News for NMU Employees

Gaming Targets International Recruitment


A gaming session was held on campus last week, but these participants were not using hand-held devices to control action on a screen through an Xbox or PS3. They were using game theory to identify ways that NMU can increase its international student enrollment by 25 percent for each of the next three years.

Teams worked to select the top six countries that the university should target and articulated effective recruitment and marketing strategies. The 29 participants included faculty/staff with international experience, international students, the Marquette city manager, a city commissioner and alumni from across the country, who came to NMU at their own expense.

Game theory is described as a thoughtful, conversational procedure used to analyze a theoretical or competitive situation—a “game.” Participants work to identify the players in a current or future situation, along with their possible actions and reactions, addressing the “what ifs” and “then whats.”

NMU alumnus Ron St. Martin uses this approach to help the CIA, U.S. Department of Defense and other government clients identify and manage change in the national security policy environment. He is a senior consultant for Science Applications International Corp., working in the Center for Gaming Excellence. St. Martin has designed hundreds of gaming sessions for government agencies and major corporations, but said, “I have not heard of or participated in any at a university. It was masterful for David [Haynes] to say, ‘Let’s do a game on this.’”

Haynes said he was intrigued by St. Martin’s work and asked if he would conduct a session at Northern. “Ron made a huge donation of time and expertise to help us get more international students, which will bring in additional revenue. It started a dialog and brought a consensus together to reset and prioritize our international programs and determine where we’re going for strategic reasons.”

Two assistants accompanied St. Martin. They moderated the breakout-session dialog and built a brief in real time for use at the plenary session that followed. “It gives you insights, but the not the final answers,” said assistant Justin Guiffre.

On a related note, NMU’s new director of International Programs, Kevin Timlin, arrived on campus about two weeks ago to begin his appointment.