Northern held a dedication ceremony for the new Paul L. Lang Jr. Garden on Sept. 14. Mona Lang of Marquette honored her late husband, who served as NMU's provost, by contributing the lead gift to establish and maintain a perennial flower garden on the academic mall. She and their daughter, MacKenzie, attended the dedication.
“It is fitting that this new garden now sits in the shadow of Jamrich Hall,” said Mona, after explaining that Paul was involved in the project to construct NMU's primary academic building. “Paul was not interested in being in the spotlight. He preferred to help others realize their potential and shine.”
“I've seen many students and employees and community members walking through here, commenting about the garden and reflecting on what a wonderful memorial it is,” said NMU President Fritz Erickson. “I didn't work long with Paul, but got to know him as a fellow provost on the former Presidents Council of State Universities of Michigan. He talked passionately about Northern's great faculty and staff.”
Lang passed away Jan. 9, 2015. He joined NMU in 1997 as a tenured professor and head of the criminal justice department. In addition to those responsibilities, he was appointed associate dean of the College of Professional Studies in 2002. He later served as interim head and director of the School of Technology and Applied Sciences before his promotion to dean of the college. Lang was appointed interim provost and vice president in 2011. Interim was removed from his title one year later.
Kerri Schuiling, NMU provost and vice president for academic affairs, said Lang played a pivotal role in her career as a colleague and fellow department head. Years later, when she was dean of nursing at Oakland University, he urged her to consider applying for the position of dean of the College of Health Sciences and Professional Studies.
“When he hired me as dean, he gave me a chance to return to the university that meant to much to us,” she said. “Paul was a fair and honest man. One of the best lessons he taught me was, ‘Let the process work.' He'd say it with a smile and tell me to be more patient, and he was right.”
Northern Michigan University's new student enrollment has increased 9.9 percent this fall, thanks to a second consecutive year of growth in first-time freshmen and a significant boost in transfer students. New freshmen numbers are up by 107, or 7.1 percent. Transfers have increased by 81, or nearly 20 percent, according to the university's 10th day enrollment report. NMU's total undergraduate population also increased for the first time in eight years. It is up by 71 students, or 1 percent, over last fall.
“It's also notable that the number of incoming freshmen seeking bachelor's degrees has increased by 208 students; that's about 20 percent higher than last year,” said Jason Nicholas, director of Institutional Research and Analysis. “Attracting more freshmen helps to offset the smaller class sizes from previous years that have now reached junior and senior standing.”
Nicholas said innovative and redesigned academic programs, new residence halls and enhanced marketing and recruiting efforts continue to elevate Northern's profile among prospective students. In the new U.S. News and World Report's “Best Colleges” ranking, NMU is tied for 17th in the top public schools category among regional universities in the Midwest.
Northern's traditional student headcount is 7,595, down only 17 students overall because of a smaller senior class. But when combined with participants in the university's Educational Access Network, continuing education and Middle College programs and the Public Safety Institute, the university is serving 13,374 learners overall. That compares with about 11,000 last year. The growth is attributed primarily to more than 2,000 new EAN subscribers, as Northern extends its broadband service to additional U.P. communities.
Other positive strides in the 10th day report include higher enrollment from several states beyond Michigan and an increase in student credit-hour production.
We are pleased to launch Northern Today, NMU's new official news source. Our goal was to create a more visually engaging site dedicated to sharing NMU highlights with the campus community, general public and news media. Some stories are highlighted on the main page, but all will be accessible via the “View All Stories” link on the right or category searches above. Topics will include research, strategic plan initiatives, innovative teaching/learning strategies, campus events, faculty/staff/student profiles, updates on NMU alumni and more. NMU faculty/staff will continue to receive Campus Connect via email for internal announcements and the NMU events calendar. Northern Today is produced by University Marketing and Communications.
Two undergraduate students accompanied Northern Michigan University Biology Associate Professor Kurt Galbreath on a month-long expedition in the Rocky Mountains this past summer to expand and diversify the collection of small mammal specimens in the Northern Museum of Zoology. Their work will also help support current and future research projects.
The museum previously housed about 2,000 specimens that are primarily from the Great Lakes Region. The trio collected 20 species of rodents, shrews and lagomorphs, a classification that includes hares and rabbits. These specimens were previously unrepresented in the museum because they are unique to western North America. About 15 of the collected species were entirely new to the museum.
Senior environmental science major Alec Kraushaar and senior biology major Alec Rohde spent long hours working closely with Galbreath to find and collect the specimens in their mountainous habitats in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. The group also collected parasites from the mammals they surveyed for other research purposes. In total, the expedition increased the holdings of the Northern Museum of Zoology by more than 500 individual mammal specimens and thousands of associated parasite specimens.
“This was an eye-opening experience and I am so glad to have spent the last month in the field. I found a new passion for science through the museum,” wrote Kraushaar in a letter expressing thanks for the NMU faculty research grant that supported the trip. “We discussed everything from the changing landscape and climate in the West, to the different species that lived in the mountains and their habitat. I was able to ask Dr. Galbreath questions about genetics, evolution and diversity that expanded way beyond a textbook.”
Now that they have returned to the lab, Rohde and Galbreath are studying geographic patterns of diversity in various tapeworms that are associated with North American rodents. Meanwhile, Kraushaar is studying the distribution and diversity in a parasite of white-tailed deer.
Galbreath said the mammal specimens and their parasites provide an important baseline of biodiversity, proving at this moment in time that these species occurred in populations the group sampled.
“Such baselines are important because ecological communities are constantly in flux as a consequence of ongoing environmental change,” he added. “The museum makes it possible to see how those changes are influencing the distribution of organisms over time.”
The Northern Museum of Zoology makes specimen records available to researchers through a global database of biodiversity known as VertNet.org. Scientists around the world query the data associated with specimens near or around the Great Lakes hundreds of times per month.