Foundation honors volunteers, announces final results for Be What's Possible campaign

Be What's Possible logoTRAVERSE CITY — The Northwestern Michigan College Foundation announced that it raised $40.3 million through Be What’s Possible, the Campaign for NMC. With these results, the college celebrates its most successful fundraising campaign in its history and the largest fundraising campaign undertaken by any Michigan community college to date.

Key to that success was the leadership of volunteer alumni co-chairs Susie Janis (‘67) and Bruce Byl (‘79). In recognition of their contributions, the NMC Foundation has announced the creation of the Susanne M. Janis Service Award, recognizing extraordinary contributions to the NMC Foundation through volunteer service. The award honors NMC alumna Susie Janis, whose commitment to the college has included time as chair and member of the Foundation Board and chair of many fundraising campaigns, including the most recent Be What’s Possible campaign and the campaign to build the Dennos Museum Center in 1991. Along with her husband, Bill Janis, Susie has served as a lead donor and passionate advocate for the college for decades.

The inaugural awards were presented to Janis and Bruce Byl, who served alongside Janis as co-chair of the Be What’s Possible campaign. In announcing the awards, NMC Foundation Executive Director Rebecca Teahen said, “The success of this campaign would not have been possible without an amazing leadership-level volunteer team. Susie and Bruce, leading the way, engaged the campaign team and their peers throughout the community, supporting the work of the college and the foundation every step of the way.”

At campaign close on June 30, 2021, more than 5,200 donors gave 17,800 gifts (both current gifts and planned gift commitments) over five years, totaling $40.3 million. This includes:

  • $4.2 million for The Fund for NMC, meeting the greatest needs of the college and students
  • $7.2 million for capital and facilities, which supported expansion and renovation of the Dennos Museum Center and construction of the Timothy J. Nelson Innovation Center
  • $11.1 million in program support, which includes program development, equipment, and general budget support
  • $17.8 million in scholarships for students, including $9.6 million to existing scholarship funds
  • 64 new scholarship funds and 13 new program funds established

The Be What’s Possible campaign was the first comprehensive campaign for NMC, where philanthropic gifts (both current gifts and planned gift commitments) to all areas of the college were counted toward the goal. Reflecting on the achievements, Teahen said, “The results of this campaign are already having significant impact for students and will continue to have impact for decades to come. The dedication of our community and our donors has meant new and improved learning spaces and tremendous growth in program support and scholarships for students.”

She added, “Using the model of a comprehensive institution-wide campaign was unusual for a community college and indeed, Be What’s Possible is one of the largest campaigns undertaken by a community college nationally. All of us at NMC are so grateful for the incredible bond our community has with NMC that made this campaign success possible—for our students and for our region.”

The funds raised support students across all of NMC’s campuses as well as the Dennos Museum Center, WNMC, Extended Education, and the International Affairs Forum. The Foundation saw a significant increase in the volume of donations during the pandemic.

“Through the generosity of donors, we were able to provide more support to students, not only through scholarships, but also with support for housing, supplies, and food, keeping them in school through trying circumstances,” Teahen said. “We are so grateful for each and every donor who has supported the college in this campaign and throughout the years.”

Release date: October 18, 2021

For more information:

Rebecca Teahen
Associate Vice President for Resource Development & Executive Director, NMC Foundation
(231) 995-1855


Northwestern Michigan College is committed to a policy of equal opportunity for all persons and does not unlawfully discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, disability, genetic information, height, weight, marital status or veteran status in employment, educational programs and activities, and admissions.