Wednesday (Feb. 17) was National Random Acts of Kindness Day. I am here to tell you that acts of kindness at SVSU are anything but random. We have identified a safe, friendly and respectful campus climate as an SVSU core value. These themes were mentioned frequently throughout the market research process, and examples abound, but one from this week stands out. Early in the morning, one of our students had gotten his wheelchair stuck on the sidewalk near Wickes Hall; in the process, his scarf wrapped around the axle. A student, Leandra, was attempting to help; this caught the attention of Jenna Briggs, director of graduate and international admissions, who also stopped to help. Then, Bill Demand, HVAC assistant, drove by. Bill got out of his warm truck into the cold and immediately stepped in; he was able to pick up the side of the wheelchair and immediately went to work to remove the scarf. This took some time, but with persistence, Bill was able to fix the problem and the student was able to return to his day. This wasn’t Bill’s job, but without hesitation he showed genuine dedication to that student and his well-being. This may not have happened if Leandra had not initially showed concern for her fellow student. My sincere thanks to each of them, and to everyone who makes an effort to create the campus climate we enjoy.
Organizations in our surrounding community recognize the contributions we are making in the Great Lakes Bay Region. Congratulations to Deb Huntley, provost, and Florence Alexander, a psychology major from Saginaw, on being selected by the YWCA to receive Women of Achievement awards. They will be formally recognized in March. Both have done much to improve our community, and we should all take pride when members of our SVSU community are honored for their contributions.
Did you know that Wednesday (Feb. 17) was National Resident Assistant Appreciation Day? We ought to appreciate all 44 of our RAs every day; they dedicate tremendous time and energy to making our students’ residential experience the best it can be. Over the years, we have received numerous accolades in this regard, including last year’s raking as the top housing environment in Michigan. I have heard many students mention that they are positively influenced by their RA and have reached unexpected heights of engagement and success because of them. If you see one of our RAs this week, please join me in thanking them for their service to SVSU.
Our forensics team fared quite well in the Michigan Intercollegiate Speech League Novice States Tournament held at Hillsdale College last weekend. Our determined students receive excellent faculty support and consistently outperform their peers from other schools. Three of our students won their respective categories! Erik Breidinger, a communications major from Auburn, came away with first place in the informative event with a speech on the topic of Nano Drones. Melinda Dinninger, a communications major from Saginaw, took home first place in the persuasion event. Baron McBride, a communications major from Waterford, finished first in the impromptu event. Overall, SVSU finished in third place at the competition. My compliments to all the participating students who represented us well, and to their fine adviser Amy Pierce, associate professor of communication. Best wishes to all on the team as they prepare for the state tournament next month.
We have many fine traditions, and I was pleased to participate in one of them this week as we presented the Stuart D. and Vernice M. Gross Award for Literature to Sally Howell for her book “Old Islam in Detroit: Rediscovering the Muslim American Past.” Sally is an associate professor of history at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, and I enjoyed speaking with her. My thanks to our colleagues who served as judges: Pat Cavanaugh, professor of English; Catherine Curtis, reference librarian; Brad Jarvis, associate professor of history; Beth Johns, electronic resources and reference librarian; and Carlos Ramet, associate dean of the College of Arts & Behavioral Sciences.
As I mentioned in my remarks last week, I receive many compliments on behalf of SVSU that really belong to all of you. One local family took the time this to share how impressed they were by the scholarship program hosted by Admissions last Friday. This family has attended similar programs at other schools; this is what they had to say about their experience here. “From the time we got there until the time we left everyone was so friendly and enthusiastic. My daughter was so excited to hear about study abroad, and I told her that if she goes to SVSU, we can afford to send her to study abroad too since we won't be paying as much for tuition. Anderson (Bearden, associate director of Admissions) gave a talk about tuition and paying for college that was excellent – exactly what my daughter needed to hear. My daughter is a music major and Jane Girdham (professor of music) put together a special program just for her. I was amazed with all of it. I just had no idea, and it's right here so close. We just couldn't believe how friendly and helpful the people were no matter where we went on campus.” These testimonials are worth their weight in gold. Interactions with faculty and staff can make all the difference in a student’s decision on which college to attend. If you have not already committed to participate in the Admitted Student Showcase on Saturday, Feb. 27, I encourage you to do so. A healthy overall enrollment contributes to healthy programs across the university.
A reminder that this year’s Relay for Life is rapidly approaching. It kicks off next Friday, Feb. 26 at 4 p.m. and runs though the night. Liana and I will be taking an early shift. There is still time for you to register and get involved. Our students in Colleges Against Cancer do a great job.
The Office of Diversity Programs is offering valuable training opportunities next Thursday, Feb. 25 and Friday, Feb. 26. Workshops will provide you with information on how to build your cultural competency, an increasingly important skill in our increasingly diverse university community. You can find more information online http://bit.ly/1KY3lu7 or by contacting Diversity programs at 964-4068.
My thanks to everyone who attended my State of the University address last week. There is so much good work taking place here on a daily basis and I was pleased to share some examples with you, while also outlining the important work in front of us. In case you missed it, we have posted a video here: http://www.svsu.edu/president/communications/.
Key contests remain for our winter sports programs. Before I mention those, my compliments to our swimming and diving teams. These young programs competed well at the GLIAC championships last week with the women placing fourth overall and the men finishing sixth. I can’t wait to see what is ahead for them. Our men’s and women’s track and field programs continue to be ranked among the Top 25 in the nation, and high jumper Robert Atwater, an accounting major from River Rouge, was named the GLIAC Men's Field Athlete of the Week; he tied an SVSU record and is currently second in the nation after clearing 2.15 meters (7'0.5"). Women’s basketball is currently tied for first place, and men’s basketball is alone in first and up to No. 12 in the nation. Both take on Ferris State at home Saturday. The women tip at 6 p.m. and the men follow at 8 p.m. Go Cards!