The President's Parent Partnership

Volume 15, Issue 6 -- January 12, 2017

Dear NMU Parents,

Happy New Year. I hope your holiday period was relaxing and that you had the chance to spend time with family and friends. I also hope your NMU student enjoyed the five-week long break. It seemed to go on too long for me and other NMU faculty and staff, so we're excited to have the students starting to show up on campus for the upcoming semester. Below is information that can help you and your NMU student get the winter semester off to a smooth start.

RETURNING TO CAMPUS: One thing students will notice upon their return is a lot more snow than when they left. This week, Heikki Lunta, the mythical Finnish snow god, has been rocking and rolling. However, the weather prediction starting Saturday and going through the first week of the semester calls for much warmer temperatures – all the way back into the mid to high 30s. It will be mostly sunny Saturday through Monday with only a slim chance of snow or rain, so driving conditions should be good for those who are traveling back to campus. Residence halls reopen at 8 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 12. NMU celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, Jan. 16 and there are no classes but a plethora of MLK activities. The winter semester classes begin Tuesday, Jan. 17.

TEXTBOOKS AND SUPPLIES:  The Barnes and Noble at NMU store has extended hours at the start of the semester (Jan. 14-19): Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday, noon-5 p.m.; Monday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.; Tuesday through Thursday, 8 a.m.-6 p.m.  Bookstore staff recommend students bring a paper or electronic copy of their class schedule when using in-store service. Students can also shop for course materials online by logging into MyNMU ( and choosing the bookstore link. Students choose if they want new, used or digital books and if they want to purchase or rent them. Typically, the online order is ready for pick up at the store the following day.

MLK ACTIVITIES: Monday, Jan. 16, kicks of a week long celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day activities. It begins with a kindness scavenger hunt (participants perform as many kind acts as they can from a list of 20 good deeds in a set amount of time). The annual march of equality starts at noon with a lunch and program following. The march had a large number of students, faculty, staff and community members participate last year and we hope for the same success this year. A series of service projects are available for students to choose from throughout the afternoon. On Thursday, Jan. 19, Ashley Yates, a prominent organizer of the Black Lives Matter movement and co-founder of Millennial Activists United, gives a presentation. On Friday, Jan. 20, copies of Citizen: an American Lyric by Claudia Rankine will be handed out at a student pizza party. The book is this year’s NMU Diversity Common Reader Program selection.

DONOR SCHOLARSHIPS:  February is when Northern students can apply for NMU Foundation scholarships for the upcoming year (2017-18).  Foundation scholarships are investments made by donors who believe that financial circumstances should never stand in the way of attaining a college degree. This year’s application period is Feb. 6-17. To apply, students need to log into MyNMU (, go to the Student Services tab and then to the Financial Aid-Donor Scholarships link and fill out the online application. A search function is available to help students learn about which scholarships for which they may be eligible. This application is for NMU Foundation scholarships only and does not apply to federal and state financial aid grants and awards (such as the Pell Grant) or those funded by the university (such as the Board of Trustees Scholarship). To receive federal grants and scholarships, students should fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (, preferably by March 1 to receive maximum aid consideration.

WELCOME NEW TRUSTEES:  An eight-member Board of Trustees governs Northern Michigan University. The governor appoints governing board members for non-land grant public universities to eight-year terms in Michigan.  In December, Gov. Rick Snyder appointed three new trustees to Northern’s board: Lisa Fittante of Kingsford, Alexis Hart of Royal Oak and James Haveman of Grand Haven. Fittante, an NMU alumna, is the president of Fittante & Colenso CPA PC. She replaces outgoing trustee Garn Lewis. Hart is the director of NAFTA and Human Resources Shared Services for Daimler AG. She replaces outgoing trustee Sook Wilkinson. Haveman is president of the Haveman Group and the past director of the Michigan Department of Community Health. He fills the vacancy created by the resignation of Thomas Zurbuchen, who recently took a job with NASA in Washington D.C. Ms. Fittante’s and Hart’s terms expire Dec. 31, 2024. Mr. Haveman will complete Dr. Zurbuchen’s term expiring Dec. 31, 2020. Their appointments are subject to the consent of the Michigan Senate. Also before the break, the trustees selected Scott Holman as the board’s  chair and Bob Mahaney as vice chair for the upcoming year. You can learn more about Northern’s board at  We cannot thank the NMU Board of Trustee members enough for the work they do. We welcome our three new trustees and thank the outgoing three for the outstanding work they have done on behalf of NMU.

NEW COACHES: Northern hired three new head coaches in December: Sonia Basma (women’s soccer), Kyle Nystrom (football) and Rashinda Reed (volleyball). Students are encouraged to attend the “meet the coaches” event from 3-5 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21, in the Wildcat Room of the Berry Events Center.  Also in recent sports news, Northern’s top 10 nationally ranked men’s and women’s swimming teams did well over the break with the men winning and the women finishing sixth at the Copa Coqui Invite. The men beat two Division I squads to earn the title. At the recent U.S. Cross Country Ski Championships, Nichole Schneider won the junior classic sprint title and the Wildcats skiers performed well with several finishes that were among the collegiate competitors. Alumni Kyle Bratrud (15K) and Caitlyn Compton Gregg (10K) won the U.S. freestyle distance titles. Current team member Adam  Martin was one of five skiers to qualify for the World U-23 Ski Championships based on his performance (11th in 30K classic and 13th in 15K freestyle) at the U.S. national meet. This year’s world meet is Jan. 28-Feb. 5 in Utah. It is the second consecutive year he has made the World U-23 team. Also, the NMU women’s basketball team is on roll, having won six of their last eight games heading into Thursday night’s contest.

UNIVERSITY CENTER RENOVATION:  I think I mentioned in a previous newsletter that Northern has begun design work on the University Center renovation project. A series of focus discussions held this fall with various university stakeholders, including NMU students, facilitated the discussion of the wants and needs for this renovation. Now, the project team has developed conceptual designs based on that feedback, which we will be sharing with the campus community through a series of information sessions in late January and early February. This renovation will significantly improve student organization and activity space, meaning that if your NMU student is involved in any of our 300-plus student organizations or if they have ideas of what they would like to see in an updated student union, I encourage you to encourage them to attend one of the sessions. Dates, times and locations will be announced once finalized. One of the most exciting parts of this renovation will be a much larger area for big events, lectures and concerts, increasing our theater seating capacity from 900 to 1,300. Some of the more well-known performers will not consider sites that with seating under 1,000.

WINNING TEACHING ALUMNI: Northern has two alumni teachers who have been selected as state winners in the prestigious Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Competition. Becky Simmons, Marquette Senior High School, won for Michigan. Yuriy Drubinskiy, Garden City High School, won for Kansas. Each collects $25,000 for their school and they now compete for the national prize of $150,000 for their school and $20,000 for the non-profit of their choice. The Samsung contest recognizes the use of technology in the development of a sustainable future. Yuriy is working with his students to solve the water issues in Kansas and Becky is working with hers to develop sustainable solar energy for her school and community. They are using what they learned at NMU to teach, engage and support children in the area of sustainability, using technology and promoting the scientific processes necessary to explore and implement ideas. They are alumni who exemplify the sustainability ethos we are trying to promote as a university.

GOING VIRAL: Did you see the music video of the song “Landslide” produced by the University Marketing and Communication Office that went live just before the break?  It has gone viral with 1.2 million people viewing it. It was a great way to feature the NMU University Choir and the NMU Music Department. We hope to do more videos like this in the future.

Earlier this week I was doing some radio interviews to update the community on what’s happening at Northern. I told the morning radio hosts that I felt like NMU was really putting the “new” in Happy New Year in that we have been developing and, in some cases, implementing many new things on campus already in this academic year. Of course, we hope to continue that momentum into this semester. We are working on new academic programs, new centers, new labs, new residence halls and other facilities.  We’ve launched new sports programs, new university logos, a new LTE network, and a Global Campus for online learning. We’re going to be discussing a new, comprehensive academic and non-academic program and services review that we hope will inspire new ideas for success.  I am excited to have the opportunity to lead our university through this transformational change period.

Happy New NMU Year.

Fritz Erickson, President