Northern Michigan University joins internationally recognized Okanagan Charter as a health promoting university

Marquette, Mich., April 26, 2023 - Northern Michigan University is committed to embedding wellbeing into the culture at Northern, and to do that to the fullest extent, they announced today in a press conference that they have adopt the Okanagan Charter, an international charter for health promoting colleges and universities. The Charter is designed to be a public commitment and accountability measure for taking transformative action under a principled framework, urging institutions to step up, take action on their societal responsibility and lead by example.

NMU is one of 17 health promoting universities and colleges in the U.S., is one of two in Michigan and the only one in the Upper Peninsula, to adopt the Okanagan Charter.

“At Northern we believe that wellbeing is multi-dimensional, and requires the attentive and intentional care of the whole person, including both students and employees who make up the NMU community. We are prioritizing our commitment to wellbeing by becoming part of the Okanagan Charter,” said Brock Tessman, president of Northern Michigan University. “Higher education plays a central role in the development of individuals, communities, societies and cultures. That's why it is so important for us to take seriously the impact we can have toward the wellbeing of our students, who will go on to have their own impact on the world.”  

The Charter has two calls to action for higher education institutions: first to embed health into all aspects of campus culture, across the administration, operations and academic mandates and second to Lead health promotion action and collaboration locally and globally.

“The work for wellbeing at Northern is underway, but there is much left to do.” said Abigail Wyche, special advisor for campus wellbeing at Northern Michigan University. “Local communities of other Charter institutions are known to learn from the example and modeling of the university. When this snowball effect takes place, the potential for influencing global health and wellbeing strategy becomes real. The key is moving beyond traditional approaches focused on individual behavior to upstream, systems-level, environmental strategies that influence the health and wellbeing of person, place and planet.”

The purpose of the Okanagan Charter is three-fold. First, to guide and inspire action by providing a framework that reflects the latest concepts, processes and principles relevant to the Health Promoting Universities and Colleges movement, building upon advances since the 2005 Edmonton Charter. Second, to generate dialogue and research that expands local, regional, national and international networks and accelerate action on, off and between campuses. Third, to mobilize international, cross-sector action for the integration of health in all policies and practices, thus advancing the continued development of health promoting universities and colleges.

The Okanagan Charter was an outcome of the 2015 International Conference on Health Promoting Universities and Colleges. The Charter development process engaged researchers, practitioners, administrators, students and policy makers from 45 countries. At the Conference, 380 delegates critiqued and refined the Charter in a design lab and development sessions. On the final conference day, higher education leaders and delegates signed a pledge to bring the Charter back to their settings to inspire and catalyze further action towards the creation of health promoting universities and colleges. 

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Learn more about the NMU Wellbeing initiative by visiting:

About Northern Michigan University
Northern Michigan University, located in historic Marquette, Michigan, is a dynamic, public university known for its undergraduate research opportunities, award-winning leadership programs, and cutting-edge technology initiatives. NMU has about 8,600 undergraduate and graduate students. It offers 180 academic programs ranging from one-year diplomas to the doctorate degree. Visit

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Media Contacts:

Derek Hall, NMU Spokesperson, 906-362-3621

Abigail Wyche, NMU Special Advisor for WellBeing,

Prepared By

Derek Hall
Chief Marketing Officer

Categories: Around NMU, Strategic Plan