Instructor wins grant to revise “Comparative Religion” course

Hawk Owl Helper logoCongratulations to social sciences instructor Sarah Montgomery-Richards, who was awarded a $2,000 grant from Boston University’s African Studies Center, Pardee School of Global Studies. The grant supports her work to revise “Comparative Religion” at Northwestern Michigan College to increase its coverage of Africa-focused materials. This will enrich the depth of material offered at NMC, and furthers the college’s commitment to promoting respect for diversity, equity and inclusion.

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Testing center aces COVID challenge

Hawk Owl Helper logoThank you to the Aero Park Professional Testing Center, which provided professional testing to more than 66 individuals during a very short December testing window due to COVID-19 orders. Alana Peters, Testing Center lead, optimized the offerings of all six test houses while complying with the state requirements for limited occupancy.

She prioritized testing while still providing much-needed assessments and credentials to numerous individuals including FAA exams to future pilots (manned and unmanned aircrafts), IT and computer related industry certifications, auto mechanics seeking recertification and adult learners seeking their GED.

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Thanks to all who attended the January Conference

Hawk Owl Helper logoThank you to the more than 250 NMC employees who logged in to Monday morning’s Virtual NMC January Conference for two hours of information and inspiration, as we join together again to help our students succeed this Spring.

Attendees were introduced (virtually) to 16 new employees and heard enrollment, budget, strategic priority and planning updates, among others, and had a chance to share their department’s own recent successes during an open mic session. View a recording of the conference here.

Here’s wishing everyone a great Spring semester!

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Congrats to NMC’S Disability Support Coordinator!

Hawk Owl Helper logoLeanne Baumeler accepting award via ZoomCongratulations to Leanne Baumeler, who was recognized by the Michigan unit of United Cerebral Palsy with the 2020 Closing the Divide Advocacy Award. (Baumeler is shown accepting the award during a virtual presentation October 16.)

Baumeler has been NMC’S Disability Support Coordinator since 2010, serving between 90-120 students each semester. She’s also a member of NMC’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee, Accessibility team and Title IX team, and a past president of the Michigan chapter of the Association on Higher Education and Disability.

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Textbook heroes save students millions

Hawk Owl Helper logoOpen Educational Resources illustrationAs of fall 2020, NMC instructors have saved students an estimated $2 million by switching to open educational resources — free, open and low-cost textbooks beginning in 2015. The amount saved and number of courses taught by these textbook heroes has risen each fall and spring semester. And now, more than 50 NMC classes have no accompanying textbook costs.

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Educational Technologies expands and shares its expertise

Hawk Owl Helper logoThroughout the COVID-19 pandemic, NMC’s Educational Technologies team has been increasing its knowledgebase of online teaching tips and tools. New statistics show just how heavily their expertise is recognized and utilized. Between July 1 and Nov. 15, 2019, the page had 3,000 users. The same period this year saw 266,000 users — an 8,792% increase.

Page views rose from just over 17,000 in the 2019 period to more than 1 million in 2020. The top three pages visited were changing your name in a Zoom meeting (NMC’s explainer even ranks near the top in Google searches), downloading and setting up the Moodle mobile app and the homepage.

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Thank you to the NMC staff who help foster care students navigate the higher ed process

Hawk Owl Helper logoKudos to Dean of Students Lisa Thomas and Marcus Bennett, Associate Dean of Campus & Residence Life, and other college staff at NMC who work to ease the transition for students coming out of the foster care system. As detailed in a recent Traverse City Record-Eagle story, their efforts — from waiving fees to providing emotional support — help assure that the students find success in their college careers.

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Kudos to the Culinary program for reimagining their fall fundraiser!

Hawk Owl Helper logoGreat Lakes Culinary Institute staff and students reimagined a fall fundraiser that complied with COVID-19 restrictions and created Charcuterie to Go, providing a final practical exam for garde manger students while promoting the culinary program to the community.

The charcuterie boxes created for the inaugural event quickly sold out, and orders were picked up last week. And all proceeds from the event go to support scholarships for culinary students.

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Congrats to Scott Herzberg for leading NMC to another national No. 2 Best for Vets ranking

Hawk Owl Helper logoBest for Vets logoFor the third year in a row, Military & Veterans Services POC Scott Herzberg has led NMC to its rank as the No. 2 community college in the country for veterans by Military Times magazine in its annual Best for Vets list.

Serving those who have served the nation is a year-round priority at NMC, where about 5 percent of students are veterans or active duty military. NMC will hold virtual Veterans Day ceremonies from 9-9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 11. Attend via Zoom here.

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Thanks to the people who make our elections possible

Hawk Owl Helper logoA sincere thank you to:

  • The poll workers who are ensuring the fundamental American right to vote at polling places all around the country Tuesday, including in the Health & Science Building atrium on NMC’s main campus (reminder: NMC Bookstore will be closed for the day).
  • The League of Women Voters-Grand Traverse chapter, which held a voter registration drive on main campus and also hosted a virtual forum for NMC Board of Trustees candidates.
  • Faculty, staff and students who have stepped up to serve their communities through government service, whether to elected or appointed office, as candidates or incumbents. Your time, energy and commitment make northern Michigan a better place.
  • The voters! If you haven’t voted already, polls are open tomorrow between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. Learn more at

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Transfer fair reimagined as a week-long virtual event

Hawk Owl Helper logoTransfer fair graphicCongratulations to NMC’s Academic & Career Advising Center for successfully reimagining the college’s annual transfer fair as a week-long virtual event. Students were able to choose from over 50 interactive sessions between October 12 and 15, including 25 major-specific sessions focused on specialty transfer areas like Business, Cybersecurity, Engineering, Nursing and Pre-Med.

The event also cross-promoted High School College Night, retooled as two nights of virtual sessions, for students unable to attend the virtual transfer fair. And new transfer sessions hosted by other colleges and universities continue to be added to the virtual event page, which also promotes weekly Virtual Transfer Tuesday sessions featuring NMC University Center partners.  

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Boy Scout Troop uproots invasive plants on campus

Hawk Owl Helper logo Thank you to Boy Scout Troop 34, led by Scoutmaster and NMC biology instructor Nick Roster (left), which tackled an invasive patch of  phragmites near the Cherry parking lot on main campus earlier this month.

It’s part of what Roster, whose two sons are in the troop, expects to be a three-year conservation and service project eradicating invasive species on college property.

Invasive phragmites “creates tall, dense stands which degrade wetlands and coastal areas by crowding out native plants and animals, blocking shoreline views, reducing access for swimming, fishing, and hunting and can create fire hazards from dry plant material,” according to the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy.

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Culinary student found a temporary home thanks to NMC

Hawk Owl Helper logoNMC student and Sierra Motel ownerCulinary student Elyce Newcomb (right, on the right) found many helpers and heroes in her first month at NMC, from Chef Les Eckert at the Great Lakes Culinary Institute to the Office of Student Life.

Newcomb, 19, needed short-term temporary housing in September. After an arrangement with a friend fell through, she feared she might have to leave her classes or live in her vehicle until her apartment was available. Eckert and and the Student Life office got her gas cards to go home to Sault Ste Marie for Labor Day weekend. When Newcomb returned, they had found a room at the Sierra Motel, a stone’s throw from main campus. Tom’s gift cards helped with groceries.

Newcomb stayed there for 18 days. As a thank-you, she brought lunch from her classes to the motel owners. (Motel co-owner Conie Duimstra, with Elyce in the photo, asked if she could come to Elyce’s graduation.) Now settled in her apartment, Newcomb is focused on her goal of graduating and working as a cook aboard a ship.

“I’m really thankful for NMC and my chefs, and the Student Life Center; they’ve literally changed my life,” Newcomb said.

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Virtual stargazing session draws an international crowd

Hawk Owl Helper logoCongratulations to NMC’s J.H. Rogers Observatory and the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society for hosting a wildly successful virtual astronomical viewing session Friday, Sept. 25, in celebration of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore’s 50th anniversary.

NMC science and math instructor Jerry Dobek, who hosted the viewing session, reports that 348 people and families logged into the Zoom event over its two hours, with some from as far as Bethel, Alaska and Nashville, Tennessee, as well as Canada. Dobek and eight panelists including Astronomical Society members and National Park Service staff fielded questions from the audience while viewing live images of the Moon, Jupiter, Saturn and Mars through the observatory’s telescope, and images of deep space objects that Dobek had captured in the weeks leading up to the event. One retired couple unable to attend similar events in person due to physical limitations emailed Dobek after the event in gratitude for the virtual presentation.

The response has been so positive that Dobek is now looking into reopening the observatory’s public viewing nights, albeit in a virtual format like Friday’s event rather than in person. A close approach of Mars in mid-October may provide a good opportunity, he said, depending on the weather.

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Thank you to Admissions for fielding questions about Futures for Frontliners!

Hawk Owl Helper logoFutures for Frontliners logoThank you to NMC’s Admissions team for fielding a series of open Q&A sessions via Zoom about the state’s new Futures for Frontliners program to provide tuition assistance to Michigan’s front-line workers. Admissions Director Cathryn Claerhout reports that the program has generated “tons of emails” from interested students, many of whom have applied for the program. Over 100 sessions are available through December for people to get their questions about the program answered.

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Thank you to the IAF at the start of its 27th season!

Hawk Owl Helper logoIAF logoThank you to the International Affairs Forum for reengaging with its audiences for a new season dedicated to Finding Solutions to Global Crises, and for reimagining how that engagement happens in the midst of a pandemic.

The IAF kicks off its 27th season this Wednesday at 5 p.m. with a timely discussion on Grappling With Pandemics: Global Public Health Policy In The 21st Century, hosted by global health expert Dr. Julio Frenk and moderated by IAF board member Kenneth Warner, former dean of the University of Michigan School of Public Health. Anyone can register for the virtual event here and pay what they can to attend, and all are invited to submit questions for the discussion to

Join the discussion here.

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Thank you to the Dennos for The Art Of:_ Series!

Hawk Owl Helper logoSally Rogers sculpture, NexusThank you to the Dennos Museum Center for launching a virtual, pay-what-you-can version of its The Art Of: _ programming. This series of programs helps connect the visual arts to broader topics in our busy lives.

The next installment, scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, features The Art Of: Sally Rogers, an NMC alumna whose sculpture, Nexus, is located on main campus. Join the conversation here.

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