Former NMU president Vandament dies at 81

MARQUETTE – Northern Michigan University’s 10th president, William Vandament, died Saturday at his home in Signal Hill, Calif.

He was 81.

“Bill Vandament was an exceptional leader of Northern Michigan University during a challenging time,” said NMU Interim President David Haynes. “I worked closely with Bill during his tenure as president and I always admired his integrity, ability to bring people together to make strong decisions, his vision and his sense of humor. He was such a dear friend to so many of us at NMU and in the community, and he will be missed.”

Vandament came to Northern Michigan University in June 1991 as interim president. He was asked by the Board of Trustees to become full-time president in the spring of 1992. He served in that capacity until 1997.

According to an NMU press release, Vandament’s time as president was marked by significant budget cuts. A $1.3 million cut in state appropriations led to tough decisions such as whether to open the Superior Dome as planned. Ultimately, he had to cut $2.8 million and eliminate 49 jobs.

Even with this level of cuts, Vandament was respected throughout NMU and the Marquette community. He valued transparency on campus, encouraged input from the entire campus community and asked repeatedly for the community to come together during the tough financial times. Students liked him, too, because of his willingness to spend time with them, including participating in student activities. He could even be seen playing with the pep band during hockey and basketball games.

“The NMU family and those who knew him throughout the Upper Peninsula will be thinking fondly of Bill and sending our prayers and deep sympathy to (his wife) Margery, as well as their daughters, family members and friends,” Haynes said.

Also during Vandament’s tenure as NMU president, he implemented a flat tuition rate, which is a tuition structure for students that continues to be used today. Vandament also received a Dwight B. Waldo History Award in June 1996 for the preservation and promotion of Upper Peninsula history for his work in putting up recognition plaques across campus for the people whom each building is named after.

The Vandament Arena, where Wildcat volleyball is played, is also named for the former president.

No services are planned. In lieu of flowers, his family would appreciate contributions to the William and Margery Vandament Endowment Fund, Northern Michigan University Foundation, 1401 Presque Isle Ave., Marquette, MI 49855.

Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.