Addendum #4

Looking Forward from 2006

Dr. Les Wong


Northern Michigan University

August 11, 2006


The Base…


The Presidential vision is rooted in a number of key values and attributes.  The last two years have been benchmarked by these values and attributes.  Alums, corporate friends and partners, parents and students themselves, tell different versions of the same theme.  As the university community seeks to expand our market regionally and perhaps internationally our special niche and attraction to potential partners and students will be defined by a commitment to these values in the larger world and with new initiatives. 


At the core of our value system is our fundamental commitment to students.  Not the process of teaching or learning, but our regard for this person called our student.  Our advising, our instruction and our diplomas are more often and consistently recognized for the human quality of the experience than for any other factor.  We interview prospective employees with that in mind; we examine programs with that in mind; we explore external relationships with that in mind.  All that we do is rooted in the quality of the student experience and our regard for the personal development of each of our students. 


Second, the talent found in faculty, staff and administration is exceptional.  Our employees “want to be here” and it is reflected in the quality of the relationships on campus. 


Third, there is an unqualified commitment to teaching and learning of the first caliber.  The amount of innovations found throughout the curriculum bespeaks the “quiet demeanor” of our campus.  We’re so used to seeing innovation around us that we take it all as pretty normal.  But when you find that technology and web enhancements influence nearly 40% of the semester credit hours on campus, what’s normal for us is factually on the edge for other campuses.  And while we will talk of research later, in many ways the cutting edge research on campus is merely teaching and learning in a different guise.


As the President, I assume these fundamental values are in operation no matter where we go and what we do.  And if initiatives compromise these fundamentals, I suspect the initiative will wither rather quickly.


That said, our future will lie in our ability to remain agile.  We have made considerable effort to minimize bureaucracy.  We will expend considerable effort to redirect scarce funds to programs and initiatives that position our students to be successful in their communities and with their careers wherever in the world they choose to live. 


NMU’s future will center around four major initiatives which have large fiscal and programming ripples.  The extent to which these four initiatives will define our niche is considerable.  These four major items to which considerable energy, time and money will be directed include:










Arguably, NMU’s future will always have enrollment considerations on our radar.  I purposely did not include enrollment as a top item because all of the four above items are an intimate part of any enrollment strategy.  But enrollment is and will remain an essential element of any strategy, short or long term.  In addition to our current successes, there are questions which will occupy our planning:









Our future is bright because we also are quite aware of some of the challenges before us.  These include: