A grand opening was held Thursday for the Northern Michigan University Food Pantry, an ASNMU-led initiative to assist the campus community. The pantry is located in 101B Gries Hall. It accepts donations of non-perishable food items, along with personal care, hygiene and paper products.
ASNMU determined there was a need for assistance based on a campus-wide survey. Nearly 40 percent of respondents reported they had gone hungry on occasion because they could not afford food.
“NMU attacked this project and has been really supportive,” said student Megan O'Connor, volunteer coordinator. “All the hard work paid off. It's more than I could have imagined. We've had a flow of donations, but always need more.”
The university's Food Insecurity Committee oversees the pantry. Member Peter Holliday, director of Student Support Services, works with student volunteers to organize the space and handle intake for those who utilize the resource.
“It's nice to go from an idea to an actual pantry,” Holliday said. “As the campus community becomes more aware of it, people are dropping off bags with donations or we're making purchases of needed items with a fund established through the NMU Foundation. We're still feeling our way out, but the goal is to create a welcoming environment for shoppers who come through the door.”
ASNMU vice president Connor Loftus, NMU President Fritz Erickson and NMU Board of Trustees Chair Robert Mahaney delivered remarks at the grand opening. Loftus said the project was nearly two years in the making and he was excited to see it materialize.
“One of the goals of the Food Insecurity Committee and the food pantry is to say it's okay to ask for help,” said Loftus in a previous interview. “I typically prefer to call what we do assistance. I prefer that because, for many people using it, the food pantry is a temporary thing until they have the means to get by on their own. We hope to assist them with that by providing them with food which hopefully gives them one less thing to worry about for the time being.”
There have been 95 visits to the pantry in the eight times it has operated since a soft opening in the fall.
The Northern Michigan University Board of Trustees recently elected new leadership for calendar year 2018. Robert Mahaney of Marquette will serve as chair of the board and Steve Mitchell of West Bloomfield is vice chair. Trustees also approved standing committees, with James Haveman of Grand Haven appointed chair of the Finance Committee and Tami Seavoy of Marquette serving as chair of the Academic Affairs Committee.
“It's a great honor to serve as NMU's board chair, especially at this time as Northern builds on its many recent successes,” Mahaney said. “Under the leadership of President Erickson and his team, including many visionary faculty, the university has made great strides in recent years. These include achieving the largest freshman enrollment gain of any Michigan public university, creating several new nationally acclaimed academic programs, rolling out the EAN internet access system across the Upper Peninsula and investing well over $100 million in new campus facilities.”
Mahaney also commented on the board's priorities for the upcoming year: “Our focus will continue to be on executing and refining the university's 2017 strategic plan, while pursuing excellence across all aspects of the university. Northern's future is brighter than ever, and this board and administration are fully committed to realizing the university's full potential.”
Mahaney is president and founder of the Veridea Group, a real estate development and hotel management firm based in Marquette. He also serves on the board of directors of Mackinac Financial Corporation and mBank, and is the board chair of Invest UP, a private sector-led economic development organization focused on driving economic growth across the Upper Peninsula.
Mitchell is president of Mitchell Research & Communications, Inc., a national marketing research, public affairs/public relations, political polling and consulting company headquartered in East Lansing. He founded the company in 1985 after working on the national staff of Reagan-Bush 84. The Ishpeming native graduated from NMU in 1967 with a dual major in political science/history and a minor in speech. He is a past distinguished alumni award recipient.
Haveman previously served as director of the Michigan Department of Community Health and of the Department of Mental Health under Governors Rick Snyder and John Engler. In addition to being president of the Haveman Group consulting firm, he is the finance chair of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation board and a member of the board of trustees for the Grand Rapids Public Museum. Haveman also serves on the national advisory board of the University of Michigan's Institute for Health Policy and Innovation.
Seavoy is an attorney with the Marquette firm of Kendricks, Bordeau, Adamini, Greenlee, & Keefe, P.C. She is a member of the Michigan Bar Association, Marquette County Bar Association and the American Health Lawyers Association. She also serves on the Bay Cliff Health Camp board of directors, the Superior Arts Youth Theater board and the NMU College of Business Dean's Advisory Council.
Gov. Rick Snyder has accepted Northern Michigan University's invitation to speak at commencement on Saturday, May 5. He was nominated because of his support of key NMU initiatives, including the Educational Access Network, Invent@NMU and career and technical education.
Snyder recently created the Michigan Consortium of Advanced Networks to extend broadband internet across the state. He signed the executive order after a roundtable attended by NMU president Fritz Erickson. Snyder has praised NMU's effort to expand internet access throughout the Upper Peninsula through its Educational Access Network. The EAN combines the coverage and speed of the university's revolutionary LTE system with a growing array of courses for professional and personal development. Snyder also points to NMU as an example of how partnerships can aid the effort. NMU works with U.P. municipalities to install the required LTE transmitters on existing public infrastructure.
The governor singled out Invent@NMU and introduced student and staff representatives during his 2016 State of the State address. He also has visited the on-campus facility. Invent@NMU gives students real-world experience helping clients take physical products from concept to market. Under the guidance of professional mentors, students develop competitive skill sets related to design, manufacturing and marketing. Snyder has helped NMU to identify state funding sources for both Invent@NMU and the EAN.
In October 2012, Snyder signed a bill authorizing construction of the new Jamrich Hall—NMU's primary academic building—with $33.4 million in state funding. The three-story facility opened for the fall 2014 semester. It houses classrooms, departmental offices, a Starbucks and an auditorium.
NMU offers several career and technical education (CTE) programs that prepare students for high-demand, high-skill and relatively high-wage occupations. The university also participates in Marquette-Alger Technical Middle College, a program that enables students form Marquette and Alger Counties to earn a high school diploma and a significant number of college credits toward an NMU associate degree or a technical certificate at no cost. Snyder is a staunch advocate of CTE. In his 2015 State of the State, he introduced and thanked those involved for their “innovative work” and said it demonstrates “the kind of creativity that makes Michigan great.”
Erickson addressed dissension related to inviting Snyder to serve as commencement speaker. He said anyone has an opportunity to nominate a speaker and the unfiltered recommendations are sent to the commencement committee for discussion and a vote. Some names have been rejected, but Snyder's was accepted. The vote wasn't unanimous, he said, but the NMU Board of Trustees gave final approval to extend the invitation.
“I respect those who disagree with that selection,” said Erickson at a university forum. “In my mind, it was an important selection to make because it reflects our commitment to consider multiple opinions and perspectives. We don't hold a litmus test for people who come to our campus and present. Universities should support the free exchange of ideas.”
Snyder became Michigan's 48th governor in 2011. According to his website, the Battle Creek native began his career with accounting firm PwC (formerly Coopers & Lybrand). He later joined Gateway as president and COO, then returned to Michigan to co-found an Ann Arbor-based venture capital fund. Snyder is an alumnus of the University of Michigan, where he earned three degrees.