For the week of July 10, 2006

From the 6th floor

A bit of a cool down this past weekend had people hauling out the long-sleeved sweatshirts. A low pressure system moved through, bringing with it rain and clouds. Forecasters call for a warm-up by the end of this week. All in all, a relatively normal Upper Michigan summer to this point.

Northern Michigan University Alumni Association Board of Directors meets

The NMU Alumni Association Board of Directors held its summer meeting on the campus of NMU, June 23rd. Among items on the board's agenda; adopting an Alumni Constituency Policy, finalizing the details on new activities for Homecoming 2006; and initiating new Alumni Association membership benefits. You'll hear much more about these action items in the coming months. See our latest membership benefit below!

Charbonneau '02 joins NMU Alumni Association staff

Maryellen "Mel" (Poutanen) Charbonneau '02 has been hired as Assistant Director of Alumni Operations at NMU. Mel is responsible for managing membership and other revenue-generating programs such as the NMU license plate, the affinity credit card program, alumni travel and merchandising. Before joining NMU, Mel worked for the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Business as an outreach specialist. Prior to working at UW-Madison, she was a junior associate at a Madison-based communications firm. She is currently working on her master's degree in Political Communication from the University of Wisconin-Madison. Mel was a summa cum laude graduate of NMU with a bachelor's degree in Public Relations. While at NMU she was a member of the women's varsity basketball team, the Public Relations Student Society of American and was an active participant in the Washington Center Internship Program.
Mel can be reached at

Also new to the NMU Alumni Association staff, senior secretaries Erin Carlson and Julie Djupe.
Erin is responsible for managing the monetary aspects of the NMU Alumni Association. She handles the NMU Alumni Association's membership benefits and Free E-Mail for Life program. Before joining NMU, Erin was employed by the NICE Community Schools. She is currently a junior at Northern, working on a bachelor's degree in Marketing and Journalism.
Questions about your Alumni Association membership or E-mail for Life can be directed to Erin at
Julie handles all communications with the NMU Alumni Association Board of Directors and serves as the primary office contact for alumni events and activities. She provides coordination for the day-to-day administrative details of the office. Julie has 20 years of experience in higher education office administration, working at Michigan Tech, in athletics and human resources. You can contact Julie at

New benefit available to Alumni Association members

Working Advantage is a new member benefit that gives you access to exclusive discounts on movie tickets, movie rental coupons, ski tickets, theme park tickets, Broadway and family event tickets, hotel certificates, online shopping and more. If you are planning a family vacation, Working Advantage might be just the ticket!

If you take advantage of these great discounts, you’ll also be rewarded with Advantage Points. These points are accrued for all ticket and certificate purchases made online at and can be redeemed for great rewards like movie tickets, ski tickets, gift certificates and more!  Just look for the blue Advantage Point symbol for eligible products.

REGISTRATION IS FREE! That’s right, it’s free if you are a member of the Alumni Association. To register, simply email for the NMU ID number, then visit Working Advantage online at After a one time registration, you will be automatically enrolled and able to peruse all the great offers the site has to offer. Don’t wait, start saving today!  

Not a member but want to get in on the savings? Visit and join today!

Just a few of the stores offering exclusive discounts:

  • Ann Taylor
  • Dicks Sporting Goods
  • Target
  • The Body Shop
  • Timberland

NMU Board of Trustees sets tuition

The NMU Board of Trustees met Monday, July 10 in special session to discuss tuition rates for the 2006-2007 academic year. The board looked at a number of tuition models before deciding to increase tuition 4.8%.
“We’ll be able to maintain the quality of our programs and sustain efforts in a number of initiatives while keeping the tuition increase modest,” said NMU President Les Wong. “I think it’s a sign of our board’s confidence in the administration to steward the financial resources as efficiently as possible.”
Read more in Monday's news release.

Student Leader Fellowship Program hosts reunion weekend

Reunion attendees pose with NMU Director of Student Activities, Dave Bonsall (top row, left).

Orange blocks, green blocks, purple blocks and more were represented at the 15th anniversary celebration and reunion of NMU's Student Leader Fellowship Program.
Attendees participated in a number of activities including a service project at Bay Cliff Health Camp.
The Student Leader Fellowship Program (SLFP) is a nationally recognized leadership initiative that is committed to developing competent, ethical, and community-centered leaders. SLFP alumni are scattered across the country.

Alumnus tackles poverty in Tanzania

Aaron White '04 and Janethi,
a child from his village,
who is HIV positive.

Aaron White, an environmental sciences graduate, left the United States shortly after his December 2004 graduation from NMU. His plan was to spend time volunteering in Africa in the battle against AIDS and poverty. Aaron has been sending us periodic E-mails and we wanted to share his most recent update with you.

I’ve been in Tanzania since February, but before that I was in Ethiopia and Kenya.  Originally I came to Africa to work in Uganda with AIDS orphans, but because of political instability and rebel insurgents it wasn’t safe to stay there so I moved here to Arusha, Tanzania.  Arusha Tanzania is in the northern part of Tanzania and is surrounded by the great Serengeti plains, the incredible Ngorongoro Crater, and Africa’s highest mountain Mt. Kilimanjaro.  It’s a fascinating place that gets a lot of western influence from all the people that come here to go on Safari... Yet is still so incredibly poor, and has one of the highest HIV/AIDS rate in the world.

I came here just to volunteer for a few months but I saw such a huge need and such immense and widespread poverty that I wanted to do something more.  Because of this, I ended up working for a non-profit organization called OMEGA.  Through OMEGA I’m able to help small community based education initiatives realize their goals and become a part of the global movement for change.  We’re trying to provide lasting solutions to poverty through improvements in Education.  

Because of Tanzania’s Socialism status from 1967-1996, the education system was decimated... Which caused increases in disease, unemployment, environmental degradation, and overall poverty.  Only about 3% of high school age kids graduate, the literacy level is less than 60%, and HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of death for adults in this region.  Everyday I’m faced with seeing poverty at it’s worst... Street kids digging through piles of garbage, handicapped begging for bread on the streets, children dying of AIDS, and thousands of people living in slums.

So where do I fit in in this huge mess of poverty?  I work alongside local education projects to help them reach their fullest potential.  The people here have the power to rise above poverty, I’m just trying to help them do it.   There is a small pre-primary school that I’ve been helping at every week in a slum called Sokoni 1.  35 orphans age 3-5 come to this tin and wood shack turned school every day to play, learn, and get a simple cup of porridge. Most of these children lost their parents due to the AIDS epidemic and many of the children themselves are HIV positive.  I’m working to get these children on lifesaving antiretroviral therapy and also to build a real school where they can find a safe haven in the slum they live in.

I also get the chance to host various volunteers and groups that come to Africa to give their time, energy, and love to one of the projects I’m working with.  Recently we had a group of 4 college students come out for 2 weeks to volunteer at a rural village school.  We stayed at a Masai village next to a group of mud huts, and worked at the village school to build a soccer field for the kids and also assisted in a food distribution to lesson the impacts of the current famine in this region .  During our stay in the village we had 3 of the biggest elephants I have ever seen come right into camp looking for food, along with a leopard and a pack of hyenas.  That’s what I love about living here... Life is always exciting.

If anyone is interested in hearing more about our education projects here in Tanzania, or have any questions regarding my experience or my work... Feel free to email me at

Or send tax deductible donations to:
Omega Mission International
15219 Joliet Avenue
Lubbock, TX 79423


Closer to solving the mystery?

About a month ago , we included a story in this newsletter about a mysterious rock wall that was discovered on campus.
After the story ran, the Marquette Mining Journal wrote a front page article on the mystery and it has since gained steam.
Located on the north side of Cohodas, along Waldo Street, no one is certain of the history of the wall. Its location is near the original site of the Olson library, but no one remembers the wall being any part of the library. The wall contains a number of animal representations, a horse and a cow, which appear to have been painstakingly put together. A lot of time and effort when into its construction. A number of people have since ventured down the hill to check it out, even some alumni from the '30s, but no one had been able to offer any clues...until this past weekend.
Jim Nebel '53, of Marquette, wrote a Letter to the Editor in Sunday's edition of the newspaper that may clear up some of the mystery. He gave us permission to use the letter and see if anyone else has similar recall.

"I'm writing regarding the wall discovery on the NMU campus near the Waldo Street/Fitch Avenue intersection, reported in the June 26 Mining Journal. The story roused numerous memories of the college campus area so many years ago.
I was certain that someone would come forward with a complete accounting of the all background. Having seen none to date, I'll share a few of my recollections from that time period concerning the "mystery wall," without a lot of specific detail.
During my third and fourth grade years at John D. Pierce, I lived at 320 Waldo St., the northeast corner of Waldo and Fitch, and resided at 425 Summer St. prior to that. This puts the time period in the 1936-40 era.
I recall the impressive regal sandstone and wrought iron entranceway to the college campus on the corner of Waldo Street and Presque Isle Avenue. There were also two clay tennis courts with a high hurricane fence around them, situated on the campus side of Waldo Street just off the south end of Fitch Avenue. This is some years before Olson Library, Carey Hall and Vetville were constructed.
The wall setting is just west of where the tennis courts were and at the base of the hill.
There was a young man we understood to be a summer school student at Northern, with some mason skills, who was in charge of the wall project. He mixed the mortar and had a number of us neighborhood kids carry rocks for him, and even let us position some of the rocks on the wall under his supervision.
The purpose of the wall was never clear to us as kids. We just accepts the project as something to do and we enjoyed being busy with the mason experience.
For years after the wall was completed, it was a favorite place for young people to sit on and congregate around.
I suspect it was during the post-war years of campus construction that the wall got buried. Once the wall is totally excavated, I'm sure a 1930's date will be revealed, along with the initials of several young mason helpers.
Like you, I welcome any information regarding the wall's origin. This is the best I can do with an old and somewhat foggy memory.
As Bob Hope liked to say, "Thanks for the memories."

Jim Nebel '53


Seaborg shipment arrives

NMU history professor Russ Magnaghi pores through one of about 400 boxes of items that belonged to the late Nobel Laureate Glenn T. Seaborg. NMU inherited the materials from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California. The papers, photos, journals, books and artifacts span much of the chemist's career in academia at UC-Berkeley, and his service as chair of the Atomic Energy Commission.
Seaborg lived in Ishpeming the first 10 years of his life and maintained close ties to NMU. The Seaborg Center was named in his honor to promote mathematics and science education.

Thanks for stopping by...

...Brent Cook '80 and Robin De Blake '84 of Jekyll Island, Ga. The couple met while attending Northern. They were on campus visiting with their son, D Blake, who is a junior in high school and is checking out colleges around Michigan.

Don't forget, if you are in town visiting this summer, stop by and say hello. We're located on the 6th floor of the Cohodas building.

From the E-mail bag

"Just wanted to let folks know that I recently had a novel published. It was just released this June. I'm including information."
Jeff Vande Zande '93
Bay City, Mich.

March Street Press announces the publication of Jeff Vande Zande's debut novel...Into the Desperate Country.

Having abandoned his life after the deaths of his wife and daughter, Stan Carter begins accidentally to live "deliberately" in his cabin near Gaylord, Mich. Soon, though, he feels the very insistent pull of society calling him back to the path: Find love. Find a job. Have kids. Own a house. And then die-having, perhaps, never lived. It's the siren call of conformity and status quo. It's the call Stan must fight. And, in some way, it's the fight we all have as we make our way.

For more information or to get a copy of the book, contact Jeff.

"Hey, I hope all is well at Northern and in Marquette. My band will be playing at Up Front & Company on July 14 & 15. Band members Larry Boburka '93, David Lover '92, Mike Procunier and myself are all alumni. Dave's brother Joe also plays with us. Another alum, Jon Ruuska '94, manages the bar. His wife is my RA's sister. Small world, even in Marquette. The band gets together once a year during the summer and has done so since we left Northern. Larry lives in Marquette, Lover in the Twin Cities and Mike lives in the Tampa/St. Pete area. We've been playing out of the area for the last several years and have played on Mackinac Island and in the Twin Cities. We are amped about coming back to Marquette to play. Would love a mention in 'What's New, NMU? Check out the flyer. Hope to see you there."
Pete Drever '

Alex Trebek and Theresa Larson '88, '90.

A Jeopary update from alumna Theresa Larson:

"I was on Jeopardy for two days total, Thursday and Friday, June 22nd and 23rd.  The first day, I was the only one who had the correct Final Jeopardy response, and I won with a total of $18,600.  I'm not unnaturally brilliant, however -- the response ("What is the Library of Congress?") was a last-second guess, which followed on the heels of some very heavy prayer.  The second day I started out well, but messed up on a Daily Double in the first round.  I never really recovered after that, but did manage to finish in second place, which pays $2000.  That's more than I clear in a month at my real job, so I'm not too disappointed.  Both Chris (who won that day) and I felt really bad for John, who should have won but came in third.  We all got the correct response ("Who is Ishmael?" --from Moby Dick,) but when John saw that the category was "19th Century Literature," he bet zero.  "I don't know a thing about literature," he told me.  "But wouldn't you know they ask about the one book I've read?"  Even though I only won one day, I have no regrets.  Well, one.  I should have gotten that stupid Daily Double.  But aside from that...  It was a lot of fun, and as I told my husband, for the rest of my life I can say, "I'm a Jeopardy Champion."  Not a lot of people can back up that claim.  I, of course, have it on tape."

Theresa (Wilkow) Larson '88, '90
Katy, TX

"Hi. My husband Rob and I just returned from a trip to Tokyo, Japan.
While we were there, I was able to meet up with fellow NMU alumnus and friend, Woong Han '84 from Korea.  He recently became a citizen of Japan, where he lives with his wife and children. Attached is a picture of Woong Han, my husband, Rob Fischer (OSU '85), and myself, Katherine (Diol) Fischer '86. Special thanks to John Reber & Janice (Loughead) Reber '87 who were able to email me Woong's address & number in time to arrange our meeting!"
Katherine Fischer '86
Dublin, OH

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