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December 14, 2022

SVSU President Donald Bachand to preside over his final commencement

man at lectern, pointsettias in foreground

When he addresses Saginaw Valley State University’s latest graduates on Friday, Dec.16, it will be one of Don Bachand’s last official acts as president of the university he has served for more than 40 years, the last eight as president.

“I have attended dozens of commencement exercises in my years at SVSU, and I have felt honored to be at each one,” Bachand said, “but these last ceremonies will hold special meaning for me.”

Bachand will retire from the presidency on Dec. 31.

SVSU will hold two commencement ceremonies. Graduates from the colleges of Arts & Behavioral Sciences, Education, and Science, Engineering & Technology will be recognized in a noon celebration. Graduates of the Crystal M. Lange College of Health & Human Services and the Scott L. Carmona College of Business will be recognized at a 4:30 p.m. ceremony. Both events will take place at SVSU’s Ryder Center and will be livestreamed.

More than 500 students are expected to complete degree requirements, and 450 have registered to participate in one of the two ceremonies.

“It hasn’t really sunk in yet for me,” said Walker Wenzel, a communication major from Saginaw. Maybe it will feel real after graduation.”

In graduating from SVSU, Wenzel will follow in the footsteps of his parents, Keith and Kristen Wenzel, who graduated in 1990 and 1993 respectively, and his grandmother Mary Nelson, a two-time graduate of SVSU (1977 and 1986).

Wenzel said graduation is bittersweet, in part because he hadn’t become involved on campus until the past year.

“Soon after I transferred to SVSU from Delta, the COVID pandemic hit,” he said. “I hadn’t really planted my roots yet or formed any new connections, and I wanted to change my major. Suddenly, because of COVID, I didn’t know what to do.”

Wenzel persevered and decided on a communication major. While he was busy learning in the classroom, he also gained practical experience working part-time for the Great Lakes Loons, the Saginaw Spirit, Saginaw Mosquito Control and as a student intern with SVSU’s Office of University Communications. Wenzel said these experiences, coupled with classroom learning, have prepared him well. In fact, he is ready for the next step, having secured a full-time position with Amigo Mobility International in Bridgeport following graduation.

Like Wenzel, other SVSU graduates are building careers in high-demand fields in the Great Lakes Bay Region, throughout the state and beyond. According to a survey conducted by SVSU’s Office of Career Services, at least 94% of graduates from 2019, 2020 and 2021 are employed or continuing their education.

“At SVSU, our goal is to prepare students for success after graduation,” said Teresa George, director of Career Services. “Whether our graduates enter the workforce or continue their education, we want them to be ready,” George said. “With degree programs that align with Michigan’s high-demand, high-wage careers, SVSU offers pathways to success for our students and provides employers with a strong talent pool.”

In addition to recognizing SVSU’s graduates, the university will confer honorary Doctor of Laws degrees upon state senators Ken Horn of Frankenmuth and Jim Stamas of Midland, who are completing their terms in the Legislature.

Sen. Horn, who represents Michigan’s 32nd State Senate District, will receive his honorary degree during the noon graduation ceremony. Over his 30-year political career, Horn has been a strong advocate for higher education and the strengthening of Michigan’s workforce talent pipeline. He was instrumental in securing state funding for SVSU’s Scott L. Carmona College of Business and for the university’s Brown Hall renovation project.

Sen. Stamas represents the state’s 36th Senate District. In his 25-year political career, Stamas has consistently advocated for higher education. He has provided leadership on proposals to build Bachand Hall and the Scott L. Carmona College of Business and to renovate Wickes Hall and Brown Hall. He has also advocated for increasing available funding for scholarships to boost the talent pipeline in the education and health care workforce.

“Commencement is not an end, but a beginning,” Bachand said. “One of the greatest honors of serving this university is seeing our students embark on their next beginning.

“SVSU students have consistently demonstrated their dedication, enthusiasm and determination to make their workplaces and communities better. I feel incredibly privileged to have played a role in the educational journey of so many bright, caring, committed people.”