Appointed January 21,2011 by Governor Rick Snyder for a term beginning January 1, 2011.
Rick Popp, of Northville, is director of employee benefits at Ford Motor Company. He previously was director of human resources for Ford of Mexico and has held various HR leadership positions in more than 20 years with the company. Born in L'Anse and raised in Iron Mountain, Popp earned two degrees from NMU: a master's in public administration with an emphasis in personnel and labor relations in 1990; and a bachelor's in computer science in 1988. He played quarterback for the Wildcats, leading the team that advanced to the semifinals of the 1987 NCAA Division II national playoffs. Popp is a past president of the NMU Alumni Association and also served on its board. He met his wife, Sue (Willson), at Northern. She graduated in 1990 with a finance degree and also had NCAA playoff experience as captain of the 1988-89 Wildcat women's basketball team.
"I feel very privileged to receive a call from the new governor and honored to join Northern's board," said Popp. "I'm certainly familiar with economic challenges. The auto industry faced a tremendously dark period, similar to what the state is going through. At Ford, I was fortunate to be part of arguably the biggest turnaround in corporate history. I have confidence that with a fresh start, the future of Michigan is looking up as well.
"We had to make extremely difficult decisions at Ford that caused short-term pain but allowed us to remain competitive in a global industry over the long term. NMU also needs to stay competitive-not only in cost, but in quality. You can't cost-cut your way to prosperity. It will be interesting to see the similarities and differences between corporate and higher education strategy."
Popp succeeds Doug Roberts, whose terms expired, and will serve through Dec. 31, 2018.