President Haynes: increasing enrollment, keeping tuition low

Lee McClelland

On Monday, May 14, 2012, David Haynes was appointed as president of NMU for an interim period after former president Les Wong departed from NMU. Since Haynes’ appointment, many students have expressed concern that the current president is not present enough on campus, unlike his predecessor, Wong.

Before criticizing or praising Haynes’ performance thus far, it is important to know a few things about the president: (1) to whom he answers; (2) what he has been working toward; and (3) what he has done to further enrich the NMU experience.

The NMU president reports to the Board of Trustees. The board outlines goals and priorities that the president must work toward. This year, the focus has been on increasing NMU’s enrollment and international presence.

Director of communications and marketing, Cindy Paavola, said the demands placed upon a president change over time.

“Some of the goals and job demands for President Haynes are completely different from what they were when President Wong was here,” Paavola said.

And it should be noted Haynes has been in office for less than one year — there’s a lot to do in an NMU president’s first year. Haynes has met with many Michigan Legislators, which is crucial during the first year.

“It is absolutely critical that you are right there in front of the legislators, that they know who you are, that they understand the change happened and that the ship is still afloat and what the issues of the university are,” Paavola said.

While Michigan Legislators work on higher education appropriations, NMU students need a voice in Lansing so that our university can get the largest sum possible in order to keep tuition costs down.

Student debt is a national concern, and students can agree keeping the cost of tuition low is a top priority. Haynes has been working with legislators for the benefit of the students.

“One of the things I am doing to enhance the student experience is working really hard to reduce student debt as much as [the university] can and keep tuition low,” Haynes said. “That, I think,  is the best thing I can do as president for student experience.”

But keeping tuition low is done by different means. One of the ways to keep the cost of an education down is to increase enrollment.

A larger student base means more revenue for the university; the burden of cost to each student is eased because there are more students who pay tuition.

One of the Board of Trustees’ priorities charged to the president is increasing NMU’s presence internationally — another means to both increase enrollment and opportunities abroad for existing students.

In October 2012, Haynes traveled to Seoul, South Korea to visit universities and work toward developing dual degrees — a two-plus-two program, where students would spend two years studying at NMU and two years studying at a university abroad where a dual degree is offered.

In February, Haynes traveled to the United Arab Emirates to try and further increase NMU’s global reach.

Developing two-plus-two programs benefits NMU students substantially: it both increases enrollment, thus keeping costs down, and increases diversity on campus, which adds different perspectives to the learning community on campus.

Haynes has been working diligently to bring the voice of the university and the voice of the students to the world.

“Northern loves the world, and we’d love the world to come to Northern,” Haynes said.

Taking all of these facts into consideration, it seems to me that an on-campus presence is not an accurate measure of the president’s accomplishments. Comparing Wong’s style to Haynes’ style is not fair. Most students were not here during Wong’s first year, and his schedule looked very similar to Haynes’, according to Paavola.

If students are concerned that the NMU president is not visible on campus, then they should at least know what he is doing in the interest of students.

I had the pleasure of sitting down with Haynes and discussing his progress thus far, and I see in him a passion for NMU that I feel myself.

For what it’s worth, I think Haynes is doing a fantastic job. After talking to him for just a short while, I can tell he truly loves this university and wants to do well for students’ sake. Though students may not see him on campus as much as Wong in his seventh or eighth year, know that the president is working to enrich the student experience here on campus.

But don’t just take my word for it — listen to Haynes’ own words: “No one bleeds more green and gold than I do. I’m an alum, and I love this place, but you know, you’ve got to be realistic about who you are and what you can offer.”