MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN) – The Northern Michigan University Presidential Search Advisory Committee held six sessions this week designed to gather input that will be used to formulate the position description for the next university president. The committee held one session each for NMU students, staff, and faculty, while three sessions were open to members of the community at large. Each meeting was held via Zoom and moderated by Parker Executive Search (PES), with participants able to type comments and questions to be answered by committee members. You can find a full list of committee members here.

During Friday’s final session, PES President Laurie Wilder said the committee will collect all input from each session in the coming days to develop the position description, which will talk about the university and characteristics desired in the next president. The description will then be presented to NMU’s Board of Trustees for final approval before advertising begins for the position opening.

“If you’re worried about us selecting your next president, don’t,” Wilder said. “We do not have a vote in the selection process. Our job is to really go out and there and facilitate and advise and aggressively recruit candidates so that this search committee and ultimately you as a university and then the board for their decision will have the opportunity to see the strongest, most diverse pool of candidates they can.”

Once the application process begins, PES will present candidates to the committee for review and interviews. From there, the pool will be narrowed to a few finalists who will be brought to NMU’s campus to visit with students, faculty, staff, and more. Wilder said the listening sessions aimed to help PES and the committee listen and learn as much as possible centered around three questions that are crucial to be able to answer when pursuing candidates on behalf of the university:

  1. What would they like to see as the driving characteristics for their next president?
  2. What are the challenges facing the university that the next president will be walking into?
  3. What opportunities are available to candidates to risk jeopardizing their relationship with their current institution by pursuing a position at NMU?

Input at Friday’s community session included concerns on how the next president should prioritize educational programs at the university, as well as their focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion. In addition, hope was expressed for the candidates to have familiarity working at an institution with similar institutional and regional characteristics to NMU. Concerns were also expressed about how the next president will go about restoring trust with university faculty following a lengthy contract negotiation process last year.

In a follow-up interview Monday, Committee Chair Dr. Chris Greer said that breaking up the sessions into student, faculty, staff, and open groups allowed the committee to keep the input organized. When asked if it would be difficult to balance the desired qualifications for the position from the different groups, Greer said input across sessions echoed many of the same preferences.

“You know I don’t really think so, I think that the specifics, maybe, but I think overall everybody’s looking for someone that can be a bridge-builder,” Greer said. “That can be a good communicator, that people feel is supportive, and that came across in all of the sessions.”

Greer says the transcripts from each session are being compiled, which will allow PES to gather common topics mentioned by participants. From there, the committee will work to complete the position description and prepare the university’s advertisement for the opening to be broadcast within the next week or two.

“They’ll give us a document with the specific themes that we heard, which should give us a really good starting point for that position description,” Greer said. “And then, I think what will happen is that Parker Exec will draft a position description for then the committee to edit, respond to, talk about, and then change it to the way that we want it to reflect northern’s personality.”

If you were unable to attend the sessions, you are still encouraged to provide feedback by emailing psac@nmu.edu. You can also provide thoughts on attributes necessary in the next president and nominate candidates on NMU’s president search website.