Yesterday I delivered our annual testimony to the Michigan Legislature. The governor’s recommended budget is relatively favorable toward SVSU and we hope the same is true of the bill that comes from the legislature. Among the topics I addressed was the importance of higher education institutions such as ours that offer a welcoming hand to first-generation college students. I spoke of my own experience as a first-generation student who was working full-time while going to school. I understand the obstacles facing many of our students, and it is important that our elected representatives do, too. In an increasingly competitive environment, our state must increase the levels of educational attainment among our fellow citizens. We stand ready to do our part, and to do so in a way that supports our students while also challenging them to fulfill their potential.
We are less than one month away from hosting the statewide FIRST Robotics competition. We pride ourselves on serving as a gracious and impressive host, and because of the size and makeup of this audience, we anticipate the need for a substantial volunteer presence to make the event run smoothly and impressively. Teams will arrive Wednesday, April 12 and the competition begins Thursday, April 13. Throughout the week, we expect some 5,000 visitors – primarily high school students – to campus each day; that number will grow to 7,500 during the finals Saturday, April 15.
We have created a volunteer registration website at www.svsu.edu/firstvolunteers. There, you can click on the “Join (New Volunteer)” button and fill out a short online form to indicate your availability during the FIRST Robotics competition. Our need for volunteers on Saturday is particularly acute. In the weeks ahead, campus organizers will contact those who enlisted to let them know how best they can help. I would appreciate anyone willing to volunteer, both during and outside of their normal work hours. I also would encourage supervisors to coordinate with their interested colleagues to allow them to volunteer in a way that does not interrupt our normal campus services. This is a tremendous opportunity for our institution, and I know we will work together to make it an outstanding experience for all involved.
Pictured (L to R): Carolyn Wierda, Smriti Pant, and Rebecca "Becks" Meredith.
Members of our SVSU family continue to be recognized by our community, including four who were honored during the YWCA Great Lakes Bay Region’s Women of Achievement awards ceremony Wednesday night. Congratulations to alumna Rehana Kahn-Brown, who received the social justice award; Rebecca “Becks” Meredith, a special education major from Rogers City, who received the Emerging Leader award; Smriti Pant, a two-time alumna and adjunct instructor of nursing, who received the Health Care award; and Carolyn Wierda, executive director of STEM, who received the Lifetime Achievement award. Rehana is battling cancer and was unable to attend the ceremony. Her family has established a GoFundMe site to help with medical expenses.
Pictured front: Jeff Schrier (Saginaw News); Scott Kelly (Bradley's Bistro)
Back: President Bachand; Peter Rose-Barry, SVSU Finkbeiner Endowed Professor of Ethics
A few colleagues and I showed off our culinary skills Wednesday night during the 100 Men Who Cook event to benefit the Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra. Yours truly was joined by Peter Rose-Barry, Finkbeiner Endowed Professor of Ethics; Cliff Dorne, registrar; Carlos Ramet, associate dean of the College of Arts and Behavioral Sciences; and Mike Watson, director of athletics. Several SVSU alumni participated, as well. These events are a good opportunity to interact with the community while raising funds for a good cause. I know many of you participate in similar activities throughout the year, and your efforts to support important organizations in our region are appreciated.
We welcomed more than 100 K-12 teachers from across the Great Lakes Bay Region to campus Wednesday night for our third annual STEM teachers dinner. We have several faculty and staff working closely with teachers in the STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering, math) on a regular basis. This intellectual exchange is improving education for us and for our K-12 partners, and corporate and foundation partners have provided valuable private support. This is a wonderful opportunity to make teachers aware of the opportunities available at SVSU for their students, while also enriching the teachers’ experiences in their classrooms and labs. The rate of technological change is accelerating, and we are committed to doing our part to prepare students and educators to keep pace.
Our Alumni Relations colleagues also have earned recognition from Graduway, a national organization that provides institutions with alumni networking platforms. SVSU received the Outstanding Network Growth award for our work in building a stronger connection with alumni through programs such as the social media tool and website, SVSU Connect. Jim Dwyer, executive director of alumni relations, accepted the award Thursday at UCLA. SVSU Connect is a useful resource, please encourage alumni you know to create an account if they have not already.
Our students are hungry for all manner of opportunities. Bill Stec, assistant director of Career Services, recently was on a site visit with the Disney College Program in Florida when he connected with one of our students working there. A few months ago, Bill advised Alyssa Jennings, a nursing student from East Lansing, to apply for the program. She was selected as one of 4,000 college students from across the globe to work there. Alyssa now serves guests from around the world at the Artists Palette at Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort. Bill reports she “loves” the opportunity and is building interpersonal and time management skills to take into her nursing career. Extracurricular experiences, internships and other learning opportunities outside the classroom are very valuable to our students. My thanks to all of you who encourage our students to pursue them.
Congratulations to our women’s basketball and swimming and diving teams on strong showings in NCAA competition. In basketball, we qualified for the national tournament and won our opening game over Lewis – avenging a 37-point loss earlier in the season – before bowing out in the round of 32 for the second straight year. Our women’s swimming and diving team finished 25th in the nation at the 2017 NCAA Division II Championships in Birmingham, Alabama. Please join me in congratulating coaches Jamie Pewinski and Bruce Zimmerman, and all our student-athletes on their fine performances. Despite the snow on the ground here, spring sports also are underway. After a bit of a slow start against southern competition, our baseball team has won five of their last seven games, and has three games on the road this weekend. In softball, we are receiving votes in the top 25 poll, following wins in eight of our last nine, en route to a record of 11-6; their games scheduled for this weekend have been canceled. Women’s tennis won all four of their Florida matches over spring break. Men’s and women’s golf were playing in Florida, as well, preparing for this weekend’s SVSU Invitational in Georgetown, Kentucky. Go Cards!