Teaching to Never Forget
NMU will deliver a workshop series to 15 Upper Peninsula teachers who are responsible for implementing Michigan’s new genocide education requirement, thanks to a $60,000 gift from an anonymous donor through the NMU Foundation.
State law recommends a combined six hours of related lessons between grades 8 and 12. NMU’s workshop series will help U.P. teachers incorporate the Holocaust, Armenian massacre and Native American genocide into their curricula while earning six graduate credits. The private gift will cover participants’ tuition, campus housing and a voucher to purchase content material for their classrooms.
“In addition, funds will be used to develop a symposium on the topic in 2018, whereby high school students take center stage in presenting their research findings in a university setting,” said Joe Lubig '91 BS, '00 MAE, director of the School of Education, Leadership and Public Service, which is coordinating the effort. Other partners in the project are the History Department, NMU Center for Native American Studies, Northern Shores Writing Project, NMU Lydia Olson Library, Snowbound Books and Peter White Public Library.
Some of the students’ research could easily take place on campus through Lydia M. Olson Library’s extensive Holocaust collection, which numbers about 7,200 items. A private donor has funded purchases of related adult and juvenile literature that meets the library’s collection standards through the local Snowbound bookstore. The items also include federal documents, periodicals, media and electronic resources.
“There are both factual and fictional accounts of people affected by the Holocaust,” said Leslie Warren, dean of Academic Information Services. “Some concentration camps had orchestras, so there are books and sound recordings related to those. Some had soccer teams and you can read about their games against each other. There are books that depict the art produced by people who were in the camps.
“You can listen to short-wave propaganda broadcasts of the Third Reich, survivors recounting their experiences and a soldier who describes the moment Dachau was liberated. You can watch classic and modern movies. The collection is fascinating in the breadth of how it explores the Holocaust.”
Warren said a small representative sample of Holocaust denial material serves a purpose in understanding the overall dialogue. But by far a majority of the collection is based on scholarly historical study of the Holocaust and research on the broader concept of genocide.
The focus isn’t on rare manuscripts, but materials meant to be used and checked out. Upper Peninsula teachers and high school students can gain access to the collection and other library materials with free community borrower cards, offered through Olson Library. “We are the largest holder of Holocaust materials in the region,” said Krista Clumpner, professor and library head of technical services. “That’s what the intent was. Otherwise many in the Upper Peninsula would not necessarily be exposed to this kind of material without having to travel elsewhere.”
While most of the collection is not digitized, titles and descriptions are available online, along with links to related international websites.
Supporting International Opportunities for Future Educators
Joseph Prinzi ’70 BS, ’79 MAE and Nancy Prinzi ’70 BS, ’74 MAE, will tell you that Northern Michigan University helped shape their lives. For one, they met at NMU and many of their close friends are the result of their time at NMU. For another, they feel that Northern provided an excellent and affordable foundation for their careers. They are also passionate about teaching and the benefits of travel. They have gone abroad extensively and Nancy was a coordinator for the Michigan Department of Education teacher exchange program. They have seen first-hand how an overseas experience can help transform a student personally and professionally. That is why they have given NMU a six-figure gift to establish the Joseph and Nancy Prinzi Educational Study Abroad Scholarship.
The scholarship provides a one-time award of up to $10,000 to a junior, senior or graduate student enrolled in a study abroad program approved through the School of Education. Students are typically responsible for covering their own expenses, such as transportation and housing aid and it is often difficult to find the money to take advantage of potentially life-changing international opportunities. The scholarship will help.
“We know that a teacher’s ability to bring diverse experiences to the children in their classrooms opens up new worlds,” said Dr. Joe Lubig, '91, '00 associate dean of the School of Education, Leadership and Public Service. “A teacher who has immersed herself or himself in other cultures by speaking the language and living alongside others from other cultures has an opportunity and a responsibility to share those worlds with others. This is what a teacher does. They look for any way to help a student move their ideas around the world. It is how we learn and how we are able to gain perspective. It is how we make the world better. Having donors like Joe and Nancy who want to invest in our teacher candidates so they can positively influence the lives of thousands of children over the course of their careers is amazing.”
Nancy earned her bachelor’s in home economics while Joe received his from the NMU College of Business. Nancy went into teaching after graduation. Joe worked for family businesses and in accounting, but decided he wanted to teach and began taking graduate classes at NMU. Both ultimately earned master’s of arts in education degrees from Northern. Joe spent three years teaching in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., 22 years teaching accounting at Grand Haven Senior High School and as an adjunct professor at Muskegon Community College. Nancy taught home economics for seven years in Rudyard, and worked for more than 20 years at Careerline Tech Center in Holland as both a teacher and a counselor. Both are now retired.
Joe and Nancy have supported the university in many ways over the years, including serving on the Alumni Association Board of Directors and donating a lead gift to establish, through the business fraternity Alpha Kappa Psi, the George R. Carnahan Scholarship Fund.
Joe and Nancy encourage all NMU graduates to help create opportunities for students by giving back to the university and supporting “the hard work of faculty and staff that make an NMU education such a great value.”
From Printed Page to 'Spellbinding' Stage
NMU students on a tour of the costume warehouse. Pictured are Chloe Lewis, Ezra Brooks-Planck, Shelby Nguyen and Taylor Susa
NMU students gain exposure to world-class theater in Ontario each summer through the Stratford Festival Program Endowment. Established with a gift from retired speech communication professor Robert Dornquast, the endowment funds travel expenses for the field studies trip, which includes attending six plays over three days.
Regan McKay, a double major in theater and English, participated in the 2016 installment. She had played Lady Macbeth in high school and was able to see a professional actress interpret the role in Stratford. McKay was struck by the starkly different portrayal.
“It sparked a desire in me to truly examine why historical interpretations of that character are so varied and yet all so meaningful,” she said. “Any chance to see live theater is a chance to have your life changed. But being immersed in it for multiple days is something else entirely. This experience meant something special to me as a student of Shakespeare who’s passionate about both dramatic literature and performance. It opened my mind to making new and exciting choices in acting, and also appealed to my interest in costuming on the production side.”
As an undergrad in Minnesota, Dornquast said he and fellow student Van Cliburn—the renowned pianist—were treated to similar awe-inspiring moments through the generosity of two educational mentors. Establishing the Stratford endowment was a way to pay it forward and give more students a one-of-a-kind cultural experience.
“We were taken to the Metropolitan Opera and great orchestra concerts and art galleries,” Dornquast said. “It was all quite wonderful and I remember telling them I couldn’t possibly repay them for the kindnesses they had shown me. They said, ‘Somewhere in your unimaginable future, there will come a time when you have the means to do this for somebody else. And you will.’ Students read plays and think they’ve learned something. But when they see them performed by the best professional actors in the world, it absolutely knocks them out.”
Dornquast said the field-based Stratford Festival course is thriving under the direction of David Wood, Honors Program director and English professor. Wood has published widely on Shakespeare and other Renaissance dramatists. He co-leads the Ontario tour with history professor Chet Defonso.
“This is one of the greatest things that ever fell into my lap,” Wood said. “I never let students forget that Shakespeare continues to be a multi-billion dollar a year industry. This guy from a fairly obscure corner of England did something right and is able to tell us more about what it’s like to be a human than perhaps any other artist. A play that some consider dry and tedious on the page becomes spellbinding on stage because of what actors bring to the performance. Students sit there riveted, watching something amazing happen.”
About 10 students participate in the course. They read plays and complete assignments before traveling to Stratford, then work with Wood in the fall to develop and complete research projects based on text and performance. They also attend a lunch with their benefactor, Dornquast, to thank him in person and share their impactful experiences.
A scene from the Stratford Festival's production of Macbeth.
Experiences. Opportunities. Priorities.
Seven theater students traveled to the U.S. Institute for Theatre Technology’s Annual Conference and Stage Expo in March of this year in St. Louis, Mo., an important technical theater conference. Assistant Professor and Forest Roberts Theatre technical director and production manager David Pierce led the group. Pierce said USITT is the technical theater industry’s “largest and most respected conference.” Students attended sessions and workshops led by some of the industry’s leading professionals and talked with exhibitors about the latest innovations and services.
Theater and entertainment arts student Anna LaBreche described the conference as a wonderful, hands-on learning opportunity.
“We were able to talk to professional theater companies such as Cirque du Soleil and gain knowledge of different unions within the theater world, LaBreche wrote.
“We networked with businesses, not only to learn about products that our theater owns or could own, but also to learn of possible job opportunities in the future. And we had the chance to shake the hands of people who were once in our position as students, but are now industry professionals.”
Above: Javonte Thompson '16 BS
Bellow: Front row from left to right: Emily Baker, Dorsey Sprouls, Dakota Vogel. Back row: Anna LaBreche, Hannah Cormier, Lily Howder, Coop Bicknell
NMU theater students visit backstage with members of the national tour of Cabaret at The Fabulous Fox Theatre in St. Louis. Students had the opportunity to ask questions about life on tour and what theaters and production companies look for when hiring new crew. One student, Dakota Vogel, was even able to shadow the production stage manager as he called the show.
The Northern Fund helped make this experience possible.
Gifts to the Northern Fund provide immediately available financial resources to support the University in three significant ways:
Enhancing academic excellence and the student experience (for example, upgrading facilities, tools, and technology);
Taking advantage of student and faculty opportunities as they arise (including, providing funds for travel, scholarship, and internships)
Meeting priority objectives (such as, expanding research, programming, and facilities).
Help make sure that career-shaping and life-changing experiences like this don't slip away.
Thank you to everyone who spoke to our student callers during the academic year. We hope it provided a great way to stay in touch with NMU and learn a little about what’s happening on campus. Also, thank you to everyone who gave or pledged. We greatly appreciate your support.
NMU student callers Katarina Jerman '17 BA, Ella Miller and Amanda Onusko