NMU President addresses campus


Kara Toay

“The events of Charlottesville and the manifestations of hate that we have seen around the country have no place on this campus,” NMU President Fritz Erickson said during NMU’s Fall convocation where he spoke on the advancements of the university along with the culture of the NMU community.

rere-FritzApplause erupted from a room full of NMU faculty, staff, students and community members after Erickson’s statement regarding Charlottesville. This event has sparked national conversation after a white supremacist rally resulted in three deaths when a white supremacist drove a car into a crowd of people protesting.

This statement was part of convocation in the midst of traditional discussion addressing university updates including progress on the new dorms, facilities and initiatives around campus.

After being introduced by ASNMU President Tristen Ruiz at the Fall convocation that took place at 4 p.m. Tuesday, August 22, Erickson started off by acknowledging that this school year marks the 118th year of NMU’s existence.

Erickson went on to talk about the changes that have occurred on NMU’s campus over the last three years.

“Our level of change has been transformational,” Erickson said. “But what I’m most proud of is that all of this change has been strategic. It has not been changed for the sake of change. It hasn’t been driven by only economic factors. It’s been changed to lift the university upward and bring Northern distinction.”

One of the changes Erickson addressed was the production of the new dorms to replace Quad One. The first two halls of the new dorms were opened this fall semester.

At the end of winter semester 2017, the Board of Trustees formally approved the name “The Woods” for the new dorms, Erickson said. He added that the new dorms quickly filled to capacity. Two more halls in the new dorms will open in January, with full completion of the project expected for fall 2018.

Work has also started on The Lodge— a lounge for students in the new dorm that will be available to residents and nonresidents.

“It’s a facility that I think really conveys the essence of the Upper Peninsula in a very modern and comfortable way,” Erickson said.

Erickson said the space is scheduled to open in January with construction on the new Marketplace starting next spring.

The Wildcat Fit Zone is also nearing completion, which will be the Quad Two workout center.

Erickson also highlighted the progress of new academic programs added last academic year including medicinal plant chemistry and forensic anthropology. A new nursing simulation lab and radiography lab have also been added in West Science.

Initiatives such as the Behavioral Evaluation Analysis Research center (BEAR) that was opened last spring were also mentioned by Erickson. This center allows students hands-on learning while helping children with autism and other behavioral disorders. The need for these services in the Upper Peninsula is at a critically high level and the center is
already outgrowing the demand, Erickson said.

“Northern is always concerned with trying to help the UP community meet needs,” Erickson said. “But another equally important aspect of the center is the edge it will give students as they enter the field.”

Erickson also added that he is pleased with the work of the new Sustainability Advisory Council in its inaugural year.

Many trees and diseased bushes have been removed from campus. In their place, NMU is preparing a major planting effort of 150 trees in the academic mall starting this fall, Erickson said.

Erickson mentioned that Northern received funding to do an economic development study for Governor Snyder’s Project Empire, which is working to find ways to put displaced mine workers back to work. The $1.1 million award allowed Northern to implement a collaborative, agreement between [email protected] and Innovate Marquette Smartzone.

Enrollment has increased with the addition of two athletic programs last year leading to 150 new athletes, Erickson said. The freshman class has increased by double digits percentage wise with graduate students enrollment also going up.

The convocation also featured Alec Lindsay, chair of the academic senate, inviting students and faculty to come to Academic Senate meetings.

“One of NMU’s core values is community and that is one of the reasons I am so proud to be a part of this university,” Lindsay said.