For the week of February 5, 2007

From the 6th floor

The thermometer at this east side home in Marquette read 20 below zero Sunday morning.

We are smack dab in the middle of the cold spell gripping the Midwest. Schools throughout the southern Upper Peninsula have been shut down for two days because of bitter wind chills. Some areas reported wind chills near 45 below. Meanwhile, the mercury is having a tough time even making it to zero during the day in many locations. The arctic blast is slowing moving out but temperatures will take a few days to recover. Forecasters are calling for highs near 15 degrees by Friday.

NMU President stresses proactive strategy

With the state facing a projected revenue shortfall of more than $800 million this year and up to $2 billion next year, President Les Wong told attendees at three university forums this week that it’s important for NMU to adopt an offensive strategy.
He said NMU should focus on maintaining the high-quality, high-touch programs that appeal to students and parents; sustaining enrollment growth and retention to compensate for reductions in the percentage of state support; addressing appropriate opportunities in a timely manner; reviewing internal processes that slow down the university and frustrate initiatives; and increasing the “error tolerance” by implementing good ideas but having an exit plan if their feasibility doesn’t extend beyond the short term. 
“I don’t want to wait until the numbers are out and someone is telling us what to do and when,” he said. “I would rather we control our own destiny. My plea is that we get ready without panicking and that we don’t worry about cuts because there are no numbers out yet. Let’s focus on what we can aggressively do to deliver our services when opportunities arise. Perhaps we can generate more revenue by our creativity to more than offset any cut."
Wong said his first goal is to begin a discussion with the campus community about the size and scope of the Michigan problem. He attributes the economic woes to a combination of sliding revenues, a declining tax base, and structural problems—namely, a decision to repeal the single business tax with no strategy to replace the $1.9 billion in revenue it generated. He also cited rising health-care, pension and corrections costs.
Gov. Jennifer Granholm is scheduled to unveil her executive budget for FY2008 on Feb. 8 – two days after her State of the State address.

Changes in Alumni staff

Brad Hamel ’99 has been hired as Assistant Director of Alumni Operations at NMU. Brad is responsible for managing memberships and other revenue generating programs such as the NMU license plate, the affinity credit card program, alumni travel and merchandising. Prior to joining the Alumni team Brad spent the last seven years with the Intercollegiate Athletics and Recreational Sports Department at NMU; starting out as Assistant Concessions Manager, moving to Assistant Events/Ticketing Manager and ending up as Ticket Manger. Brad received a bachelor’s degree form NMU in Justice Studies and minored in Art and Design. He is a life long resident of the Upper Peninsula and looks forward to working with all of NMU’s alumni from all over the country and the world. Brad can be reached at
Mel Charbonneau '02, who previously held the position of Assistant Director, has moved to the NMU Foundation as Director of Annual Giving.

NMU Volunteer Center issues challenge

Michigan Tech students donated 136 pints of blood during their portion of the blood drive in January.

The annual NMU vs. MTU Blood Drive is just around the corner and the NMU Volunteer Center is asking for alumni help. Every year, NMU and Tech compete to see who can bring in the most blood donations. NMU has only won the title once in the past seven years. Organizers of the NMU side of the competition are hoping to change that. Brianne Rogers coordinator at the NMU Volunteer Center wants to challenge alumni to get out and participate and help NMU bring the title home.
The blood drive is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 22 from noon until 5:45 p.m. in the Learning Resources Center.
Qualifications to donate blood:
--Must not have donated in the last eight weeks
--Eat well during regular mealtimes and drink plenty of fluids
--Must be in general good health. (If you have had a flu shot, you can still donate.)

NMU vs. MTU Blood Drive
Thursday, Feb. 22
Bottom level of the LRC
Noon-5:45 p.m.
Bring State ID

Northern delegation visits Sweden

A small Northern delegation made a quick trip to Sweden this month to meet with administrators at Vaxjo University. They discussed potential exchanges of students, faculty, curriculum content and technical expertise. According to President Les Wong, it was a productive visit.
“We are in the process of exchanging formal documents,” he said. “The city of Vaxjo looks a lot like the Upper Peninsula and much of the curriculum is taught in English, so the comfort level would be sky high for our students and faculty.”
Other NMU participants were Phyllis Wong, Gavin Leach, Associate Vice President for Finance and Administration and Cynthia Prosen, Dean of Graduate Studies, Research and Continuing Education. The team is shown with two representatives of Vaxjo University and NMU alumnus Joe Evans '81, '83.(far right).
Northern's connection with the institution was facilitated by Evans, a senior vice president for the Sweden-based Saab Inc. Defense Unit—formerly Ericsson Telecom.
“He invited us to Washington D.C. about a year ago because the Swedes were hosting a small trade fair in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce,” said Wong. “A couple universities had booths and speakers there. So did corporations like Ikea, Husqvarna, Volvo and Saab.”

“Saab is interested in promoting intellectual exchanges and research. Having an alumnus at the corporation brings a little more oomph to our involvement. We might explore how NMU and Vaxjo might meet with the research and development people at Saab to see what training needs they have.”

Wong said Swedish faculty are interested in the pedagogy of teaching with technology, but their campus infrastructure trails behind NMU. Faculty are largely self-taught on the use WebCT because there’s not an emphasis on training and support. He said broadband is available extensively, but at slower speeds. However, Vaxjo has developed an online degree program in Scandinavian languages that might be of interest to NMU.
While Swedes recognize the value of promoting study-abroad opportunities for its college students, the challenge is providing an incentive to follow through. Wong said one of the byproducts of the hefty individual tax rate of 60 percent, in addition to government-sponsored health care and government-owned and maintained buildings, is that students do not have to pay tuition or fees to attend college. It’s a benefit that is extended to international students as well.  
“Our students could take a semester or year over there for basically no cost except room and board. If they take courses approved for their major, they would just pay Northern’s tuition rate. The question is how we might create a similar advantage for Swedish students to make it appealing for them to study here. We’re exploring that right now.”
Wong said NMU might invest in a booth at a Swedish-American Entrepreneurial Days trade event Aug. 20-23 in south Sweden. Northern has also been invited to set up an informational table at a Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce event in Chicago in April.

Wildcat sports update

The Cappo Cup will change its address thanks to a 2-1 win by the Lake Superior Lakers on Saturday (Feb. 3) over the Northern Michigan University hockey Wildcats at Taffy Abel Arena. The Wildcats have held the cup since the 2000-2001 season.
The 'Cats and Lakers split the weekend series as NMU won Friday's game in Marquette. The 'Cats are 12-18-2 on the season and 9-14-1 in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA). NMU has its final road trip of the regular season Feb 9-10 against the Ohio State
Buckeyes in Columbus, Ohio.

The men's and women's basketball teams hosted Gannon University Saturday (Feb. 3). The men's team came away with their sixth straight win, getting past the Golden Knights 80-72. The win vaults the 'Cats into second-place in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) North Division. NMU is 14-9 overall and 8-6 in conference play.
The women's team was not as fortunate, dropping an overtime decision to Gannon 76-70. The lost snapped the 'Cats two-game winning streak as they are now 8-15 overall and 4-10 in the GLIAC.
Both teams are on the road this week as they play at Lake Superior State on Thursday (Feb. 8) and Ferris State on Saturday (Feb. 10).
The NMU women's swimming and diving team dropped their final dual meet of the season, 154-64 to Grand Valley State. NMU will compete at the GLIAC Swimming and Diving Championships at Ashland University, Feb. 21-24.
The NMU women's soccer team is
planning a trip to Holland, Germany and Belgium from Aug. 8-17. The trip is part of the Wildcats preseason training. While in Europe the 'Cats will play in three friendly matches and in a one-day mini-tournament. The team will conduct several fundraising activities for the trip. For more information, contact Matt Granstrand the head women's soccer coach.

From the Email bag

2007 Michigan Corrections Organization
Officer of the Year Steve Houck '87.

"I am Amy Houck from Carson City, Michigan and my husband, Steve Houck, class of 1987 works for the Dept. of Corrections in Carson City at the Direct Regional Facility (DRF). He was hired in in April 1989 and will complete 18 years this April. The reason for the note is to let you and your staff and other fellow NMU students, faculty and alumni that Steve was awarded the highest honor any correction officer can receive:  He was named Officer of the Year 2007 for the DOC for the entire state of Michigan!!! He was nominated in December for the opportunity and his ARUS called him with the good news that he had won for our institution.  Then he was put in the running for the 'top 5' officers in the state and he had to go to Lansing on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2007 and interview along with the other 4 applicants from other facilities in the state. He called me about 1:30 p.m. and told me that he had been chosen for this awesome opportunity and was awarded the 2007 Officer of the Year for the state.
I am very excited and proud of him to say the least!!  He is a wonderful husband and father to our 5 boys- ages 20 - 4. He now has the possibility of going to Washington D.C. and interviewing on the federal level to compete for the Officer of the Year for the entire USA.  Not sure when that will take place as of yet.
If there are any alumni who went to school with Steve, we would love to hear from you.
Thanks for allowing me to forward this information."
Amy Houck
Carson City, Mich.

"At 7 a.m. local (12 p.m. UT) Sunday, Feb. 4, the temperature was -16°F (-27°C) with a wind chill of -33°F (-36°C).  Three hours earlier, it was 2° colder. I thought you'd like to know.  Happy winter."
Manning '74

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