The COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented situation for all of us and we are all working together to build new solutions to keep our students, employees and community safe, while minimizing the disruptions to student learning as best as we can. I hope Spring Break gives you an opportunity to rest and relax (while following CDC guidelines) so you can finish the semester strong.
As a reminder, you can continue to find the latest information on NMC’s response to the pandemic and resources to help you at nmc.edu/coronavirus. There you will also find a feedback form if you have any questions or need help; our response team will get back to you within 24 hours.
Nick Nissley, Ed.D. | President | Northwestern Michigan College | 231.995.1010
This week we saw the COVID-19 virus continue to spread and the health consequences reach heightened levels. With the shelter-in-place order in the San Francisco Bay Area and the closing of the US-Canada border, the world surely seems a little darker. But, we’ve also seen numerous executive orders designed to keep us safe, and a federal stimulus package that’s designed to fuel an economic recovery. It is also the end of our first week of transitioning from face-to-face to online learning. While everyone might expect that to be an incredible hurdle, our faculty and staff have boldly accepted the challenge. Departments like our Educational Media Technologies have been there to aid our faculty, and Student Success Coaches have continued to support student success by shifting to virtual coaching. Of course it’s not perfect. And, truth be told, we will experience challenges and conflict as we move ahead. But, that’s the good news. That’s a sign that we care deeply and want to get it right for our students.
When the founders of NMC created our college, it was to meet a need. They didn’t have a set of directions, but had to customize our college to serve our community. We share that same entrepreneurial spirit in our DNA today. The characteristic that defines the NMC family, which I am seeing so clearly during this time of unprecedented stress, is our resourcefulness and our possibilitarian nature. We believe that together, we can achieve more than was originally imagined. That has been the role of community colleges in our society – to serve as epicenters of hope. I’d like to share with you how the NMC Family is doing that. Some examples that I’ve seen this past week, that make me so proud.
After we closed the campus Tuesday, Library and Learning Services staff set up a system for students to pick up laptops, internet hot spots and lab course materials outside, so that students can have the tools they need to continue their classes. The staff have creatively figured out how to adhere to social distancing recommendations while minimizing disruption to student learning.
Similarly, our Student Life staff have found innovative solutions, to ensure that even though campus is closed, our most vulnerable, food insecure students, can have access to our Food Pantry. Student Life staff have bagged up groceries and personal care items for curbside pickup for students in need.
Our Residence Life staff are listening to heartbreaking situations, of students living in the campus apartments who have lost jobs and are now unable to pay rent. Staff are responding compassionately and suspending policies to ensure that our students can remain in campus apartments, even when rent goes unpaid, during this crisis.
As some students have chosen to leave our dorms, to go home to be with family, I watched our Residence Life staff help these students carry heavy loads to waiting cars. Heavy lifting is being done literally and figuratively by so many in our college community!
We are also keeping the business of the college working at this time with increased efforts from our custodial, maintenance and business office staff to ensure our college is safe and our operations continue.
Many of our employees and students work outside of the college as first responders – from nurses in the hospital ER to health care workers in locked-down nursing homes. While employees continue to serve our students, they are also serving the health care needs of our community, keeping others safe.
Not only are we taking action, we are also listening. An ombudsman virtual office has been established by Student Services, to ensure that student concerns are understood and addressed individually and systemically. This is a great example of seeking ways for the student voice to be heard directly during this crisis.
Yes, it’s easy to see the darkness that surrounds us this week. But, I’d counter, it’s also easy to see the truly ‘above and beyond’ efforts of our NMC family. Our faculty/staff/students are proving that the possibilitarian spirit is alive and well at NMC. Our campus community is being resourceful, flexible, creative, and compassionate as they seek to serve our students and community during this time of great challenge.
I am a believer of the leadership maxim, begin with the end in mind. A staff member reminded me this week, as she looks ahead, asking herself what might come of this, she suggested, “I really think that this time has bigger gifts that will emerge for us all in how we care for each other.” I also believe that we will grow stronger and closer through this experience. So, let’s keep pulling together.
We will overcome.
Nick Nissley, Ed.D. | President | Northwestern Michigan College | 231.995.1010
There is again some breaking news relating to the coronavirus issue here in Michigan. Late last night we learned of the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Traverse City. This is a trigger event we identified that would necessitate the closing of the College, to be consistent with public health protocols and to ensure campus and community health and safety. Following the Governor’s executive orders we have made the decision to close the College, effective at noon, today for a two-week period. This includes Main Campus, as well as all campuses and University Center. Additionally, while we will continue to deliver classes via virtual learning, we are cancelling all face-to-face labs. Faculty will communicate directly with their students on how they will deal with such classes. However, they cannot meet face-to-face. All staff, except ‘essential employees’ will be sent home at noon today. While campus is closed and doors will be locked, limited access will be available with your employee ID card if you need equipment or supplies.
We have now divided all staff into one of two categories: ‘Essential’ and ‘Non-Reporting/ On-Call’. If you are an ‘Essential’ employee, you will be told by noon today. Vice Presidents will communicate with supervisors on identifying essential and non-reporting/on-call employees. Supervisors will communicate the way forward reporting schedule and safety protocols for essential employees. A team will then work to develop further details and will communicate with all other employees (‘Non-Reporting/On-call’) on how you will be considered moving forward. The College reserves the right to change or modify your classification at any time based on changing circumstances and need. Be sure to monitor your NMC email for further information.
No matter how you are categorized, you will be compensated. This includes all part-time and student workers. We will be monitoring the situation and will reassess at the end of March. We are trying our best to not impact those who may be least able to endure that financial burden. Should the period of closing go beyond the end of the semester, the College reserves the right to modify this plan. We will be assessing our supplemental staffing levels and will communicate with those employees directly later this week.
For those who are Essential and Non-reporting/On-Call, further information will be shared as to how your work will continue during the days the College is closed. Look for those details over the next 48 hours and respond accordingly.
Faculty are essential employees and will continue teaching their classes virtually, with no course/lab work permitted on campus. In order to continue serving faculty in their transitioning from face-to-face instruction to virtual teaching and learning, essential employees (e.g., Educational Media Technologies) will still be available. However, we ask that you severely limit your need to be on campus and follow social distancing and other CDC health protocols, if you must visit campus, in order to plan for and deliver your teaching online.
I would like to thank our staff, faculty, and students for the cooperation that has been displayed during the unprecedented situation we are facing with the COVID-19 pandemic. The presence of the first case here in Traverse City has changed our plans yet again. However, we are resilient and will continue to plan for the days ahead with our employees and students in mind.
Stay safe. Together we will overcome.
Nick Nissley, Ed.D. | President | Northwestern Michigan College | 231.995.1010
As you are well aware, our world has changed dramatically in the matter of a couple of months, since the start of the semester; since COVID-19 entered our daily newsfeed and conversations, affecting our wider world, our country, and even right here in Michigan and at NMC.
In an effort to more effectively support student and campus safety, last week we decided to transition from face-to-face classes to virtual; to afford us social distancing precaution, while also seeking to minimize disruption to student learning. After sharing this decision with our campus community last Friday, I spent the rest of the morning and Saturday meeting one-on-one with students, to listen to their reactions, and to better understand their concerns about such a transition. I heard three consistent themes from them: (more…)
So, here we are, at the fifth of the “Five Behaviors of Cohesive Teams.” What brings us here? The ultimate goal of building greater trust, conflict, commitment and accountability is one thing—achieving greater results as a team. In the case of NMC, we don’t seek to realize results for results sake, nor for a profit motive. We’re driven by a community centered – community serving purpose, and a mission focused on supporting student transformation and success. (more…)
Good afternoon NMC community! I hope you are all enjoying the beauty of northern Michigan in the winter. I have been exploring the region on several hikes and am just awestruck by what I am seeing! I am also thoroughly enjoying meeting with you, learning more about our college and being able to share my thoughts on strengthening our teams in these weekly Intercom posts. Thus far, as I’ve sought to introduce the ‘Five Behaviors of Cohesive Teams’ to afford our College community a framework for building a strong NMC, we have covered: trust, conflict and commitment. Here, I turn our attention to the fourth behavior, accountability; before concluding next week with results. But next week is not an ending, rather, it’s a beginning.(more…)
Good afternoon NMC community, I hope the first month of your spring semester has been positive. It has been a busy and exciting time for me around campus! As we head toward the middle of the semester, when some of the new begins to wear off and we settle into routines, I’d like to talk with you about commitment. I promised you that weekly, over a five-week period, I would share a short personal reflection about the “Five Behaviors of Cohesive Teams.” To become a high performing and cohesive team, members must trust one another, engage in healthy conflict around ideas, commit to decisions, hold one another accountable, and focus on achieving collective results. This week, I turn our attention to commitment.
Great teams understand they must be able to make timely decisions and commit, even when the outcome is uncertain and not everyone initially agrees. It’s the desire for consensus and the need for certainty that prevents many teams from achieving commitment and making real progress. Teams that fail to commit find themselves revisiting discussions and decisions again and again. They encourage second-guessing, which creates ambiguity and lack of confidence about the team’s direction and priorities. Whether it’s avoidance of risk, excessive analysis, or fear of failure, a lack of team commitment means delay and lost opportunities. It also means a lot of wiggle room with fewer bases for accountability and an inattention to results.
As a new team, the President’s Council and I are seeking to build trust, and engage in healthy conflict so we can commit to decisions and, ultimately, hold one another accountable to focus on achieving collective results. We’re doing this by being intentional about how we structure our meetings and agendas, how we engage in decision making, and how we ensure follow-through with commitment to action. We’re being intentional about our development as a team and mindful of the opportunity to lead by example as role models for the rest of the college.
Too often organizations lack true commitment. Employees feign buy-in on group decisions because of their fear of conflict. Artificial harmony is sought over constructive debate. What does commitment mean to you? To me, it means sticking with it. It means not giving up, even if it gets messy and tough. Commitment usually evokes a strong sense of intention and focus. This week, after spending my first month focused on campus engaging with our students and employees, I ventured outside of NMC to visit with other stakeholder groups, specifically, our alumni and donors. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, I was able to travel to Sarasota and Naples, Florida, to engage with our NMC alumni and visit several of our key supporters and donors. These are individuals with intention and focus — intention to help transform students’ lives through their generous support, and focus on bringing the necessary resources to the table, to help NMC accomplish our desired outcome of student success.
Many of our students demonstrate incredible levels of commitment. I recently learned about an NMC student who found herself in a life-changing situation, needing to start over. She was a single mom in the military, which was not what she had envisioned for herself. She wanted to build a better world and pursue her passion of sustainability and renewable energy, and wondered how she could study environmental issues while caring for her daughter in northern Michigan. She heard about NMC through the college’s reputation for being a top school for veterans. Due to the commitment of our employees, and support from donors, we offer a dedicated office of Military and Veterans Services and multiple military-specific scholarships. In turn, this student feels supported and can remain committed to sticking with her education and not giving up on her goals. In fact, she finished her first semester at NMC with a 4.0 GPA.
Let me encourage us to follow this student’s example and be committed to sticking with it and not giving up. Also, let’s be inspired by the supporters and donors who are committed to NMC, as witnessed by their intention and focus. And, rest assured, the President’s Council will be ever mindful that commitment matters, because it fosters shared vision. In a workplace, a shared vision changes people’s relationship with the company. It is no longer their company, it becomes our company. At NMC we understand that we’re not just a community college, we’re the community’s college. A shared vision uplifts team members’ aspirations. It gives a higher purpose to work. It creates a sense of immersion, excitement and passion. A shared vision is what inspired cathedral builders of the Middle Ages to labor on cathedrals that could take 100 years to complete. It’s what inspired NASA to put a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s. It’s what inspired Apple to realize its vision of a computer which people could understand intuitively. As I go about listening and learning to orient to NMC, I am seeking to understand the shared vision that connects the NMC internal community with the external community. What I am repeatedly hearing echoes the 1951 course catalog tagline, Community Centered – Community Serving, which speaks to the shared vision NMC has committed to for almost 70 years! I look forward to recommitting to that shared vision with you as we work toward continued success for our students and this community for decades to come!
It’s been just over a month since I’ve been on campus meeting with you to listen and learn about our college. These first weeks have been exhilarating and positive! Since my Intercom communication with you last week about the foundational importance of trust, I had the honor to attend Governor Whitmer’s State of the State address in Lansing, as a guest of our State Senator Wayne Schmidt. That night, bearing witness to the political process in action, I was reminded of how important constructive conflict is to healthy, vibrant communities and organizations. It has inspired me to reflect on that experience as a learning opportunity for us at NMC. (more…)
Over the past three weeks – has it been just three weeks that I’ve been on the job? – my focus has been three-fold:
maintain the momentum, ensuring that all the good work that our faculty and staff have already set in motion, continues to move forward;
build relationships, with both our internal and external stakeholders; and
learn about NMC, and how we do things around here.
That translates to more than 100 calendared meetings and events during these first three weeks – listening and learning – seeking to better understand who we are and how we serve our students and the wider community. (more…)
Let me begin with a sincere thank you for your warm welcome at our January Conference. It was great to meet you and share a little bit of what shaped me as a person as we begin our journey together. Best of all was feeling the student-centered passion that filled the room! Yes, that was your energy.
As part of our journey, over the next five weeks, I will be sharing personal reflections on what shaped me as a leader each week in “The Intercom” employee e-newsletter. I will begin with the importance of trust; then, work my way through – conflict, commitment, accountability, and results. (more…)
There’s nowhere that I’d rather be today. Being here, at NMC, is a sort of calling. It’s a calling for me to share my strengths as: a possibilitarian and a servant leader. As a servant leader, I understand that my role is primarily to assist in the accomplishments and fulfillment of the hopes and expectations of others. Ultimately, that means my role is to help you as you transform student lives through the power of education. And, as a possibilitarian, I am committed to helping others to think and act beyond boundaries, and to achieve more than was originally imagined. (more…)
I offer my congratulations to Dr. Nissley as the incoming president of NMC. Thank you to all of the campus and community members who participated in the search process. It was open, transparent and effective. Our Board of Trustees should be commended.
The next four months will race by and there will be much to accomplish during the transition to new leadership. I am confident that we will all work to provide information and support that will assure Dr. Nissley’s successful entry to NMC and our college’s continued success into the future. Holly Gorton, Chief of Staff to the President and Board will coordinate the transition process working with the Board, the campus, members of the community and me.
I look forward to welcoming Dr. Nissley and his family to Traverse City and am certain he will be a great asset to the college and community.
Timothy J. Nelson, President
1701 E. Front Street
Traverse City, MI
Phone: (231) 995-1010
I would like to share an important next step in our relationship with a long-standing economic development partner, and what this means to our programs and services supporting workforce and economic development. (more…)