Scott Holman has been a part of the Board of Trustees (BOT) for 13 collective years and over that time, a number of innovative changes have happened at NMU with his help from the creation of the laptop policy, research access to Granite Island and climbs in enrollment rates. But on Dec. 31, 2018, Holman will take a step back from the Board.
Gov. John Engler appointed Holman to the NMU BOT in 1994. From 1996-2004, Holman served as BOT Chair during NMU’s centennial and made major improvements to the university. One policy in particular that Holman looks back on as a great experience was trying to boost enrollment after the closing of K.I. Sawyer, bringing forth the laptop policy.
“In those days not many kids had laptops. The parents were really happy that if they enrolled their youngster in Northern, they got a laptop without extra charge,” Holman said.
After finishing the term in 2004 Holman wondered what was next. Then, the phone rang.
“I get a call from Gov. Rick Snyder saying that they had a resignation from the Board and there were five years left,” Holman said. When Snyder asked him to take over the rest of the term, Holman replied,
“I thought you’d never ask.”
When the Board saw that enrollment was declining
again, Holman said they needed to find a way to attract more students to enroll. The Education Access Network (EAN), which
provides internet access to the rural areas of the U.P., became one of the ideas that
spread Northern’s impact.
“This is a fantastic school and people don’t know about it.
With the board we have, we’ve put together some programs that get [a] buzz,” Holman said.
As larger, well-known programs began to notice NMU, they also saw an opportunity in an old lighthouse, 12 miles out into
Lake Superior on Granite Island, that just so happens to be
owned by Holman.
The new Forensic Research Outdoor Station (FROST) and NASA asked for permission to perform research on the island and Holman granted them access, but only on one condition.
“I’ll let you use the island if you include Northern students,” Holman said.
Being an Ishpeming native, Holman knew that there were more ways to give back to the community.
“You have an affinity to the area. That’s why you do it,” Holman said. “It’s a great feeling. I’m a Yooper, right? Even though I was downstate for a number
of years, Yoopers come back.”
The history that makes up NMU holds a much more personal meaning for Holman, as 26 of his relatives are also
NMU graduates. Two great-aunts were valedictorian and salutatorian during commencement in 1926.
Looking back, Holman remembers a time when traveling between the peninsulas was much more difficult. He recognizes it could be limiting to those who might seek out a college education.
“Having Northern here caused so many people to get an education that wouldn’t have otherwise,” Holman said. “There was no bridge.”
Holman received the Distinguished Alumni Award in 1989, and it became a
special moment for relatives and alumni to witness.
“It was really a thrill. My mom and dad were still alive at the point and my uncle, also
a Northern grad came all the way up from Jackson. [It was] quite
an honor,” he said.
Having served on the Alumni Association for 10 years, including a two-year presidency, Holman has always had a seat
“It’s wonderful to see all this talent unleashing onto the
world from NMU,” Holman said. “It’ll be my 30th and last time