My thanks to everyone who attended Wednesday’s ceremony to unveil the new mobile research laboratory that is part of our Dow Science and Sustainability Education Center. People told me I look good in a very large RV outfitted with scientific equipment. The visiting students from White Pine Middle School looked even better. The purpose of the lab is to travel to K-12 schools in Michigan’s Great Lakes Bay Region and beyond to introduce students to hands-on learning opportunities, and ultimately increase interest in STEM fields. A number of our colleagues were involved in making this facility a reality and in planning the event. My appreciation extends to all of them. This would not have been possible without the generous support of The Dow Chemical Company Foundation. Please thank our friends at Dow when you see them, and please remind your friends and neighbors about all we are doing to work together for the good of our region.
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I have said it before and I will say it again: recruiting good students is everyone’s job. No surprise, this includes the Admissions office, but what might surprise you is a story shared with me this week. A family from southern Michigan was making college visits to select an engineering program. They were having an underwhelming visit at another institution and decided to leave early. As they were driving on I-75, they saw one of our billboards promoting our STEM programs, so they decided to call the Admissions office to see if they could stop by. Gary Brasseur, associate director of transfer student admissions, took the call and had the family come to campus for a visit, showed them our engineering facilities, and it now appears likely this student will be enrolling in the fall. This family said they had never heard of SVSU, despite the fact that we have had students from their high school enrolled for quite a number of years. This is why improving our public awareness and elevating our reputation must be a top priority for us all.
I extend my congratulations to Meghan Baruth and Jennifer Chaytor, the latest faculty to be selected for the Braun Fellowship. Meghan plans to research a pilot behavioral intervention program aimed at improving the diet and exercise of pregnant women. Jennifer’s research will involve synthesizing and evaluating compounds based on structures of drugs already on the market while investigating modifications that could more effectively combat Type 2 diabetes. These two exemplary young faculty are doing outstanding work and are including students in their research pursuits. My compliments to Meghan and Jennifer. They are fine examples of what Ruth and Ted Braun had in mind when they established the fellowship in 2005, and created a $1.5 million endowment from the Saginaw-based Harvey Randall Wickes Foundation.
Our faculty continue to receive high praise within their professions. David Berry, professor of kinesiology, is the latest example, as he recently was named the 2016 Outstanding Educator award recipient by the Great Lakes Athletic Training Association. The regional district encompasses Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin. This follows his selection in 2015 as Distinguished Athletic Trainer of the Year by the Michigan Athletic Trainers Society as well as 2015 Most Distinguished Athletic Trainer by the National Athletic Trainers Association. The best part of his most recent honor is that he was nominated by a 2014 alumna, Rachel Katch, a St. Charles native who now is pursuing a master's degree in kinesiology at the University of Connecticut. Congratulations, David.
In case you’ve missed it our men's and women's basketball teams are each in first place in their respective divisions, heading into important home games tonight (Thursday) against Grand Valley. It’s also faculty and staff appreciation night, so I hope many of you will be joining me to cheer on our teams. Beyond basketball, our men's indoor track and field team is ranked No. 16 in the nation, and both the men's and women's swimming and diving programs are performing well. Best of all, in addition to their athletic achievements, SVSU Athletics as a whole boasted a 3.157 GPA for the fall semester. My compliments to all the coaches and student-athletes who make academics a priority. Let’s go Cards!