Our students continue to shine in academic competition, thanks to their outstanding work ethic, and the great support and mentoring they receive from faculty and staff. Two weeks ago, we earned top honors in exercise science. Last weekend, our team of Connor Hughes, a political science major from Howell, and Madison Laskowski, a political science major from Bay City, won their American Moot Court Association regional tournament. Their fine advisor, Julie Keil, assistant professor of political science, reports the pair worked five to 10 hours each week studying and preparing for the past seven months. For all our considerable success, including a top 20 national ranking (out of 360 schools), this marks the first time in the six-year history of the program we have won a moot court tournament, besting teams from the University of Chicago, California State University-Long Beach, George Washington University, and others. We have locked up one spot in the national tournament, and we are looking for more when we host a moot court regional in early December. My compliments and best wishes to our entire team.
Please join me in congratulating our colleagues in the College of Education, who received word this week that they have earned accreditation by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). This is a relatively new accrediting body and SVSU is among the early adopters, embracing the changing standards. We have been cited as a model for others who are just entering this new process. The dedication of faculty and staff throughout the college resulted in receiving accreditation for the next seven years, and this further affirms the strength of our education programs. A strong program prepares our alums like Kerri LaDuke, pictured, who was recognized earlier this year as the 2016 Elementary Teacher of the Year in Warren Consolidated Schools. Teaching jobs in Michigan and beyond are on the rise, and we are hard at work to grow enrollment in our College of Education. These external validations certainly help.
Our latest play, “A Raisin in the Sun,” has opened to rave reviews. Long-time Saginaw News arts writer and theater critic Janet Martineau describes it as a “must see.” Donté Green, a theatre major from Detroit, plays the lead. “Everything about his performance is perfect,” Martineau said. Showings remain at 7:30 p.m. tonight and Saturday, and 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 20, in SVSU’s Malcolm Field Theatre for Performing Arts.
Our students go to great lengths to support their fellow students. Our Student Association provided another example this week, announcing the creation of the Student Association Student Empowerment Endowed Scholarship. It will award four $500 scholarships to students based on both academic and extracurricular achievements, beginning in the 2017 winter semester. The scholarships are made possible through a $52,000 contribution from Student Association to the SVSU Foundation to establish an endowment that will allow the scholarships to be awarded annually on a permanent basis. My compliments to Cody McKay, S.A. president, and everyone who worked to make this possible.
One of our longest-running academic competitions on campus is the Sims Public Speaking Competition, now in its 27th year, thanks to the generosity of Larry and Linda Sims. Students have demonstrated — and sharpened — their mastery of oral communication while, at the same time, inspiring and informing those in attendance. This year, Erik Breidinger, a communication and geography major from Auburn, earned the top prize for his presentation, "Feeling Lucky? The Descent into Google-ocracy." He also won first place in last year's contest, and in October, his community-minded research on the Kawkawlin River led him to earn a first-place award in the undergraduate paper presentation category at the American Association of Geographers East Lakes/West Lakes conference. We should all take pride in our students’ successes – and spread the word! My continued appreciation to all the faculty and staff who empower our students to excel.
In total, six students earned prizes during the 2016 Sims Public Speaking Competition. Melinda Dinninger, a communication major from Saginaw, earned a second-place finish; Shafayat Alam, a management major from Bangladesh, earned a third-place finish; Cody Bromberg, a communication major from Essexville, earned a fourth-place finish; and Melanie Frasca, a communication/theatre education major from Waterford, and Cheyena Pettaway, a communication major from Saginaw, were both honored as finalists.
Pictured: Jenni Putz and her honors advisor, Kaustav Misra, associate professor of economics
Another opportunity for our students to flex their intellectual muscles comes courtesy of our honors program. Last Friday, seven students representing four separate disciplines presented their honors theses, which often are the culmination of years’ of research activity. My thanks to their faculty advisors and to Elizabeth Rich, professor of English, for her fine efforts as honors program chair.
I would like to thank AT&T for a generous $25,000 contribution to the SVSU Foundation to expand our STEM community programs. Through this gift, 20 high school students from the Great Lakes Bay Region will attend a one-week residential camp devoted to STEM in the summer. Generating interest and understanding in STEM is vital to our region’s future, and partnerships such as this one ensure SVSU will play a vital role in this important endeavor.
Nearly 1,000 SVSU alumni, students, staff and faculty are expected to attend tonight as yours truly performs the ceremonial puck drop for the Saginaw Spirit game vs. the Erie Otters at 7:05 p.m. tonight at The Dow Event Center. SVSU is a proud sponsor of the OHL franchise, and tonight, the Spirit will celebrate that relationship with SVSU Student Success Night. Our Cardinal Singers will perform the national anthem, the SVSU Band will entertain the crowd, Cardinal Kids Club participants will ride the Zamboni machine, and the game’s intermissions will spotlight many elements of our campus culture and community outreach. Our video commercial will be shown on the scoreboard. In short, it’s going to be a great night to be a Cardinal, and I hope to see many of you there.
What a week it has been – again – for SVSU Athletics. First, our volleyball team won a five-set thriller over Michigan Tech in the GLIAC tournament; they saved six match points in the fourth set before winning the set 33-31! They advance to take on Ferris State Saturday. Our men’s cross country team and Allison Dorr of the women’s team race in the NCAA championships in Florida tomorrow. Our men’s and women’s basketball teams each picked up two big wins last weekend, and the No. 4-ranked men defeated Lewis last night to improve to 3-0. The women are on the road tomorrow, while men host Ohio Valley at 7 p.m. Saturday. Earlier this week, Matt McKoy of the football team was named the GLIAC defensive back of the year for his outstanding senior season. Our men’s and women’s swimming and diving programs have both climbed into the top 25 national rankings as they compete at Cleveland State University this weekend.