SVSU prides itself on the leadership we provide. Not just at a local and regional level — also nationally. So I was proud when I learned Jim Muladore, our executive vice president for Administration & Business Affairs, was selected as one of 40 people to participate in The National Association of College & University Business Officers’ Economic Models Project. The objective of this initiative is to assist NACUBO's 2,100 member institutions — and the broader public — in identifying strategies and methods to implement sustainable economic models. The group will begin meeting this summer to share their collective experiences and provide input. I have no doubt Jim’s input will prove invaluable to that team.
I am pleased to report that excellent progress has been made in developing the university’s new strategic plan. In March, five teams were assembled based upon the university’s priorities to identify gaps and barriers to achieving our vision, and subsequently, to establish goals and strategies. The established guiding principles and strategic goals were adopted by the Board of Control in June. A final strategic plan will be presented in the fall. Once the overarching plan is in place, a second strategic planning phase will enlist the divisions, academic colleges, departments, committees, etc. to further define strategies and tactics that align their goals and strategies to the overall plan. We have created a page in the mySVSU portal (SVSU username/password required) where you can see the details of where the strategic plan stands today as well as view updates as they develop.
Our SVSU Gear Up program students from middle and high school recently embarked on an adventurous road trip to Central Michigan University, Ferris State University and Lake Superior State University. The students, along with their peer-to-peer mentors, engaged in team-building leadership activities and educational exploration exercises. Those students from the Saginaw Public School District enjoyed rafting down the Sturgeon River, crossing the Mackinac Bridge, viewing the Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge, seeing live buffalo, swimming alongside ducks, and enjoying tubing in Traverse City. Many of these experiences were firsts for these students. Imagine the looks on their faces when they saw a bear crossing sign instead of deer crossing sign or when they crossed over to the Upper Peninsula. Thank you, SVSU Gear Up, for providing these kinds of opportunities for our region’s youths.
For those who haven’t heard, BestValueSchools.com recently recognized our College of Science, Engineering & Technology on its “50 Best Value Engineering Schools” list for 2016. The methodology for deciding the list involved factors such as tuition cost, number of accredited programs, alumni salary and number of STEM majors. We at SVSU are well aware of the exceptional nature of our SET students, alumni, staff and faculty. I’m pleased to see the rest of the world is paying attention to that exceptionalism too.
We have a lot of great news recently coming from our College of Health & Human Services. Some of that good news involves the leadership of Kathleen Schachman, our Harvey Randall Wickes Endowed Chair in Nursing, who helped us secure funds for three grants in 2016. Each of these grants supports our institution’s strong commitment to community engagement and experiential learning. Two of these grants — a $962,800 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as well as a $94,900 grant from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund — will support the integration of behavioral health services into the primary care setting at our University Clinic at the Bay County Health Department. This will lead to improved screening and treatment of mental health and substance abuse problems among primary care patients. The funds also will support students from SVSU and four other Michigan universities in experiencing a clinical immersion in this unique academic-clinical partnership. A third grant — for $1.9 million from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services — involves a collaborative effort with Wayne State University. This grant will help implement and test creative academic-practice partnership models aimed at improving experiential training for advance practice nursing students in primary care settings located in both underserved and rural communities. This grant also will support the expansion of the University Clinic as an interdisciplinary clinical setting for five days per week, which will improve continuity of care and substantially increasing access for students and clients. I want to thank Kathleen and all of the faculty, staff and students involved in these great success stories.
In October 2015, we opened The Pride Center at SVSU, which offers resources for faculty and staff researching or teaching subjects related to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues. The center also provides resources for students and develops relationships with partners in the LGBT community. The center is staffed on a volunteer basis by social work faculty and undergraduates, with Lucy Mercier serving as director. Perceptions, a nonprofit organization supporting the LGBT community in the Great Lakes Bay Region, honored Lucy with its Champion Of Pride award during the group’s LGBT Pride Awards Banquet earlier this month. It’s an honor well deserved for her work at The Pride Center at SVSU, especially considering all of the other responsibilities she fulfills at SVSU. Lucy is a professor of social work, department chair of social work and youth services, and in July will begin work as the acting assistant dean in the College of Health & Human Services. Perceptions also honored another member of SVSU when it presented David Terrasi, an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Teacher Education, with its Political Award. David was elected as a Bay City commissioner last year and was instrumental in passing a non-discrimination ordinance in the community.
I’d like to thank two people who are leaving the university this week, starting with Rama Yelkur. Rama joined our institution as dean of the College of Business & Management in 2013. She has been an outstanding asset, both to our university and our region. Rama distinguished herself by establishing strong relationships and partnerships with the business community in the Great Lakes Bay Region while also developing outstanding academic programs and opportunities for our students here on campus. I want to commend Rama on her fine work while wishing her luck in her new role as dean of the College of Business at St. John Fisher College, a private institution near Rochester, N.Y.
Many of you were able to attend our celebration of Gene Hamilton’s career when we re-named the Cardinal Gym as Hamilton Gym on Monday. What a fitting tribute for a great friend and an important figure in this institution’s history. Gene has taken on many roles since he was hired in 1969 as an admissions counselor and the first varsity men’s basketball coach. He spent much of the last 25 years as our chief ambassador to lawmakers in Lansing as well as local and national government officials. It’s likely SVSU would be a very different place today if Gene had never joined us. For one, he and former Athletic Director Bob Becker were responsible for identifying the Cardinal as our school mascot, way back in 1970. And his work in government relations has been instrumental in developing key community partnerships as well as securing support and funds for the $150 million SVSU invested in construction and renovation projects over the last quarter-century. He is as much a part of the SVSU family as anyone has ever been. I am truly appreciative for all he has done for this university.
The Tall Ship Celebration will be docking in Bay City from Thursday to Sunday, July 14-17. This is an event that attracts spectators locally and abroad every three years, and I suspect 2016 will be no different. Once again, SVSU will be serving as a sponsor for the celebration’s Make+Take Tall Ship Children's Craft Activity. We are looking for volunteers to help at the event. Children's Craft Activity volunteers are responsible for facilitating craft projects and learning opportunities offered by the festival’s non-profit partners. In many cases, Tall Ship Celebration volunteers will be working alongside volunteers of partner organizations. Those who are interested in volunteering on behalf of SVSU can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Fourth of July provides an opportunity to reflect on all the freedoms and liberties offered to both citizens and visitors to this great nation. I hope you all have a safe and relaxing holiday weekend while enjoying this special holiday.