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May 3, 2023

SVSU President George Grant Jr. to preside over his first commencement

Local health care CEO and Grand Rapids attorney to speak

side-by-side portraits of man and woman in professional attire

Saginaw Valley State University’s May commencement exercises will feature a new president and the return of invited commencement speakers. SVSU President George Grant Jr., who took office Jan. 1, will preside over his first graduation ceremonies. In addition, the two ceremonies on Friday, May 5 will feature commencement speakers for the first time since December 2019.

Nearly 1,100 SVSU students have indicated they will don regalia and march in the ceremonies. Graduates from the colleges of Arts & Behavioral Sciences and Science, Engineering & Technology as well as the Scott L. Carmona College of Business will be recognized in a noon celebration.

Graduates of the Crystal M. Lange College of Health & Human Services and the College of Education will be recognized at a 4:30 p.m. ceremony.

Both events will take place at SVSU’s Ryder Center and will be livestreamed.

Patrick Miles, Jr., a Grand Rapids-based attorney, will address graduates in the noon ceremony. Bethany Charlton, president and CEO of Covenant HealthCare and an SVSU alumna, will make remarks at the 4:30 exercises.

Miles is a partner in the 750-plus attorney law firm Barnes & Thornburg, which has over 20 offices nationwide. He focuses his law practice on corporate compliance, investigations, monitorships, and business transactions, including minority and woman-owned business formation, financing and certification.

From 2012 to 2017, Miles served as U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan, covering 49 of Michigan’s 83 counties and 11 federally recognized Native American tribes. As a federal prosecutor, he focused on prosecuting those who exploited children, committed violent crimes, or defrauded taxpayers, seniors and institutions.

Miles also worked to improve relations between law enforcement and the communities they serve and to inform the public about the opioid crisis and solutions. He completed his undergraduate studies at Aquinas College and earned his law degree from Harvard University, where he served as editor-in-chief of the Harvard Law Record, America’s oldest law school student newspaper.

Charlton was named president and CEO of Covenant HealthCare in 2021. An SVSU nursing graduate, she has spent her career at Covenant, beginning as a student nurse extern at the former St. Luke’s Hospital. Charlton has served in a variety of leadership roles at the organization, including chief nursing officer and, later, executive vice president/chief operating officer. Charlton helped lead teams through the merger of St. Luke’s and Saginaw General Hospital into Covenant HealthCare, implemented the transition to electronic medical records, and served as a clinical manager for areas such as critical care, heart failure and the birth center. In addition to her SVSU degree, Charlton holds a Master of Healthcare Administration from Central Michigan University.

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.