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…)


Good afternoon NMC students, and congratulations on your work this semester! I am so proud of you and what you have accomplished toward achieving your goals, especially during such a challenging and uncertain time. Now as we end 2020 and look toward the future there is hope on the horizon. With the launch of the COVID-19 vaccine, we can see a return to fewer restrictions, more in person classes and that much needed social time we’ve all missed in the year ahead.

Since the start of the pandemic, we at NMC have focused on two main goals for you: to keep our students and employees safe, and limit the disruption to learning as much as possible. While it may not have been the year we had planned, we should all applaud the limited number of COVID-19 cases on campus and the new ways of teaching and learning we’ve implemented. I know when you look back at this period in your life, you will be incredibly proud of the perseverance you’ve shown to yourself and your families.

For those of you who will be graduating, a sincere congratulations! I cannot wait to celebrate with you. We are working now to find new ways of having a special commencement ceremony in your honor and will continue to communicate the details with you.

For those of you with more coursework ahead, please stick with it! NMC has amazing advisors, counselors, faculty and many other resources to help you get your needs met and continue on your path to success. While continuing to move forward in pursuit of your goals can be difficult, the research tells us that students who stop out are less likely to return and achieve their goals. So, please don’t stop out. NMC’s staff and faculty are here to help you through this trying time.

2020 has been a challenging and unusual year as my first year as president of NMC, but because of people like you, I am more inspired and more determined than ever to find new ways to help you succeed in 2021 and beyond. It is my privilege to be your president. Thank you for being part of our NMC family!

Happy Holidays!


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

Happy Holidays!

Happy holidays and congratulations on a successful fall semester! I hope soon you will have time to rest, relax and recharge. This year, that will be even more important than ever. That’s why we’ve prioritized closing the college between Christmas and New Year’s. I am looking forward to spending some time with my wife and daughters, and also some time outdoors hiking and reflecting on all we’ve faced this year. We’ve been so busy reacting to the urgency of the historic events, that we haven’t truly been able to understand the magnitude of what we’ve been through, and all we have accomplished for our learners and with each other.

As you know, I am a people person. I get my energy and my inspiration from seeing and talking with all of you, hearing your stories, learning about your families, your hobbies, your students and your team members. Your challenges make me want to break down hurdles so you have a smoother path ahead, your successes I want to shout from the rooftops! But even more than that, it’s the determination I see in your eyes when you are focused on how to make our college better and improve the lives of our students.

I see that same glint of determination in the eyes of our students as they’ve also been faced with incredible challenges this year. Whether it’s students from SGA, the commitment scholars program, Phi Theta Kappa, North Hall, Lobell’s or Parsons Stulen, they all have been so honest and heartfelt when they share with me how hard this year has been, and how much they miss things they used to take for granted. But the conversation never ends there. They always take a breath, their eyes focus in and they tell me how they remain committed to continuing toward their goals. I see that same look in your eyes. I am so proud of this spirit our students have, I also know they get that from each of you. It is part of who we are as a college community. That’s what has allowed us to not only rise to the challenges of this year, but I know will continue to propel us forward no matter how our world keeps changing. It is because of you that our students are successful, that our college is successful. And we must take the time to recognize and celebrate that, especially this year. We have more reasons than ever to be proud of who we are. I am so very proud of you.

Thank you, sincerely, for everything you do everyday. I am proud of what we have done together this year, and am excited to see what we can accomplish together in the new year and beyond! 


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

Governance Vacancies

Dear Colleagues:

The college is seeking nominations for the following open seats on NMC’s Governance Councils:

Policy Council (Responsibilities)

  • Staff (1 seat)
  • Faculty (1 seat)

Planning & Budget Council (Responsibilities)

  • Staff (1 seat)
  • Faculty (1 seat)

The term of office is three years, with a limit of two consecutive terms. Terms end August 31 of the third year in office. Further criteria for service and responsibilities for each council are attached.

Your active participation in our shared governance system is greatly encouraged. You may also nominate a colleague other than yourself for council membership, but must have the nominee’s permission before submitting their name.

Please send your interest and/or nominations to the President’s Office by responding to by Tuesday, September 8.

Thank you,

President’s Office
1701 E. Front Street
Traverse City, MI
Phone: (231) 995-1010

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.”

When I first arrived at Northwestern Michigan College earlier this year, I was proud to see the work that we are already doing on diversity and inclusion through areas like the Experiential Learning Institute, the Dennos Museum Center, International Affairs Forum, and throughout our classrooms, student groups and support services. And while we will continue to use those areas to live our values, I believe we can and must do more.

Starting this week, I am championing a new committee at NMC that will focus solely on addressing inequities and injustices faced by our students, employees and the community. This will be led by Mark Liebling, associate VP of human resources, and Lisa Thomas, dean of students. We will look closely at our own NMC community and act as a convener of discussions for the larger community to engage thoughtfully and work collaboratively.

I also intend to lead and learn by doing. This week I have actively sought input from throughout our college community, participated in robust discussions with President’s Council, we will continue that discussion in our virtual employee town hall Friday, and I will join our Phi Theta Kappa students in their Racial Justice Issues/Honors in Action meeting and other student and employee groups. I know this is just a start, but it is a start and I am committed to prioritizing this work as your president.

I also remain committed to listening. I know that will be essential to seeking deeper understanding. I encourage you to share your thoughts with me and together we will work to make meaningful change in our world.


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

Northwestern Michigan College

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Release date: June 4, 2020

For more information:

Diana Fairbanks
Executive Director of Public Relations, Marketing and Communications
(231) 995-1019


Northwestern Michigan College is committed to a policy of equal opportunity for all persons and does not unlawfully discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, disability, genetic information, height, weight, marital status or veteran status in employment, educational programs and activities, and admissions.

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