The President's Parent Partnership

Volume 15, Issue 8 -- April 4, 2017

Dear NMU Parents,
We are about one month away from the end of the semester, and what a semester it has been.  In the past couple weeks alone we’ve been highlighted on NBC’s Today show and broke a world record. We had Wildcat student-athletes win national titles and become All-Americans. We received a $6.5 million loan to help buildout our LTE network across the Upper Peninsula. We hosted an assessment team from the Higher Learning Commission for a productive accreditation site visit. We shattered our Wildcat Weekend attendance record. We put on a successful and diverse World Languages Week. Like we say at Northern, “It’s a great day to be a Wildcat,” but lately it’s really been fantastic to be a Wildcat.

A REMINDER OF KEY DATES:  Here are some key dates to note for the remainder of the semester. Returning residence hall students begin signing up for 2017-18 rooms and apartments the first week of April. The Leadership Banquet, one of NMU’s largest student events of the year, is Thursday, April 20.  The awards portion of the banquet will be streamed live for parents interested in attending virtually. Go to the Center for Student Enrichment website on the night of the event for the link. Pancakes with the President is from 9-11 p.m. Sunday, April 30, in the Marketplace.  Final exam week is Monday through Saturday, May 1-6. Commencement takes place Saturday, May 6. Summer courses begin May 22.

CARE PACKAGES: Friday, April 7, is the deadline to order a Care Package for your son or daughter for finals week. Care Packages will be distributed to students beginning on April 25, just in time for final exams (May 1-6). The NMU Care Package provides your student with snacks for late night studies (including fresh fruit and optional pizza purchase) and a personal note from you so your student knows you are thinking of them during that busy and stressful time. If you’d like more information on NMU’s Care Package Program, visit, email, or call the Center for Student Enrichment at 906-227-2439. 

IT'S ON US: Students, faculty and staff have put together a wide variety of activities for this week's "It's On Us" campaign. A kickoff was held yesterday. Today an event is being held to highlight what is affirmative consent. Tomorrow the campaign has acitivies related to bystander intervention. On Thursday, the events focus on what Northern is current doing regarding sexual assault prevention and education, as well as what students and employees would like to see the university add to its efforts. One of the Thursday activities includes a panel discussion by students and staff. On Friday, the focus is on what can be done to support survivors of sexual assault, including a "Hear Us Roar" program where sexual assault survivors can share their stories. Throughout the week, there is an information table in Jamrich Hall. Many students groups and university offices/departments are helping to sponsor this campaign.

COMMENCEMENT SPEAKER: We haven’t officially announced this yet, but I can’t wait to share that world- renowned speaker and author Jason Jennings will be our May commencement speaker. USA TODAY calls Mr. Jennings, a Negaunee native, “one of the three most in-demand business speakers on the planet.” Jason was an NMU student when he began his career as a radio reporter, shortly after becoming one of the youngest radio-group owners in the nation. His books have been regulars on the Wall Street Journal, USA TODAY and New York Times Bestsellers lists. We are so fortunate that his busy schedule allowed him to come this year. Remember that anyone can attend NMU’s graduation ceremony in the Superior Dome; tickets are not required. Please join us if you’d like to hear Jason’s advice to the graduates. We also stream commencement live and free of charge on the Internet, so you can view his speech online. The link will be on the NMU commencement website at

NEW HOUSING COMPLEX: Northern’s new housing complex is really coming along. I had a chance to walk through one of the halls and I was blown away.  I expected the facility to be nice, but after the walk-thru, I am even more impressed than I thought I would be. I think the students who choose to live there will really enjoy their space. To learn more about the interior of the halls, check out this web page. To view the exterior construction, visit our webcam (it sometimes take a minute to load). Here are also some media reports on the construction progress from media members who have toured the facility:  Mining Journal and TV 3. We have also installed a new interactive kiosk near the student service offices in Hedgcock that highlights our full menu of new and current housing options, including room styles, costs and hall features. Over the summer, we plan to begin work on the satellite PEIF recreation center in the connector of Quad II. We know the students are excited about that.

ROKERTHON-3: We sure had fun with famed weatherman Al Roker during last Tuesday’s “Rokerthon3” segment on NBC’s Today show where we set a new Guinness World Record for the largest game of freeze tag with 634 student participants, easily beating the previous record of 438. Senior Megan Crane and junior Valerie Urban each received $5,000 scholarships in a random drawing at the end of the broadcast. During the 15 minutes of the freeze tag game, the Today show featured a video of Al touring the NMU campus Monday with senior Jared Jacques. Along the way, he learned about NMU’s brain tumor research center, went into the art and design labs and worked on some pottery, tutored Public Eye students before their afternoon news broadcast, and played the cowbell for “You Can Call Me Al” with the NMU band. It was great to have some academic programs highlighted. Northern was one of five schools selected from more than 100 Rokerthon3 applicants. Al said he loved our video.  Well, of course, he did. It featured NMU, NMU students and Marquette. What’s not to love about those three things?

EAN SUPPORT: We received a $6.5 million Investment Fund Award last Tuesday from the Michigan Strategic Fund to accelerate our effort to extend high-speed educational broadband throughout the Upper Peninsula. The funds will be used to build out and equip 64 cities and townships over a two-year period. As we recover expansion costs through subscriptions to our Educational Access Network (EAN), we will return a percentage of net proceeds back to the Michigan Strategic Fund to gradually repay the investment. The Michigan Strategic Fund is operated through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). This financial support moves us closer to two goals: putting high-speed educational broadband at the fingertips of every student in the Upper Peninsula, from pre-school to lifelong learner, and helping the region develop the most highly educated rural workforce in America.

HLC VISIT: Northern had a Higher Learning Commission reaccreditation assessment team on campus March 20-22. It was a packed three-day schedule for the five reviewers as they met with students, faculty, staff, administrators and members of action project teams.  Each college and university goes through reaccreditation every 7 or 10 years, depending on which HLC accreditation track in which a school participates. Accreditation is critically important to an institution for a large number of reasons, but a few of the bigger ones are so that our students continue to qualify for federal financial aid and that our graduates qualify for graduate and professional schools, if they choose to continue their education. From my discussions with the HLC team members, we did a good job demonstrating our focus on students and the quality of our teaching and service to the campus and community. Our formal report from the Higher Learning Commission will arrive in 3-6 months.  

WILDCATS ROAR: Northern Michigan is among the top 40 of more than 300 schools in the Division II Learfield Directors' Cup standings following the winter season. NMU went from its fall place of 86th to 36th with 169.50 points during the winter season. The Wildcats were bolstered by outstanding winter NCAA Championship finishes: Nordic ski team, eighth; women's swimming and diving team, 19th; and men's swimming and diving team, 21st. In the fall, the cross country team was 14th at the NCAA Championship. The Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference led the Division II ranks with seven programs inside the top 40. The complete standings can be found on the NACDA's website.  In addition, our women’s club hockey team won its conference title and advanced to the national championships tournament where the ‘Cats fell in the semifinal round. Northern’s football team has been busy with spring practice and will hold its spring football game this Saturday, April 8. Our spring sports are off and running, and are doing quite well, which could move us even higher in the Learfield standings.

HAVE A QUESTION?  We all know that college can be confusing and at times, not just for students, but for parents as well. That’s why our Dean of Students Office has created a form on the parents section of its website where family members can ask questions about an office at NMU, the school year schedule, services NMU has to offer, or really just about any topic.  See  Once you submit your question, someone from the Dean of Students Office will get back to you with an answer. If they don’t know the answer to your question, rest assured they know someone who does. This is just one more way NMU wants to make sure you, and your whole family, are a part of our Wildcat family. And, of course, you still have access to the email account as well.

I plan to write once more this semester, closer to final exam week, where I can provide you with more end-of-the-semester details such as checkout times in the residence halls. Then much of the campus heads into the summer break, although university business operations continue as usual. This semester has really gone by quickly for me, but it’s been an enjoyable one. How about for you and your NMU student?

Fritz Erickson, President

P.S. It won’t surprise you to hear that I am not the gift shopper in the Erickson household. However, I was walking through the Barnes and Noble at NMU Bookstore the other day and saw a display of really nice NMU-related graduation gifts, which they told me you can view online at I also know that several of our local merchants have NMU and Upper Peninsula-specific items that might be of interest to you. My assistant said to tell parents that doing an Internet search with the phrase “Yooper gifts,” rather than UP or U.P. gifts, will get you closer to the links that offer U.P. made and branded items. She also said to try “NMU necklace” and “Upper Peninsula jewelry” (not U.P. or UP) for jewelry items. Who knew?  I learn something at NMU every day.

Fritz Erickson, President