Welcome back!  It’s hard to believe that the Winter 2019 semester is now just days away.  I do hope that you were able to enjoy the time away from campus, and the company of family and friends, these past couple of weeks.

This is an amazing place to live, work, learn, and play! Reflection over the holidays strengthened my sense of just how fortunate we are.

I want to thank everyone for the good progress made last semester… progress made in every aspect of our operation. The world is changing (and changing quickly) all around us, and it is important that we also readily adapt to this new environment. We must adapt, yet retain the attributes (caring, content, and communication) that enable us to best serve our students and each other.

My remarks today will focus on three areas: Forward Momentum, Enrollment/Budget, and Fundraising and how this trio combines to create the North Central Michigan College of tomorrow.

Forward Momentum:

AD/CL Building Renovation—A Capital Outlay Funding Amendment for this project was approved by the Legislature in Senate Bill 601 and signed by the Governor just prior to the New Year. ($6.8M to $7.4M) Components of the renovation include:

1. Student Services relocation, Business Office renovation

2. Double the IT Office footprint

3. 8000 sq.ft. addition into the Harris Gardens (Student Commons, three hi-tech classrooms)

4. Three more classrooms renovated (for a total of six newly-renovated, hi-tech learning spaces)

5. Corridors, Vestibules, new Main Entrance, Bathrooms, Half-way Café moved, and HVAC

What ‘came out’ or was removed from the project was renovation of the Administration Offices. This was done to complete the student-centric items and keep the total project cost in check.

The Campaign also includes $1.5M total for Technology, a STEM/Entrepreneurship push, and Professional Development. It’s not about the building, but what learning we enable within the facility. More about these three programmatic areas later.

The AD/CL Renovation Project design team will be meeting with the Architect and Construction Manager next week for the Construction Documents page turn. There will be office moves this semester to prepare for construction to begin in late Spring/early Summer.

Here are many other examples of Forward Momentum from this past semester:

Anatomage Table acquired—generous gift

SludgeHammer Wastewater Treatment Tank installed—grant dollars, sweat equity, gift of materials

Solar Panel demonstration project and Electric Car Charging Station queued up

Manufacturing Technology Certificate approved by CRDAP

Increased clinical opportunities for nursing students

Growth in Continuing Ed for the Allied Health, EMS, CJ areas

Meaningful final projects/final exams to assess and confirm learning in the Liberal Arts disciplines

Main Entrance signage upgrade (incl. needed tree trimming) and new Visitor Parking

SCRC Divider Curtains and LED Lights, improved external lighting throughout campus, and one-button lockdown for safety

Begun conversations in the Tech Building to secure a SEDS grant working with the LTBB and added Cheboygan as a school served by the mobile CNC lab

Every area within the college has taken a step or steps forward, including Residence Halls, Student Services, Library, etc.

Strategic Planning is underway to guide North Central over the next five years (2020—2025)

—Mission = exceptional, accessible, and relevant (EAR) higher education of, and for, the community

—Vision = NCMC will be ???

—Values = ???

—Nitty-gritty details and implementation

The plan is a work in-progress. Thanks to all for your input/support. These opportunities will continue.

Marketing Audit is underway to guide these operations over a similar period of five years

—the focus of this initiative is to bolster fundraising, with obvious benefits across the institution

—several of you will get the chance to participate in a Branding Workshop in early Feb.


We were down ~200 students as we entered the holiday break, we are now down ~340.

As of January 4, we have a headcount of 1861 vs. 2200 last year (-15.41%). In the fall, we were down ~10%, a number equal to or smaller than this percentage is the goal. It’s dollars generated that matter when it comes to paying the bills. We’re doing a bit better on this metric at -11.95% currently.

With the drop for non-payment occurring Tuesday and class cancellation occurring on Thursday, it’s going to be very busy in Student Services and the Business Office this week and next. What’s more, legislation was passed just prior to the holidays to settle the MPSERS part-time student matter in Michigan for the period 2014-2017 that will result in a $100K one-time hit to the budget, with additional liability for former PT students (prior to 2014) who are now in the MPSERS retirement system.

As previously discussed, we’ve been able to weather the downturn in enrollment and tax base (Bay View Chautauqua decision) via frugal operation of the college. This includes closely monitoring all expenses and seeking energy savings. This frugality has also included not filling a number of open positions.

It’s key that we all work in earnest to recruit and retain students for Fall 2019 and beyond. What can we (you) do to make a difference as we move forward? How can we offset the 100 students we expect to lose, especially when the number of local high school graduates is shrinking? What can we do to increase revenue (or at least hold it steady) and reduce expenses?

Working together, I’m confident that we can and will weather these headwinds.


There are three ways to grow revenue—enrollment (tuition), auxiliary enterprises, and fundraising. Auxiliary enterprises are things like conference services, the Iron Horse Café, and the Residence Halls.

At this juncture in the life of North Central Michigan College, fundraising is key.

Over the holidays, I read an article in the Guidestar: Blog. It was written by Julie Rosen of Witt/Kiefer and entitled “Cultivating a Culture of Philanthropy…”. I would like to paraphrase the section labeled The Right Mindset.

Fundraising starts at the top of the organization. The president, the board chair, and other leaders must prioritize and develop a systematic approach to soliciting donations and launching campaigns (this is one of the means by which to improve and grow), then outline these initiatives as part of a comprehensive Strategic Plan. Without such a document, and clear messaging around goals and strategy, fundraising will not succeed.

Each organization must also have a culture that embraces fundraising. Is everyone rooted in the mission, and rowing in the same direction? (Repeat) When new leaders and staff are recruited, do they have a passion for their work? Is the (college’s) mission central to all meetings, materials, and decision-making? Fundraising success is also a matter of mindset. The president and leadership must frame it as something that is purposeful and rewarding rather than distasteful. … Raising money for something that you are passionate about is an honor and a privilege. It is something that you love to do, and successful (colleges) embrace this philosophy.

To this end, we’ve included a session focusing on Fundraising in this week’s activities.

Tomorrow morning, faculty (both full-time and interested adjuncts) will get to see the Anatomage Table firsthand, learn how the idea for this cutting-edge teaching tool became a reality, and participate in a Strategic Planning Workshop intended to leverage this information for the benefit of your discipline.

Final Major Topic—Ten Points of Focus (Revisited):

Last August, I shared with you Ten Points of Focus as we move into North Central’s seventh decade. Let’s see how we’re doing after six months…

1. Strategic Planning/Vision—in-process

2. Branding/Marketing— audit is in-process

3. Fundraising—very good success with Scholarships and in Quiet Phase of Campaign, more to do

4. Enrollment Management—working in earnest to address

5. Summer Programs/Activities—lectures, Garden tours, camps, workshops, etc. under discussion

6. Academic Program Development/Innovation—initial steps

7. Upgrade the Physical Plant/Address Deferred Maintenance—begun

8. Expand Facilities, Services, and Activities for Students—initial steps

9. Seek Further Opportunities to Enhance Faculty/Staff development and Continuing Education— part of the Campaign and more

10. Strengthen and Improve our Partnership with Communities in Petoskey, Emmet County, the Tip of the Mitt, and throughout the State—working in earnest

Again, I echo the words of board chair Phil Millard “If we change nothing, nothing changes,” and I need not remind you of our enrollment trajectory. The time for action is upon us!

Over the holidays, I learned of the website www.greatplacetowork.com. This website presents the Trust Model, one in which Supervisors and Administration operate with Credibility, Respect, and Fairness, while Employees have Pride in their work and Camaraderie with others. (I will suggest that these five attributes not be discretely assigned to Supervisor or Employee, but are applicable to us All.) The devil’s in the details, and we’ll be diving into these details as the year progresses. I look forward to conversations with Cabinet and the college’s Staff Development (to be renamed?) Committee.

Having data will help us move forward. As in past years, we’d like your cooperation in completing the Campus Climate Survey this week. It’s always useful to know how all of our employees are feeling about North Central. Based on recent feedback, we have eliminated the question dealing with how long you’ve been employed at North Central, but all other questions remain the same. Bob will be sending out the Survey Monkey link to all of you this morning. You can take the survey from any computer or device and the results have been completely anonymized. Thanks in advance for your help.

Let’s strive to become the model, small community college in the nation…fulfilling our mission of providing exceptional, accessible, and relevant (EAR) higher education of, and for, the community.

Working together and trusting each other, let’s show everyone else how it’s done.

My best wishes to each and every one of you for a productive semester!