Traverse City Record-Eagle

Election 2012

September 20, 2012

Attorney faces 2 incumbents for NMC seat

TRAVERSE CITY — A retired attorney will take another stab at ousting one of two incumbents on the Northwestern Michigan College Board of Trustees.

Kennard Weaver couldn't unseat two other NMC incumbents in 2010, but hopes to beat Doug Bishop or Walter Hooper in his second attempt. The top two vote-getters in Grand Traverse County in the Nov. 6 general election will claim six-year terms on the NMC board.

"We've had the same people on there for years and years, and I believe I bring some new ideas to the board," said Weaver, a retired attorney and former adjunct professor who has attended NMC board meetings for the last four years.

Hooper, a partner in the insurance sales firm Great Northern Benefits, has served 12 years on the NMC board and seeks his third term. Hooper, a former Grand Traverse County commissioner and county road commissioner, could not be reached for comment.

Bishop, a partner at the law firm Bishop & Heintz PC in Traverse City, was appointed to the board in 2006 and elected to a six-year term that same year.

"I'm pretty satisfied with the direction that we are going now, maintaining the traditional community college role along with getting into some other areas important to this region, like agricultural programs," Bishop said. "The challenges are the economic climate and continuing to deliver quality education at prices our students can afford."

But Weaver said the board can do more to align its programs with the needs of students and area businesses. He said the college needs to approach area businesses about the skills they need now, instead of waiting for businesses to come to them.

He said the college began to take steps in that direction after he raised the issue in 2010, but said the board needs to make it a priority.

Weaver also wants the college to teach students in all programs how to "remake themselves."

"We cannot train people to do just one job anymore," he said. "We need to teach people to be aware of what's happening, how to be flexible and able to move into the next era. Things are changing, and you have to have a lifetime of learning."

Weaver also would like to see the board pursue offering four-year degrees in a wider range of programs so non-traditional students don't have to uproot and leave their current jobs to obtain a degree.

Bishop sees a need to provide bachelor degrees in the culinary and maritime programs because no other public universities in the state provide them. He also favors it for nursing, due to shortages in that profession, but he doesn't want NMC to become a four-year college and divert from its community college role.

"I think we have too many four-year colleges in Michigan already," he said.

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