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The North Wind

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas WiertellaApril 30, 2024

Professor dies, NMU grieves

This week, the campus community is mourning the loss of a professor who brought diversity to the Upper Peninsula in a number of ways.

Louise Bourgault, a professor in the Communications and Performing Studies (CAPS) department, died Saturday, Oct. 31, from colon cancer. She is survived by her husband, Neil Cumberlidge, a biology professor at Northern. She specialized in mass media theory and intercultural communications, and made efforts in every class she taught to encourage diversity and exploration in different cultures.

“If there’s one legacy she leaves behind, it’s that she, single-handedly, moved Northern from being a rather isolated, regional institution without international outlook, to one that has taken the stage in sending students overseas and bringing people from overseas here,” said James Cantrill, head of CAPS department. “She worked tirelessly to improve the global vision that our students had.”

Cantrill said that the department has sharply felt the loss.

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“There’s a gaping hole. Louise participated in the life of the department,” Cantrill said. “We will struggle to fill the considerable shoes that she had in terms of delivering content at that level of mass communication theory and multicultural affairs.”

Bourgault has not been teaching since the beginning of the semester because she was sick, but she did bring Fulbright professor Simten Cosar, from Baskent University in Ankara, Turkey, to Northern for the semester. The two intended to co-teach the class Women and Media in a Global Context. Cosar and Bourgault, through their research over the years, became close friends, and Cosar believed that Bourgault’s work with other cultures was especially remarkable.

“She is really good at getting people from different cultures, and that’s really important because sometimes it is a burden, it tires you out to be in constant contact with people from different cultures,” Cosar said. “She was never tired of it.”

Cosar and Bourgault worked on exploring gender identification in a Turkish serial drama. Bourgault was also involved with research on communications of the HIV and AIDS plight in Africa. Cosar said that Bourgault’s research of other countries was ambitious in a way that many other academics don’t address.

“Louise manages to deal with (other countries) as things of research, but also to get enrolled in them, to know them, to enrich herself and to enrich the communities there,” Cosar said. “This is distinguishing thing, this is a distinctive thing.”

Last year, Bourgault worked with a Freshman Fellow on various projects. Melissa Seelye, English graduate bound major, continued her work this year with Bourgault on Middle Eastern women’s blogs. She said she will miss the energy and spirit that Bourgault brought to everything they did.

“She never stopped, she just kept going,” Seelye said. “She loved what she did and she loved getting people involved in what she did and having them help her . she wanted other people to get involved and love what she did as much as she did.”

Cosar and Seelye are continuing the research they started with Bourgault and attending a conference in Boston at the end of the month, giving presentations of their research in her honor. Services have not yet been planned.

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