Catching Up

New Logo
iPad showing the website for the new logo
Watch a video about the process and see more logo variations at

NMU Unveils New Logos

Northern Michigan University launched its new academic and athletic logos in April. The revitalized graphic identity is the result of a year-long process that included extensive research on the distinctive attributes of NMU and feedback on the designs from hundreds of university stakeholders, including students, faculty, staff and alumni.

The academic logo replaces the previous tree-and-waves design. It is intended to convey the excellence in scholarship and innovation routinely demonstrated at Northern. It features an “N” overlaying a torch with its flame pointing north, framed within a circle marked with compass points.

The athletics logo is a modernized take on the traditional Wildcat head. It has less of the intricate detail that made the previous version more challenging to stitch and reproduce. It also more effectively incorporates NMU’s school colors. The accompanying wordmark is a dynamic new font developed exclusively for NMU.

“The new logos are part of the rebranding effort started a few years ago,” said Derek Hall, assistant vice president for NMU Marketing and Communications. “The new logos help us better communicate the many great things about Northern and also allow us to give a nod to the history of the university. The torch and ’N’ have been used to represent the institution for more than 50 years. Additionally, the Wildcat logo is well-loved, and through feedback, we discovered that an update was the best approach. Raising the bar on the visual elements that define Northern will help elevate the university’s profile and help market it to prospective students.”

New Residence Halls

New Residence Halls Incoming

Work has begun on new residence halls that will replace the four Quad I residence halls — Gant, Spalding, Payne and Halverson. The six-building, four-story complex will have approximately 1,200 beds with double, semi-private double and single room options. The complex will have interconnected buildings to provide an interior path through the residence halls into the academic mall. It will also include a living-learning focus, with more open gathering spaces than our current facilities, along with two academic classrooms and the opportunity for student service areas. The halls will maintain their current “house” model.

The first phase of the project is under way, with Payne Hall being demolished this summer, Halverson next summer, and Gant and Spalding in summer 2018. The first halls will open for fall 2017. Housing and Residence Life is planning ways to incorporate photos and memories of old Quad I into the new housing (email with your ideas).

The halls are part of a public-private partnership model. Development partner EdR, Inc. will invest $80 million to build and maintain the new residence hall complex while NMU will operate its student life components. 

Unfortunately, the new residence hall complex construction will impact a small portion of the Outdoor Learning (Native Plants) Area. Additional space has been allocated to expand the plantings in nearby areas.

This summer will also mark the end of the 821 Center and 821 Summit Street Apartments, aka “married housing,” which are also slated to be taken down.

"As discussions took place over the past several years about how to upgrade our halls, some primary goals developed: 1) to modernize our living spaces but still keep costs affordable for students and their families; 2) to bring more academic components into the halls, creating dynamic living-learning spaces that are accessible to all students; 3) to bring on-campus housing physically closer to the academic mall; 4) to create an interconnected walkway that helps students avoid the cold in the winter. This “main street” design also allows for more small-group student meeting space throughout the walkway; 5) retain the “house” concept that is so important to the current and past students who have lived in the residence halls; and 6) if possible, to keep the current residence hall dining facility – the Marketplace.” 

NMU President Fritz Erickson

Brain Research

Optogenetic tools, which allow scientists to control neurons in the brain with bursts of light, provide a powerful new way to study the brain. They offer greater precision in targeting specific neurotransmitters responsible for behavior than traditional methods such as electrode stimulation. At the urging of graduate student Remington Rice ’14 BS, ‘16 MS, Northern’s neuroscience program has acquired the cutting-edge technology and genetically modified animals required to conduct research typically reserved for larger institutions.

Dr. Adam Prus, NMU psychology professor, said the transgenic animals carry light-sensitive proteins capable of activating or deactivating neurons with a pinpoint accuracy that was not achievable until recently. The NMU project focuses on dopamine neurons. If researchers can more closely link dopamine to neurological disorders, Prus said it could lead to a more optimal pharmacological strategy for treating humans with medications that target those specific types of neurons. The techniques themselves might even be used in humans to treat certain neurological disorders, such as Parkinson’s or depression.

Lab Rat

“Some people have resorted to surgical options, like [actor] Michael J. Fox did for his Parkinson’s,” Prus said. “He tried deep brain stimulation surgery, in which an electrode is implanted and stimulated to alleviate the symptoms. The procedure doesn’t work in all cases and it isn’t permanent. It might be that in the future, one could use optogenetic techniques as real treatment strategies in humans, perhaps better than brain stimulation approaches used today.” There might also be ways to inhibit neurons that are overactive, as in drug addiction.

Through a minimally invasive surgical procedure, optical fibers are implanted into the animals’ neurons. Graduate and undergrad students monitor the animals’ behavior when the dopamine neurons are activated, turned off or impacted by medication, then compare the results with a control group of “wild-type” rats.

John Beaumeir

A Welcome New Addition

The Beaumier Alumni Welcome and U.P. Heritage Center, at the west end of Gries Hall, opened its doors April 28. Stop by if you’re in town! Through September 10, the Heritage Center will be featuring the exhibit “Made in the U.P.” The facility is named in honor of alumnus and retired orthopedic surgeon Dr. John Beaumier, who contributed $1 million to the NMU Foundation to make the project possible. He is pictured at center, with Robyn Stille, executive director of the Alumni Relations and Annual Giving, and Dan Truckey, Heritage Center director.


Bittersweet Faculty Awards

The recipients of the 2016 Distinguished Faculty Awards at Northern Michigan University are Dr. Charles Ganzert of the Communication and Performance Studies Department, who was honored posthumously, and Dr. Brian Gnauck of the College of Business. Ganzert’s wife, Social Work Professor Patricia “Pish” Cianciolo, accepted and spoke on his behalf. Sadly, he passed away from a massive stroke in April. Many alumni will recall the intelligent, caring influence of Brian Gnauck, who continues to teach at NMU, which he started doing in 1972.

Making Headlines

Luge World Cup Logo

Branding Luge World Cup

NMU graphic communications students designed the logo and promotional materials that will be used for the International Luge Federation’s Luge World Cup on Natural Track at Lucy Hill in Negaunee. The Upper Peninsula Luge Club, home of the only full-length natural luge track in the United States, will host the event in January 2017.


Helping Special Olympians

Harrison Moynihan, a student from Grand Haven, received the Outstanding Community Impact Award from Michigan Campus Compact, one of six students in the state. He coached and volunteered for numerous Special Olympic sports and at Bay Cliff Health Camp and has been heavily involved in the Elder Errands Club.


Heading National Association

Emma Finkbeiner ’16 BS from Marquette and Harbor Springs, has been elected 2016-17 national president of the Public Relations Student Society of America. She was named national publications editor in chief in the spring of 2014. Finkbeiner is the second NMU student to serve as PRSSA national president in the past two years.

Book Cover

Join in our Community Read

The Round House, a National Book Award winner for fiction by Louise Erdrich, is the 2016 One Book, One Community selection. Erdrich is a revered chronicler of Native American life and a Pulitzer Prize finalist. In The Round House, she transports readers to an Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota, where a boy on the cusp of manhood seeks justice and understanding in the wake of a brutal, racist attack on his mother. The incident upends and forever transforms his family. Special events and book discussions revolving around this year’s selection will be held in the fall.

Marquette Highschool Students

Raising Confidence

Brooke Baily, a special education major from Barrington, Ill., raised $2,000 to support Marquette Alternative High School’s all-female trip to Washington, D.C. as part of its “She Believed” program. She was inspired after only two visits to the school to launch an online crowd-funding campaign while home over NMU’s winter break. She did it unbeknownst to MAHS staff. More than 60 family members or friends with no connection to Marquette either contributed to the campaign or shared it on social media.

“I fell in love with the school and wanted to help in any way I could,” said Baily. “I went to different schools as part of a class at Northern. The MAHS environment made such an impression on me.” The class traveled to D.C. in May thanks to Baily.

Students holding their awards

Saving a Life

The Marquette Police Department recognized NMU students Maria Kiilunen and Darrin Koivisto for their life-saving efforts after a man fell through the ice near the Lower Harbor Ore Dock.
The incident happened on the evening of January 20. The students heard a man yelling for help, called 911 and ran to the man, who was struggling and unable to get out on his own. They located a life-saving ring on the pier and used it to pull the man to safety. Kiilunen and Koivisto stayed with him until rescue units arrived. Kiilunen is a sophomore clinical health sciences/surgical technology major and varsity soccer player from Brighton. Koivisto is a freshman mechanical engineering major from Cokato, Minn.