Strategic Planning: NMC needs your help

Dear NMC family,

I am pleased to announce that NMC is kicking off its strategic planning process, and I invite you to take an active role in helping us chart the course for the College’s future. As we embark on our eighth decade as an institution, our ability to take thoughtful risks and remain agile and innovative in a fast-paced environment is more essential than ever.

The Strategic Planning Steering Committee has been charged with coordinating an inclusive approach to engaging all of the College’s primary stakeholders as we clarify who we are, what we want to become, and how we can achieve our desired future state. As co-chairs for the Steering Committee, Vicki Cook and Stephen Siciliano will lead a transparent and open process, culminating in a future-focused plan that will refocus our energies and resources for the next three calendar years as we leverage our past successes to meet the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. (more…)

Message from the President: Thank You to Marguerite Cotto

Dear NMC community,

One of the points of pride for our college is how many of you have dedicated decades of your careers here to serve our learners. That expertise and historical knowledge have been invaluable to me as I work to learn more about how we can best meet the needs of all of our stakeholders. But with that longevity, we will eventually begin to see some transitions and must take time to recognize and honor those individuals who have helped create the college we know and love today.

It is my privilege to thank Marguerite Cotto for her nearly four decades of service to Northwestern Michigan College as she prepares to retire at the end of 2021. It is incredibly rare to demonstrate such service to one organization these days, but we can all agree how rare she is in many ways. (more…)

Message from the President: Thank You NMC Community

Dear NMC community,

One year ago, today, we made the difficult decision to close our physical campus as a new virus began quickly spreading around the world. Since then, we have lived through an incredible period of transformation, and I want to take a moment and say just one thing. Thank you.

Thank you — for all that you’ve done to work together, to compassionately help each other and our community. Thank you for creatively helping us navigate through a period of uncertainty and isolation, to where we can now see the light of hope growing brighter every day. (more…)

Message from the President: Thank You to Holly Gorton

Dear NMC community,

We’ve undergone significant change during the last year in many aspects of our world and here at our college. Later this year the President’s Office will also face a significant change when Holly Gorton retires from NMC on June 30, 2021. As Chief of Staff to the President and the Board of Trustees she has been instrumental in many critical areas of our institution. While much of her work is done behind the scenes, her warm and engaging personality fills every room she enters and she will be greatly missed at the college. (more…)

Message from the President: Thank You to Vicki Cook

Dear NMC community,

During the last year our society and our college have undergone significant changes due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. I have been so proud of NMC’s ability to adapt while remaining true to our mission. Vicki Cook, Vice-President of Finance and Administration, has demonstrated incredible leadership during this time, not only in managing the operational response to the pandemic, but also limiting the financial implications. Her work has been critical in allowing us to achieve our goals of keeping our students and employees safe, while limiting the disruption to learning as much as possible. We all owe her a tremendous amount of gratitude. Which is why it is difficult for me to share the news that Vicki will be retiring from full-time work at the college beginning in March, so she may spend more time with her family. However, in true Vicki form, we have worked together to create a plan that will ease the impact of this transition while we move toward the future and through this change in leadership. (more…)

Message from the President: MLK Day Message

Dear NMC community,

Today, as we recognize Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I encourage us all to take time to reflect on his impact. Lately for me, one of the most meaningful passages is from Dr. King’s 1968 speech at the National Cathedral, just weeks before his assassination. He proclaimed, “We shall overcome because the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.”

This is an unparalleled time in our nation’s history. The images from the violence at our nation’s capital on January 6th are still fresh in our minds, and the effects are still unfolding. I want to acknowledge how deeply disturbing it was to see the U.S. Capitol under siege that day, but also how important it was to witness members of Congress complete their constitutional responsibility and certify the vote. (more…)

NMC August Conference 2020

Dear Colleagues:

We look forward to seeing you Monday at our annual August Opening Conference — virtually this year! A calendar appointment was sent to you previously, and recently updated with the appropriate Zoom link. Below is the agenda for the morning, which will include a short break midway through the conference. (more…)

Message from the President: Making meaningful change together

Dear NMC Family,

As I look out to the world from our northern Michigan community, my heart breaks at the frustration and anger that is overflowing onto the streets of cities across our country in response to years of racial injustice. My first reaction is to acknowledge the pain, seek to understand the struggle and empathize with the emotions. As important as that response is, I also know it is not enough. I must also take action. We must take action. It is not enough to be “not racist” we must actively work to be “anti-racist.” (more…)

Message from the President: NMC Foundation seeking $1 million emergency funds

Good evening NMC family,

I want you to be among the first to know that the NMC Foundation Board has taken a bold step to commit $1 million to help meet the immediate emergency needs of both students and the college in response to challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

These are challenges that you are engaged in and working to solve every day. I have seen your incredible fortitude. You have stepped up to provide support to our students in new and unprecedented ways.

Yet the need is still great. (more…)

Message from the President: NMC’s 4R’s Model

Good afternoon NMC family,

It’s hard to believe we are entering the final week of spring semester and my first as president of our college. It’s certainly not the semester any of us could have planned for, but I am more confident than ever that this is the right place for me to be at this time. Seeing your work to help our students to achieve their goals, and your work helping each other has been amazing.

While finishing the work of this semester, we are also looking toward the future. I know that may seem challenging given how much uncertainty we face, but as we talked about at our recent virtual town hall, I have a framework that I believe will help us focus our attention and actions as we live into our new normal. It’s “The 4R’s.” (more…)

A promise to students from President Nissley

Dear students,

As we enter the last week of the spring semester, I wanted to take a moment to reach out to you and let you know how proud I am of each and every one of you. When we started this semester in January, none of us could have known how dramatically all of our lives would change in such a short period of time. But throughout it all, you are persevering and demonstrating a dedication that truly inspires me. (more…)

A message of thanks to our NMC family (Video)

Good afternoon NMC family,

As NMC prepares to head into Spring Break following several challenging weeks, I wanted to connect, reflect and look forward with you “in person.”

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 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.

Thank you,

Nick Nissley, Ed.D. | President | Northwestern Michigan College | 231.995.1010

COVID-19 Update from the President

Dear NMC Family,

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

COVID-19 Update – College to close at noon today for two weeks

Good Morning NMC Family,

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

Message from the President on COVID-19 Preparedness

Dear NMC Family,

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…)

Letter from the President: Achieving Our Results as a Team

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…)