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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas Wiertella April 30, 2024

NMU launches student success realignment

ACAC rebranded, restructured to meet student success needs.
Ryley Wilcox/NW
RESTRUCTURING ADVISING — Neil Baumgartner, Director of Student Success, discusses advising with a student. NMU’s advising department, formerly known as ACAC, has been restructured as the Student Success Department in line with President Brock Tessman’s university realignment plan.

As of the fall 2023 semester, the Academic and Career Advisement Center (ACAC), which provides advising to students at NMU, has been rebranded as Student Success.

This restructuring falls in line with President Brock Tessman’s “Student Affairs and Success” pillar as part of his leadership realignment at NMU.

According to a message from the Office of the President, “Student Affairs and Success leads the way when it comes to strategically deploying our various academic advising resources . . . in order to substantially improve our retention, persistence and completion rates.” 

The goal of the Student Success Department is to guide students toward achieving their goals both at NMU and beyond the university, said Neil Baumgartner, Director of Student Success.

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“Our point of emphasis for advising and for the services that we provide is really that student success portion and to enhance student success with a focus on helping more students to complete their degrees and to navigate the university,” Baumgartner said. 

The restructuring will assign first-time freshmen to one of nine advising clusters based on their area of study, each with a designated team of advisors. 

“If you change your major within your cluster or you keep the same major, you can keep your advisor from the point you enter the university through completion, so it provides that continuity now,” Baumgartner said.

The first eight clusters have been placed into restructured offices already existing within their departments to keep faculty, staff and students near one another. Advisors for the ninth cluster, Exploring and Non-Degree Seeking, will remain within the Student Success Office, formerly the ACAC office. 

This allows for faculty, staff and students to create and maintain relationships with each other throughout a student’s time at the university. It also allows advisors to be engaged with faculty of their assigned department, acting as experts of their departments for the students they advise, Baumgartner said.

“In our previous model, at the end of the first year, everybody had to go find a new advisor. It was really causing disruption in those relationships, which can be a drawback when you’re trying to form this relationship with somebody who can help guide you through,” Baumgartner said. “We looked at that as an area of opportunity.”

Students enrolled at the university prior to this fall semester will continue to work with their current faculty member as their primary advisor through their completion of their program. 

“For new students coming in right now, what they’ll experience is hopefully the benefits of having this new structure, being able to have that person who’s your point of contact and being able to work with them and grow together throughout their experience,” Baumgartner said. 

So far, the new Student Success Department has received overwhelming positive feedback on their restructuring, Baumgartner said. The office has worked with department heads and deans over the summer to introduce this restructuring in fall 2023.

“As with any change, there are just questions or concerns or things that people want to get answered,” Baumgartner said. “We’re working with everybody to address those and to make sure that we’re putting all the right things in place.” 

The new office has also received feedback from resident advisors during their training in August, who are NMU students who work closely with around 50 on-campus students each.

“They could see the value of that or the helpful nature of being able to form these relationships and thankfully, a lot of students have had really great relationships with their advisors and so they value that relationship,” Baumgartner said.

The Student Success Department plans to hire four new advisors to round out 15 advisors across the nine clusters within the next four to six weeks, Baumgartner said. 

“If there are questions or concerns, definitely bring those to our attention so that we can continue to address them,” Baumgartner said.


Fall Advising Clusters are listed below.

  • Business, Math & Computing
    • Programs: Business, Computer Science, Economics, Math
  • Education, Leadership & Native Studies
    • Programs: Applied Workplace Leadership, Education, Native American Studies
  • Engineering & Applied Technology
    • Programs: Engineering Technology, Technology & Occupational Sciences
  • Fine & Performing Arts
    • Programs: Art & Design, Music, Theatre & Dance
  • Health Sciences
    • Programs: Clinical Sciences, Health & Human Performance, Nursing
  • Humanities
    • Programs: Communication & Media Studies, English, History, Languages, Literatures & International Studies, Philosophy, Political Science
  • Natural & Physical Sciences
    • Programs: Biology, Chemistry, Earth, Environmental & Geographical Sciences, Physics
  • Social Sciences
    • Programs: Criminal Justice, Psychology, Social Work, Sociology & Anthropology
  • Exploring & Non-Degree Seeking

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About the Contributor
Ryley Wilcox
Ryley Wilcox, News Editor
I found my passion for journalism during my sophomore year of college, writing articles here and there for the North Wind. Since joining the staff this past semester as the news writer, I have been able to learn more about writing and collect some new passions from the stories I have covered. I have always been a learner who was curious to know more about everything and figure out how things worked, which I have been able to do in my time at the North Wind. In my remaining time in college and on staff, I cannot wait to learn even more and find some new passions along the way.