NMU Faculty Receive Awards

December 17, 2018

Marquette, MIDecember 17, 2018 – Nine Northern Michigan University faculty members were honored at the December 6 Excellence in Teaching and Scholarship celebration. Award recipients were: Gary Brunswick and Jon Sherman, Excellence in Teaching; Marek Haltof and James Strain, Excellence in Scholarship; David Donovan and Jessica Thompson, Excellence in Leadership; Shirley Brozzo, Excellence in Part-time Faculty Teaching; Stacy Boyer-Davis, Excellence in Online Teaching; and Mounia Ziat, Technology Innovation.

Brunswick has been a full-time faculty member at NMU since 1991 and has earned a number of distinguished teaching and faculty awards. He also was selected by graduating seniors to be the faculty/staff commencement speaker at the Dec. 15 ceremony.

“I consider it a privilege to do what I do,” he said. “I wake up every day and think of how fortunate I am to be here.”

Sherman came to NMU in 2008. He has taught a variety of classes, including all levels of German language, culture and literature. He also teaches Honors courses focusing on literature thousands of years old through modern times, Viking mythology and Austrian crime fiction.

Sherman thanked the university, the NMU administration and his teaching colleagues at the ceremony, stating, “It’s a pleasure to be here and to be honored.”

Since joining the NMU English faculty in 2001, Haltof has published several books in English and Polish on the cultural histories of Central European and Australian film. His recent books include “Screening Auschwitz: Wanda Jakubowska’s The Last Stage and the Politics of Commemoration (2018),” “Historical Dictionary of Polish Cinema (2015),” and “Polish Film and the Holocaust:  Politics and Memory (2012).”

“I would like to thank the university for supporting my research with generous grants and to the English department for nominating me for this award,” he said.

Strain has served on the music department faculty since 1997. He is the timpanist and principal percussionist for the Marquette Symphony Orchestra. Strain has contributed extensively as a scholar in percussion performance. As historian for the Percussive Arts Society, he is considered the world’s foremost authority on percussion instruments, performers and literature.

“I’d like to thank committees that help fund sabbaticals and research,” Strain said. “It’s because of this that the faculty are able to do things that support not only our knowledge, but the students’ knowledge.”

Donovan is head of the NMU Physics Department. He joined NMU in 1992 and was the physics representative to the Academic Senate for 13 years, including a year on the executive committee. He also served on the AAUP Bargaining Council/ Faculty Council from 2000-2016. In recent years, Donovan was part of the group that created the new General Education Program and served on the Academic Task Force of the Strategic Resource Allocation project.

“Leadership’s a funny thing to think about,” Donovan said. “I just see problems and try to figure out what I can do to solve them. I’ve gotten to work with fantastic people, including the last two years on the SRA Academic Task Force. It’s a challenging time, but it’s a special group of people who make it all worthwhile. On a personal note, it’s nice to work with people at Northern who are so committed to their jobs and the students.

Thompson is an NMU alumna who returned to teach at her alma mater in 2012. Beyond the Communication and Performance Studies Department, Thompson has served on NMU’s Faculty Grants Committee, helped to create the Northern Climate Change Network and continues to lead our Sustainability Advisory Council. Her commitment to institutional leadership through openness and diversity in decision-making is exemplified by her co-chairing the AQIP Transparency Action Project, participating on NMU’s Strategic Planning and Budget Advisory Council and serving as the official scribe for the SRA Academic Task Force.

“This means a lot to be recognized among so many deserving and impressive faculty,” Thompson said. “I am grateful for all the opportunities that Northern has provided since I was an undergraduate here.”

Brozzo, an enrolled member of the Keweenaw Bay Tribe of Chippewa Indians, is a contingent professor with the Center for Native American Studies (CNAS). She also serves as associate director of NMU’s Multicultural Education and Resource Center. Brozzo has had more than 40 short stories, poems, essays, and academic papers published both nationally and internationally.

“I want to thank all of the colleagues I’ve worked with through the many years I’ve been here,” Brozzo said. “I transferred in from a community college over 30 years ago as a student and I just couldn’t leave.”

Boyer-Davis is in her second year teaching for the College of Business and has more than two decades of accounting experience in both the private and public sectors. She completed the Online Teaching Fellows program and embraces the Quality Matters standards to continue enhancing her teaching skills. Boyer-Davis incorporates cutting-edge technologies in the learning space to engage students across the globe and is committed to bringing rigorous, interactive learning to NMU’s distance education students. She said about 30 percent of the U.S. college student population is enrolled in some form of distance or online education.

“Some claim that student engagement in an online environment can be a challenge or tenuous; I beg to differ,” she said. “With the right blend of innovation, imagination, well-designed course materials and instructional strategies, and the promotion of a supportive learning environment, the online forum can be the technological recipe for student impact and success. As the first recipient of the Excellence in Online Teaching award, my pledge is to continue to advance the quality and scope of online and blended education to enhance student learning outcomes, access, and student satisfaction and to achieve the College of Business mission.”

Ziat came to NMU in 2011. She has published a number of papers and given many conference presentations and demonstrations related to her research on how humans interact with computers and machines and how the brain processes touch information. She received NMU’s Excellence in Scholarship Award in 2015 and NMU’s Technology Innovation Award in 2016. Ziat was unable to attend the Dec. 6 awards presentation.

NMU Tests Anti-Icing Liquid

December 17, 2018

Marquette, MIDecember 17, 2018 – Northern Michigan University grounds crews will launch a preemptive strike against snow and ice accumulation on campus walkways in an effort to enhance safety. The new method—pre-treating pavement with a liquid agent in advance of forecasted precipitation—might seem counterintuitive. But the brine solution composed of water and 23 percent salt has proven effective in thwarting the formation of ice.

Grounds Supervisor Andy Smith said there are two types of liquid controls: de-icing, which is applied after the fact; and the anti-icing pre-treatment Northern will use. He said the brine can be applied 12-48 hours in advance of a snow event, provided the pavement is relatively dry with a temperature above 15 degrees.

“Our employees’ work shifts end in the early afternoon,” Smith said. “If snowfall is expected overnight, they can pre-treat critical areas prior to leaving campus to buy some time until they can scrape the pavement when they report back to work early the next morning. The salt in the brine is the same product that’s been used on campus the last couple of years. Its properties make it less corrosive, with less impact on plants, pets and the environment.”

Grounds employees purchased materials and built the two-tank system required for the liquid anti-icing method earlier this week. Fresh water in the bottom container is pumped out and into the upper tank, where it spurts out holes dotting a vertical section of pipe to mix with and agitate the dry salt. Smith explains that the brine continues to recirculate between the two tanks, until the “sweet spot” of salinity is reached that will prevent ice from melting and refreezing.

Crews retrofitted the pickup truck used to water campus plants during the summer with a hitch-mounted boom mechanism to dispense the anti-icing solution this winter.

Smith met an Escanaba representative at a winter snow conference downstate who reported that the city has used brine with great success in recent years. An NMU group traveled there to get more information before adopting the method. He said another advocate is Price County in Wisconsin, which uses liquid exclusively on one roadway in place of rock salt.

“Liquid ice control has been in use about 15-20 years,” Smith said. “There was a lot of skepticism at first, but materials and methods have improved to the point that it’s become more effective and more widely accepted.”

Women Well-Represented in FRT Scene Shop

December 17, 2018

Marquette, MIDecember 17, 2018 – Men typically outnumber women in theater technical production jobs, but this underrepresentation is not an issue at Northern Michigan University’s Forest Roberts Theatre (FRT). Ten of the 15 students working at the FRT scene shop on Scrooge! and other productions are women who handle everything from lighting, set and sound design to props and even technical direction.

A study by the League of Professional Theatre Women revealed that in nearly 700 productions from 2010-2017, women were underrepresented in all areas of theater production, except for costuming and stage management. David Pierce, FRT’s Technical Director and Production Manager, said the disparity in technical jobs is due to perpetuated assumptions that women can’t handle the physical demands of working with the equipment. Also, the white male-dominated industry is reluctant to break away from antiquated divisions of duties along gender lines.

“I’ve been trying to not only give [female students] the basic tools to be able to stage-manage, construct and paint, but also give them the mental tools that they need and open their eyes to the world that’s around them,” Pierce said. “A lot of it is instilling in them the confidence that they belong in a shop just as much as their male counterparts. Once they go out into the world they’re going to go further as a confident woman. It’s unfortunate that it’s almost like they still have to prove themselves, or why they belong where they are.”

Pierce said male-dominated crews lead to situations where “shop talk,” or inappropriate banter can happen with no regard for fellow coworkers. He also said men do not always realize when conversations in the studio might be uncouth, or when having a take-charge attitude can create an environment where women feel incapable of doing physical work. He recalls letting male shop members go for inappropriate behavior, including one who “would never let a woman cut a piece of wood on the saw.” By hiring more females, Pierce said it is less likely for toxic masculinity to be present in the scene shop.

Hannah Cormier, a senior theatre and entertainment arts major, said because theater continues to be such a male-dominated field, more equal representation and women empowering other women are important.

“When you see other people like yourself doing these kinds of things with arts and culture, it instills in you that maybe I can do that too,” she said. “It’s not just for men. It’s not just for a certain type of person.”

Although Cormier is doing physically challenging work along with other things related to production, she said it’s important to “know your limits” and ask for help if needed.

Other FRT students like Emily Baker, a junior theatre and entertainment arts major, have not allowed themselves to be limited by the notion of gender roles in their duties.

“In the scene shop we basically do everything but costuming for the show,” Baker said. “So we build the sets, we do all the lighting, sounds, props—everything you would see when you come to a production, we’re involved in some way shape or form. You don’t just have to do costumes, makeup or acting onstage. You can do backstage work and still be heavily involved.”

In addition to female underrepresentation, a July report by the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) shows that gender wage disparities, along with sexual harassment and other forms of gender bias, are prevalent. A gender parity movement in performing arts has prompted a call for industry-wide reform. Gender parity is defined in this instance as the ratio of males to females in any given level of production in theater and equitable pay.

“I can recognize now in theater the advantages I’ve had being a white cisgender male,” Pierce said. “I feel like it’s my responsibility to support women and also people of color within theater. By doing that, it’s showcasing their talents and giving them a platform to essentially show the rest of the world they are part of this. I get to be a part of the conversation to try to convince other white cisgender males that this is now the norm; get used to it.”

Ford Donates Vehicle to NMU Program

December 17, 2018

Marquette, MIDecember 17, 2018 – Ford Motor Company has donated a 2013 Ford Focus to Northern Michigan University’s automotive technology program. Assistant Professor Randy Klitzke said the car introduces students to a dual-clutch transmission, which is discussed in class, but was previously unavailable to demonstrate in the shop. The feature combines elements of both manual and automatic transmissions, with two clutches—one controlling odd gears and the other even—but no clutch pedal or stick shift.

“The idea is that it offers improved fuel economy of a manual transmission, but it’s electrically controlled through the computer system,” Klitzke said. “This type of transmission is found on vehicles ranging from automobiles to 18-wheelers. It’s nice to be able to incorporate the technology in a hands-on manner to back up classroom curriculum and instruction and what they read about in the textbook. It’s a plus for us to get support from Ford and keep our curriculum up to date. Program graduates may work on these types of vehicles in the field.”

“We are excited and grateful for the donation and for this ‘foot in the door’ at Ford Motors,” said Bob Eslinger, dean of the College of Technology and Occupational Sciences. “We owe a big thank you to our outgoing NMU trustee and alumnus Rick Popp for helping us make the connection with Ford, where he has had a long and distinguished career, and we look forward to strengthening the relationship in the future.”

Klitzke said the Ford Focus donation represents how industry and faculty are working together to support student success and equip them with skills and knowledge the workforce demands.

“I can’t thank service manager Steve Sanderson enough for all the work he and his crew at Fox Marquette have done to help bring this vehicle to the NMU program and students,” Klitzke added.

The Focus joins other vehicles, typically numbering 24-30, in NMU’s automotive technology shop.

NMU Board Receives Transformational Report Draft

December 17, 2018

Marquette, MIDecember 17, 2018 – The Northern Michigan University Board of Trustees received a draft of the Strategic Resource Allocation (SRA) report from the implementation task force. The SRA project aligns with the university’s strategic plan by identifying opportunities for transformational change and reallocating resources to implement them. Beginning last year, it reviewed more than 600 academic and support programs campus-wide. The draft report extends beyond the individual program summaries to recommend several transformation initiatives.

“I think this project has had a real impetus in helping our campus realize the significant opportunity to shape Northern’s future in ways that continue to move us into the ranks as one of the nation’s premier rural universities,” said NMU President Fritz Erickson.

Academic initiatives include enabling NMU students to diversify their experience by acquiring knowledge and skill sets from multiple areas that will equip them for an ever-changing workplace. As a starting point toward that goal, the implementation task force recommends two actions: requiring fewer credit hours for majors and bachelor’s degrees; and discontinuing the minor as a graduation requirement, though students would still have the option to choose one.

A second initiative would replace the associate of applied science in general university studies, with its 62 concentrations, with either an associate of arts or associate of science general studies degree. Remaining recommendations include reviewing the demand for and alignment of all secondary education programs; creating a new Honors College and a new College of Graduate Studies and Research; and restructuring academic organization to increase synergy and streamline processes.

The draft report also outlines 10 suggested support transformation initiatives:

  • Combine the Beaumier U.P. Heritage Center, the Center for U.P. Studies and the oversight of the Beaumier Alumni Welcome Center under one director.
  • Redefine the role of the Multicultural Education and Resource Center in supporting Northern’s university-wide diversity and inclusion efforts.
  • Develop an enhanced advising and student-faculty mentoring model.
  • Remodel the First-Year Experience Program, including Freshman Seminar.
  • Expand Career Services’ role in internships, corporate and alumni relations and use of next-generation technology in career planning and placement.
  • Restructure Northern’s international student services, recruitment and activities, as well as faculty international activities.
  • Re-envision the model for the Center for Student Enrichment to ensure success.
  • Create a distinct unit that responds to changes in student preferences by quickly developing and launching experimental academic programs.
  • Complete the external review of and new strategic plan for Wildcat Athletics.
  • Create more collaboration between custodial and maintenance service units.

“It’s been a tremendously good process and, for me personally, very educational,” said Board Chair Robert Mahaney. “I’ve come to learn and appreciate so much more about both the academic and support sides of the university. We’re excited to see this move forward to the next chapter and begin the implementation process. This reallocation and investment in new, innovative programming is going to help us achieve the mission and vision of the university. Great job to everyone involved; let’s move forward with it.”

Vice chair Steve Mitchell added, “An enormous amount of time was spent by a large number of people to put this together. It was a huge project and I just want to say we’re aware and appreciative of the hard work that so many put into it.”

Campus feedback on the draft is being accepted from faculty, staff and students through Jan. 20. A final report will be submitted to the NMU Board of Trustees for approval in May.

In other action at today’s meeting, the board:

-Agreed to rename three campus facilities. Edgar L. Harden Learning Resources Center will be renamed Elizabeth and Edgar Harden Hall and called Harden Hall. The New Science Facility will become Kathleen Shingler Weston Hall, named for a 1929 alumna and the first female graduate to go on to complete a medical degree. The atrium in the New Science Facility will be named the David J. Lucas Atrium in honor of the longtime physics professor and department head.

-Re-elected Robert Mahaney chair and Steven Mitchell vice chair of the board for calendar year 2019.

-Approved the appointment of Rob Winn as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, effective Jan. 1. He had been serving as interim dean.

-Accepted the WNMU-TV and WNMU-FM financial statements for fiscal year 2017-18.

-Granted Patricia Hogan the rank of professor emeritus of Health and Human Performance.

-Presented previously approved trustee emeritus status to Sook Wilkinson of Bloomfield Hills, who served on the board from 2009-16, including one year as chair.

-Recognized two outgoing trustees and NMU alumni whose terms end Dec. 31: Scott Holman (’65 BS) and Rick Popp (’88 BS; ’90 MPA). Holman was appointed to the board to fill a resignation-related vacancy for the remainder of the term. He had previously served eight years as a trustee, with one year as chair. He has a bachelor’s degree in business from NMU and is a past recipient of the Distinguished Alumni award. Popp was appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder in January 2011 and served two terms as chair.of the board. He holds a master’s degree in public administration, with an emphasis in personnel and labor relations, and a bachelor’s degree in computer science from NMU. He also was inducted into the NMU Sports Hall of Fame.

-Announced the board standing committees for the 2019 calendar year. Academic Affairs Chair Tami Seavoy will be will be joined by Alexis Hart and new trustee Stephen Young, with Mahaney and Erickson as ex officio members. Finance Chair James Haveman will be joined by Lisa Fittante and new trustee Travis Weber, with Mahaney and Erickson ex officio. The executive committee will be composed of Haveman, Mahaney, Seavoy and Mitchell, with Erickson ex officio. Ad Hoc Policy Chair Alexis Hart will be joined by Haveman, Seavoy and Mahaney as ex officio.

-Approved academic calendars for 2020-21 and 2021-22.

MTU Senior Design Project

December 17, 2018

Houghton, MIDecember 17, 2018 – In May 2018, Michigan Technological University students shared their Senior Design project — an underwater utility corridor spanning the Straits of Mackinac — with Michigan law- and policymakers at the State Capitol. Michael Prast, who graduated from the University in May, recreated the presentation for Michigan Tech’s Board of Trustees two days after Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed a utility corridor bill into law.

Read more about this story on the MTU website.