News for NMU Employees


Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012

Governor Announces NMU Board Appointments

Steve Mitchell of West Bloomfield and Thomas Zurbuchen of Ann Arbor were appointed to the NMU Board of Trustees today by Gov. Rick Snyder.

"Northern Michigan University welcomes Steve Mitchell and Thomas Zurbuchen to the Board of Trustees.  They bring excellent experience to the board and we're honored to have the opportunity to work with them," said NMU President David Haynes. "I also want to thank our outgoing trustees, current chair Brian Cloyd and vice chair Jack LaSalle, for their service.  Brian and Jack have been outstanding advocates for the university, especially NMU students."

Mitchell, an NMU alumnus, has served as chairman of Mitchell Research and Communications Inc. since 1985. He provides public relations, public affairs, marketing research and political consulting services to corporate, association and government clients in more than 40 states. Mitchell holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and history from NMU and received the university’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2004. He replaces Jack LaSalle.

“It’s always a special honor to be appointed to the board of the university from which you’ve graduated and I love the Upper Peninsula,” Mitchell said. “I love the idea that I’ll be able to come up there for the next eight years and work with the president. These are challenging times for universities. The opportunity to make a contribution to my alma mater is something I look forward to.

“I got a tremendous education at Northern Michigan. It’s a truly great school with dedicated faculty. When I received my Distinguished Alumni Award, a retired professor who was there when I was an undergraduate in 1965 came up from lower Michigan to attend the ceremony and the wife of another professor was there. Those are the type of things you get going to a regional university that takes a real interest in students.” 

Zurbuchen is associate dean of entrepreneurial programs at the University of Michigan’s College of Engineering and founding director of the Center for Entrepreneurship. He also serves as a professor of space science and aerospace engineering at the university, where he has worked for more than 16 years. Zurbuchen received a master’s degree in physics, mathematics and astronomy and a Ph.D. in physics, both from the University of Bern in Switzerland. He replaces Brian Cloyd.

"From the available board options, I chose Northern Michigan because I had a great experience at a university in Switzerland that was similar in size, one that was very important to its region and was the hub of the community, which is the sense I got about NMU when talking to friends and colleagues who were Northern graduates," said Zurbuchen. "This kind of assignment by the governor is personally humbling. I know there is already tremendous knowledge on the board, and as I spend time with my board colleagues, I hope to learn how I can best help the university. 

"I want to play a role in helping to reinvent Michigan--this state is my home, my children's home. I know that our universities are tremendously important in this and that each university has a special role it can play. What I know of NMU so far is that it's important to the Upper Peninsula, but also important to the reinvention of the state, and I look forward in learning more about the students, faculty and staff, and programs."

Appointees will serve eight-year terms that expire Dec. 31, 2020, and their appointments are subject to the advice and consent of the Senate.

“Northern Michigan University is critical to the success of the Upper Peninsula and our entire state,” said Snyder. “I am confident Steve and Thomas will provide outstanding guidance and leadership as NMU fulfills its mission.