A public memorial celebrating the life of former Northern Michigan University President William E. Vandament is scheduled from 1:30-2:30 p.m. Monday, April 21, in Vandament Arena. It will feature the pep band, remarks from university and community representatives and the presentation of a plaque that will hang in the arena named for NMU’s 10th president.
Vandament passed away last April at the age of 81. He started as a psychology professor before embarking on a long career as a university administrator.
While serving as Northern’s president from 1991-97, he implemented the flat-rate tuition structure that still exists and guided the university through significant budget reductions in the wake of a drop in state support. Despite the cuts, he was well respected on campus and in the community. He valued transparency, encouraged input and was a unifying force during tough financial times. Students liked the fact he was willing to engage in activities with them, such as playing with the pep band during athletic events.
“Bill Vandament was an exceptional leader of Northern Michigan University during a challenging time,” said NMU President David Haynes in a press release shortly after Vandament’s death. “I worked closely with Bill during his tenure as president and I always admired his integrity, ability to bring people together to make strong decisions, his vision and his sense of humor. He was such a dear friend to so many of us at NMU and in the community, and he will be missed.”
Vandament put up plaques across campus recognizing the people for whom the buildings are named and established a temporary office on campus to assist community leaders in jump-starting the process of converting K.I. Sawyer to civilian use. He also initiated contracts with South African universities to make study abroad possible for NMU students.
When Vandament retired, the campus community celebrated his service and contributions. He and his wife, Margery, received an honorary degree at the May 1997 commencement ceremony. Students also presented the initial gift to create the Vandament Scholarship Fund through the NMU Foundation.