Dr. Fritz J. Erickson
Northern Michigan University
Dr. Fritz Erickson became Northern Michigan University's 15th president on July 1, 2014.
In deciding to explore the NMU presidency, Erickson said, “Anyone that knows Michigan higher education knows that NMU is an absolute gem with a very important mission.” Upon accepting the presidency, he said, “I like the idea of bringing my interests in working with broad groups of stakeholders out of the president’s office. I like the idea of having even more opportunity to advocate for public higher education with governmental leaders, alumni, community members and others. I like the idea of the collaborative responsibility of moving an institution forward.”
Prior to his tenure at NMU, Dr. Erickson served as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Ferris State University in Big Rapids. He formerly was dean of the College of Professional and Graduate Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, dean and professor in the College of Education and Human Development at Eastern Washington University and chair of the Education Department/professor of education and psychology at Michigan Technological University.
Erickson holds an interdisciplinary Ed.D. in educational psychology, technology and research methodology and a master’s in curriculum and instruction, both from the University of Northern Colorado, and a bachelor’s in social sciences from Western Michigan University.
Erickson grew up in Kalamazoo, Mich., wanting to be a teacher like his parents. Following his graduation from WMU in 1980, he was offered a position in the high plains of Utah. There, he said, he became a better teacher having to deal with the issues found in many rural schools.
He became a middle school teacher in Greeley, Colo., a short time later where he taught “everything,” including math, science, social studies, reading and even a few sections of health and physical education. It was during this period when Erickson developed a deep interest in instructional technology – so much so that he even considered leaving teaching to purse a computing career.
After completing his master’s degree in 1984, Erickson was hired by the Colorado Department of Education as an advisor for school districts on how to employ computer technology in order to meet new state requirements. He presented in-service programs, worked on curriculum development teams and collaborated developing Colorado's first educational telecommunication system.
Erickson completed his doctorate in 1987 and began his collegiate teaching career at Millersville University of Pennsylvania, where he was a faculty member until 1996. At Millersville, Erickson served on the faculty senate and a wide range of committees.
Erickson’s first academic administration position was chair of the Department of Education and Psychology at Michigan Tech in 1997. In 2000, Erickson accepted a deanship at Eastern Washington where he was responsible for one of the largest colleges on campus. He took on a similar role at Wisconsin-Green Bay from 2003-09 where he would oversee business, education, nursing and social work, along with oversight of the Office of Graduate Studies, the Institute for Research and the NEW Partnership for Children and Families. In each of these roles, he found success in pursuing community, business, industry and K-12 partnerships.
In 2009, he accepted the provost and vice president of Academic Affairs job at Ferris State. Some of his largest initiatives there included creating an open and transparent budget process, strengthening the shared governance between faculty and administration, overhauling an antiquated budget and organization model, realigning Academic Affairs, which included the elimination of two colleges and consolidation of programs.
In addition to a technology book series, Erickson has authored numerous magazine and journal articles. He has published textbooks based on a pedagogical model designed to enhance learning outcomes, as well as books on the topics of youth suicide and children with reading problems. He also worked on the second edition of Wilber Brookover's Creating Effective Schools - a book that influenced the effective schools movement.
Erickson and his wife, Jan, have two grown children, Jenna and John, who are recent graduates of the University of Wisconsin and Michigan State University, respectively. Two Labrador dogs and a cat round out the Erickson family.