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President’s Weekly Update - Week of Monday, Feb. 16

WiFi upgrade and Zahnow Library renovations coming

As you may have seen in the news media, our Board of Control approved spending $770,000 to upgrade WiFi for our residential students. Since the academic year began, this has been students' top concern.  As I did during the board meeting, I would like to compliment Student Association President Joey Rexford and his members for addressing this issue in a professional and thoughtful manner. They asked me hard questions; I’m good with that, as long as it leads toward an effective solution, which I believe we achieved in this case. The Board also approved $350,000 in renovations to Zahnow Library to provide space for the Center for Academic Innovation and accommodate other staff who are being relocated as part of that move.  My thanks to everyone involved in this for their cooperation.

Congratulations to faculty and staff honored by NRHH

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Last weekend, I attended the faculty-staff recognition banquet hosted by NRHH, a group of our residential students.  What struck me was the diversity of the 36 faculty and staff that students identified as having the biggest influence on their experience at SVSU. The students singled out representatives from every corner of campus and many academic disciplines.  There's too many to mention here, and I know there are many others who are making a difference for students every day. What I hope you take from this is that our students are paying attention to the job you perform on their behalf, whatever that job is. I hope that causes you to take pride in your work. It should.

Congratulations to Forensics students

I congratulate our forensics students who placed second at last weekend’s Michigan Intercollegiate Speech League tournament. Three students captured first place honors: Megan Hillman, a communication major from Port Huron, in informative speaking; Erik Breidinger, a communication major from Auburn, in after-dinner speaking; and Jared Quist, a communication major from Saginaw, in extemporaneous speaking. I extend my appreciation to them and to their fine advisor, Amy Pierce, associate professor of communication, for representing SVSU well at this event.

Theatre presents ‘Othello’

Our theatre department opens its winter semester schedule with a small cast version of William Shakespeare's classic, “Othello.” It opens tonight (Wednesday) and runs through Sunday. This play carries timeless themes including racism, love, jealousy, betrayal, revenge and repentance, so I trust you will find it entertaining and thought-provoking.  I encourage you to show support for our students and attend as your schedule permits.  

Basketball at home Thursday

‌‌‌Men's basketball vs Northwood.

The regular season for our basketball teams is drawing to a close; both the men and the women host their final home games Thursday against Grand Valley... at least until tournament play. The men are tied for first place; if they finish in first, we would host the conference tournament. The women play at 6 p.m.; the men follow at 8. Go Cards!

Author Isabel Wilkerson speaking for Black History Month

I enjoyed our annual “Taste of Soul.” You can find photos on Twitter. My handle is @SVSUPrez. I also invite you to another Black History Month event, when we welcome author and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Isabel Wilkerson to campus next Wednesday, Feb. 25, at 7 p.m. in the Malcolm Field Theatre for the Performing Arts. Her New York Times best-selling book, “The Warmth of Other Suns,” tells the story of three black citizens who left the southern United States in search of a better life in the north. The book is based on more than 1,200 interviews that Wilkerson conducted with blacks that participated in this migration from 1915 to 1970.The book won numerous honors, including the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction, the Heartland Prize for Nonfiction, the Anisfield-Wolf Award for Nonfiction, and the Lynton History Prize from Harvard and Columbia universities.

Alumni Celebration Friday

Finally, congratulations to all of our graduates being honored at the Alumni Celebration this Friday. Universities are measured by the success of their alumni, and we are fortunate to have many outstanding alums who represent us well. Our Distinguished Alumni for 2015 are:

  • Karen Abbott, 1979, B.A., who has enjoyed a 35-year career as an educator, presently serving as elementary principal at Rutherford Winans Academy in Detroit.
  • Dave Abbs, 1983, B.B.A., who is a past chair of our Board of Control, a certified financial planner and owner of Abbs Retirement Planning Advisors.
  • Carmella Jones, 1981, B.S.N., a registered nurse and an American Baptist-ordained clergywoman who serves as the director of the Faith Community Nurse Program at Holy Cross Health in Silver Spring, Md.
  • Patrick McInnis, 1988, B.A. My former student has done OK for himself, serving as CEO of Fathead, an industry leader of officially licensed sports and entertainment graphics, since 2009.
  • Richard Nash, 1988, B.S.M.E., who serves as global product line executive director and chief engineer for Nexteer Automotive's Steering Columns and Intermediate Shafts business.
  • The Young Alumni award will be given to Sarah Lockwood, 2010, B.S., who completed a Ph.D. in analytical chemistry at Michigan State University in 2014 and is currently chief technical officer at LifeBlood, a start-up company in East Lansing.
  • The Future Alumni Award will be given to Valerie Adams, an energetic exercise science major, graduating in May. She will go on to Duke University’s Doctorate of Physical Therapy program in North Carolina. She worked in my office last year during my first semester as president, she will be missed.

I am proud of these individuals and all of our alumni who are putting their degrees to good use.