Archives—May 2018

Welcome Home—Lonsdorf’s Skis Returned to Mont Ripley

Fred Lonsdorf was not your ordinary ski enthusiast or coach. He played a much bigger role in the Keweenaw skiing community and the Midwest.

Fred TeachingFred found a love for skiing during World War II as a soldier in the 10th Mountain Division. As a legendary WWII fighting man, Fred started Division training in Colorado. While at training they learned mountain skills and skiing. The mountain skills included navigation and survival skills, to ensure the soldiers would not get lost and to keep them safe in the hash weather conditions of the mountains. Upon completion of his training, Fred fought the Germans in the Alps, putting his new skills to the test. After the war was over, and the soldiers had returned home, many of the 10th Mountain Division Soldiers helped start ski hills across America including major resorts like Vail, Aspen, and Whiteface Mountain. The Mont Ripley Ski Area was no exception, the ski hill’s activity took off after Fred was hired as the manager at about the same time Fred became the Michigan Tech ski team coach in 1947.

Fred SkiingDuring his 32 seasons coaching for Michigan Tech Skiing, Fred was a key player in bringing Alpine Ski Racing back to the upper Midwest, as well as, being the 1st full-time ski coach in the region. Alpine ski racing can be divided into different events such as downhill, slalom, giant slalom, or even combined events. The most popular events at Mont Ripley were downhill ski racing and slalom racing. The objective of the downhill race is to go long distances with as few turns and as quickly as possible. In slalom racing, skiers go shorter distances but they must navigate a course with many turns. During his time with the ski team, Fred coached three national team skiers and one Olympic skier. This Olympic skier, Charles Thompson “Chuck” Ferries, started skiing under Coach Lonsdorf at the age of 7, and later became a part of the United States Olympic Ski Team in 1960 and 1964. Although he did not place in the Olympics, he was the first American to win a major international; slalom race in 1962, according to Skiing Heritage Journal (Dec 2009). Because of Fred’s impact and many years of hard work, he was inducted into the Michigan Tech Sports Hall of Fame on October 30, 1999.

Fred's skisThat is just his resume, Fred made an impact on many people during his time as ski hill manager and coach. Doug Hill skied for Fred in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Recently, when Doug was shopping at a thrift store in Iron Mountain, MI he came across a familiar name on a pair of skis, these skis read, “Fred Lonsdorf, Coach, Mich Tech”. Doug was gracious enough to purchase and donate the skis to Mont Ripley. These “head ski” style race skis are 210 cm tall and in very good condition. The bindings on the skis are the first version of the modern step-in binding.

In the 1980s, Michigan Tech cut a variety of varsity sports including skiing. However, Fred Lonsdorf will always be remembered at Mont Ripley for “Fred’s Landing,” located between the Husky Chair Lift and Center Bowl Run. In addition, Nicholas Sirdenis, General Manager of the Mont Ripley Ski Area, says Mont Ripley plans to display Fred’s skis on a prominent wall in the new ski chalet. He also attributes the progress of the ski hill from 1946 to 1979, as the biggest set of improvements for the ski hill to Fred Lonsdorf. Displaying these skis will help to ensure that Fred Lonsdorf’s legacy lives on at Michigan Tech.

Safety Corner—Office Ergonomics

ergonomics-iconWe’ve all had those days where time just drags on, and as time progresses you noticed you’ve gone from sitting up right to slouching in your chair. A good way to avoid this is to use the lumbar chair support to relieve pressure on vertebrae—it gives support without you having to think about it. When setting-up you chair, be sure that your feet comfortably reach the floor while seated. Ensure screens are at proper height to avoid neck strain. Even if you are following these tips take breaks, stand and stretch every half hour while at a sitting workstation. If you really want to change things up consider incorporating a standing work station. You’ll still want to make sure your screen is positioned correctly, but it helps with back problems. Whether you’re using a sitting or standing workstation, the mouse position should be close and at the same height as the key board. To avoid carpal tunnel, use palm and wrist rests or ergonomic keyboards while typing. Following these simple tips could make your workday better and your body will thank you for the extra comfort.

Comment with your safety tips for office health!

New Policy Announcement—1.15 Accessible Information and Communication Technology

Accessible Information and Communication Technology Policy

The University Policy Office and Institutional Equity announce the issuance of new University Administrative Policy 1.15 Accessible Information and Communication Technology Policy.

This policy extends to the creation, procurement, management or dissemination of information and communication technologies (ICT). The policy states Michigan Technological University is dedicated to providing equal opportunity for all students, employees and members of the public, including those with disabilities, who access our services, programs and activities. This includes providing equal access to University ICT such as University systems, websites, electronic documents and educational and training materials.

The policy can be found on the University Policy website. If you have questions about the policy, contact Institutional Equity  (7-3310). Visit the new Accessible Technology website for more information and resources.

5th Floor Retreat and Training

The Huntington National Bank Building’s fifth floor has welcomed the Michigan Tech Fund Employees from the 8th floor into their office space. In an effort to become more of an inclusive environment and to get to know the new members of the floor, Business Operations and the Office of Information Services hosted the Tech Fund employees in a 5th floor retreat and training half-day.

Team Building Exercise

The retreat consisted of forming two mingled groups out of the floor members to test their group building skills while attempting to solve the various puzzles of Career Services’ escape room. The two teams then discussed the job duties they perform, general likes and dislikes to compare and create an affinity diagram.


The whole floor also participated in the Active Shooter Training provided by Michigan Tech’s Public Safety Lieutenant Marc Geberkoff. The floor updated their old safety plans and shared the documents with the floor members and the course trainer.

For more information on Career Services’ Escape Room, please contact

For more information on the Active Shooter Training Provided by Micihgan Tech’s Public Safety, please visit the Active Shooter Training for Workplaces website.

PC Replacement Update

The Office of Information Services (OIS) is working with the individual departments within VP for Administration to identify which computers will be upgraded this fiscal year. Once the upgrades have been identified and agreed upon, OIS will be contacting each employee notifying them that their computer is scheduled for replacement. At that time, OIS will submit purchasing requests for the upgrades to IT. If you have any questions, please contact Colin Neese or Cayce Will at

PC Update Icon

If you would like to update your PC to Windows 10, please contact IT at 7-1111.

Mentor Program Update

Mentoring IconThe Mentoring program at Michigan Tech provides employees the opportunity to learn from experts to develop and grow in their career and balance work and life challenges. It is a relationship which supports learning and performance improvement through facilitated problem solving and clear guidance. The mentors help assess the mentee’s strengths and suggest ways to grow in their personal and professional lives. This increases the likelihood of retention and career success and fosters an inclusive, diverse, and collaborative environment.

Since receiving a grant from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) in 2015, Michigan Tech began to develop a staff mentoring program. The success of the program in its first year paved way to the second cohort of trained mentors. The second cohort consisted of 20 mentors who graduated from the staff mentoring training program and have since been matched with mentees. After the graduation of the second cohort, WorkLife Connections at Michigan Tech carried out a mentee survey and two mentor focus groups to assess the progress and development of the mentoring program.

The data from the survey suggests that the mentoring program has been successful in helping mentees learn more about Michigan Tech. 80% of respondents stated that they were able to learn more about the university and its various departments and services from their mentors. 50% revealed that the mentoring program helped them develop their network of colleagues and 40% stated that it provided them with knowledge of a career path. 30% of respondents also stated that the program helped them develop their interpersonal and communication skills and helped gain knowledge of a different job function.

According to the survey results and the focus group discussions, the mentoring program provided an avenue for the mentees and the mentors to discuss a range of issues: childcare, resume and LinkedIn building, and improving the mentees relationship with their department and supervisors. The mentoring program is a dynamic partnership built on mutual respect, trust, and the sharing of ideas and experiences. The program proved to be especially useful for those mentees who were new to the region and to Michigan Tech. The mentors were able to give them the proper guidance, tools, and institutional knowledge to help them succeed and become a part of the campus community.

Inclusivity IconWith the help of the Gallup Strengths Finder Test, mentors assessed the individual strengths of their mentees and advised them on areas they could work towards improving. For those mentees that were unsure of their goals and what they wanted to get out of the mentoring program when they first joined, it was revealed that the presence of a mentor to act as a sounding board helped them better streamline their thought process and set benchmarks in their personal and professional lives.

A number of mentors stated that they were able to impart their knowledge of specific skills to their mentees. For example, one mentor was able to teach a mentee how to do an audit; another mentor helped a mentee in creating budget projections for their supervisor. One of the mentors successfully guided their mentee into their new position and helped the mentee improve their interviewing skills by providing practice interview sessions and feedback.

If an employee is unhappy, it shows in their work, their interactions and in their behavior. One mentor suggested that the university make use of the mentoring program as an institution-wide system of development to improve their staff, faculty, and students experience. The mentoring program is a great support network for those in need of professional guidance on campus. The data from our survey and focus groups suggest that the Michigan Tech mentoring program brings value to various stakeholders at many levels—mentees, mentors, supervisors, colleagues, the university and the campus community. The mentees have an opportunity to gain practical knowledge and insight from an experienced employee who has achieved a level of expertise they aspire to attain. The mentors have an opportunity to expand their repertoire of professional knowledge and skills through their instruction and facilitation of the mentee. Finally, the university has the opportunity to further develop and disseminate the wealth of talent, skill and knowledge of its employees.

Learn more about Michigan Tech’s Mentoring Program at the WorkLife Connections Website.

Parent Ambassador Training in the Keweenaw

Picture of Danielle Davis2018 UPCC Conference

Danielle Davis, Administrative Assistant for Business Operations, attended the 2018 UPCC Conference, Mental Health Matters: Building Our Collective Capacity to Promote Mental Health & Social – Emotional Competence held at Northern Michigan University on May 7th. The conference was hosted by The Upper Peninsula Children‘s Coalition. The Conference sessions included: “What is Mental Health? Beyond the Absence of Illness,” “Changing the Path: Using Best Practices,” “Social & Emotional Competence: A Common Goal,” and “Current Child Advocacy Opportunities” which provided an update on the “2018 Kids Count in Michigan Data.” Kids Count Data gives information on family support programs, family and community, access to healthcare, health, education, etc. The report has data from across Michigan, with individual county profiles being revised and available soon. The local Kids Count Data will be shared at the Copper Country Great Start Collaborative meetings. Finally, the UP Legislative Panel answered questions regarding the well-being of children and families in the Upper Peninsula.

For more information on Kids Count Data visit the Michigan League for Public Policy website.
For future UPCC Conferences or information please visit the Upper Peninsula Children’s Coalition’s website.

Parent Ambassadors

The Copper Country Great Start Collaborative (CCGSC) started training seven new parents as local parent ambassadors on Thursday, April 26th in Baraga County. Five of the parents are from Baraga County and two from Houghton County.  The last group of parent ambassadors trained by the CCGSC connected over 100 families with local resources. They invited Danielle Davis, Administrative Assistant for Business Operations, who is was previously trained in this program to speak to the group in training. Danielle shared her experiences with helping local families find resources and information about the events she has volunteered for in the past. Danielle shared how the Strengthening Families Framework Training, which is a based on engaging families, programs and communities in building the five protective factors, helped her while she was working with families in the community.

There will be another Strengthening Families Framework Training for family service providers, parents and community members on Tuesday, June 12th and Wednesday, June 13th in Bergland, MI. Please call 906-575-3438, ext 103 to register by May 16th.

On The Road—Mont Ripley

The season may be over, but the Mont Ripley Ski Area crew is not taking it easy! In order to gear up for the next season, Nick Sirdenis, General Manager, Esa Leppanen, Skier Services Manager, Katie Jo Wright, Ski Shop Supervisor, and Dan Wiersgalla, Rental Shop Supervisor, traveled to Madison, WI for the annual buying “Super Show.” The show is a showcase for ski and snowboard equipment and outdoor apparel. Mont Ripley attended the show to place orders for next year’s snow season and to meet with representatives from the various vendors. The show is put on by the Midwest Winter Sports Representatives Association (MWSRA). Mont Ripey attended the show for several reasons, none being bigger than being able to receive the special show discounts on many of the products Mont Ripley needs for the snow season. But we also learn about the new products and continue to build our relationships with our product reps. It is also a good time to look at new products and vendors that are coming out.

Blizzard On Ripley

Like and follow @MontRipley on Facebook for all of their updates on and off the slopes!

Congratulations—”Of the Month Award” Nominees

Michigan Tech would not be the university we know and love without the stunning members of the Staff and Faculty. Two Michigan Tech Administration employees were nominated for the “Of the Month Awards” for February 2018. Rick Ahola, Building Mechanic, was selected for the Custodial/Maintenance Staff award and Gloria Pihlaja, Greeter, was nominated for the Institution Faculty/Staff of the Month Award. These awards come from the National Residence Hall Honorary (NRHH), an organization recognizing the efforts of others working to improve the residence hall experience.

Michigan Tech Campus Picture

Rick was selected for the Custodial/Maintenance Staff of the Month award for his work in East McNair Hall. Rick has been focused on improving the residence halls’ heating, but that is not all. There were many other unexpected repairs that have been made to McNair Hall and Rick continued to ensure the heating project was done in a timely manner. Rick is also being praised for doing “a great job pushing the solution to the problem.”

Gloria was nominated for the Institution Faculty/Staff of the Month Award for her working making the McNair Dinning Hall a cheerful place. Gloria is the first person students see and interact with when they walk into the dinning hall to eat. Her nominator said, “she is always such a delightful person. I love it when I see her in the dinning hall because she makes conversation and always smiles with every person that comes through the front door.” Although Gloria was not selected for the award, she deserves to be recognized for her amazing attitude and positive interactions with students, making “McNair feel like home.”

Thank you Rick and Gloria for keeping this Crazy Smart campus in “top notch” shape. Keep up the great work!

For more information on these awards or to suggest nominees of your own, please contact