Presidental Search finalists visit NMU

Cody Boyer

The remaining Northern Michigan University presidential finalists are slated to speak on campus following last week’s announcement that the list of possible candidates has been narrowed down to four.

Three candidates will be speaking at NMU on Thursday, April 3, Tuesday, April 8 and Thursday, April 10. The candidate forum with Cynthia Pemberton, the finalist from Dickinson State University in Dickinson, N.D., was rescheduled from Tuesday, April 1 to Tuesday, April 15 due to inclement weather.

Robert Ackerman, professor of law and former dean at the Wayne State University Law School in Detroit, Mich., will be making his appearance to students and faculty on Thursday, April 3 in the Marquette and Nicolet Rooms in the University Center. Ackerman said he encourages more of an open forum for students, faculty and staff rather than presenting a closed lecture.

“I’m not the kind of person who waltzes onto campus and says, ‘Here is my 10-point plan that the university should do,’” Ackerman said. “I am a facilitator and I’m inclined to ask a lot of questions, listen carefully and then ask a few more questions to engage people in a planning process under which we try to identify other areas of distinction.”

Ackerman also said working alongside the existing NMU staff instead of over them could help integrate his past experience at Wayne State.

“There are people on campus that have been there for a long time and I think they will be a great source to generate ideas,” Ackerman said. “I don’t have to be the smartest guy in the room, but I do think I am a good orchestrator of talent, working with synergies of people to capitalize on competitive advantage. In Detroit, we sit on an international border. We recognize expertise, nationally and internationally, especially laws.”

On Tuesday, April 8, Fritz Erickson, current provost and vice president for academic affairs at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Mich., will be the next candidate to speak at NMU. Erickson’s forum will also take place in the Marquette and Nicolet Rooms.

Erickson said the programs given at NMU are highly important when looking at the academic success of the institution.

“I very much believe in leadership through empowerment,” Erickson said. “I believe for an academic community to succeed, you need to offer opportunities for empowerment at all levels including in degree programs, the community, etc. The more a president can do to help empower programs, the more successful the students and the university will be.”

Having lived in the Upper Peninsula, Erickson said the area surrounding the university makes NMU one of the most attractive institutions in the state.

“I’m deeply honored to have the opportunity to come up and interview for the position,” Erickson said. “I think the world of NMU and the Marquette community.”

Wrapping up the short presentations, Greg Cant, founding dean of the Offutt School of Business and Robert J. Johnson chair in economics and business administration at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn. will be appearing on campus. Cant’s forum will take place on Thursday, April 10 in the Peter White Lounge located in the University Center.

With his educational experience across the globe in Australia, Canada and the United States, Cant said one of his main interests is the potential in business-related programs at NMU.

“There are some large things and some fantastic things that are of personal interest to me [at NMU],” Cant said. “I’m fascinated with all of the entrepreneurial, start-up opportunities given at Northern. There is also a large hospital-base there in Marquette. There are many little-to-large things I find fascinating.”

Cant said he is interested in a great deal of things NMU has to offer, as well, and hopes to make a positive impact when he visits.

“As an institution, the mission of the institution, the idea that Northern has offered everything from one-year certificates to graduations stands out to me,” Cant said. “There are a lot of really solid programs that do very well in key areas in the community. I’m also a big sports fan. Having the olympic training site there. I love the world of an academy and everything that happens within it.”

Director of Communications and Marketing Cindy Paavola said the Presidential Search Advisory Committee (PSAC) was only responsible for selecting the final candidates. The rest, Paavola said, is up to NMU.

“I misspoke [last week] in saying the Presidential Search Advisory Committee would bring a recommendation to the NMU Board of Trustees,” Paavola said. “In this search, the PSAC was charged to select the finalists. The NMU Board of Trustees now completely takes over the selection process; the work of the PSAC is completed.”

Each candidate’s presentation will take place at 4 p.m. on their respective dates. For more information about each candidate’s background, visit www.nmu.edu/presidentialsearch/finalists for individual biographies and resumes.

“The community has a couple of days to try and get to know four people,” Cant said. “Everyone is formatted the same kind of way. The question for everyone will be, ‘What have we done in our careers to make Northern Michigan flourish?’”