Redefining the Classroom

LSSU Board of Trustees looks to the future

Posted: November 13th, 2012

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – Lake Superior State University’s Board of Trustees looked to the future during its meeting on campus Nov. 9 as it considered a committee to search for a replacement for current president Tony L. McLain, who is seeking to retire.

Board Chair Jenny Kronk appointed three members of the panel to establish a presidential search committee involving students, employees, members of the community and others. The three trustees – Patrick Egan, Ann Parker and Rodney Nelson – are to make their recommendation on the search committee make-up to the board during its January meeting.

Also during the meeting on Friday, the board approved tenure for Prof. Jodi Orm, Nursing, and Prof. Derek Wright, Chemistry and Environmental Sciences; heard a presentation on town-gown collaboration from Sault Ste. Marie Downtown Development Authority Director Justin Knepper; looked at enrollment activities and heard reports on finance, student life and development. In its development report, the board accepted a donation of property on Sugar Island that will be used by students from as many as 12 different science courses.

“When I was offered the opportunity to be president, I said at the time that I wasn’t looking for a second career,” said McLain, who was retired as superintendent of the Sault Area Public Schools when he was offered the presidency at LSSU. “Well, here it’s been three-and-a-half years now and it’s been a great second career. But as a university, we are in a good position now to make a transition, and when the board has its timeline for selecting a new president, I will announce my retirement.”

McLain’s contract runs until the end of December 2013, with an option to extend until the end of June 2014.

Board Chair Kronk emphasized that, by law, the search committee needs to include representatives from the student body, faculty, staff, alumni, board of trustees and the public. She asked Egan, Parker and Nelson to work together to come up with a group that includes a good mix of those constituents.

McLain, a Scottville, Mich. native, is LSSU’s seventh president.

In his enrollment report, LSSU Vice President of Enrollment Services Bill Eilola said the number of students who have applied and been accepted for fall 2013 is higher than at this time last year and the year before. He said the recent “Fall Fling,” which invites students and parents to campus to become more acquainted with campus life, marked the largest attendance in the past eight years. The event saw 362 students attend, compared to 210 last year and an average of 253 students per year since 2005.

In addition, Eilola said the university is seeing an increase in the number of students with higher grade point averages and ACT scores. LSSU freshmen now have an average 3.3 grade point average and 22.5 ACT score.

“This is good for our retention rates and incoming student profile,” Eilola said. He noted that LSSU’s new Laker Gold scholarship competition has been gaining interest also, with more students competing each year. The scholarship is open to incoming freshmen with a 3.8 GPA and 28 ACT score.

Eilola said LSSU majors in nursing and other healthcare fields, biological sciences, and criminal justice/fire science continue to attract the most interest from new students, followed by engineering/technology, environmental/physical sciences, business and social sciences.

The board approved tenure for two faculty members as recommended by LSSU Associate Provost David Myton. Both faculty members are LSSU alumni who went on to graduate studies at other institutions and came back to northern Michigan to work and teach.

Prof. Jodi Orm

Myton said Prof. Jodi Orm is known for her great enthusiasm for teaching and has been nominated twice for the LSSU Distinguished Teaching Award. She excels at incorporating technology in the classroom, lab and clinical settings and in that regard heads a committee of nursing faculty that is working with War Memorial Hospital to bring a nursing simulation laboratory to the community. The lab, which features lifelike simulators that are superior to equipment used in current nursing/health service laboratories, was previewed at a luncheon following Friday’s board meeting.

Orm, a registered nurse hired as an adjunct instructor in 2006, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in nursing from LSSU in 1992. She completed her master’s degree in nursing in 2008 from St. Joseph’s College of Maine and obtained a national certification as a nurse educator in 2012.

In addition to her teaching duties, she is a consultant and speaker for Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins, a nursing publishing company, on the topics of integration of online products to support learning and nursing student success.

Prof. Derek Wright

Myton said Prof. Derek Wright, another LSSU graduate, has taught a variety of courses in the LSSU School of Physical Sciences, including environmental chemistry, environmental health applications, oceanography, meteorology and climatology. He recently became coordinator for reaccreditation of the school’s environmental health program, the only accredited bachelor’s degree program in the state, and is part of a group of scientists from LSSU, Sault College and Algoma Public Health who are working to establish an accredited international school of environmental health.

Elsewhere in the community, Wright has worked on projects with the Chippewa/East Mackinac Conservation District and Chippewa County Environmental Health Dept. He is also science advisor for the Sault Area High School National Ocean Science Bowl Team.

In addition to his bachelor’s degree in environmental chemistry, which he received from LSSU in 2001, Wright holds a doctorate in environmental sciences from Rutgers University.

Sault DDA Director Knepper told the board that progress continues on a goal to turn Sault Ste. Marie from “a town with a college in it” to a “college town” through the efforts of Sault United, a group whose membership includes representatives of LSSU, the city of Sault Ste. Marie, Sault Economic Development Corporation, War Memorial Hospital, Sault Area Public Schools and the Eastern Upper Peninsula Intermediate School District.

The group has led to progress in a number of areas, according to Knepper. He cited increased participation between Sault Ste. Marie businesses and LSSU business/marketing students, who have provided services to those businesses in the form of surveys and marketing plans, and increased interaction between LSSU students and employees with the Sault downtown.

“The DDA is working with the LSSU Business Dept. to look at everything from what businesses do and can do better to serve students, to how they can help connect current students with future job opportunities,” Knepper said, noting that the DDA has employed three LSSU student interns in the past year.

Knepper said Sault United meets regularly and has brought in more stakeholders through subcommittees that are working on transportation, sporting events, and making new students and parents feel welcome during LSSU orientation week.

LSSU Board Chair Kronk thanked Knepper for his presentation, saying, “It sounds like a lot of good cooperation going on through this group. Please convey our thanks to area merchants and others participating in this group. It’s very important that our students feel welcome in our community and we appreciate the efforts this group is making to ensure that they are.” -LSSU-

CONTACT: Tom Pink, 906-635-2315,; John Shibley, 635-2314,