Our fall enrollment numbers have been finalized and there are two trends about which we should all be encouraged. First, our retention rate improved to 74 percent from 69 percent a year ago; this is a substantial increase and a major step toward our institutional goal of 78 percent. My sincere thanks to everyone who has worked hard to make this happen; let’s build on this momentum. Secondly, our domestic freshman class of 1,301 nearly matched last year’s total of 1,331, despite a continued decline in the number of Michigan high school graduates. We have employed a number of new recruitment and marketing strategies in preparation for fall 2017 and we have good reason to be optimistic that we will see growth in next year’s freshman class. Our total enrollment declined from 9,766 students to 9,165 students. This decrease is a bit more than what we had forecast, but manageable from a budgeting standpoint. As you speak with friends, family and colleagues, I hope you choose to see the glass as half-full and reinforce the positive trends. Our academic programs are strong; our facilities are first-rate, and most importantly, our people are some of the best you will find. SVSU is the right choice for many students and it is up to all of us to ensure more students recognize this.
We have some special home games for our athletics teams this week, and I hope to see some of you in the stands. It kicks off when the football team attempts to improve to 3-1 vs. Ohio Dominican at 7 p.m. Saturday at Harvey Randall Wickes Memorial Stadium. Then the volleyball team plays Lake Superior on Faculty and Staff Night at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Ryder Center.
While some of you may be enjoying watching our present-day athletes, others may be celebrating our alumni-athletes’ accomplishment this weekend. On Saturday, we host the banquet honoring the Cardinal Athletic Hall of Fame Class of 2016. What a tremendous lineup from yesteryear. You may recognize a few of the names: Sonja Duncan (Paquin), a women's basketball player from 1983-86; Evans Lalas, of the men's track and field teams that included the 1982 Indoor National Championship group; and Bill Vitti, a men's basketball player from 1989-92. Other inductees include Tom Waske, our sports information director from 1982-2001; and Cale Wassermann, the men's soccer coach from 2010-15 and a former student-athlete on the team; and the 2006-07 bowling teams that claimed the program’s third and fourth national championships. Those who didn’t RSVP for tickets — the event is sold out now — can still see the inductees during the evening’s football game.
A few months ago, I used this space to congratulate Kathleen Schachman, our Harvey Randall Wickes Endowed Chair in Nursing, for her work in securing a number of critical grants for programs benefiting SVSU and our community. Well, she wasn’t finished. Kathleen was instrumental in our institution receiving a 1-year, $131,329 grant from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. This grant supports a partnership between the AuSable Valley Community Mental Health Authority and SVSU’s University Clinic at the Bay County Department of Health. The funds will help nurse practitioners at the clinic to conduct physical health assessments and co-manage physical health conditions in patients who also have serious mental health issues while also enabling the nurse practitioners to evaluate patients using telehealth equipment, which includes digital stethoscopes, dermatoscopes and otoscope. Keep up the outstanding work, Kathleen and all of our faculty and staff in our College of Health & Human Services.
In a few weeks, our Visiting Scholars & Artists Series — formerly known as Fall Focus — will begin providing some outstanding topics of discussion and discourse from experts across the nation. And some of those experts are members of our very own SVSU family. The series begins with the Rush Lecture featuring Mamie Thorns, special assistant to the president for diversity programs. Her lecture is titled, “Civility, Inclusivity and Equity on Campus and Beyond.” That first gathering is scheduled for 4 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 6 in Founders Hall. Later in the month, my predecessor as president, Eric Gilbertson, will deliver the O’Neill Lecture, “The Empty Ninth Chair: Politics and the Supreme Court.” That event is planned for 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 19 in the Malcolm Field Theatre for Performing Arts. Isaac Stephens, an assistant professor of history, and Peter Brian Barry, our James V. Finkbeiner Endowed Professor of Ethics, will deliver lectures in the winter semester. What an outstanding lineup of home team talent to complement the wonderful guest speakers, which kicks off with award-winning historian Paul Chang-Ha Lim’s Barstow Lecture, titled, “Heretical Lives Matter…Really? Policing the Boundaries of Mystery in Civil War London.” That talk is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 12 in Founders Hall.
Our faculty and students continue to impress me with their community engagement efforts. Recently, four of our students — Ashley Boggs, an exercise science major from Linden; Brenna Dressler, a health sciences major from Saginaw; Holly Simon, an exercise science major from Lyons; and Jessica Walker, a biology major from Freeland — presented research to members of the Council of Michigan Foundations Program Committee at the Roth Clubhouse at the University of Michigan. They discussed how our departments of kinesiology and health science are working on research aimed at improving health in our surrounding communities. I’m incredibly impressed with how they represented SVSU. I’d also like to thank the faculty who assisted them: Meghan Baruth, assistant professor of health sciences; and Samantha Deere and Becca Schlaff, assistant professors of kinesiology. Sam and Becca are also SVSU alumni.
For those who haven’t visited our Thursday Farmer’s Market in the courtyard, I highly encourage it. This initiative began about one month ago, and each week, more farmers are joining our roster of vendors. Just about any fruit or vegetable you can grow in Michigan soil is available at our market, along with some delicious treats. This week, a 2-minute stroll from my office for some pears and brown eggs saved me a trip to the grocery store later on. Watch short video feature...
As the semester moves along, I wanted to remind you about some important campus safety information. Should a critical incident occur — including severe weather — we will utilize our SVSU Campus Alert system, which includes voice, text and email communications sent to cell phones and email addresses registered with the university. To receive alerts or update contact information, go to Campus Alert on SVSU's web site. In an emergency situation, be prepared to take whatever actions necessary to protect yourself and those around you until the arrival of emergency personnel. As such, review the Emergency Procedures Guide for information in responding to certain emergencies. For any emergency situation, dial 911 from a cell phone or 9-911 from a campus phone. You may also text or email firstname.lastname@example.org using your cell phone, tablet or laptop computer. To contact SVSU's Police Department for non-emergency situations, information or additional assistance call (989) 964-4141. For other helpful information, please see the Campus Safety Information 2016-17 (PDF).