Timothy J. Nelson, President
Timothy J. Nelson has served as President of Northwestern Michigan College since February 2001. President Nelson has guided NMC through the implementation of a strategic plan consisting of five key strategic directions, including the establishment of national and international competencies and leadership in select educational areas connected to the regional economy. The college community has embraced a culture of continuous improvement and collaborative relationships. During his presidency, NMC has continued to grow and evolve. Enrollment has increased by more than 30 percent and the college has created global partnerships with institutions in China, Great Britain, India, Russia, Sweden and others. Nelson believes that every student needs to have international experiences, and he has helped to establish a Global Opportunities Fund to increase those opportunities for NMC students.
During his tenure, the college has completed more than $80 million in construction and renovation projects on all four NMC campuses — the Front Street Campus, the Great Lakes Campus located on Grand Traverse Bay, the Aero Park Campus adjacent to Cherry Capital Airport, and the Boardman Lake Campus. President Nelson has overseen the creation of the Great Lakes Water Studies Institute, the Health Education Institute (in collaboration with Munson Healthcare), a Michigan Energy Demonstration Center and a curriculum in entrepreneurship. The NMC Foundation is nationally recognized and has increased its endowment from $11 million to over $27 million in the past decade.
President Nelson is recognized as a visionary leader at the national, state and local levels being invited to present on topics from economic development to the new economy to international higher education, and to contribute in areas of policy and governance relating to higher education and economic development. He is Past Chair of the Michigan Community College Association and currently serves as Chair of the organization’s Legislative Committee. He is a member of the American Association of Community Colleges, the AACC’s Presidents Academy Executive Committee, the Continuous Quality Improvement Network, the Rotary Club of Traverse City, NorthSky Nonprofit Network Advisory Board, Munson Healthcare’s Corporate Board and Finance Committee, a past chair of the Traverse City Chamber of Commerce and member of the Executive Committee and Economic Forecast Planning Committee. He is a Champion of the Grand Vision, a member of the TCAPS Tomorrow group of the Traverse City Area Public Schools and member of the Traverse City Executive Group.
Nelson is a member of the Executive Committee for the Continuous Quality Improvement Network (CQIN) as well as the American Association of Community Colleges 21st-Century Initiative Implementation Team. He was also a member of the past Council for Labor and Economic Growth and served as chair of the Entrepreneurship Committee. Nelson is a Board member of the Prima Civitas Foundation, Michigan Community College Association and Michigan Public Schools Employee Retirement System (MPSERS).
Before becoming president, Nelson was NMC’s Executive Director of Administrative Services. This is his second stint at NMC, as he was the college’s Residence Hall and Apartment Supervisor from 1975 to 1977. He has founded three private business firms, taught small business management, entrepreneurship and corporate finance full-time at Michigan Technological University. He has also taught at Western Michigan University and Olivet College in Olivet, Michigan. He held several leadership posts at Olivet where he served as the Department Chair of Business Administration and Economics, Vice President for Enrollment and Strategic Management, Interim Vice President for Institutional Research, and Vice President for Finance and Administration.
President Nelson earned his Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from Grand Valley State University, a Master of Science in Business Administration from Michigan Technological University and completed studies at the Institute for Educational Management at Harvard University. He is married to Nancy Johnson who serves as one of Northwestern Michigan College’s strongest and most effective advocates.
"At NMC, we are a community of learners. Whether you're seeking a college degree, personal enrichment, corporate training, or cultural activities, you can find it here. In today's world, learning is forever and for everyone."
TIMOTHY J. NELSON