Open forums bring presidential search to campus

Cody Boyer

The search for a new Northern Michigan University president continues this week with a series of open forum meetings with community members, including campus faculty and students.

On Thursday, Nov. 7, the Board of Trustees will be working alongside Katherine Haley, senior consultant with Witt/Keiffer, to bring a series of open forum discussions to campus between 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. The forums follow an unofficial announcement made in May 2013 that current NMU president, David Haynes, would be leaving the position on June 30, 2014.

Garnet Lewis, chair of the NMU Board of Trustees, said Haley is working to gather input from faculty, staff, community members and students to help search for a president to replace Haynes in 2014.

“It’s important thing to emphasize for students so they, too, will have a chance to weigh in on this,” Lewis said. “Students have an opportunity to participate as an entire campus. That’s the message we really want to get across to students.”

Lewis said Haley will meet with the presidential search advisory committee, as well as the smaller focus groups made up of administrators, staff, faculty, students, community members and NMU alumni. According to Lewis, topics Haley will discuss at the forum include special opportunities and challenges offered by NMU for its next president, the top five agenda items for the next president to address upon appointment and what the next president should possess in terms of qualifications, qualities and experiences.

Sook Wilkinson, NMU trustee and chair of the board’s presidential search advisory committee, said the presence of the search adviser at the open forums will help people from around the university know what is going on within the process.

“One of [Haley’s] jobs, really, is to find out from all different constituent groups from NMU what kinds of qualities we should look for in our future president,” Wilkinson said. “We value the students’ voices as much as we value the faculty voice and the alumni and so on.”

Aside from Haley’s work with smaller focus groups, an open forum for faculty and staff will be held at 4 p.m. Thursday in the Marquette and Nicolet Rooms of the University Center. Lewis said the meeting will not be open to the public as it is for NMU faculty and staff only. According to Lewis, there will also be a similar open forum meeting for students at 7:30 p.m. in the same location.

Lewis said the multiple dates and times for the open forum opens the door for many chances for interested people to learn about the process behind the search and selection.

“We want to give the community the opportunity to meet Dr. Haley and provide the community the chance to learn about the board’s and search committee’s idea behind selecting a new president,” Lewis said. “We want people to know that there are many different opportunities for groups to meet with her this week.”

An open forum for faculty and staff only is slated to begin at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 7 and will continue until 5 p.m. While students cannot attend the first forum, they can attend a following presentation at 7:30 p.m. in the evening. Both forums will take place in the Marquette and Nicolet Rooms of the University Center.

Wilkinson said If anyone is unable to participate in either discussion, written responses to Haley’s questions can be submitted to Theresa Nease, secretary of the NMU Board of Trustees, at [email protected]

“This will be the most important opportunity for the students to voice their opinion,” Wilkinson said. “Students may have really strong opinions for the direction of Northern. This will be the opportunity the students should take advantage of.”