Good Afternoon NMC Community!

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. It’s obvious to me, NMC is a strong college in a strong community – it has a proud history and a future of possibilities. As NMC’s 11th President, I am well aware that I am the beneficiary of smart decisions made by my predecessors, and I am equally passionate about sharing my leadership strengths to make a difference for our students, the faculty/staff, and the institution of NMC. I believe in NMC’s role, that we have played historically, and that we must imagine together as we look to the future – our role in improving the lives of people and strengthening the fabric of our community. So, together, let’s be driven to think and act beyond boundaries, and to achieve more than was originally imagined. That’s the possibilitarian spirit of NMC.

I appreciate that the presidency is a privileged position, not a position of privilege. I feel privileged to be able to serve and be a steward of such an awesome, profound mission. I have been preparing over the past few months, ‘doing my homework’. I have been devouring all that I can put my hands on in terms of ‘orientation materials’ (e.g., College reports, budgets, history books, and briefings), as well as engaging in conversations with the former President, Tim Nelson, and our NMC Board Chair, Chris Bott. While the very steep learning curve will obviously continue, I feel like I have a growing foundation of knowledge about the College, strong support from the College/community, and a desire to work together to continue to make a difference in the lives of those that we serve.

Northwestern Michigan College has been referred to as the community’s college, not just a community college. And, it’s already becoming clear to me, that what distinguishes NMC faculty and staff is that you have diligently served the mission-inspired tagline from the first NMC Catalog in 1951: “Community Centered, Community Serving”. We will continue that mission-driven focus.

As I’ve been going about the work of transitioning into the President role, and to further my learning, I’ve met with some other college presidents, over the past few months, including Jim Votruba, past president of Northern Kentucky University. Jim’s family owns Votruba Leather Goods, here, in Traverse City. A piece of advice that I took away from my conversation with Jim was his counsel, “Be sure that people know that you’ve unpacked your bags.” His point – that I need to demonstrate that I’m committed to the College/community for the long haul. Rest assured, my bags are unpacked. Our family has bought a home on Old Mission Peninsula. While my wife and daughters are finishing up the school year, back in Cincinnati, given that I have a high school senior and freshman; they will be joining me in early summer. That means I’ll be looking forward to being 100% present for you!

So, what can you expect from me as we get started? I will be listening and learning. Together, with NMC Board Chair, Chris Bott, and the NMC Executive Team, we have developed an ‘onboarding plan’ – a plan to identify the ‘first steps’ to guide my orientation to NMC, and pave the way for me to become acclimated and informed relative to the role and responsibilities.

Specifically, the onboarding plan will help me hear from the College community: 1) gather information, develop understanding, and build relationships; 2) develop understanding of what requires immediate attention; 3) begin an inventory of perceived organizational strengths and weaknesses; 4) identification of key strategic challenges and opportunities; and, 5) afford me insight to aspirations/possibilities.

The activities detailed in the plan serve as a blueprint for my entry into NMC. As with all blueprints, adjustments may have to be made as we progress. It’s intended to be a ‘living document’. The plan has been intentionally developed to acknowledge my areas of focus: listening and learning about the College’s history; the institution’s strengths and weaknesses; and, challenges and opportunities. Ultimately, the listening and learning will help inform our ‘next steps’ as we seek to advance the College mission, together.

I look forward to meeting you next week at the January Mid-Year Opening Conference, and as I visit you in your areas around campus. Together, let’s be what’s possible!

 – Nick Nissley, Ed.D.