Employers are flocking to campus to hire our students and graduates. It’s true. You ought to take my word for it, but I have the numbers to back it up. More than 120 employers – including Chemical Bank, Dow Corning, Garber Management Group, H&R Block, Northwestern Mutual, Quicken Loans and Verizon Wireless, among others – have signed up to attend our Employment and Networking Fair this Friday. This is the largest turnout since 2005. The event runs from noon to 3 p.m. in the Curtiss Hall banquet rooms. Please encourage your students to attend. It is valuable experience for them and it makes a good impression when employers speak with quality candidates.
I’m pleased to announce that Hal Wilde, president emeritus of North Central College in Illinois, has agreed to serve as our May Commencement speaker. I first met Hal when he was a Ph.D. student at Harvard, studying the workings of the Detroit Police Department. I was a young, impressionable police cadet and he encouraged me to pursue further education. I am forever grateful and I have every confidence that our graduates will find his talk to be informative and engaging.
We continue to see strong attendance at our campus events for prospective students. More than 200 high school students and their families visited to tour campus, and meet with faculty and staff. This is twice the number that attended last year. My thanks to everyone who helped to make this event a success. Oh, and as you may have heard me mention, recruiting good students should be everyone’s responsibility. Carry on.
Our new field house is proving to be very popular, not only with our student-athletes, club sports and intramurals, but also with the community at large. Last week, we hosted track meets over three days that drew 70 high schools from across the state, bringing more than 2,300 student-athletes to campus, plus family and other supporters. For many, this was likely their first visit to campus and we want them to have a good experience and pass that word along to others. My thanks to everyone who helped them feel welcome.
As you may have seen on social media, State Senator Ken Horn stopped by my office on Monday to deliver legislative tributes. One was for receiving the Community Engagement designation from the Carnegie Foundation, and I gladly accepted on behalf of the institution. The other was more enjoyable to witness, as one of our students, Matthew Walla, was recognized for his outstanding efforts as a peer health educator. Our students contribute so much to this campus and the entire region, much of it unnoticed or underappreciated, so it was a delight to see him receive such a well-deserved honor.
There was more good news on the student front this week, as we learned that Bailey McCarthy Riley, a chemistry major from West Branch, landed a summer research fellowship at the University of Notre Dame. During the 10-week program, she will work with Notre Dame faculty to develop low-cost, robust technologies aimed at helping people in poor nations. My sources tell me that Kyle Cissel, assistant professor of chemistry, played a key role in this process. Bailey has assisted Kyle in developing tests that would detect specific nucleic acids. I have a vacation home near West Branch. I can assure you this is not a common topic of conversation in the local coffee shop. But Kyle did what our good faculty do: he identified potential, encouraged the student, challenged the student and then identified opportunities for her. My congratulations to Bailey and my appreciation to Kyle and all of you who are so committed to our students’ success.