NMU's Communit Connection

Volume 13, Issue 2 -- September 19, 2013


Dear NMU Community Connection Members,

Happy Homecoming! It’s homecoming week on the Northern Michigan University campus, so there is even more activity than usual.This is a week for all alumni to reconnect with their alma mater in some way. And for all those community members who are not NMU grads but support our university, thank you for showing off your Wildcat pride this week and every week. Go ‘Cats!

YOU’RE INVITED: You can find a schedule of all the NMU homecoming events at www.nmu.edu/alumni. However, I’d like to point out the Game Day community block party from noon to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21 on Third Street. There will be food, beverages, music and children’s games, as well as visits from the NMU Marching Band, Wildcat athletes, coaches, cheerleaders and dance team. Game Day ends just prior to the 3 p.m. kickoff of the NMU vs. Old Dominican football game at the Superior Dome. Following the game, there is a Fifth-Quarter reception for alumni and friends. In addition to the football game, there are also two volleyball matches and a soccer game this homecoming weekend (www.nmu.edu/athletics). I hope to see you at these and other homecoming activities.

SCHOLARSHIP FOR COACH BUCK: Former Wildcat football players are holding an event during homecoming to toast Coach Buck Nystrom.The players are also working to endow a scholarship in “Coach Buck’s” name. I know a lot of people in the Marquette area are friends and colleagues of Buck’s, whose coaching career spanned nearly 60 years. During his days on the sidelines, he worked with some of the best collegiate football coaches and players to be a part of the game. If you would like to contribute to the scholarship, please contact Mike Nelson at the NMU Foundation at mnelson@nmu.edu or 906-227-2627, or give online at www.nmu.edu/Foundation. The scholarship will go annually to an upperclassman on the NMU football team who demonstrates the five qualities of Coach Buck’s fourth-quarter edge program: discipline, commitment, effort, enthusiasm and pride.

UNITED CONFERENCE:  Northern’s annual Uniting Neighbors in the Experience of Diversity (UNITED) Conference begins Saturday, Sept. 21 and goes through Thursday, Sept. 26.  It’s always a pleasure to see many community members attend our UNITED events and join in the celebration of diversity.  The full schedule is at www.nmu.edu/UNITED. Two events that may interest community members take place Thursday in Reynolds Recital Hall. The first is a 3 p.m. entrepreneurship panel discussion called “Make Your Dent in the Universe.” It features community leaders Nheena Weyer Ittner, founder of the U.P. Children’s Museum, and Tom Vear, owner of Donckers, as well as alumnus Bob Stefanski ’84, TIBCO Software and Michigan E-Lab founder.  This panel was put together by NMU Board Trustee Thomas Zurbuchen, a professor and the associate dean of entrepreneurship at the University of Michigan. Dr. Zurbuchen and I will serve as panel hosts. The other event is a 7:30 p.m. presentation on foods that promote holistic health by Dr. Siri Chand Khalsa.

FALL ENROLLMENT: We’re pleased that our new first-time, full-time freshmen and new graduate student numbers both grew this fall semester. This is great news, especially because our overall number has been significantly impacted by having graduated two of the largest classes in university history the past two years. Like all of Michigan’s public universities, NMU saw a decrease in the number of transfer students enrolling. When transfer numbers go down unilaterally, it is usually a sign that the economy is picking up. The combination of large graduating classes, a decline in transfer students and a drop in sophomores resulted in NMU’s overall fall enrollment being down about two percent. As the availability of traditional-aged college freshmen continue to fall throughout the nation and significantly in the U.P., it’s causing us to refocus our efforts on the older adult, veteran and international populations. These are student types that could potentially help Northern maintain or grow its overall enrollment despite the lower number of traditional college freshmen. We’re at the early stages of new recruiting efforts and providing new opportunities for these student groups, but we hope to see measurable results in these areas next fall.

AMONG THE BEST IN THE MIDWEST: Northern Michigan University was again named one of the top 100 universities in the Midwest in the Sept. 10 issue of U.S. News and World Report. As our reputation for quality and affordability continues to grow regionally and nationally, NMU now draws in larger populations from outside the Upper Peninsula. I thought you, as community members who are directly impacted by Northern’s enrollment, would be interested in learning where our students come from. As already noted, one of our goals is to continue to increase our outreach and grow nationally and internationally.

NATIONAL RATINGS: President Obama recently came out with a proposal for national ratings of colleges and universities to help prospective students and parents assess the success of institutions. While Northern has never been against finding ways to provide the public with accountability measures, we have the same concerns with this proposal we always have when funding is tied to a performance equation. That concern is that the process should not hurt the small to mid-size institutions, nor those located in rural areas, which is often the case when a “one size fits all” performance equation is used for funding. I know we’re at the very beginning of the ratings discussion and that many aspects of the original proposal will evolve as a result, but it’s important for you, our university supporters, to understand what we will be watching and talking about to legislators regarding this new national initiative.

TO CLOSE:  Again, I hope you can come to campus for one or many of the homecoming activities this week and/or UNITED events next week. We’re off to a great start this fall semester.  Thank you to all of the service clubs who invited me to make presentations on “NMU Today” to your members this past summer. I enjoyed updating everyone on the world-class university Northern has become, and I’ve heard from many of you that you appreciated learning about the accomplishments and evolution of NMU.  If you belong to a group that would like me or another NMU administrator to present, we’d be happy to get that on our schedule. You can also follow me on Twitter to learn more about the daily and weekly happenings on campus. You can view my Twitter posts at www.nmu.edu/president or join the community at www.twitter.com@davidshaynes. I’m always proud to talk about Northern and to get a chance to demonstrate why every day is a great day to be a Wildcat!


David S. Haynes, NMU President