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Erickson did positive work during COVID-19 pandemic

When someone is terminated, fired, if you will, it’s easy to give in to the very human emotion of negative thinking and recall only the things that person did that you didn’t like.

We believe that is especially true when the person occupied a very public position and was involved in difficult decisions over a lengthy period of time, someone like Dr. Fritz Erickson, let go last week by the Northern Michigan University Board of Trustees from the institution’s presidency.

Indeed, the termination was effective immediately. The board, voting 8-0, wanted Dr. Erickson out now.

The reasons given were, not surprisingly, a bit on the nebulous side, with some comments from the board touching on “thoughtful and critical thinking” and “idea generation” from Erickson that he apparently didn’t provide.

The university’s drop in enrollment during Dr. Erickson’s tenure — more than 1,000 students over 7 years — certainly didn’t help his case.

And lengthy and some time acrimonious negotiations with the NMU-chapter of the American Association of Unuiversity Professors is the proverbial 600-pound elephant in the room.

In all likelihood, there were other reasons the board voted unanimously to let Dr. Erickson go. But on this occasion, we join the NMU board in recalling his leadership in piloting NMU through the COVID-19 pandemic. There was no roadmap, no guidance, no Cliff’s notes, on what to do and when.

NMU functioned, stayed afloat and viable due, in no small measure, to Dr. Erickson’s leadership.

If, for no other reason than this, we believe Dr. Erickson’s tenure at NMU should be kindly recalled, despite the final chapter.

— The Mining Journal, Marquette

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