During our Monday Board of Control meeting, I had the honor of seeing three very deserving people honored for their decades of dedicated service to this institution. The board bestowed emeriti status to Merry Jo Brandimore, associate provost for Student Affairs and dean of students; Gene Hamilton, director of external affairs, and Gladys Zubulake, professor of modern foreign languages. Between the three of them, they have offered a combined 105 years of service to SVSU. Along with the emeriti status, the board also honored Merry Jo and Gene by attaching their names to facilities in a way that reflects their legacies here. Merry Jo, whose 33 years at SVSU included helping students feel at home in our residential housing, will see Living Center North become M.J. Brandimore House. Gene, whose early accomplishments also involved coaching our basketball program, will see Cardinal Gymnasium become Hamilton Gymnasium. Gene coached the very first game in that gym when it opened in 1971. These are fitting tributes to extraordinary people. We wouldn’t be the institution we are today without their contributions. Thank you, Merry Jo, Gene and Gladys.
The Board acted on other important business Monday, including keeping SVSU tuition the lowest among the 15 state universities. A tuition increase of 4.19 percent was part of the 2016-17 general fund operating budget adopted during the Board’s meeting. We continue to do all that we can to maintain our commitment to affordability for our students and their families. While our tuition remains the lowest among Michigan’s public universities, the quality of teaching and learning at SVSU has never been higher. We provide an exceptional educational value for our students.
The education we offer our students is expanding too, as we meet the ever-evolving demands of both our students and the industries that will employ them one day. On Monday, the Board added four academic programs including a new graduate degree. The Master of Arts - Public Administration program will be offered to students beginning this fall semester. Undergraduate students in the fall also will be able to pursue bachelor’s degrees in neuroscience, elementary teaching for international students, and middle/secondary teaching for international students. I’m excited to see how these new programs will shape our institution and our students.
I’m very happy to hear our Fieldhouse is featured in the June edition of The Athletic Business Magazine as part of its Architectural Showcase feature (see page 64). We are proud of our beautiful facilities, so I’m always pleased when we receive this kind of recognition from the media. The Fieldhouse is one of the newest additions to our campus, yet its wonderful amenities and attractive structure are quickly making it recognizable for the community. This latest coverage should boost that trend.
It’s always a delight to welcome new people to the university. We were lucky enough recently to host a number of students from Shenyang Aerospace University in China during a two-week workshop hosted by our Art Department These workshops covered photography, ceramics, painting and graphic design. I’d like to thank everyone who helped make these visiting students feel welcomed.
I had the pleasure of speaking at Michigan Career Educator and Employer Alliance’s 6th Annual Conference in Frankenmuth today. In my presentation, titled “The Future of Higher Education, STEM and Michigan Economy,” I was able to talk about a number of topics very familiar to our university. It was a great opportunity to share the optimism I have about the road ahead for higher education and our state’s industries.
The two-day conference also showcased one of our outstanding graduates. Courtney Seamon, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in marketing in May, was the recipient of the conference’s statewide New Graduate Essay award. She earned a $1,000 award for the accomplishment. Courtney is no stranger to the acclaim. She has presented her research on Super Bowl advertisements at national conferences with the collaboration of Rama Yelkur, our dean of the College of Business & Management. I’m happy to see Courtney’s success continue beyond her studies here at SVSU, and I know we’ll be hearing about more of her accomplishments in the future.
Our students aren’t the only Cardinals accomplishing great things these days. I’d like to congratulate Roberto Garcia, school improvement and transition specialist, on graduating from Leadership Saginaw County, a personal and community leadership development program. I’d also like to applaud David Abbs, our former Board of Control chair, who was selected as the 2016 recipient of the Marsh-Princing Leadership Award, which is given to alumni of Leadership Saginaw County.
Speaking of leadership: Students Jaeleen Davis and Mallory Rivard, along with May graduate Ashli Maser, are outstanding leaders who will be competing for the Miss Michigan crown this weekend. Their passion for helping others is part of the reason they are among 34 women in contention for the pageant. Jaeleen is an advocate for Wigs 4 Kids, a nonprofit helping youths suffering from hair loss. Ashli has worked with members of our state legislature to support putting more guidance counselors in our K-12 system. Mallory volunteered during the Saginaw VA2K and Annual Health Fair, raising funds for homeless veterans. It’s great to see such strong advocates of community engagement receiving this kind of recognition.