For the week of September 5, 2005

From the 6th floor

An overcast start to the work week in Upper Michigan, but after a very pleasant long weekend, I don't think anyone is complaining. If Labor Day is the unofficial end to summer, summer ended consistent: sunny and warm. All of that bodes well for what we hope is an excellent forecast for Homecoming in two weeks. There is some marginal changing of the leaves, but nothing too serious yet. I don't think the nights are getting cool enough for trees to be impacted yet. I'm guessing that's not far away, but for now we're still enjoying great weather. This past weekend brought with it what may be the final beach days of the season.

NMU responds to Hurricane Katrina

Editor's note: Dr. Wong sent this letter to the NMU community Sept. 2.

Dear NMU faculty, staff, students and alumni,

The damage caused by Hurricane Katrina is beyond comprehension. If you have family roots from that area, or currently have friends or colleagues there, the university wants to express its most heart-felt sympathy. Northern Michigan University stands ready to assist in whatever way possible.

A university and community meeting will take place at 6 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 7, in the Peter White Lounge for students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members who would like to help NMU develop a university-wide relief effort. The NMU Volunteer Center is serving as the coordinator of this project.

We pride ourselves on being a caring, close-knit community. Now is the time for us to demonstrate our best strength. Until we can meet and implement our plans, I encourage NMU family members to individually and immediately find ways to assist national relief efforts, such as the American Red Cross.

Does NMU have students from the storm-hit area? Yes, we have identified at least three students who come from the area hit by Katrina. Alumni? We have more than 100 alumni whose addresses are in that location. Also, there are about a dozen faculty and staff members who have indicated some close (familial or personal) tie to the area.

The Dean of Students Office has contacted the students from Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi to offer the university’s support in helping with critical individual or family needs. On September 1, the local National Guard unit was called to duty and given only a few hours to report to their command post. DSO staff are working to assist our students and staff called to duty. I know I do not have to ask faculty and staff to go above and beyond to help these students and employees work through these situations.

The Alumni and Foundation Office is working to learn the needs of alumni families impacted by the hurricane. The deans, academic and non-academic department heads, and Human Resources are working to learn about and assist impacted faculty and staff. After a phone call from a colleague who wanted to know if NMU could help with one of his students, I have called upon admissions, housing, ACAC and financial aid to be ready to quickly process any student left without a university who shows up at our door.

While New Orleans is physically hundreds of miles from Marquette, the enormity of the situation has rippled all the way to our own campus. Now, the distance between us and those who need help becomes not a physical measurement, but one of generosity, concern and commitment to act.

I hope to see you Wednesday night.

Les Wong, NMU President

An alumna shares her New Orleans story

Kelly Post '02

I am one of the lucky ones to have made it out of New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina hit.
I've been teaching in New Orleans for the past few years and I loved it there. The people and the culture are unlike any other place in the U.S.
I was teaching third grade, we started this year on August 18, and I had 25 smallest class yet in New Orleans. My school is in one of the hardest hit areas of East New Orleans. I taught my students in half of a portable classroom. So far I've found one of my students who is staying in Houston and enrolled in school, it was wonderful to talk to her (when I called her family screamed and yelled into the phone in excitement), and one of my fellow teachers who is staying in Alabama.
While I was watching CNN I saw a co-worker walk by a television camera to get bottled water when it finally arrived at the Convention Center. I can't imagine the horror she is have been through this last week. People keep saying "Why didn't they leave?"
Here's the answer....poverty.
Most of the children that attend Orleans Parish Schools receive free lunch, live in very small, crowded apartments or homes if they are lucky enough to have them.
Many do not have cars and use public transportation to get around town.
Some can't even afford that. I don't know if I'll ever find all of my students, co-workers, and friends again. Many might not have made it out of the city or might never return. I'm lucky, I have a place to stay in Michigan for now, friends and family to take care of me, a roof over my head, and food to eat. Many of my friends from Northern have called me to make sure I got out, and fellow NMU alums Sarah Chatel and Jeff Audrish have already made long trips to visit me. I can only hope and pray that the rest of the world takes notice of this tragedy and helps out the gulf coast. They need it more than anyone can imagine right now.
New Orleans is a wonderful, diverse, culturally unique place and it will be restored. As for now, people need to help by donating to whatever organization they believe can help.
Kelly Post '02

Kelly also shared her story with WZZM-TV in Grand Rapids. You can watch the report here.
Scroll through the story list until you reach "Teacher Waits to Hear from Students."

Homecoming set for next week

Yes, it is early this year, but that means you'll have great weather on your return to Marquette for Homecoming!

Homecoming 2005
Sept. 16-17

Parade-Tailgating-Football-Alumni Reception.
Click here for complete schedule.

Domestic Diversity Institute a first for NMU

A three-day Domestic Diversity Institute – the first of its kind at Northern Michigan University – will be held Sept. 14-16 in the Great Lakes Rooms of the University Center. The public is invited to attend free of charge.
The program will feature keynote presentations by nationally recognized diversity consultants, breakout discussions, presentations by NMU faculty and staff, and a luncheon/strategy development session for the campus community.
Titled “Diversity Stimulation: Transforming Attitudes, Community and Curriculum,” the institute is sponsored by the university’s Ethnic and Cultural Diversity Committee (ECDC) and the King-Chavez-Parks Initiative.
“The president has given a charge to the ECDC to ascertain the level of attention given to diversity issues and to make some recommendations,” said Mary Etchison, chair of the ECDC at NMU. “The institute is an attempt to educate the campus and greater community, as well as K-12, on the issues of domestic diversity. The last day is dedicated to the campus-wide forum so that the university community can have input on recommendations that will be developed that will ultimately affect the future of domestic diversity initiatives at NMU.”
More details.

Sweetgrass Cinema to debut

Northern Michigan University will play host to an inaugural Native American film festival titled “Sweetgrass Cinema” Wednesday through Friday, Sept. 14-16.  The festival will feature both new and classic Native American films, presentations, workshops, panel discussions and other events. The public is invited to attend free of charge. Several guest speakers will also participate, including Sherwin Bitsui, an Academy of American Poets award winner and Sundance Film Festival participant; Chris Eyre, the director of Images of Indians: How Hollywood Stereotyped the Native American; and Brent Michael Davids, a Grammy co-winner who has rescored Last of the Mohicans in native language and music.           
Allison Hedge Coke, an NMU English professor and festival organizer, said she received a King-Chavez-Parks grant and asked students what type of project they would like to see the funding support.
“Most agreed that they wanted to see more films,” she said. “The name for the festival comes from a new student organization which has been formed to implement more fine arts for educational purposes. Everyone loves movies, and I’ve chosen films that explore diverse issues including athletics, health and wellness, sociology, psychology and politics. It is a nice complement to the Domestic Diversity Institute being held on campus at the same time, and it ties in with the “Old Hollywood” homecoming theme.”
A complete schedule will be available at Sweetgrass Cinema.

Thanks for stopping by......

......Meghan Marsden '98 and Andy Parsche '99 of Waukesha, WI.

......Roy Dodman '81 of Seattle, WA.

Don't forget, if you are in the Marquette area, stop by and say hi. We're on the 6th floor of the Cohodas Administration Building.

From the Email bag

"This is Pete Sinclair. The last time I stopped up there was when I came back from Iraq. Now I am in Kuwait pounding sand for a year and you wouldn't believe who I ran into out here... Coach Izzo was out here for Operation Hardwood. Him and 7 other coaches took servicemen from all of the branches of the military and trained them up for a double elimination tournament around Kuwait. I got to take off from work a bit and I managed to get the photo when he was heading in to practice. It was a short visit and we got to thank each other for coming out to there.
He thanked me for my service and I thanked him for cheering us up.
Also my sister went to MSU so I am about to send her the photo and see if she flips."

Pete Sinclair '99

"A recent graduate of Northern ('05, Nursing), I moved to Eugene, Oregon in July after deciding that it would do me good to get away from everything I'd ever known and see what I was capable of doing on my own--test my boundaries, build character, and what not. In a place where every person is a stranger and every place is unknown, I found myself becoming a bit of a lonely soul, remembering friends and experiences I'd had at school. Last week, while returning to my vehicle after a day at the county fair, a mysterious vehicle pulled up beside me, its driver motioning for me to lower my window. He leaned out and asked with a smile, "You a Wildcat!?" I must have had the biggest grin; it'd been a long time since I'd gotten such a warm greeting. Jim (with wife Ann, both of the class of '69) and I talked for awhile about Northern and shared our excitement at having found another fellow Yooper so far from home. I can't express what an incredible comfort it was to me to have found a fellow classmate in my new environment and such a wonderful reminder that no matter how far from my beloved UP I wander, I am always part of the community I found there. Thanks, Jim!"
Amber Sue Ambrosius '05
Eugene, OR

"Just wanted to pass along some good news for your NMU readers!
Dr. Kerrie Saunders' (Pridemore, NMU, 1985) book, The Vegan Diet as Chronic Disease Prevention, became a Bestseller earlier this year -- its second print is almost sold out!  Published in 2003 by Lantern Books in New York, each chapter is a separate disease, and discusses which foods help and which foods hurt. 286 cited research references, 243 pages, 19 photocopy-ready Fact Sheets for friends, family, coworkers, etc."
Kerrie Saunders '85, PhD

"Just got my "What's New?" email....sniff, sniff....I really miss that place."
Pat Wilson '92
Bay City, MI

Have something you want to share? Feedback should be directed to

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