A new recognition program will debut at Northern Michigan University’s mid-year commencement on Saturday, Dec. 10. The Students’ Choice Award is presented to a faculty or staff member nominated by graduating students to serve as the keynote speaker at the ceremony. The first recipient is Martin Reinhardt, a professor in the Center for Native American Studies.
Reinhardt’s selection precedes next week’s 20th anniversary of the center, which launched the only bachelor’s degree program in Native American studies in Michigan. The first graduates of the program will participate in Saturday’s ceremony. Reinhardt is an Anishinaabe Ojibway citizen of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. His presentation will include an Eagle Honor Song sung by the Morning Thunder drum group.
“When I heard that I had been nominated for the Students' Choice Award, I was both humbled and empowered by the students’ trust in my teaching," he said. "When I received the notification that I had been selected as the commencement speaker, I felt very responsible for making sure that the message I provide in my speech is worthy of the future that we are shaping today.”
Reinhardt has taught courses in American Indian education, tribal law and government, and sociology. His doctoral research at Pennsylvania State University focused on American Indian education and the law, with a special focus on treaty educational provisions.
Outgoing ASNMU President Tristan Ruiz said ASNMU and Mortar Board spearheaded the process to establish the Students’ Choice Award. They received support from members of the commencement committee.
“It makes the speaker more personal for the students because they have a voice in the decision-making process,” said Ruiz. “We contacted the faculty who were nominated and formed a selection committee to decide who would be the first recipient of the award.”
NMU's mid-year commencement begins at 10:30 a.m. in the Superior Dome. It will be broadcast live regionally on WNMU-TV and streamed online free of charge. The link will be available at nmu.edu/commencement.