Dear NMU Community Connection Members,
Happy homecoming to all members of the NMU Community Connection. Whether you’re a member of our alumni, a business or community leader in the area, or someone who simply supports Northern Michigan University, everyone gets to be a Wildcat this special week each year! We’ve had a wonderful celebration so far, with many student activities taking place during the week. Alumni and community members are invited to check out events at www.nmu.edu/alumni.
COMMUNITY BLOCK PARTY: I do want to point out one new homecoming event, the community block party that is taking place from 11 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. on Third Street (between Magnetic and Kaye). This is a joint effort on the part of the Marquette Downtown Development Authority, the Marquette County Convention and Visitors Bureau, the NMU Alumni Association, the NMU campus community and many Third Street businesses. There will be a plethora of food options from Border Gill, Casa Calabria, Stucko’s Pub & Grill and Togo’s Submarine Shop, as well as a beer and beverage tent. For the kids, there will be face painting and inflatable games. The NMU marching band, dance team and stepping competition winners will perform. You and your family members can also take advantage of the free photo and video booth that will be on-site. It’s going to be a great COMMUNIVERSITY time and we hope to see you there. The block party will end with plenty of time to get to the Superior Dome for the 2 p.m. kickoff of the NMU vs. Ashland homecoming football game. Also, the women’s soccer team has a homecoming tilt at 11 a.m. Saturday against Michigan Tech at the NMU Soccer Field. I hope you join us for some NMU homecoming fun.
ENROLLMENT: We are about a month into our fall 2012 semester and things are going well. However, as several of you have heard me discuss, Northern – and most universities – has some pressing issues tied to enrollment. For NMU in particular, there are two things happening simultaneously that are impacting our enrollment. One is that we just graduated the two biggest senior classes of the university’s 113-year history. The other is the demographic population of the traditional-aged incoming college freshman is decreasing locally, regionally and nationally (except in just a few areas of the country). This means there are fewer available college freshmen and more schools competing to recruit them. Our preliminary fall 2012 enrollment numbers are down about two percent, which is around the level we anticipated based on the demographics and the recent high number of graduates.
However, our strategy is not to shrink in size just because the demographics of 18-year-olds are doing so. The university has been strategizing about what other student population types are a good fit for NMU and can help offset the traditional-aged freshmen decline. For instance, we have been putting a lot of effort into making the university as military friendly as possible and heavily recruiting veterans, and this fall we’ve seen a measurable increase in veteran students. We’re also putting more emphasis on our graduate and international student recruitment. We think both areas have great potential for growth. We’re also developing some new and specialized recruiting efforts. Beyond the delivery of top-caliber academic programs and an outstanding student experience, which are always our top goals, NMU’s priorities are increases in enrollment and retention.
ECONOMIC IMPACT: Why does NMU’s enrollment matter to you as community and business leaders? In our recent economic impact study, we found that NMU’s total economic impact on the U.P. is estimated to be in excess of $311 million, generating more than 4,500 jobs in the region, which represents about 1 in 33 U.P. jobs and 1 in 6 in Marquette County; NMU brings approximately 123,600 visitors to the university annually who would not otherwise visit the area; and these visitors spend approximately $6 million while in Marquette County, with an economic impact of more than $9 million. NMU students spend a total of approximately $53 million in the Upper Peninsula each year and that spending has an overall economic impact of $74 million. Northern students occupy approximately 43 percent of Marquette City rental housing stock. So, obviously increasing enrollment is important to not only the university, but also the local economy.
NEW FACILITIES: Here’s a quick update on the work on our two new facilities. The renewable energy plant, located on Wright Street, is progressing on schedule. About a week ago, the ironworkers posted their evergreen and flags at the top of the structure, indicating their work on the frame of the building was completed. The furnace equipment had already been put in place and the structure was built around it. The first test burn is tentatively scheduled for early February. When opened, this facility will provide 87 percent of NMU’s steam consumption and 16 percent of our electricity needs. Over time, the cost savings will be significant. Additionally, NMU will now have biomass and natural gas fuel options, allowing us to choose the more affordable of the two as prices change.
In June, we received state capital outlay funding for our new academic building, which will replace John X. Jamrich Hall. Currently more than 40 percent of our classes are held in Jamrich. The new facility will be located between the Learning Resources Center and Hedgcock. It will be constructed to meet LEED certification standards. We are in the final design stages right now. Construction is scheduled to begin at the close of the winter 2013 semester and we anticipate the building to be open for the start of the fall 2014 semester.
UNITED CONFERENCE: Northern’s annual Uniting Neighbors in the Experience of Diversity (UNITED) Conference begins Monday, Sept. 24, and the public is invited to attend. Nearly all of the nearly 30 presentations are free of charge. There is certainly an outstanding lineup, and you can find the full schedule at www.nmu.edu/UNITED. Here is a small sampling of the featured speakers: Monday – Rick Popp, Ford Company human resources executive, on diversity issues in a global workforce; the dynamic Ramsey Jay Jr., author of Weekly Life Lessons in Leadership; a presentation and discussion of the Emmy-nominated documentary “Where Soldiers Come From”; a dramatic reading by E. Patrick Johnson on stories of gay black men of the South; Tuesday – nationally recognized Korean and Native American artist Debra Yepa-Pappan; poet Michael Reyes; Chong Kim on human trafficking; Wednesday – Chris Waddell, the most highly decorated U.S. ski paralympian; Thursday – Dr. David Kiefer on the love and lore of chocolate and other food cultures and traditions.
As always, thank you for your continued support of Northern Michigan University. Enjoy homecoming and UNITED.
David Haynes, NMU President
Questions or comments can be sent to NMUPres@nmu.edu.