NMU.P. bus tour

Administrators hit the road to strengthen relationships across the Upper Peninsula

As part of his “Rethink, Renew, Reconnect” initiative, NMU President David Haynes led a group of about 30 administrators, staff and faculty to events in Iron Mountain and Escanaba in October as part of his 2012-13 U.P. Bus Tour.

“We have been road— r-o-a-d —scholars this fall,” said Haynes. “Our goal with these trips was to reconnect with business, community and alumni leaders across the Upper Peninsula to find out what their economic development, training, technology and educational needs are now and looking into the future, and to see what role NMU can play in meeting those needs.”

In Iron Mountain, the NMU contingent broke into smaller groups to tour the Oscar G. Johnson Veterans Medical Facility, Dickinson Memorial Hospital, Systems Control Inc. and Boss Snowplow. In Escanaba, the groups toured OSF St. Francis Hospital, EMP (Engineered Machine Products), Sayklly’s Confectionery & Gifts, Besse Forest Products, Delta Manufacturing and the Bonifas Arts Center.

In both cities, the group met with downtown area businesses and K-12 school administrators, as well as with members of the economic development and Chamber of Commerce organizations. Haynes was the guest speaker at the Rotary lunch in each place, while NMU athletic director Forrest Karr spoke to the Iron Mountain Kiwanis. An alumni reception was held at the end of each day.

According to Dale Kapla, assistant provost for undergraduate programs, the discussions on the bus tour have already led to some new plans.

“It was great to reconnect with NMU alumni working in the U.P. We learned that many of our current programs can assist in the furthering of their professional development needs, as well as those of their employees,” said Kapla. “We also shared ideas for future programs to ensure we meet the changing demands of U.P. businesses and community members, and look forward to continuing those discussions.” 

Nanci Gasiewicz, associate dean of NMU’s School of Nursing, said the visits were valuable to her programs, both as a way to update hospital administrators on the status of NMU nursing degree programs and to discuss possible clinical opportunities for Northern students.

“It was good to speak to the nursing directors in their own environments to fully gain an appreciation of the need for nurses in their areas,” said Gasiewicz. “It allowed me to be confident that our reactivated LPN program will produce nurses who will be entering a good job market. In addition, our BSN graduates will be able to remain in the Upper Peninsula and work as registered nurses if they are willing to relocate outside of the Marquette area.  Our family nurse practitioner (FNP) graduates from our master’s program will continue to enjoy a good job market in the U.P.  Family nursing practitioners are considered mid-level healthcare providers, and are crucial to the rural healthcare environment—the entire U.P. is considered a rural healthcare environment. All-in-all, the October bus trips resulted in time very well spent from the NMU School of Nursing perspective.”

Haynes plans to complete at least two more bus trips in the spring, one to the Copper Country and the other possibly to the Menominee/Marinette area.

“The needs of the U.P. are always changing.  As the peninsula’s largest and most academically comprehensive university, we feel it’s important that we stay up to date on what NMU can do to help the U.P. and what new opportunities there are for NMU students, faculty and staff in areas beyond Marquette,” said Haynes.