Haveman Named Commencement Speaker

James Haveman

Former Northern Michigan University Trustee James K. Haveman of Grand Rapids will deliver the keynote address and receive an honorary doctorate in public health at NMU's commencement, scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Saturday, May 6, in the Superior Dome.

Haveman was appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder to serve the remaining term of a vacated position on the NMU Board of Trustees from Jan. 1, 2017 to Dec. 31, 2020. He advocated for the board's investment in creating a new NMU Center for Rural Health and later led a comprehensive review of the university's mental health services.

In announcing Haveman's qualifications to lead the 2022 assessment, former NMU President Kerri Schuiling referenced his bachelor's degree in economics and master's degree in social work, along with his two separate terms as director of the Michigan Department of Community Health. He also held executive director roles for the Department of Mental Health, Bethany Christian Services, the Kent County Community Mental Health Program and Project Rehab, a substance abuse program located in Grand Rapids. 

“NMU embraced these issues and continues to move forward under the leadership of President Brock Tessman,” Haveman said. “I am honored to receive this honorary doctorate in public health and to speak at the 2023 commencement. I believe strongly in the role of NMU to equip its students for the professions of the future. The economic growth and sustainability of the Upper Peninsula is dependent on NMU to train and prepare the region's leaders and employees.”

Haveman said NMU taught him much about the power of “Sisu”: determination to learn, tenacity of purpose and resilience to move forward.   

“I have a phrase I often use: ‘Do not sweat the little things; all things are little.' I realize that one cannot do everything, but we can all do something. I want the class of 2023 graduates to believe in their abilities, then use those skills in their professions, but also toward the betterment of families, communities, our country and the world. Life's challenges and opportunities are a collection of little things. Eventually they come together to make a big thing."

In 2003, Haveman was appointed by the White House as the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) senior adviser to the Iraq Ministry of Health. He served as acting minister of health for the first three months of his 11-month tenure and was the senior health adviser to Ambassador Paul Bremer. His numerous awards and tributes include the National Governors' Association Distinguished Service Award in 1998 and the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service in 2004.

Haveman's commitments to public service, management and volunteer work continue. He is president of the Haveman Group consulting firm; a member of the board of trustees and foundation of the Grand Rapids Public Museum, for which he is also co-chairing a fundraising campaign; finance chair of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan's Foundation Board; and on the boards of Youngsoft Inc. and H2H Solutions.

NMU's commencement can be viewed via a live stream at nmu.edu/commencement or on WNMU-TV13.

Prepared By

Kristi Evans
News Director

Categories: Around NMU