Updated 10/6/2023

Northern Michigan University’s comprehensive enrollment management plan is organized around the Interim Strategic Plan, Focus Area 1: New Markets, New Supports: Recruitment, Retention and Student Success, and Academic Innovation. The enrollment management committee consulted with units on campus that collectively contribute to enrollment and retention to create this plan, the associated tactics, and metrics. The President’s Executive Council provided guidance on this process.

Current Key Enrollment Indicators

Enrollment (Fall 2023)
      Headcount 7,197
      Student Credit Hours (SCH) 92,835
      Full Time Equivalent (FTE) 6,254
      Domestic Diverse 11.9%
      First Generation 33%
      Pell Eligible 38% (Fall 2022)

Retention Rates
      State of Michigan CEPI Success Rate 69.1% (2016 cohort)
      Student Achievement Measure (SAM) 4-year Graduation Rate 40% (2016 cohort)
      SAM 6-year Graduation Rate 67% (2016 cohort)
      1st to 3rd Retention (First-time, full-time bachelor's degree seeking) 75.8% (2022 cohort)


Crowd of people taking a tour


  • Attract new students from a variety of locations, backgrounds, races/ethnicities
  • Attract more students from new and existing markets

Selection of Impactful Tactics

  • Deploy two additional admissions staff to generate enrollment in new geographic markets
  • Pilot test the direct admit program with three partner high schools
  • Use the Bridge Award to increase out-of-state enrollment
  • Increase marketing resources in geographic locations with diverse populations
  • Increase meetings and communication between departments and prospective students
  • Conduct joint recruitment activities with academic departments to introduce NMU programs to new audiences


NMU Commencement

Retention and Student Success

  • Engage in proactive, holistic advising, leveraging student success technology and student-centered analytics
  • Increase student sense of belonging and engagement
  • Strengthen support for mental health and physical well-being

Selection of Impactful Tactics

  • Develop a university-wide student success framework
  • Promote available NMU resources and services to match the mental health needs of students with available resources by increasing awareness and improving channels of communication
  • Host Global Campus regional receptions and visits to connect distance education students to NMU


Student working in the indoor agriculture lab

Academic Innovations

  • Drive academic innovation of new and existing programs to attract new students
  • Employ new, flexible, and adaptive methods of content delivery to better meet the needs of current and future students

Selection of Impactful Tactics

  • Utilize academic program review and innovation grant processes to encourage the creation of interdisciplinary programs 
  • Support the development of new content delivery methods


Two students in masks studying indoors


Since 2010 NMU has declined approximately 25% in total enrollment (9,273 to 6,970).  If declines continue on the same trajectory then enrollment could decline another 15% -18% by the beginning of the next decade.

Declines in birth rates, high school graduation rates, and the college-going rates are well documented by Dr. Nathan Grawe, professor, and author: Demographics and The Demand for Higher Education (2018) and The Agile College: How Institutions Successfully Navigate Demographic Changes (2021) and others (WICHE, NSCH).

While WICHE predicts the declines in the size of the overall markets, many more factors lead to greater declines than predicted. Regional in/out migration patterns, market share (competition with other Michigan/ regional universities), college-going gender imbalance, and the perceived and real value of a college education all negatively impact enrollment. Units across campus are aware of the market shifts as well as the many other factors and have plans in place to combat these predictions.


Sunrise with students


NMU can beat these predictions. The campus location and surrounding community are vital components that make us unique. In addition, strong core majors and niche academic programming, along with reasonable tuition and fees, can keep NMU competitive throughout the Midwest and beyond. These qualities carry over to serve a broad constituent base facilitating a diverse student population both on-campus and through distance education. Competition for high-achieving, financially able students is growing and students have more choices than ever before. NMU’s ability to be flexible and adapt to student and market needs gives us a competitive advantage. By being innovative and responsive to the changing landscape NMU will remain a leader in higher education and lifelong learning. Strategic recruiting, retention, and strong academic programming will help meet the enrollment goals.


Enrollment planning is critical to having a healthy, forward-looking university. This plan effectively informs the university community about the proactive recruitment, retention, and academic innovation work organized around these goals:

  • Recruit new students from a variety of backgrounds
  • Recruit more students from new and existing markets
  • Provide proactive, holistic advising
  • Increase sense of belonging and engagement
  • Strengthen support for mental and physical well being
  • Drive academic innovation
  • Employ new methods of content delivery

Strategic enrollment management is a fluid and dynamic process. The plan will need to be continually revised and updated to reflect societal and institutional changes. A comprehensive enrollment management plan is stronger when all impact areas are included. National benchmarks suggest that future iterations of this plan should include enrollment strategies related to housing, pricing, financial aid/ scholarships, and academic program enrollment analysis.

Enrollment efforts are effectuated by all units across campus. This plan represents the efforts across a wide range of units on campus, including Admissions, the Retention Committee, Global Campus, Graduate Studies, Academic Affairs, and other academic and support units.

Through these collective efforts, Northern is working to emerge more diverse in the student populations it serves; more innovative in its programs, services and delivery methods; and more flexible to ever-changing societal, economic, and technological factors.

Senior Enrollment Management Team Members

* denotes members of ad hoc enrollment plan subcommittee

Kerri Schuiling, NMU President

Dale Kapla, Interim Provost and Vice President

Gavin Leach, Vice President; Finance and Administration

Steve VandenAvond*, Assoc. Provost, Dean of Technology and Occupational Sciences

Leslie Warren*, Interim Associate Provost for Academic Affairs

Cindy Paavola, Assistant to the President; Strategic Initiatives

Christine Greer*, Assistant Vice President/Dean of Students

Jason Nicholas, Assistant Provost/Director of Institutional Effectiveness

Amy Barnsley*, Provost Fellow, Retention Specialist, Faculty

Lisa Schade Eckert*, Dean; Graduate Studies and Research

Robert Winn*, Dean; College of Arts and Sciences

Carol Johnson, Dean; College of Business

Joseph Lubig, Dean; Interim Dean; College of Health Sciences and Professional Studies

Derek Hall*, Chief Marketing Officer

Gerri Daniels*, Executive Director; Admissions

Brad Hamel*, Executive Director; Global Campus

Heather Pickett*, Director; Graduate Management and Marketing

Michael Rotundo, Director; Financial Aid


Your ideas, comments, suggestions, and questions are an important component of the communication stream and solutions to problems. Please email enrollmentplan@nmu.edu if you would like to provide feedback. 

Northern Michigan University is located on the ancestral homelands of the Anishinaabe, Three Fires Confederacy, an honored alliance of the Ojibwe, Ottawa and Bodewadmik (Potowatomi) peoples. Gichi-namebini Ziibing is the traditional name of Marquette.