The Northern Michigan University Board of Trustees elected H. Sook Wilkinson of Bloomfield Hills as board chair for calendar year 2016 and Thomas Zurbuchen of Ann Arbor as vice chair.
Wilkinson holds a doctorate and the highest level of license to practice psychology in the State of Michigan. She has served more than 35 years as a practitioner in various settings, working with children and families, as well as adults battling depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. An expert in international adoption, Wilkinson has helped adoptees develop healthy identities through research, clinical work and volunteering. She is the author of Birth is More Than Once: The Inner World of Adopted Korean Children and co-editor of After the Morning Calm: Reflections of Korean Adoptees. The Michigan Psychological Association awarded her Fellow status in recognition of her professional contributions.
Wilkinson serves on the board of Asian Pacific Islander American Health Forum, a national organization in the Bay area that promotes health equity for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders. She was co-editor of Asian Americans in Michigan: Voices from the Midwest, which earned a 2015 State History Award from the Historical Society of Michigan.
“As a first-generation immigrant from South Korea, I am grateful for all the opportunities I have had in the U.S.,” Wilkinson said. “I am passionate about higher education and feel deeply honored to serve as the chairwoman of NMU’s Board of Trustees.”
Zurbuchen, who earned his doctorate in astrophysics from the University of Bern in his native Switzerland, said, “This is the first time in the history of NMU that the board chair and vice chair are first-generation immigrants and also hold PhDs. We are both excited that NMU offers a comprehensive and engaging education that encourages not only academic excellence, but also enriching experiences such as study abroad.”
As a professor of space science and aerospace engineering at the University of Michigan, Zurbuchen specializes in solar and space physics and experimental space research, particularly related to robotic exploration. He led the team that developed NASA’s Fast Imaging Plasma Spectrometer to explore planet Mercury and several other space instruments on NASA missions. He also was the founding director of the Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Michigan, an associate dean of entrepreneurial programs and senior counselor to the provost.
Zurbuchen has a long record of service on committees advising NASA and the National Science Foundation, especially through activities of the National Academies. He has received numerous awards, including the U.S. Presidential Early Career Award, which represents the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on early career scientists and engineers.