For the week of May 7, 2007

From the 6th floor

We are coming off a relatively nice weekend in the weather department. The weather Saturday (May 5) for commencement was mild with sunshine for most of the day. It was pretty windy throughout much of the weekend, though. The forecast for this week calls for temperatures near 70 degrees early in the week with a bit of a cool down as we reach Thursday and Friday. Precipitation is likely Monday and Tuesday, but that's a good thing because fire danger is currently quite high.

Alumni Association sponsors graduation party

The NMU Alumni Association, in conjunction with the student group First Impressions, hosted its annual graduation rehearsal pizza party on Friday, May 4. Every spring, following commencement rehearsal, graduating seniors are treated to a special welcome lunch of pizza and pop. Of the more than 900 students eligible for commencement exercises this year, some 800+ participated in the ceremony. The NMU Alumni Association Board of Directors were on hand to welcome the new alumni.
All new graduates are eligible for a free year of membership in the Alumni Association. The Alumni Association also offers free Email for life and great networking opportunities in our new online social and professional site, the Northern Network.

Donors honor NMU lifesaver

Naomi Benda '07 and John and Cathi Drake.
The quick and professional actions of NMU senior nursing student Naomi Benda were recognized Friday (May 4) with a $75,000 gift from Cathi and John Drake to NMU's School of Nursing for the creation of a critical care simulation lab.
Last August, Benda performed lifesaving CPR and emergency first aid on Cathi Drake after she collapsed in a restaurant in Houghton, Mich., while having dinner with her husband and friends.
During Friday's nursing commencement pinning ceremony, Benda, who hails from Cokato, Minn., was surprised with the announcement of the Drake's gift in her honor and with the presentation of a State of Michigan Certificate of Tribute from the House of Representatives signed by Upper Peninsula representatives Mike Lahti and Steve Lindberg and Senator Mike Prusi during the announcement of the Drakes' gift in her honor.
The critical care simulation lab is located in NMU's West Science Building and emulates a room in a state-of-the-art intensive care hospital unit. It was officially opened and dedicated as the Benda-Drake Room following the pinning ceremony.
"It was a total surprise," said an emotional Benda, following a tour of the new lab. "I was bawling my eyes out. I wasn't sure when I first heard it announced what a critical care simulation lab would entail but it's a beautiful room, and it will be a great learning environment for future classes here."

The Drakes, who are from Warren, Ohio are retired owners of a manufacturing business, attended the pinning and room dedication. They reside in Hancock, Mich. during the summer.
"We really appreciate what Naomi did and what Northern Michigan University did in training her to handle such a situation so well. And we're hoping that this room will help train more future nurses to perform so well. That's our mission and our hope; this gift isn't about us. It's about the future and the young people NMU is trying to educate. We want to help the university continue to provide the highest level of training in its nursing program," said John Drake. "The room is great and Julie Dobson of the NMU nursing department did a wonderful job of putting it together."

Board approves new package for NMU President Les Wong

The NMU Board of Trustees unanimously approved a new compensation package for President Les Wong at their meeting, Friday, May 4 . It will go into effect July 1, the date his original three-year agreement is set to expire.
Wong’s base salary will increase from $170,000 to $185,000.
“The board has been very pleased with the president’s leadership and track record over the past three years,” said Sam Benedict, chair of the executive committee, which recommended the increase. “Recognizing the competitive nature of the market nationwide, our goal is to keep Dr. Wong at Northern for as long as possible. One step in doing that is to raise the value of his compensation package. It had fallen behind the average of his peers.”
Wong also will receive a $10,000 increase in deferred compensation. When combined with his revised salary, retirement contributions and a potential bonus for achieving goals, his total package is valued at about $264,000. Last year's average for peer institutions in Michigan was close to $265,000. That figure excludes presidential packages at Michigan State, Wayne State and the University of Michigan.

In other action at Friday's meeting, the board:

--Approved the appointment of Gavin Leach '85, '99 as vice president for Finance and Administration and treasurer of the NMU Board of Trustees, effective July 1. He takes over the duties of Mike Roy, who will be named special projects consultant until his planned 2008 retirement


--Approved housing and dining rates for the coming academic year. The annual cost of a double-occupancy residence hall room and the “constant meal pass” plan will be $7,038, an increase of $346


--Agreed on continuation budgets for the general fund and designated fund for 2007-08, meaning they will operate at the same level as the current year – with the exception of contractual increases – until new budgets are approved


--Approved five new academic programs: plastic injection certificate; nurse educator graduate certificate; bachelor’s degree in loss prevention management; and associate degrees in radiography and respiratory therapy

--Voted to increase the one-time student athletic fee from $175 to $200

Honors for faculty members

NMU Professor James Camerius received the Philip Fisher Distinguished Service Award from the Society for Case Research at its recent convention in Chicago. The award is given annually to the person who has served SCR, a professional case research organization, with distinction.
Camerius is a professor of marketing in the Walker L. Cisler College of Business. He joined the faculty in 1963.
Carl Wozniak, an education instructor at NMU, has received a 2007 Distinguished Service Award from the National Earth Science Teachers Association.
The award honors officers and volunteers who provide dedicated service to the organization. Wozniak was responsible for establishing, developing, and hosting the original NESTA Web site.

From the Email bag

"We are planning a golf tournament in Wayland, Mass., on Monday, June 25, at the Sandy Burr Golf Course. This event supports the Ron Burton Camp Scholarship, which selects a candidate to attend NMU. This effort was developed and run by Len St. Jean '72, Bill Brodeur '60 and Pat Lentell '69. For more information, contact Len at
Go Wildcats!
Len St. Jean '72
Stoughton, Mass.

"My wife, sons and I were in Marquette the weekend of the 21st and 22nd for a soccer tournament that my younger son Luc was playing in at the Superior Dome. Had a great time! My son's team lost one game by one goal, and won the others. My son did score a couple of goals and did something I've never been able to do: got his name in the Mining Journal. His first game was at 7 a.m. local time and his coach wanted the team at the dome 45 minutes early for warm-ups. Other than getting up ludicrously early, I did get a nice photo of the sunrise over Lake Superior from the dome parking lot."
Jim '77 and Ann Rose
Washington Island, Wis.

Have something you'd like to share?

Feedback should be directed to

"What's New, NMU?" is a service of the NMU Alumni Association. Consider joining today!