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The STATE of North Central michigan College

February 19, 2021

North Central Michigan College enters 2021 tested but strengthened by the COVID-19 pandemic that upended traditional postsecondary education. 

The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center reports that overall postsecondary enrollments declined 2.5% in Fall 2020, nearly double the rate of enrollment decline reported in Fall 2019.  Community colleges experienced the sharpest declines, with enrollments down 10.1%.  Twenty-six of Michigan’s 28 community colleges reported Fall 2020 enrollment decreases ranging from 1.4% to 23%.  North Central’s enrollment decreased by 6.4%, ranking us 9th best among our 27 peers. 

However, our incoming Fall 2020 class included a larger proportion of out-of-district students from Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Otsego, and Antrim counties.  These students generally took a higher load of credit hours per student, which helped the college exceed tuition revenue from a year prior.  What’s more, Lifelong Learning offerings have experienced exceptional growth, with over 1,000 individuals participating in one or more of these courses. 

Our focus is sharper, our resolve is stronger, and our impact on the regional economy remains particularly acute, especially given the challenges of 2020.  As such, we will continue to deliver on our mission of providing exceptional, accessible, relevant higher education by focusing on initiatives in three key areas.

Infrastructure and Facilities

The Building Tomorrow Together campaign, a $9.9 million investment in the college’s facilities, technology, and student resources, kicked off with a virtual launch event on January 28, 2021.  Construction began in Spring 2020 and will culminate with an August 2021 ribbon-cutting, when the 54-year-old Administration/Classroom Building will be formally reintroduced as the Borra Learning Center, named for lead donors Pier C. and Renee Borra.  The project puts students’ needs at the fore, creating adaptable teaching and learning environments and providing centralized access to student support services just steps away from our busiest classrooms. 

To complement the AD/CL Building Renovation & Classroom Expansion Project, there will also be a significant investment in learning technology and curricular innovation, as well as scholarships and student success resources.

Building Tomorrow Together is the first step in implementing a $60 million vision for moving the college forward in the next decade. 

Learn why Building Tomorrow Together is critical to the future of our region:

Academics and Student Services

Exceptional academics remain the core of our mission, and our nursing program was recently designated a top RN program in the state.  The No. 1 ranking by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing uses students’ performance on the NCLEX-RN® exam to measure North Central’s nursing program against all other programs in Michigan, including those at four-year universities.

Educational opportunities are not limited to traditional, college-age students seeking credit-based courses.  Launched in September 2020 in partnership with the University of Utah, North Central’s Lifelong Learning Club offers more than 100 personal interest classes taught by subject-matter experts, with additional courses added weekly.  Many classes are offered online, allowing participation from the safety and comfort of home.

Our continued partnership with the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians (LTBB) and a $1.2 million Nitaazhitoojik Industrial Training (NIT) Program grant led to the creation of an on-campus Career Services Center and a full-time Career Development Specialist.  Career guidance and advising, job search tools, and resume and cover letter assistance are available free of charge to students, alumni, and community members.

Watch our tribute to the nurses who are keeping us safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic:

Campus Life

In February 2020, we hired a full-time athletic director with the goal of expanding our athletic opportunities and positioning North Central to join the National Junior College Athletic Association and the Michigan Community College Athletic Association.  This fall, we added esports to our slate of extracurricular offerings, and we surveyed our stakeholder groups to narrow our North Central mascot search from an Elite Eight to a Final Four.  Our students will choose the winner from among the finalists: Bobcat, Ferret, Timberwolf, and a wildcard option.  The winner will be introduced to our campus community during the Fall 2021 semester. 

In January 2020, North Central’s core values were expanded to include Compassion and Inclusion.  Just three months into 2021, our nation is confronting a social justice reawakening and historic political division, making our commitment to these values even more important.  Our students must continue to find within our walls a place for the civil exchange of ideas, dialogue, and diverse opinions — a place where everyone’s views have merit and value. 

Working with our community partners, we will strengthen our regional economy by delivering an even better educational experience for learners in the Tip of the Mitt and beyond.

previous blog posts:

The Spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. Day | January 18, 2021