Northern Michigan University

What is now known as Northern Michigan University, first opened in 1899 under the name Northern State Normal School. It was a 22-acre campus with a faculty of six and a class of 32 bright-eyed students, with hopes of becoming teachers. The school’s main focus was to train and equip education leaders for the then-sparsely populated Upper Peninsula. Throughout the next several decades, the name of the college changed in response to the steady growing student enrollment. In 1927, the college became known as Northern State Teachers College, then Northern Michigan College of Education in 1942, then the name changed again in 1955 to Northern Michigan College. The enrollment of the school greatly increased in the next few years, due to the opening of the Mackinac Bridge in 1957, and this also caused the campus to expand rapidly to the size it is today. In 1963, the college was designated a university to serve the diverse educational needs of the Upper Peninsula, and finally became Northern Michigan University. Because of this accreditation, the university began to offer several new undergraduate and graduate programs.


The university now has four academic divisions: college of arts and sciences, college of business, graduate education and research, and college of health sciences and professional studies. The university also offers many enrichment programs for its students including Army ROTC, greek life, student leader fellowship program, student government, and over 300 registered student organizations. One thing that is unique for Northern students is the opportunity to receive a new notebook computer every three years as a full time student. Northern’s vision is to use technology in order to enhance the student’s academic success and encourage more student-faculty communication. In the fall of 2000, NMU implemented the laptop program and is the first public university in Michigan to pursue a “laptop” campus. As the university continued to find new technology to accomplish their vision, they initiated a WiMAX connection in 2009. This new initiative brought internet access to student on and off campus, and became very recognized and popular. This popularity made its way to the White House, and in 2011, Barack Obama visited the campus to give credit to the new wireless internet development and endorsed a National Wireless Initiative to bring this type of internet to 98% of the US by 2016. Now, the WiMAX connection has been converted to LTE and spans almost 40 square miles of the campus.

President Obama speaking at NMU