Saginaw Valley State University is ringing in the new year having secured — and improved — its reputation as a neighborly and friendly institution for students to live, according to a website grading “Best Dorms” in the nation.
The website, Niche, ranked SVSU’s residential facilities No. 1 in the state and No. 19 nationally. Niche first ranked SVSU No. 1 statewide in 2015. The university was ranked No. 26 nationally at the time.
Niche calculates their rankings using a weighted formula where 70 percent of a school’s score came from students’ satisfaction with their housing, as well as data from the U.S. Department of Education. The ranking assesses 1,398 four-year colleges and universities.
News of SVSU’s stellar review was no surprise to Sean Gilmore. The junior accounting major from Oxford, Michigan has lived in SVSU housing since he was a shy freshman.
“The dorms here really helped me break out of my shell that first year,” he said. “It’s a very safe-feeling environment where you feel comfortable walking around and meeting new people. That helped me become the person I am today.”
Gilmore said students are attracted to the on-campus activities and camaraderie felt between neighbors.
“The staff and students are very friendly,” Gilmore said. “It feels like home.”
One of those staff members — Michele Gunkelman, SVSU director of Residential Life — said the university wants residents to feel as if they are part of a community.
“We work with students to create an environment where they are part of the experience, where they are engaged in their community, and where they are empowered to make the most of their experience,” she said.
During the 2015-16 academic year, Gunkelman’s office offered 349 residential life-related programs for the SVSU community. She said about 80 percent of on-campus students participated.
“The Residential Life staff takes great pride in the work they do to make living on campus an enriching experience for students,” she said.
More than 2,400 students currently live on SVSU’s campus. Four the past eight years, at least 70 percent of the freshman class has chosen to live in SVSU’s residence halls.
To view the “Best Dorms” list, go to https://colleges.niche.com/rankings/best-college-dorms/.