Carter Wilson

Examining metaracism

Professor Carter Wilson describes a modern, subtle form of economic-based racism.


Elise Bur

Closing the health care gap

The new NMU Center for Rural Health supports an integrated network to improve access to health resources.


Amalea Vega

Celebrating wonderful alumni

From the NFL to Google to waging molecular war on cancer, meet the outstanding 2020 Alumni Award recipients.


Fritz EricksonDear Alumni and Friends,

What a fall semester it has been as we continue to work to protect Northern from any significant COVID-19 outbreak. Fortunately, NMU has had a very low positivity rate of about 1 percent. All the work we did to prepare for a safe in-person semester seems to be paying off.

We continue to test regularly, evaluate the ever-changing situation, adjust our actions as needed, and be proactive in our efforts to mitigate this dangerous virus, even when that means making hard decisions. I am so proud of how the campus has responded and am especially proud of the actions of our students. You can follow NMU’s COVID-19 numbers on our online dashboard at You may recall, we began the semester early (Aug. 17) and are now nearing its close (Nov. 24). We plan to begin the winter semester one week later, on Jan. 19, and end as originally scheduled on May 1.

Health and wellness have been two topics that have dominated our discussions and actions this year, but not all of that attention has been strictly COVID-19 related. In July, Northern formally launched its new Center for Rural Health. The goal of the center is to serve as a conduit for regional coordination of effort for improving the health and wellness of Upper Peninsula residents through education and leveraging of the region’s resources. In this issue of Northern Magazine, you will meet several alumni who are involved in U.P. health initiatives, as well as be introduced to NMU programs that are also advancing wellness causes. We have big ideas about growing Northern’s role in this arena, which we believe will also enhance and expand outstanding hands-on learning opportunities for NMU students.

True wellness, however, goes beyond the physical. The pandemic has demonstrated our physical human vulnerabilities and connectedness, but it has also helped to illuminate social inequalities, moral dilemmas and issues of social justice. Social inequality is long overdue for deep and thoughtful discussion and subsequent action in our country, our communities and certainly here on the Northern campus. The pages ahead will highlight some NMU individuals who are already busy tackling these complex issues. As we grow this conversation at Northern, I hope you, our alumni and friends, will be a part of the dialogue to help Northern develop the type of actions that bring about meaningful, necessary and lasting change. Please feel free to share your thoughts at

Thank you for your continued support. Best wishes for a healthy and safe fall and winter.

President Fritz Erickson


“My hope is that our students feel empowered to fight for a better future in which our campus, our community and our nation are more just, equitable and inclusive for people that represent the diversity of humanity. I am also passionate about teaching the next generation of natural resource leaders to be kind and thoughtful collaborators because the world needs more people that are kind and thoughtful about our impacts on one another and our impacts on our shared environment.”

Dr. Diana Lafferty

Professor of Biology

Lake Superior Sunrise
Bazile Panek photo

"All of us at Northern Michigan University can recognize that our university lies on Anishinaabek territory. Because of this, let's learn the history of the area. The Anishinaabe history. Let's learn about the intricacies of the language of Anishinaabemowin, the language of the Anishinaabe and why this place is traditionally called Gichi-namebini Ziibing (Place of the Great Sucker Fish River). Let's all learn to say 'Boozhoo' or 'Aaniin,' to each other, which are the words for hello. Let's learn about the beautiful culture of the Anishinaabe. After we learn all of these things, we can then begin to sincerely appreciate the territory that our university lies on. We can then begin to deeply understand ourselves and our relationship with this land."

Bazile Panek

President of Native American Student Association