The Northwestern College Magazine
FROM THE PRESIDENT
NICK NISSLEY, PRESIDENT
I wish more than a dozen people a happy birthday and write more than a dozen thank you and congratulations notes. Honestly, it’s often the best part of my day! This habit of gratitude is something I started years ago as I frst set out to defne who I wanted to be as a leader. It’s important to me to connect with people and show my appreciation, that’s always been true. But what has changed over the years are the ways I get to share that appreciation and make those connections. What used to be limited to only a phone call or letter may now also include a Facebook message and email. I simply have more ways than ever to quickly and easily connect with the people I care about.
Such connections have always been vital. Over the last two years of the pandemic, however, it’s become more evident how signifcant human connection is to our well-being, and how necessary it is to cultivate that connection beyond face to face. Social media and video are two go-to ways. For instance, you’ll read in this issue about our nearly-fnalized strategic plan, which will guide the entire college through 2025. That plan has been developed almost entirely in Zoom meetings, yet despite the virtual setting, the energy and enthusiasm is palpable. We’ve had greater levels of participation and more meaningful cross campus collaboration!
PRESIDENT NISSLEY, RIGHT, CONGRATULATES MEMBERS OF PHI THETA KAPPA, THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY COLLEGE HONOR SOCIETY, AT THE 2020 COMMENCEMENT CEREMONY.
I’m proud of the dedication so many people in the college and wider community have devoted to this incredibly important effort. We have reimagined how the college will serve a changing body of learners. As the objectives and action steps unfold, bringing NMC toward our goals, that sense of connection and community, united in a common purpose, will only strengthen. It becomes a virtuous circle that began in dozens of Zoom rectangles.
Thank you for your continued support of Northwestern Michigan College. Wishing you and yours a happy new year.
CCs: A GREAT INVENTION
In the course of writing stories for Nexus, I talk to a lot of people at NMC. One conversation I remember well was a few years ago with Marguerite Cotto, NMC’s just-retired vice president of lifelong and professional learning. A native of Puerto Rico, Cotto said she considered the community college to be among America’s greatest inventions.
Pretty bold statement, I thought. However, as I tried to come up with other candidates (Airplane fight? Jazz? Square pizza?) the truth of Cotto’s choice became more and more evident. The genius of the community college is that it can shape shift according to student needs. At NMC, we are simultaneously a fight school, a music conservatory (jazz, choral and more) and a culinary arts program (where you can learn to make square and round pizza, just for starters.)
This shapeshifting, on a higher level, amounts to an inherent ability for NMC to adapt and reinvent itself as needs and times change—while still retaining the community college’s core identity as affordable and accessible, serving students of all ages and backgrounds. Driven by demographics and accelerated by the pandemic, NMC is now poised at one of those moments of reinvention, as explored in our cover story beginning on page 10.
We may not know exactly what the future holds, but as one of America’s greatest inventions, we can say with confidence that NMC will be ready to meet it.
COLLEGE DISTRIBUTES $5.2 MILLION IN FEDERAL COVID RELIEF FUNDS
NMC students received $3 million in American Rescue Plan funds last September, bringing the total amount of federal COVID-19 relief funds the college has distributed to students to $5.2 million since April 2020.
NMC has prioritized rapid disbursement of four rounds of COVID funds intended for students, as well as supplemented them with dollars raised by the NMC Foundation.
“As the pandemic persists, so do our students’ challenges,” NMC President Nick Nissley said. “We’re pleased to be able to efficiently steward these taxpayer dollars and distribute them to students who have persevered toward their goals through 18 months.”
While the COVID relief dollars are extraordinary, NMC champions affordability as a key element of college access. Besides federal financial aid and more than $1 million in institutional scholarships annually, the college utilizes open educational resources (free and low-cost textbooks) in many classes, and has an on-campus food pantry.