New Honors director, same smart students


NIGHT OUT—Honors students gather before watching “In the Heights” on the 2018 trip to Milwaukee. On the trip students also visited the Milwaukee Art Museum. Photo courtesy of Honors Facebook Page

Mary McDonough

This June, Michael Joy of the Spanish department, a man who has found a number of different facets to explore in the NMU community was named the new director of the Honors program.

It all started back in 2006. Looking to be closer to his roots, Joy found himself drawn in by the things that many have said before about the atmosphere of NMU. 

“I did a campus tour here in the winter of 2006 and I really enjoyed the students here, my colleagues and the natural beauty of the place,” Joy said. 

It wasn’t until 2011 that Joy was approached to teach an honors course focusing on the origins of western values. This became a prime opportunity for him to showcase his favorite book in the classroom.

“I basically turned that into a class about my favorite book, ‘Don Quixote’, how it shaped and altered modern life and culture,” Joy said.

Two years later, the director at the time, David Wood went on sabbatical and Joy stepped into the spot as interim director. In that one short year, it became apparent that the work could not be carried by one person. Joy wanted to help lighten the work Wood might have upon returning. 

“At the end of that year, because the program had grown so much, it was decided that we needed an assistant director,” Joy said. “I applied for that and got the job.” 

As the assistant director, Joy organized the yearly trip to Milwaukee. Every fall, the honors students go out and experience a number of different things from live theatre to music and different museums. But with all that intense work, Joy still views his past position as a great time with a great partner. 

“It’s been a lot of fun. David and I have been a fantastic team for the past six years. We bounce ideas off each other. We each have strengths and those fill in to make one complete administrator,” Joy said. “I’ll keep track of things like enrollment and recruitment, help organize the trips. He kept track of graduation and honorization, things like that.”

When it comes to the years of working with honors students, Joy finds that as one of the main highlights of his position.

“That’s the most fun thing about the job because honors students are regular NMU students, we are not the snooty club for smart people,” Joy said.

Taking on the role of director, Joy feels mostly prepared. But like every new change, there is a learning curve. 

“The past six years have prepared me well for this. There are certainly aspects of the job that are new to me,” Joy said.

Joy hopes that in this new position he can show the students who might not be a part of the program that it is not meant to draw boundaries between students. 

 “The program exists to enhance the overall experience of the university for all students. It’s that rising tide that lifts all the other boats on campus,” Joy said.

Current students are able to apply for the honors program through its website.