As we prepare for another academic year to begin, I look forward to seeing many of you next Thursday, Aug. 23 for college meetings, introductions of new faculty and staff, and even a few remarks from yours truly. We have accomplished much over the past year, and we have important work to do in the year ahead. You are invited to the Malcolm Field Theatre for Performing Arts at 4 p.m. to hear from me and others, and you and your families are invited to the annual Welcome Back picnic from 5 to 7:30 p.m. in Owsley Grove. If you have not done so already, please complete your RSVP today.
Our residential students return next week, including a new class of first-year students who begin arriving on Wednesday. Let me extend a thank you in advance to every student, staff and faculty member planning to volunteer during the move-in process. Our SVSU family is exceptional at helping freshmen and their families find their way, literally and figuratively, during those first few days on campus. Our welcoming atmosphere is one of the defining personality traits of our institution, and it is a big reason why we are no. 2 in the nation among public universities for student housing and residential experience. Look for me assisting four students who won the annual contest to enlist my help during the move-in process: Rosaisela Hernandez-Vazquez, Durrell Pigee, Shelby Ulch and Courtney Vanest.
Earlier this week, we welcomed another crop of newcomers: our first-year faculty members. In total, 19 individuals participated in the three-day Faculty Summer Institute, which emphasizes the importance of effective and innovative teaching at SVSU. Thank you to Erik Trump, professor of political science, for his service as director of the program. You can meet many of these new members to the Cardinal family during the Welcome Back address.
The Bay Community Health Clinic – a partnership between the Bay County Health Department, SVSU and others – continues to grow, enriching the lives of so many in need of health care services across the region. Recently, the university received a $352,574 grant from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund to establish a geriatric-focused addictions recovery support team at the clinic. This interprofessional effort will involve faculty from nursing, social work and occupational therapy. The clinic will partner with Essexville-based Recovery Pathways in establishing the addictions recovery support team. Congratulations to Kathleen Schachman, our Harvey Randall Wickes Endowed Chair in Nursing, who wrote the grant along with Jill Innes, assistant professor of occupational therapy, and Matthew Mitchell, assistant professor of social work.
The University continues to make progress in implementing our Strategic Plan. It remains imperative that our campus community continues to examine, define and chart our course as we navigate the challenges facing higher education institutions. This strategic planning effort is important at all levels including the institution as a whole as well as individual divisions, departments and offices.
At the divisional level, I want to share with you an update from Administration & Business Affairs that provides an excellent example of Phase II in our strategic planning process. Recently, ABA compiled a document that follows up on the strategic plan outlined by the division in June 2017. This update provides a clear and concise account of the progress made and goals accomplished one year after the division submitted its plan. All 12 departments within the ABA division submitted their reports, including Athletics, Auxiliary Operations, Business Services, Campus Facilities, Campus Financial Services Center, the Controller's Office, The Conference Center at SVSU, Facilities Planning and Construction, Human Resources, Information Technology Services, Scholarships and Financial Aid, and University Police. In addition to serving as an outstanding template for how best to document the strategic planning process, the document also works as an excellent source of information on how these departments are helping to steer SVSU in the right direction. For those reasons, I would encourage staff and faculty members to download and review Administration & Business Affairs Strategic Plan Divisional Highlights (14,022kB) (14,022kB).
This week, our institution offered two distinct and exciting opportunities for the region's K-12 students. Among those was the second annual "chief science officers" workshop sessions. This initiative trains and empowers middle and high school students both to guide their peers and initiate a wide range of STEM opportunities in their schools and communities. This year, 66 students participated in the program, which culminated with presentations from the students during a Wednesday event. I would like to thank our community partners involved in the program - The Dow Chemical Company, Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance, Hemlock Semiconductor and MidMichigan Health - as well as our participating staff and faculty including Adrianne Cole, director of STEM at SVSU.
This week also marked the conclusion of a program that matched our sociology department with Saginaw's First Ward Community Center. The six-week-long summer initiative involved 48 high school and SVSU students – all associated with First Ward – cleaning up local parks and learning about environmental issues. The program concluded Wednesday at our campus during a debate competition relating to environmental topics affecting Saginaw. I would like to thank members of the sociology department who mentored and guided these students, including Rosina Hassoun, associate professor of sociology, and Dawn Hinton, professor of sociology.
In recent weeks, SVSU has offered a number of powerful professional development opportunities for K-12 educators in the Great Lakes Bay Region and beyond. The latest: the Promotion of Early Learning Success Conference, which brought 200 participants and 21 speakers to campus this for the 12th annual event. Most of the participants are pre-K teachers, but we also welcomed many early childhood and special education educators to the event. We have one of the top early childhood programs in the Midwest, and this is an excellent opportunity to make others aware of what we have to offer. My thanks to all our colleagues who helped organize this opportunity.
Fall sports season has yet to kick off with games and matches, but I already have some spring sports news to offer. Steve Jaksa recently was hired as the SVSU baseball team's head coach. Steve served as head coach at Central Michigan University for 16 years before retiring earlier this year; he ranks second on the institution's all-time coaching wins list. He earned Coach of the Year honors in 2004 and 2015 in Division I's Mid-American Conference. Welcome to Cardinal country, coach!