A Remarkable Era

This autumn is a historic time for Northwood, as President and CEO Keith Pretty retired after 13 years, and Dr. Kent MacDonald stepped in to build on the University’s proud tradition and modern momentum.

The legacy of Keith Pretty, Northwood’s fifth president and CEO, is especially impressive when viewed as a body of work. Keith and his wife, Gretchen, arrived at Northwood in 2006 and immediately endeared themselves to the community, from board members and administrators to faculty, staff, students, alumni, donors, and other supporters. For more than a decade, Keith and Gretchen were the face of the university in a world that has grown to more deeply understand and embrace “The Northwood Idea.”

Combining strategic vision with a willingness to roll up his sleeves and get things done, Keith Pretty led Northwood through an era of revitalization, including a special focus on physical improvements to the Midland campus. Some of the developments were readily visible, such as North Village Apartments and the DeVos Graduate School of Management buildings. Others might not be easy to see, such as utility upgrades and information technology modernization, but were equally important in ensuring that Northwood continues to offer a top-level learning environment for many years to come.

All the while, Northwood enhanced and expanded its academic breadth and quality, including the Masters of Science in Organizational Leadership and Finance programs within the DeVos Graduate School and advanced Cybersecurity and Data Analytics programs.

As their 13 years leading the University neared a close, Keith and Gretchen were flooded with waves of appreciation from the entire Northwood community, a heartfelt collective “thank you” for the sacrifices – seen and unseen – that the Pretty family made to shape Northwood into the outstanding institution it is today.

Notable Highlights


Largest Capital Campaign in Northwood history conducted


Sloan Family Building for Aftermarket Studies opens

Educational Success Program launched in service of academically at-risk students


Naegele Scholars program introduced


Inaugural Auto Show Gala begins raising funds for student scholarships


Indoor turf facility constructed


DeVos Graduate School of Management building dedication

McNair Center for the Advancement of Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship established

Riepma Arena renovated with the addition of Panning Pavilion


North Village Apartments Phase I completed


Robert W. Plaster Center for Free Enterprise opens

Football stadium modernized with artificial turf

New tennis facility dedicated as Colestock Courts

Phase 1 of Founders Garden introduced and dedicated


Northwood recognized by The Chronicle of Higher Education as a Great College to Work For


North Village Apartments Phase II completed

Northwood designated a gold-level veteran-friendly school by the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency