MARQUETTE — The Northern Michigan University flag will be lowered at half mast today in remembrance of former NMU President John X. Jamrich, who died Sunday in Savannah, Georgia, at the age of 101.
He served as NMU’s eighth president from 1968 until his retirement in 1983. His 15-year term – the third longest of any Northern president – was marked by tremendous growth in enrollment, academic programs and community outreach, NMU officials said in a press release. .
“Dr. Jamrich was the president who gave me my degree in the beginning when I was graduating from the North”, said NMU Acting President Kerri Schuiling, a 1973 graduate. “In his 101 years he has exemplified what it means to be a lifelong learner. He was a dedicated Wildcat throughout his tenure as President and thereafter.
“Under his leadership, Northern has had many remarkable achievements. We owe him deep gratitude for the foundations on which the university continues to stand today.
According to “John X. Jamrich: The Man and the University,” Northern’s physical campus grew significantly under his leadership, with the construction of the Learning Resources Center, Jacobetti Skills Center, Physical Educational Instructional Facility, and Cohodas Hall.
It was also a time of new university-corporate partnerships, the beginning of women’s athletics, student protests, labor organizing, and—toward the end of her term—financial difficulties due to state budget cuts.
“John was personally above it all during his presidency,” said NMU professor emeritus of history Russell Magnaghi, the book’s author, in a Northern Magazine article on Jamrich’s 100th birthday. “In fact, it’s hard to find things that were happening on campus during his administration that he wasn’t involved with. He was not preoccupied with finding another job and was completely devoted to the NMU. He realized Edgar Harden’s philosophy of transforming Northern into a quality undergraduate/graduate institution.
In “A Sense of Time: The University of Northern Michigan Encyclopedia,” Magnaghi wrote that Jamrich had to navigate the transition from a unilateral presidency, where all decisions were made top-down, to shared governance.
Northern remained an integral part of Jamrich’s life after his retirement. He was an active musician and even wrote a 10-minute composition for the NMU’s centennial celebration, the NMU said.
Jamrich was born in the southern state of Muskegon Heights, but spent several years on a farm in his parents’ native Slovakia.
The year Jamrich was born, Warren Harding succeeded Woodrow Wilson as President of the United States, the 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote, the precursor to the National Football League was formed, the American Civil Liberties Union was founded and the Treaty of Versailles officially ended. First World War.
Jamrich was fluent in several languages, including Slovak, Bohemian, and German. He also learned Russian while working with the US Army Air Corps in Alaska as a weather liaison officer, translating forecasts to the Soviet squadron during World War II, according to NMU.
“During his military service, Jamrich acquired his middle name”, states Magnaghi’s book about his NMU presidency. “The US Air Corps documents required a middle initial. Jamrich didn’t have a middle name, so he just made an X. When asked for a full name, he chose Xavier at random.
Jamrich and his wife, June, who died in April 2020, were longtime philanthropic supporters of NMU. They established the John X. and June A. Jamrich Endowed Music Scholarship, which the family asked those wishing to express sympathy for John’s death, to consider supporting, and the family’s art endowment John X. and June A. Jamrich.
Additionally, they have helped maintain a variety of scholarships and funds over the years and have given to the Center for Upper Peninsula Studies, the DeVos Art Museum, NMU athletics, and many other programs and initiatives.
The Canale-Tonella funeral home and cremation services are at the service of the family.