To see the full speech, visit Convocation.



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Updated: August 24, 2011

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