I hope you enjoyed your holiday vacation. Liana and I certainly did and we are eager to begin the new year by picking up the momentum we established in the fall. With students returning this week, my thanks to all of you working with them to make sure they stay on track academically and otherwise.
The winter semester is already living up to its name, with snowy conditions and icy roads leading to campus closings and delays this week. I would like to thank our facilities crews both for helping my administrative team in determining whether campus is safe and for keeping our roads and pathways safe while we are open. They approach that responsibility with all the seriousness and hard work it deserves.
Our moot court program, led by Julie Keil, has been exceptional again this academic year. Last weekend, eight of our students were invited to compete in the American Moot Court Association’s national tournament in Gulfport, Florida. That’s an impressive feat on its own, considering only 160 students from across the nation were invited. Gabe Klotz, one of the eight who represented SVSU at the tournament, was the top recipient of the tournament’s orator award. I am very proud of Gabe and all of the students involved. Our moot court program currently is ranked No. 20 in the country, and has consistently performed well during the program’s 6-year existence.
Please join me in saying, “Break a leg,” at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, which wraps up Saturday in Indianapolis. Our own Ric Roberts, professor of theatre, serves as chairman of the organization’s Region III, which includes Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin. This prestigious festival offers great acting programs, workshops and professional development opportunities to the top theatre students from those four states, and I’m very pleased our talented student-actors and faculty members are part of this experience.
We’re already hearing some positive news, even before the festival’s conclusion. One of our students, Donté Green, who you may remember as playing the lead character in last semester’s “A Raisin in the Sun” production here, has advanced to the Irene Ryan Final Round today as part of the festival’s competition. This competition began with a field of 250 student-actors. You may recall another one of our students, Rusty Myers, won the competition in January 2013 and advanced to the Kennedy Center American College Theatre’s national competition.
Some of our other current students are doing outstanding work at this year’s festival. Jonah Connor advanced to the Irene Ryan Semifinal Round. He also was selected as one of eight students at the festival to direct a 10-minute play. Zach Wood and Cassie Graham, meanwhile, were cast in a 10-minute play to be performed at the festival.
Once again, the website Niche recognized our residential facilities as the best among all university housing complexes in the state. This was the second time we earned this top ranking from the website. Niche ranked us No. 19 in the nation, which is even better than the No. 26 ranking we reached previously. The website calculates their rankings using a weighted formula where 70 percent of a school’s score came from students’ satisfaction with their housing, as well as data from the U.S. Department of Education. The ranking assesses 1,398 four-year colleges and universities. Of course, we know the high quality of our residential facilities, but it’s always flattering when an outside organization reinforces such a sentiment. This is a testament to the tremendous work by our Residential Life, Housing and everyone who supports our excellent housing operations.
You can support a number of our outstanding student-athletes in home action over the next week.
The track and field team competes in the SVSU Classic at noon Saturday. Both basketball teams face off against Michigan Tech on Saturday; the 11-3 women’s team at 1 p.m. and the 11-4 men’s team at 3 p.m. The women’s and men’s basketball teams also host Ferris State next Thursday at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m., respectively. Go Cards!
On Monday, we honor one of our nation’s great leaders, Martin Luther King Jr., and I’m proud many of you will be participating in events across the community in honor of Dr. King. One of my favorite events is the MLK Day march, which is planned for 10 a.m. Monday near downtown Saginaw, beginning at Franklin and Hayden and heading toward The Dow Event Center. For those able to attend, I encourage you to join this march. And wear your SVSU gear; an SVSU photographer will be capturing the event on film. This event is a great way to honor Dr. King’s legacy and connect with our friends in the community. Hopefully we will see many of the same members of the community during our campus MLK Celebration Wednesday, Jan. 25 when former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder visits SVSU.