The history of alumni relations at NMU goes back to the opening years of the institution. The first alumnae--Ellan Harshman, Sarah McLeod and Ida Mitchell--received limited teaching certificates on July 3, 1900.
Within a few years, there were enough graduates for the alumni to meet. This occurred on June 18, 1902. When the first alumni banquet was held, the banquet became a Northern tradition.
As the number of alumni increased and spread across the nation, it became increasingly difficult to keep track of them. In 1920-21 a group of alumni in the Detroit area established a local club. As a result, the Northern Alumni Association was formed in 1924.
In the summer of 1957, the Alumni Relations office was created within the Placement Office. R. Thomas Peters '55 was the first director. Its goals were to identify, locate and organize alumni. Other goals included organization of chapters, fundraising and the use of alumni to recruit students.
In 1982, the role of the Alumni Relations Office grew significantly with the appointment of a full-time director, Paul Suomi '62, and the establishment of a dues-paying membership organization, the NMU Alumni Association. The university's alumni activities expanded with structured programming at alumni events around the country, the establishment of Alumni Association awards and a renewed commitment to produce the alumni magazine, Northern Horizons.
Alumni Relations operates around the principle that the alumni represent a primary constituency that significantly affects the university's present vitality and future strength. Successful alumni relations leads to financial contributions to the university, job leads for graduates, on-campus lectures by alumni who are experts in their professional fields, identification of potential students, enhancement of the university's image and opportunities for alumni to strengthen ties with the university.