I will deliver my annual testimony to the Michigan Legislature this afternoon. Topics such as sexual assault prevention, Title IX enforcement, and free speech are very much on legislators’ minds, in light of recent events. As I will tell our elected officials, I am proud of the commitment we have shown to ensure the safety of our campus community and to engage in thoughtful and civil discussion on the important topics of our time. But we cannot rest on our laurels. We must continue to undergo appropriate training and foster a campus environment where students, faculty and staff are empowered to speak up when they suspect something. This responsibility rests with all of us.
Like many of you, I was saddened to learn about the tragic death of one of our students, Katie Bonini. I would like to express my appreciation to the students from Psi Chi, the psychology honor society, as well as the faculty and staff who organized a candlelight vigil in her memory to allow myself and many others to pay our respects. Nikolas Berkobien, a psychology major from Saginaw, led the heartfelt memorial while Lacreta Clark, professor of educational leadership and services, graciously closed the memorial with a song and a prayer. Our campus community truly cares about one another.
We enjoyed an outstanding turnout for Monday’s guest speaker for Black History Month – 1973 graduate Marilyn Atkins, who went on to enjoy an outstanding career in law including her 12 years as the chief judge in Detroit’s 36th District Court. Marilyn’s life story — detailed in her memoir, “The Triumph of Rosemary: A Memoir” — was so inspiring that we asked Marilyn to return as our Commencement speaker in May. I am proud to report she accepted our invitation, and she will share her wisdom with the next generation of graduates.
Our Cardinal family displayed its commitment to the community during Friday’s Relay For Life event, which raised $25,000 to benefit the American Cancer Society. This is a cause near and dear to both Liana and me. We were pleased to see such hard work result in outstanding support for an important cause. Thank you to the students, staff, faculty and community members who organized this event and contributed to the cause.
Congratulations to the University Communications team for another outstanding showing at the annual ADDY Awards, given by the Great Lakes Bay Region branch of the American Advertising Federation to the best advertising and promotional material produced locally. We earned a dozen awards for video, photography, print and web material. Among those honors was the Judge’s Choice award, selected by a judge as the best work submitted for all of the contest’s categories. We earned that distinction for the Cardinal Close-ups video series that debuted in December. One of the judges, Martin Schoenborn, creative director at 2 Fish Co. in Zeeland, wrote:
“After viewing it, I wanted to send my kids to Saginaw Valley State University! The branding is super strong. I loved the red couches! The interviews are great. It’s really hard to get interviews from non-professionals that feel real. And the video does a great job showing off the campus! I believe when prospective students and parents see this work, they’ll want to check out Saginaw Valley State University.”
What an endorsement! If you haven’t seen the videos, they are available online at the new web pages for each of our five colleges.
I was pleased to learn our Cardinal Singers recently were invited to perform with The Chieftains at 8 p.m. Friday at Whiting Auditorium in Flint. The Chieftains are considered one of the top traditional Irish folk bands in the world. What a great honor! Last I looked, tickets are still available.
It was a banner weekend for student-athletes. Congratulations to the three Cardinals who qualified for the NCAA Division II Indoor Track & Field Championship hosted by Pittsburg State University in Kansas March 9-10. Sam Black and Andrew Mudd will compete in the heptathlon while Noah VanderVeen will compete in the high jump. Both the men’s and women’s track & field teams last weekend finished fourth and sixth, respectively, in the GLIAC Championship at GVSU.
In the final game of the season, the women’s basketball team won a 67-66 thriller over Tiffin Saturday. In the second part of that day’s double-header, the men’s basketball team qualified for the GLIAC Tournament following a clutch 88-86 overtime win over Tiffin. The men's team then put together a solid effort Wednesday against the No. 2-ranked team in the nation, Ferris State, but fell short in the tournament quarterfinals. Our student-athletes on both teams demonstrated hard work and dedication all season long.
While the winter sports team enter their final tournaments, some spring sports teams are just beginning. Congratulations to our softball team, which opened the season with a pair of wins Sunday versus No. 9-ranked Southern Indiana and Indianapolis, and has risen to be ranked No. 24 in the nation. Let’s wish all of our spring student-athletes — including the baseball, softball and tennis teams — the best of luck during their out-of-state spring break schedule. Go Cards!
Let me wish a safe and happy spring break to all of you who will enjoy a break next week. We also appreciate those who will be working to keep operations around here moving forward. A number of our students will be leaving for five different Alternative Breaks trips across the nation to help nonprofits with projects involving aiding children with disabilities in Missouri, helping with after-school programming for children in need elsewhere in Missouri, helping with watershed restoration efforts in Maryland, assisting families in need of affordable housing in West Virginia, and providing activities for children in hospitals in Arkansas.
For those traveling, I wish you safe passage. I hope you enjoy your time away and return refreshed and ready for the rest of the academic year.