Maritime instructor, HR staffer win awards

John BiolchiniTRAVERSE CITY — Great Lakes Maritime Academy instructor Capt. John Biolchini and Talent Development Coordinator Lori Hodek have been named NMC’s recipients of annual excellence awards. Both are also NMC alumni.

Biolchini, an instructor since 2007, is the 2018 recipient of the NISOD award for teaching excellence. Affiliated with the University of Texas at Austin, NISOD is committed to promoting and celebrating excellence in teaching, learning, and leadership at community and technical colleges. Criteria include professionalism, relationships with students and colleagues, and commitment to learning. Among other accomplishments, Biolchini was cited for spearheading submission of the Academy’s Military Veteran program, to award credit for military service, and his collaboration with the Northwest Regional Fire Training Center, to create a local course that would fulfill U.S. Coast Guard firefighting requirements for Maritime cadets. Biolchini graduated from GLMA in 1982,

Lori HodekHodek is the recipient of a 2017 John and Suanne Roueche Excellence Award from the League for Innovation in the Community College. The award celebrates outstanding contributions and leadership by community college faculty and staff. Among other accomplishments, she was recognized for her leadership in the creation of consecutive college-wide professional development events. Hodek was first employed at NMC as a student employee in 2001. She graduated from NMC in 2003 and joined the staff as a regular employee in 2004. 

Release date: January 30, 2018

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.

President’s Update for January 23, 2018

Thank you all for everything you do in pursuit of “Keeping Learning at the Center.”

Notable Accomplishments provided by Faculty and Staff

This section recognizes the good work being done and linkages to the Strategic Directions (SD) and Institutional Effectiveness Criteria (IE) are provided where possible.

  • The NMC viewbook designed by the Public Relations Marketing and Communications team, with input from Admissions, received a gold Medal of Excellence in Design from the National Council for Marketing & Public Relations (NCMPR). The viewbook is the No. 1 print marketing and recruitment tool for the Admissions team’s intended audiences, including prospective students, parents, and influencers. (IE1, IE2, IE3)
  • In an effort to increase retention and persistence, the Advising Center staff made more than 500 phone calls to students registered for fall semester, but not yet registered for spring. These calls had a goal of reminding students about spring registration and acted as a check-in from Advising on progress during the semester. Students were offered assistance with resources to resolve other registration holds on their account, answers to questions about courses for their program of study, as well as connections to other on-campus success resources. (IE3, IE5)
  • Nursing instructor Carole McKee was appointed to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) board. NAMI is a national grassroots organization that focuses on advocacy and education. Their education programs, which are generally free to the consumer, focus on helping families and individuals affected by mental illness. They have programs to educate the public as well, helping increase awareness and reduce stigma. As a board member, Carole will be participating in fundraising and advocacy efforts. (IE1, IE2)
  • Nursing instructor Mac Beeker presented at the Imaging Professionals and Nuclear Medicine Symposium at the Great Wolf Lodge on November 10. There were about 200 attendees. He presented a practical framework for ethics, focusing on the four key pillars of autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence and justice, and reviewed the modern history of hallmark bioethics cases in the US. The presentation focused on the roles and responsibilities of all healthcare team members to ensure ethics drives decision-making and to promote a patient- centered foundation for contemporary healthcare. (IE1, IE2)
  • A group of Young Marines visited dining services on December 14 for a few hours of instruction on the use of herbs and spices from Chef Dave and Great Lakes Culinary Institute graduate Casey SeGraves. They also discussed their prior visit in March when they learned tips on reducing sugar and balanced eating with proper portion control and the importance of drinking plenty of water and exercising regularly. Some of the attendees mentioned that they “can’t wait” to take classes at NMC! (IE2, IE4, IE5)
  • Veteran Services reports the following accomplishments:
    • Partnership between NMC and the Traverse City Vet Center will allow the VA to hold group counseling for veterans on campus.
    • Arranged for a Veteran Service Officer (VSO) to come on campus and help our veterans apply for any/all compensation claims.
    • Solidified on-campus yoga and mindfulness class for veterans, which will begin this semester.
    • Community endeavors on behalf of NMC (events will take place this month):
      • Helping to bring in the movie premier for 12 Strong. This will be a fundraiser for a local veteran non-profit.
      • Bill Marsh is auctioning off their Dodge Demon with proceeds going to the TC Patriot Game. (IE1, IE2, IE3, IE4)
  • Enrollment Services developed specific communication with different student “groups” (i.e. Health Occupation, Veterans, etc.) to connect them to NMC at the start of their enrollment process. One example of this is the coordination with the Health Occupations department to offer the simulation lab during campus visits to expand the visitation event for prospective students. (IE1, IE2, IE3, IE5)
  • Enrollment Services (Admissions, Financial Aid, and Records and Registration) continue to work together as a cohesive team serving students at our one-stop shop. Staff training and confidence in new knowledge areas has advanced greatly since they merged in July. Staff/departments are able to support each other in processing, and students are greeted by friendly faces who are enabled to serve them holistically. (IE1, IE2, IE3, IE4, IE5)
  • GLMA Admissions attended the annual Workboat Show tradeshow in Louisiana. There, they made new connection opportunities for potential applicants as well as partners for sea projects and future employment opportunities for cadets. They also had the opportunity to introduce NMC and share all the unique opportunities we have to offer with representatives from Rickover Naval Academy (Chicago, IL) and gave a presentation at the Marion Military Institute (Marion, AL) that resulted in new applicants. (IE1, IE2, IE3, IE4, IE5)
  • On four Saturdays between November and December, the Commitment Scholarship Program began it’s first-annual “Soaring Saturdays” commitment event as a way for the class of 2020, high school sophomores in the program, to visit campus with their parents/guardians and discuss what students can do now to prepare for their academic transition from HS to NMC in a couple of years. On each Saturday, the coordinator gave a presentation about the differences between high school vs. college, better preparing for post-secondary education,present at each event to discuss financial aid, financial literacy, and applying for scholarships.
  • Lastly, a student panel of current commitment scholars also spoke about the program, what life is like as an NMC student, etc. After the presentations, a guided tour of East and North Halls was made available by our housing staff, lunch was served in the Hawk Owl Café, and students/parents could inquire about dual enrollment options for their commitment son/daughter. Out of the 96 active students from this cohort, 81 attended one of these dates, which is 84%! (IE1, IE2, IE3)
  • In the fall of 2017 the NMC Board of Trustees approved GLMA’s purchase of a Konsberg Full Mission Engine Room Simulator. The simulator was installed this past December, and GLMA faculty received training on the use of the simulator on December 18-19. This simulator is a substantial upgrade. It will make it easier to record STCW Code competencies, which are required for program competition, and will ensure GLMA engine cadets continue to have the ability to earn a license valid for service on vessels which employ steam propulsion. (IE1)
  • Student Financial Services reports the following attendance numbers for fall (October- December) financial aid outreach to high schools for 2018-2019 financial aid opportunities:
    • Regional financial aid information sessions (one in each service area county plus Manistee): 141
    • Financial aid sessions @ College Night at Great Lakes Campus: 127
    • FAFSA & scholarship workshops: 317
    • Total fall outreach: 585 (IE1, IE2, IE3, IE4, IE5)
  • Congratulations to the NMC Children’s Choirs on their wonderful performances as part of the Traverse Symphony Orchestra’s “Home for the Holidays” concerts! These talented young singers shared music of the holidays to two enthusiastic sold-out crowds. The concert featured over 150 singers from the NMCCC Lyric, Ragazzo, and Cantus choirs—representing students from over 30 area schools in 4th-9th grade. The highlight was their stunning candlelight processional—bravo! (IE1, IE2, IE3, IE4)
  • Congratulations to the NMC Concert Band, and their interim Director John Campbell, on a successful December 13 Holiday Concert. The performance included works by Chip David, Clifton Williams, Leroy Anderson and others. The Concert Band was greeted by an enthusiastic audience of 300+ community members in Milliken Auditorium. (IE1, IE2, IE3, IE4)
  • Bravo to the NMC Grand Traverse Chorale and Chamber Singers, and their director Jeffrey Cobb, who shared the stage with 200 singers from area choirs to present “Amid the Winter’s Snow—A Festival of the Music of Dan Forrest.” The choirs were joined on stage by a full orchestra, performing the works of contemporary composer Dan Forrest. The performers also had the opportunity to work with Mr. Forrest throughout the week leading up to the performance. It was an amazing opportunity for our NMC students and community members to work with one of the nation’s most highly regarded composers! (IE1, IE2, IE3, IE4)
  • Liam Strong, Deanna Luton, and Ann Hosler, staff members from NMC’s magazine, each had a poem chosen to be published in Z Publishing House’s “Best Emerging Poets of Michigan” anthology. The book is slated to be published in February 2018 and should be available for purchase on Amazon after its release. Z Publishing House is a book publishing company devoted to promoting the world’s best independent and up-and-coming writers and poets. (IE1, IE3)
  • On January 9 the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) administered the U.S. Merchant Marine Officer Exams to the GLMA senior cadets. Each exam consisted of seven modules, they were administered over a four-day period. Additionally, for the deck cadets three of the seven modules required a minimum passing score of 90%. A total of 27 cadets sat for their exams (14 engine and 13 deck). This resulted in the USCG administering 189 exams over the four- day period. Of these 27 cadets 23 passed all seven exams on the first attempt. Two deck and two engine cadets passed six of the seven exams. No cadet failed more than one exam. Of the 189 exams administered, 185 were passed (97.9%). (IE1)

Activities of Note:  Tim

  • On December 19, 2017, I met with the Marine Center of Excellence Team at our Aero Park Campus to discuss Business Innovation Training. The Continuous Quality Improvement Network (CQIN), of which we are members, and BIF are embarking on a partnership to provide CQIN member organizations with an opportunity to understand business model innovation based on a Business Model Design Process (BMDP) to establish the importance of changing to the perspective of the student experience.
  • Sean Miller (Record Eagle reporter) and I spoke about the renovations to West Hall scheduled to begin in 2018, which include transformative learning environments and a new library. We discussed the approval, funding, and construction processes and timeline. The full article appeared in the December 24, 2017, edition of the paper.
  • Thank you to the attendees of the Mid-Year Opening Conference to kick off the Spring 2018 semester. I hope you enjoyed having Mike Hansen, President of the Michigan Community College Association (MCCA), here to speak about the strategic agenda and assumptions of MCCA. I appreciate your engagement in table discussions and the input you provided through the table discussion exercise.  The Leadership Group will be helping to review your input.
  • Marguerite Cotto, Ed Bailey, and I met with Hans Voss, Dan Worth, and other representatives from Groundwork on January 10 to discuss the upcoming second annual Michigan Clean Energy Conference & Fair scheduled for June 21-23, 2018, at NMC’s Hagerty Center and Aero Park Campus.
  • The New Dennos held opening events this past weekend showcasing the completed expansion of the Dennos Museum Center with its 128-foot glassed “promenade” leading to spacious new galleries for recently installed permanent collection pieces, and to see the educational exhibition Tutankhamum: “Wonderful Things” from the Pharaoh’s Tomb, featuring 124 reproductions of artifacts found in Tut’s tomb. The response was wonderful with over 300 attending Saturday night and about 1,550 on Sunday for the public open house. The expansion also includes a classroom-media room near the Milliken Auditorium, more gallery storage with rolling stacks, new storage and office space for the gift shop, and a larger, more efficient loading dock and receiving area with a secure, climate controlled storage area for musical instruments. I encourage the college community to visit our regional gem.  A naming and dedication ceremony for the new wings and galleries will take place this spring.

Legislative Issues


The State legislature has returned from their holiday break, which kicks off the final year of the 2017-2018 legislative session. According to reporting by Mlive, the top five items that legislative Health legislation, Prevailing Wage legislation, Education funding (School Aid Fund) and Water Quality Issues.

The Michigan Department of Education has launched its parent transparency dashboard that will now serve as the accountability measure for schools moving forward. While this dashboard is primarily focused on K-12 schools (both public and charter) there is information on postsecondary education including college transfer, college undergraduate enrollment, and postsecondary outcomes by high school and success rates.


Congress has also returned from its holiday break and resumes work on a host of issues including the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and a government funding bill.  As you may recall, in April of last year and then in September of last year, NMC sent letters to our federal delegation expressing our concern over President Trump’s executive action on immigration and DACA. Since that time, we have continued to monitor legislative discussions about immigration, and will closely watch developments in this legislative session around immigration reform.

We also continue to monitor efforts in the House to renew the Higher Education Act, which passed the House Education and Workforce Committee in December.  The big pluses for community colleges include short-term federal financial aid eligibility, improved graduation rate metric and an increased aid officer discretion on loans.  However, the negatives of the legislation include a risk sharing provision that would hold colleges financially accountable for student completion, reduced investments in students and a tilt toward newer providers and away from traditional higher education.  You can find an informative power point presentation from the American Association of Community Colleges here that describes the impact of the legislation and the recently passed tax package.


  • MCCA’s Legislative Summit is January 24, 2018, in Lansing.
  • Traverse City Chamber of Commerce Celebration Week will be held at NMC’s Hagerty Center with the Distinguished Service Award luncheon to honor the Chamber’s 2017 honoree Elaine Wood on Wednesday, January 24, and the Annual Celebration on Friday evening, January 26.

Success Story: Coaching leads to better grades, winning academic records

January 22, 2018

NMC success coach Leeann Fountain and student Taylor ByersNMC success coach Leeann Fountain and student Taylor ByersWhen Taylor Byers returned to NMC last fall, four years after she last attended, she knew she had to be a different kind of student.

But she didn’t seek help from an academic adviser, or a tutor, or even an instructor. Instead, Byers beelined for a student success coach.

Success coaching is booming at NMC. Already this year, coaching visits to the Student Success Center are double the 2016-17 total. Rather than being subject matter experts in math or English or science, like instructors or tutors, coaches guide students to academic success by providing tools to improve study habits, time management and task prioritization.

“It’s going so much better,” said Byers, 22, who is studying visual communications. “It helps you stay accountable. They teach you how to organize your life.”

Not just on campus, either. Byers’ coach, Leeann Fountain, had her fill in a 24-hour time chart, breaking the entire day into half-hour increments. Something stood out right away.

“Taylor wasn’t going to bed,” Fountain recalls. Without a standing bedtime, she was tired and couldn’t focus on studying. She napped erratically, which threw her time management off further.

But Fountain didn’t tell Byers what her bedtime should be, or even to set one. Rather, after Byers filled out the whole, 24-hour chart, Fountain said, “I asked her, ‘what would you change first?’ “

It was Byers who decided that first thing was to establish a bedtime, picked 10 p.m., and now sticks to it. Between her four days of classes, her job as a manager at the Arby’s in Kalkaska, where she also lives, and her commute time, that now leaves her evenings to study, alert and focused.

Posing the question for Byers to answer herself is a fundamental concept of the empowerment coaching style that NMC employs.

NMC instructor Steve Rice“So many of us have experienced education as something that’s being shoved into us,” said Steve Rice, an accounting instructor at NMC and the author of an innovation grant that allowed a seven-member team to be trained in the style in 2015. The goal is to empower students to solve their own problems, as Byers did.

Even with this year’s jump, only a small fraction of students receive coaching — 280 so far this year.

“It’s very much in the germinal stage,” Rice said.

Ashley Darga, NMC’s coordinator for Student Success and one of the team trained back in 2015, wants to accelerate it. In addition to the face-to-face coaching that Byers received, her office is piloting required phone coaching in three online classes: Rice’s accounting, a math class, and a history class. While there are variables in the data, results so far are encouraging: Across all three classes, students who got coaching received failing grades 8 percent less often and passing grades (defined as a 2.0 or higher) almost 11 percent more. Withdrawal rates for coached students were 5 percent lower as well.

“It’s giving us a really preliminary look at is this worth pursuing, and so far we feel encouraged,” Darga said. “I’m maxing out my personnel budget for (coaches).”

Coaching also establishes the kind of personal relationship that research has found is critical for students to complete their degree.

“This is designed in that spirit, hooking a student up with a person so they are engaged on campus and feel committed to NMC,” Darga said.

“Without persistence we’re not using our time wisely,” Rice said.


KUDOS – (praise or respect that you get because of something you have done or achieved) defined by

Submit a Kudos here.

Kudos to Lisa Thomas, Paul Kolak, Leanne Baumeler, and Lisa Blackford: They played a key role in planning and executing the NMC Winter Conference professional development program on January 8. Their suggestions and insights helped make the day a success!

Kudos to Ryan Bernstein: Ryan lent his branding and design genius to the NMC Winter Conference this January. His vision for the day and his work on the visual details helped make the day more engaging and effective.