This week we announced we are expanding our commitment to supporting students and increasing educational attainment in the Great Lakes Bay Region by providing new scholarships for Bay County students who are Bay Commitment scholarship recipients. This initiative, established in 2008 by the Bay Area Community Foundation, has encouraged first-generation college students in Bay County to pursue and complete postsecondary education. The program provides $2,000 scholarships for 100 Bay County high school graduates each year during their first year attending Delta College or SVSU, and has awarded over $1.6 million in total scholarships since its inception. Beginning next academic year, we will provide renewable $1,000 scholarships for Bay Commitment students in their second, third and fourth years attending SVSU. We also are establishing a mentoring program for Bay Commitment Scholars to support them during their educational experience and encourage timely completion of a degree. I am excited to see this partnership grow, and to watch our students prosper as a result.
Our forensics team continued its outstanding performance, placing second overall at the Michigan Intercollegiate Speech League Novice States Tournament at Northwood last weekend. Eight of our students competed. The standout was Gina Kearly, a communications and theatre double major from Midland, who won the Top Speaker award as well as first place in the Programmed Oral Interpretation competition at the tournament. I would like to congratulate all of our forensics team members on their accomplishment, and once again express my appreciation to Amy Pierce, for her fine work as advisor.
Our Board of Control approved a number of measures Monday, including the addition of a Master of Social Work program, which will open for enrollment this fall. We expect about 20 students to enroll during the first semester, and eventually to grow to about 80 students enrolled each year. We already host one of the largest undergraduate social work programs in Michigan with 440 students majoring in the field this year, and this graduate program undoubtedly will benefit many of them. In recent years, about 60 percent of our students who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in social work went on to enroll in a Master of Social Work program elsewhere. We want them to remain in the Cardinal family. My thanks to our colleagues in Social Work and Academic Affairs for their determined and efficient efforts to put this program in place and move it through the curriculum process.
Our board members also approved two capital projects, including spending for up to $800,000 for maintenance and various improvements to M.J. Brandimore House – which is now almost 20 years old – as well as spending for up to $525,000 for repair and resurfacing of several campus parking lots and roadways. Careful planning and regular maintenance of our facilities have been a critical element of our ongoing fiscal health.
Our colleague – and SVSU alumnus – Dave Karpovich, H.H. Dow Endowed Chair in Chemistry, was invited to present in Lansing this week to the Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development. He spoke about the work he and a team of faculty and students are doing to study the Saginaw Bay Watershed through our Saginaw Bay Environmental Science Institute. This is important community-based research to better understand and ultimately improve water quality in local rivers and Saginaw Bay. As a result of his talk, Dave has been invited to present on the topic to other audiences, which is valuable as we seek to have more people across the state understand our commitment to Michigan and the high caliber of research performed here.
As mentioned previously, we will be hosting the statewide FIRST Robotics high school competition Wednesday, April 12 through Saturday, April 15. Including professional mentors and family members, an estimated 7,500 people will visit SVSU for the event. It is a tremendous honor to host the competition, and we want everyone to have a first-rate experience. We can use all the help available in creating that experience. In the weeks ahead, please be on the lookout for calls for volunteer opportunities during the competition. I appreciate any contribution you can lend to this effort.
Please join me in congratulating members of our Greek Life community who participated in the annual Greek Week February 12-16. Members from six of our fraternities and sororities celebrated the week by competing in events such as Game Show Night, Relay Races, and Mock Rock. During the day, students participated in a number of fundraising ceremonies. As a result of their efforts throughout the week, the students not only showed the campus community how Greek Life makes a positive contribution to campus life, they were able to raise $600 for the Humane Society of Midland County.
It’s a busy time of year in Athletics. Congratulations to our women’s basketball team, who defeated Wayne State Thursday night, winning a GLIAC North division title in the process. They will host Northern Michigan University in a GLIAC quarterfinal game at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 28.
Several student-athletes on the swimming and diving teams qualified to compete in the NCAA Championships in Birmingham, Alabama March 7-10. Nine Cardinals will compete in either individual or relay competitions including Lydia Mattar, who won the first GLIAC swimming title in SVSU history in the 200 meter breaststroke. She will be joined by: Alexa Bloom, Alexandra Davis, Wilhelmina Francisco, Taylor Grashuis, Rebeca Martinez, Lydia Mattar, Melanie Soenksen, Amanda Thielen and Shaun Yap.
Our track and field athletes also have an important few days ahead of them as the teams compete in the GLIAC Indoor Track and Field Championships this weekend in Findlay, Ohio.
Finally, our baseball and softball teams have early-season games in St. Louis, Missouri and Evansville, Indiana, respectively, this weekend. Please wish these student-athletes the best of luck. Go Cards!