Pauly Group Recruits 11th President for Northwestern Michigan College

December 5, 2019 – Academic search firm Pauly Group has recruited Nick Nissley to become the next president of Northwestern Michigan College (NMC) in Traverse City, MI. Current president Timothy J. Nelson will step down at the end of the year. Dr. Nissley was the first choice of five finalists for the position, out of a field of 67 applicants. Senior consultant Marsi Liddell led the assignment.

“We are extremely pleased to conclude our comprehensive and transparent presidential search by officially welcoming Dr. Nissley to NMC,” said board chair Chris Bott. “Dr. Nissley’s proven experience in leadership and innovation make him the right leader to take our community’s college forward.”

Dr. Nissley, who will become NMC’s 11th president, is an education executive who has spent 25 years in leadership roles spanning K-12, community college and university settings in both the U.S. and Canada. Leadership development at mission-driven institutions has been at the forefront of a career spent building individual and organizational capabilities that support organizational effectiveness, and innovation cultures in support of educational excellence.

Dr. Nissley has led the School for Creative & Performing Arts since 2015. He assumed leadership at a crucial juncture in the history of the school, a public-private partnership. During his tenure the school achieved a 100 percent graduation rate in a district with a 75 percent rate. Immediately prior to that role, from 2010 to 2015, Dr. Nissley served as dean of the business technologies division at Cincinnati State Community College, one of the largest community colleges in Ohio with more than 12,000 students. During his career in Cincinnati, he worked with Trey Devey, current president of the Interlochen Center for the Arts and formerly with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Devey said the NMC Board made an excellent choice in Dr. Nissley, a leader who is “collaborative by nature.”

Related: Why Universities Have Stepped Up Efforts to Involve Search Firms

“The opportunities we need to seize in our community are going to have to be done by coalition and (Dr. Nissley) is the person to build and expand upon the community-wide teams NMC has developed,” Mr. Devey said, adding that Dr. Nissley’s integrity and honesty further round out his assets as a leader.  “Nick offers NMC and our community nothing but upside,” he said.

The Search

The Pauly Group reviewed all 67 applicants to ensure they met the minimum criteria for the job. The firm then recommended 20 candidates to the presidential search committee. That committee narrowed the list to eight candidates for video interviews. The committee recommended five finalists for in-person interviews which included campus and community forums open to the public.


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“The decision came down to who was the best fit at this time, and that person is Dr. Nick Nissley,” said Mr. Bott. “His decades in leadership development, his experience across the entire education spectrum and his long track record of executing strategic priorities are a tremendous asset not only for NMC but the communities we serve in northern Michigan.”

Northwestern Michigan College, founded in 1951, is a fully accredited community college offering 103 transfer, career degree and certificate programs. A total of 3,581 students enrolled for fall semester 2019. Throughout its four campuses, NMC offers associate degrees, professional certificates and bachelor’s degrees through the NMC Great Lakes Maritime Academy and NMC Great Lakes Water Studies Institute. Six partner universities grant baccalaureate, graduate and doctoral degrees through the school’s University Center. Renowned programs for drone/UAS training, the unique water studies institute and a recognized program of study in culinary arts are among the programs that tie the college to the community and afford NMC national recognition. NMC also enjoys alliances with international partners as well.

Established in 1990, Pauly Group is an academic search consulting firm that works with community and technical colleges to recruit, reference and hire executive to mid-level administrators. Each of its team members is a former professional at a community and/or technical college or other higher education institution with a master’s degree from an accredited university.

The firm is led by president Angela Provart, with Les Pauly serving as the company’s board chair. Ms. Provart is personally involved with every search and works closely with her team of nine consultants.

Related: Recruitment for Higher Education Leaders Heats Up and Shifts

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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