NMC Timeline

1951: Geographically isolated from Michigan colleges and universities, the Grand Traverse region decides to create its own from the ground up, grassroots-style. When NMC's founders are told that the population was too small to have a college, they lobby to get the legislation changed. When no building is immediately available, NMC opens its doors in borrowed facilities at the airport terminal building — with donated materials and volunteer labor. At its opening, NMC has 65 students and a staff of six.

1956: NMC moves to a spacious 100-acre campus "under the pines" on East Front Street. The college holds its first NMC Barbecue, known as the "picnic under the pines," to raise money for buildings on campus as well as unite the community. Nearly 5,000 people are served food that's entirely donated by local grocer Gerald Oleson.

1966: WNMC Radio begins as an in-house radio station for the dormitory.

1973: President Emeritus Preston N. Tanis writes "Northwestern Michigan College: The First Twenty Years, 1951-1971."

1984: The White Pine Press debuts as the student newspaper.

1988: $2.5 million bond for campus improvements, including a student center.

1989: NMC loses its first millage election; returns in August to get approval of a lesser amount.

1990: NMC has a student body of 4,000 and a staff of 260.

1991: The Dennos Museum Center opens near the main campus entrance.

1994: Communications instructor Al Shumsky, with assistance from Carole Marlatt, writes, "Northwestern Michigan College; The Second Twenty Years, 1971-1991."

1994: The college switches from terms to semesters.

1995: Grand Traverse County approves 1.5 "replacement" mills in perpetuity; a four-county millage request fails.

1995: The University Center opens its doors at a new campus on Boardman Lake in the former headquarters of Sara Lee, off of Cass Road south of Traverse City. It becomes the largest higher education partnership in Michigan.

1997: A Cadillac campus opens with an enrollment of 302 students.

1999: The Michigan Technical Education Center opens, becoming the centerpiece of NMC's Aero Park Campus. It is named for John Parsons and Robert Stulen.

2001: NMC celebrates its 50th anniversary.

2002: The Great Lakes Maritime Academy acquires a former Navy vessel as a training ship, now the T/S State of Michigan.

2003: The new Great Lakes Campus opens at 715 E. Front St., and becomes home to the Great Lakes Maritime Academy, Great Lakes Culinary Institute, Great Lakes Water Studies Institute and Hagerty Conference Center.

2004: NMC closes its Cadillac campus. No longer financially viable, and without tax support from Wexford County, the college could not justify maintaining it at a loss.

2006: The Rogers Observatory celebrates its 25th anniversary, having served more than 110,000 people since it was built.

2008: The NMC Barbecue serves its 500,000th patron and, in recognition of the milestone, holds a random drawing for a full scholarship to NMC.

2009: The Great Lakes Water Studies Institute at NMC announced the launch of the first Associate in Science and Arts Degree for Freshwater Studies in the United States.

2010: Uncrewed Aerial Systems (UAS) courses debut. NMC became one of only a few schools nationwide to offer courses in this field.

2013: Northwestern Michigan College became the first community college in Michigan to offer its own fully accredited Bachelor’s Degree in Maritime Technology; the college publishes "Under the Pines: The Third Twenty Years".

2014: NMC’s Concert Band celebrates its 35th year.

2015: NMC’s University Center celebrates its 20th Anniversary; the NMC Faculty Association and NMC Faculty Chair Association are established.

2016-17: The Dennos Museum Center celebrates its 25th Anniversary, followed in 2017 by a 15,000-square-foot building expansion.

2017: NMC receives legislative approval for $7 million in state funding to renovate West Hall into a 54,000-square-foot, multi-story library and flexible learning space; a grand opening is held for NMC’s new $8.8 million, 135-bed student housing and fitness center — North Hall.

2018: The NMC Foundation awards $1 million in scholarships to 750 students; Timothy J. Nelson announces he will retire at the end of 2019.

2019: Nick Nissley, Ed.D. is selected as the college's 11th president in a unanimous vote by the NMC Board of Trustees.

2020: Construction is completed on the Timothy J. Nelson Innovation Center.