February 10, 2012

Communication works for those who work at it.
                                                                                - John Powell

While Northwood University enjoys a broad and well-deserved reputation for a clear philosophy and the hard skills we convey to our students, we are equally deserving of the highest praise when it comes to teaching “soft” skills, most especially the arts of public speaking, networking, and leadership.

As members of the Northwood community are aware, this has long been the case when it comes to our nationally recognized teams in Competitive Speech, the Mock Trial Association, and DECA (where once again a Northwood student serves as national chair), as well as registered student organizations such as those that manage and complete our annual Stafford Dinner and Fashion Shows, the Student Government Association, Greek Life, Minority Business Leaders, and the Auto Show Executive Boards. But it is also the case throughout all our curricula.

In Northwood classrooms system-wide, faculty can be found involving students in a manner requiring them to think, analyze, and communicate effectively—whether the topic is advertising; economics; the automotive aftermarket; a hotel/restaurant/resort management (HRRM) course about customer service or wine tasting; a history course on the Civil War; or classic works such as Augustine’s Confessions. In countless ways, our Northwood faculty members engage our students in the classroom in a manner every bit as beneficial as the experiential learning opportunities we provide outside the classroom. By requiring students to plan, organize, and rehearse individual and group presentations, for example, our faculty communicate presentation skills enabling our graduates to move into the business world with confidence and to succeed starting on day one.

Four examples of how our dedication to the “soft” skills is positively impacting our student body can be seen in the performances of the students who were chosen from our residential campuses, Adult Degree Program (ADP), and DeVos Graduate School of Management, to be involved in our Distinguished Women’s (DW) Gala and Automotive Aftermarket Management Education Awards this past fall; and our Outstanding Business Leader (OBL) and Dealer Education Awards earlier this year. In each case, Northwood students involved and networked with our honorees and those gathered to celebrate them with the highest professionalism and respect. And in presenting the honorees as part of each ceremony to audiences in the range of 300-plus, our students delivered impressive introductions while speaking professionally and intelligently, about and to, nationally and internationally recognized business leaders from around the world.

While many in the realm of higher education can be found training “ladder climbers” who are capable of moving up and down a narrow path in today’s world, Northwood University faculty—full and part-time—are educating “rock climbers,” equipped with both the hard and soft skills that enable them, and the companies and organizations they serve, to move in whatever direction the changing world and economy require.

As we move forward during this academic year, let’s make every effort to recognize, celebrate, and advance the education that sets Northwood University apart from other business universities and colleges.

Have a great weekend.


Keith A. Pretty, J.D.
President and CEO
Northwood University
4000 Whiting Drive
Midland, MI 48640
989.837.4203 (phone)
989.832.9590 (fax)