The executive director of the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation will deliver the keynote address to graduates during commencement exercises at Saginaw Valley State University.
Jenée Velasquez, who also serves as chair of SVSU's Board of Control, will speak at both ceremonies: Friday, Dec. 14 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 15 at 11 a.m. in O'Neill Arena of the Ryder Center.
The graduating class totals 623 individuals expected to complete degree requirements, including 553 graduating students who plan to don regalia and march in their respective ceremonies.
Commencement exercises for graduates in the colleges of Business & Management, and Health & Human Services will be held Friday evening. Students completing degrees in the colleges of Arts & Behavioral Sciences; Education; and Science, Engineering & Technology will take part in the ceremony scheduled for Saturday morning.
As is tradition, SVSU President Don Bachand will congratulate each graduate as he or she crosses the stage.
Velasquez has served as executive director for the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation since 2005. Prior that appointment, she served Midland County's economic development corporation in two capacities: first as manager of economic development services and then as its chief executive officer.
Velasquez has maintained strong ties to the community. Beyond her board service at SVSU, she served as campaign co-chair for SVSU’s Talent. Opportunity. Promise. private fundraising campaign, which raised $28 million, including a $5 million gift from the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation to create the STEM Scholars Network, which provides funding to support SVSU student and faculty research, as well as outreach efforts.
In addition, Velasquez serves as a board member of Michigan Non-Profit Association, MidMichigan Health, Michigan Municipal League Foundation, Chemical Bank Advisory, and many others.
Numerous organizations have recognized Velasquez for her service to the community. In 2018, she was inducted into Junior Achievement of North Central Michigan's Hall of Fame. In 2016, she was named by Crain's Business Detroit to its 100 Most Influential Women in Michigan. In 2013, she received the YWCA Women of Achievement Award for Community Leadership, and in 2012, she received the Great Women of the Great Lakes Bay Region Award and Margaret Ann “Ranny” Riecker Meritorious Service Award.
Velasquez completed a bachelor's degree in business administration from Kansas State University and a master's degree in business administration from Michigan State University. She also completed an executive education course at Harvard University's John. F. Kennedy School of Government.