In his fall convocation, Northern Michigan University President Fritz Erickson said he could not identify another university in Michigan—perhaps even the upper Great Lakes region—that has made as many innovative, positive strides over the past year and a half as Northern.
“Our level of change has been transformational, but what I’m most proud of is that all of this change has been strategic,” Erickson said. “It’s not been change for the sake of change. And it hasn’t been driven only by economic factors. It has been change to lift the university upward and bring Northern distinction.”
Erickson said students and parents who visited campus or attended orientation are thrilled with The Woods, the new housing complex. The first two completed buildings, Birch Hall West and Cedar Hall West, open this fall. The east wings will open in January. Work has begun on The Lodge, the lounge and gathering space available 24/7 to residents and non-residents. Crews are also nearing completion of the Quad II satellite PEIF workout center—Wildcat Fit Zone—near the halls.
New academic programs are gaining national attention, including medicinal plant chemistry and a developing concentration in forensic anthropology that will include a Forensic Research Outdoor Station (FROST)—the first of its kind to study human decomposition in a cold-weather climate.
Other noteworthy initiatives Erickson referenced include the following:
-The Behavior Education Analysis and Research (BEAR) Center, where psychology students are gaining practical experience helping children with autism and other behavioral disorders;
-A partnership with the Advanced Center for Orthopedics in Marquette, in which NMU will create an oncology exercise science laboratory at a facility under construction near the new hospital, where students can explore how exercise impacts cancer patients and survivors;
-The NMU Sustainability Advisory Council, which completed the intensive Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Rating System (STARS) inventory, earning provisional bronze status, and developed 50 recommendations for implementation (on a related note, NMU this fall will begin planting 150 trees on the academic mall and across campus, thanks to the generosity of alumni);
-A 60 percent increase in private giving this past year and NMU’s planned participation in national Giving Day, held the Tuesday after Thanksgiving; and
-The continually expanding Educational Access Network (EAN), which is bringing NMU’s educational broadband to most of the Upper Peninsula. The effort garnered $6.5 million from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation—one of four MEDC funding awards the university has received over the past year.
“The EAN is a game-changer of phenomenal magnitude,” he said. “We are the only university in the nation, probably the world, creating this kind and size of high-speed broadband network. Although not fully built yet, the EAN is fast becoming the role model for Internet access for rural America. Our EAN is creating educational access, which is increasing the U.P.’s educational opportunities. It is another outstanding example of Northern Michigan University putting the U.P. first – supporting the Upper Peninsula in enhancing educational, economic development and cultural access and opportunities.”
NMU fall-semester classes begin Monday, Aug. 28.