Dear NMU Parents,
I wanted to introduce myself to you and say hello. Since being named interim president by the NMU Board of Trustees a little over a week ago, my summer has suddenly become very hectic. Having worked with six past NMU presidents, I’ve always known that Northern presidents have a lot of meetings to attend, but now I’m experiencing it for myself and it is a lot of meetings!
As you may have read in the news announcing the NMU Board of Trustees’ decision to name me interim president for a two-year period, I have been involved with Northern Michigan University for about 40 years, starting with my years as an NMU student. I’m the first alumnus to serve as the university’s president, which is quite an honor. I graduated from NMU in 1972 with a political science degree (minor in history), and went on to earn a law degree from Thomas M. Cooley School of Law in 1984. Prior to law school, and for many years, after I worked in the public policy field, including positions in the Office of the Governor and in the Michigan Senate for the Office of the Senate Majority Leader and Office of the Vice Chairman of Appropriations. From 1985-2003, I was a partner in a Lansing area public policy agency. Prior to NMU, I was in the Air Force. For the past six years I’ve been a faculty member in the NMU Political Science and Public Administration Department and a consultant to several clients, including NMU, on public policy matters.
I love teaching and I will miss doing so during my interim appointment as Northern’s president. When a long-term president is selected after a national search – which will be started by the NMU Board of Trustees in about a year – I anticipate that I will return to the classroom. Some people have asked me why the Board chose not to do a national search for the interim position, such as when Dr. William Vandament came to NMU in the early 1990s. I’ve been told that the main reason was simply the scope of some of the projects that are at critical junctures this summer and this upcoming year. Members of the Board’s executive committee have told me that we need to keep these projects moving forward right now and that is why they are choosing to do the national presidential search in about a year. NMU has actually dealt with presidential departures in both manners in the past. Dr. Vandament came in as an interim president following a search and then had the interim title removed after a period of time. When Dr. Judi Bailey announced her resignation in 2003, then Vice President Mike Roy was named interim the same day and a national search was done after, which resulted in Dr. Wong coming to NMU.
I want to publicly thank Dr. Wong and Phyllis Wong for their outstanding work at NMU during their eight years here. I have truly enjoyed working with Les and have always admired his unrelenting willingness to do whatever it took to keep Northern moving forward during an exceptionally challenging economic period. Luckily for me, the Board of Trustees has asked Dr. Wong to continue to advise me in my new position until he and Phyllis depart for San Francisco in the middle of July, and he has agreed to do so. Many of you have asked how to contact Les during this period. He can still be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or send him a message via NMUPres@nmu.edu and I’ll make sure he gets it.
Between now and when fall classes begin, my focus is primarily on making decisions about our current vacant vice president for academic affairs/provost and athletic director positions; working with the leadership team on finalizing our budget proposals to bring to the NMU Board of Trustees in July (including tuition rate proposals); assisting with the progress of getting the union contracts in negotiations completed – our faculty and staff are the heart and soul to the world-class educational experience enjoyed by your son or daughter; working to secure state funding for our new academic building; and meeting with the Duke LifePoint officials when their agreement with Marquette General Health System is formalized to see what opportunities are available for the university and our NMU students within their new venture.
For nearly 30 years, I’ve worked with NMU as a public policy advisor and the last six as a teacher in the NMU classroom. It has been a privilege for me to be able to serve my alma mater for so many years. I believe NMU is a world-class university with some of the most talented and dedicated faculty and staff, and students who have both a sense of adventure and commitment – a powerful combination. I felt Northern offered a world-class education when I was a student. I believed that to be true when I was working for the university as a public policy advisor. I found evidence of it every day when I joined the faculty. While the university has evolved throughout the years, the one thing that has never changed is NMU’s outstanding commitment to students.
I look forward to meeting you in upcoming events. Please introduce yourself when you see me around campus or Marquette. Enjoy your summer.
Interim NMU President