My personal schedule this past weekend served as a reminder of how our region supports us, and vice versa. Saturday morning, I attended the regional AIDS walk that we hosted again this year; this raised more than $56,0000 for patients in our region. Later that day, I spoke at the Michigan Historical Society’s annual conference, which we also hosted. Sunday evening, I attended the NAACP Freedom Fund banquet where Amy Hlavacek, associate professor of mathematics, received an Achievement Recognition Award for her work in the community to boost math performance among local K-12 students. Tacarra Ford, an alumna who teaches English part-time here, received the same honor, as did other alumni. Anthony Dizon, accountant, will receive the Alden B. Dow Museum of Science & Art 2014-2015 Richard Wolfe Volunteer Award next week for his years of volunteer service to the museum. Because of the work of so many of you, we are living up to our community engagement designation on a daily basis. I hope you take as much pride in this as I do.
Another community engagement project is about to launch. We are partnering with the Saginaw Bay Writing Project and the Public Libraries of Saginaw to establish the Saginaw Community Writing Center, thanks to financial support from the Dow Corning Foundation and the Saginaw Community Foundation. Once a month, tutors from our Writing Center will lead workshops and provide tutoring for community members at Butman-Fish Library in Saginaw. We hope to grow the program over time. Such centers have proven successful in other states; ours is believed to be the first in Michigan. Thanks to Chris Giroux, assistant professor of English, for bringing this idea forward for our region, and to everyone who has helped to make this happen.
Our students continue to make community engagement contributions, as well. Many of their efforts are underappreciated, so it is nice to see them recognized. Recently, Carol VanArsdale (center) of Area 22 Special Olympics presented our student organization Cardinals for Special Olympics with an award of excellence to recognize the group's efforts and support of the annual Spring Games that are held on campus each April and rely upon dozens of student volunteers. Receiving the award were club president Alyssa Briolat of Ubly (right) and vice president Hannah Gaines of Fenton (left). This is a great example of the community engagement efforts that many of our student organizations are involved in. My congratulations to them and my ongoing appreciation to all our students and their advisers who work to improve our region.
The leaves are beginning to change. The temperature has cooled. Fall is upon us, and that brings many things, including a great many opportunities to see our students perform. Please support them as your schedule permits. Our first theatre production of the year, “The Game's Afoot,” a Sherlock Holmes-inspired play, opens next Wednesday and continues through Sunday. Steve Erickson, professor of theatre, is directing and assures me that this play is funny. I will hold him to it. You can learn more about the show and even order tickets online.
The Campus Climate Survey conducted last year showed that members of the LGBTQ community on campus desired a central place to find resources and support on campus. In response to this, The Pride Center, as it will be known, will open next week, thanks to the committed efforts of several faculty, staff and students. The ceremony will begin with a screening of the documentary “Coming Out” at 7 p.m. in the Alan Ott Auditorium inside Gilbertson Hall (GN 253). Filmmaker Alden Peters will be in attendance to discuss his film-making process and take questions from the audience. The grand opening of the new Pride Center, located in Gilbertson Hall, will immediately follow. For more information, you can contact the organizers directly at email@example.com.
The Great Lakes Bay Regional Youth Leadership embarks upon its 10th year this Friday. This joint program with the Bridge Center for Racial Harmony brings 96 high school students to campus each month, and a number of our students serve as mentors. They have always addressed important issues related to leadership, diversity and community, and this year there will be an increased emphasis on STEM. These students also engage in service projects; this year’s partners include Hidden Harvest, an organization that supplies food to soup kitchens, food pantries and shelters; the First Ward Community Center in Saginaw, which offers various services to the Saginaw community; and Tri-City Links Inc., a volunteer service organization for women. My thanks to Mamie Thorns, special assistant to the president for diversity programs, and everyone who participates in making this a successful program for our region’s young people.