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State of the University 2015

President Bachands State of the University Address

Dr. Debra Huntley:  Good afternoon, everyone. I'd like to welcome you all to the first annual state of the university address given by the fourth president of Saginaw Valley State University. Please join me in welcoming President Donald James William Bachand, the only, to the podium.

President Bachand:  Thank you, Debra.

Thank you very much for being with us today. The state of Saginaw Valley State University is very good. It is so because we have fine faculty, great student body, and staff at every level of this organization that are committed to the mission of SVSU.

That mission is student success. It's been a year of change, opportunity, and accomplishment. We'll begin today's discussion with personnel and organizational changes.

Recent Additions

In the recent additions to the staff over the last six months was John Decker.

John Decker has a very distinguished law career with Ron Kendrick. He's been closely associated with SVSU for a number of years. Including 15 years at a foundation board.

We're very fortunate to have John. He is our associate vice president for administration and business affairs in the first general council in university history.

Jim Dwyer is not “brand new”. But he has a new job. The first day of his new job was three months ago. Jim's been with SVSU for 35 years. To thousands of our graduates, Jim Dwyer is Saginaw Valley State University. He recruited them as young folks, ushered them to the entire system, and has been with so many of our students for years.

‌There is no university in this country that does not have a very strong relationship with the alumni. Jim's going above and beyond to accomplish that goal for this great university. He is going to be joined by Kevin Schultz and Pam Wagner. The new Alumni Relations will be located on first floor, as soon as we finish their facilities in the renovated Wickes Hall.

The key components of the Alumni Office will be to seek support of our Alumni. We want Alumni to help us recruit students, especially those sons and daughters, nieces and nephews. We want our alumni to mentor undergraduate students. We'd like them to employ our undergraduate students, and we'd like them to stay connected with their alma mater.

Carolyn Wierda will accept her fourth assignment during a five?and?a?half year tenure at SVSU. Carolyn was hired as an executive?in?residence in the College of Education over five years ago. She then became co?director of the Gerstacker Fellows program, a highly successful leadership program in the College of Education.

She then became associate dean of the College of Ed, and I've recently appointed her as executive director of the major STEM initiative. There will be more on the STEM project a little bit later in the presentation.

Mr. Craig Douglas joined SVSU in July as the director of SUPO, (charter school oversight and supervision-this doesn’t seem right). I can tell you that Mr. Douglas has done an outstanding job in SUPO, and has provided great leadership and support for our charter schools. Effective July 1st 2015, Craig Douglas will assume the deanship of the College of Education.

He will be joined in that administrative capacity by Anne Tapp, professor of education, who will join him as the assistant dean of the College Of Education. Anne has been with us for the past 13 years.



I'd like to announce a series of retirements today. Many of you know these folks and you know that they are leaving. Some of you do not. Most of these individuals have dedicated a major part of their professional life to the service of this university and our students. So we'd like to recognize them today.

Bob Cheek, professor of educational leadership and services. He has also spent about half his academic career as a management professor in the college of business.

Cindy Sager will retire from associate professor in education leadership.

Bob Pratt will be leaving us June 30th. I believe Bob's been with the university about 40 years. He had a distinguished career as a head basketball coach, a fine teacher.

Basil Clark, my good friend and professor of English, we're sad to see him go. We wish him well, but‌ we know he'll come back periodically to give us advice on all kinds of issues that we need (no-joke?) advice on.

Judith Hill, my old neighbor in Brown Hall, professor of philosophy, is retiring.

Sam Sarkar, one of the last of the originals at SVSU. with a 40+year career, one of the earliest appointments in the College of Business, professor of economics and a very fine guy.

‌David Dalgarn, 35 years in the biology department. He actually joined SVSU July 1st, 1978,‌ the same year that I joined.

Mary Gravier retired at the end of last term. She held a distinguished career in the Nursing Department.

And our friend Cynthia Woiderski, director of Disability Services, is leaving this university without my permission on June 30th of this year.

I'd like to take a moment to celebrate their careers.



When we began this speech with the STEM Partnership Program I mentioned Carolyn Wierda would take on this responsibility of starting it this year. She played an integral role with the development of the grant proposal that we submitted to H.H. Grace A. Dow Foundation in Midland that secured the largest single gift in this university's history. The gift contained $5 million to support this particular initiative.

Our partners, The Dow Chemical Company, Dow Corning, and the H.H. Grace A. Dow Foundation, are absolutely convinced that what we emphasize at this university in the areas of STEM are important to the economic development including the education of STEM in this region.

‌It's a really complex task that Carolyn will be taking on. Coordinating all these stem programs from elementary, middle school and high schools will not be easy. She will also be overseeing and coordinating the undergraduate research efforts on campus, interacting with Dow and the Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance to make this a highly successful project.

So, Carolyn, we wish you well, and we know you can do the job. Because you've done all these other jobs and we have seen what you can do. And that's why I appointed you to this one, because I know how you'll do it.

Center for Academic Innovation

Next is the Center for Academic Innovation, and many of you know Poonam Kumar, especially if you've tried to transition from face to face lectures to hybrid teaching and online learning. 

Poonam is a gifted educator, and a gifted trainer.

‌She'll have an office on the fourth floor of the library. And this particular initiative is to provide our fine faculty with opportunities to get together with one another, share innovative teaching strategies and techniques, and develop initiatives to enhance student learning at this university.She has done such an outstanding job with the online learning program that we've expanded her responsibilities to include this academic innovation idea.

Now there's a lot of interest in this particular area, and I think it's been a long time coming. And part of that evidence is that the very first symposium that was held on this campus for this group a few weeks ago that over a hundred faculty attended. I have full confidence in Poonam, she will do an outstanding job.

Undergraduate Research

It's not very well known to universities across the midwest, especially undergraduate teaching universities like ours, the extent in which

we support undergraduate research. This university invests over $270,000(quarter million?) in undergraduate research annually.

We support undergraduate students as they engage in important research projects across every academic discipline on this campus. We value this as an important educational tool. Also we think it's an outstanding piece of information to share with prospective students that
‌are looking for a high quality undergraduate education.

I'd like to offer my thanks to Jennifer McCullough, professor of communications, who on a part time basis has accepted the responsibility of coordinating this undergraduate research program for SVSU.

I'd also like to thank the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation for making so much of the research funds available in addition to the funds made available through our university foundation.

Community Engagement

In a couple of minutes, you're going to hear a lot about our community engagement status that we earned in January of this year.

 A classic example of this community engagement is a partnership we developed with the Bay County Health Department through our
‌college of health and Human Services.

‌So, with a two million dollar grant from the federal government, the Bay County Health Department is able to partner with us to provide needed health care services to a segment of the Bay County population. This clinic is tremendous asset to the university and to the region. It's a classic example of the kind of cooperation and activities regional universities should provide to our partners in the region.

Many of our students, in a range of programs in health services, are having a tremendous experience working with the patients in this clinic. It's really a tremendous opportunity for SVSU.

In January of this year, SVSU received the community engagement classic classification from the Carnegie Commission.

This, for those of you that aren't familiar with this classification, is a very big deal. Seven percent of the universities and state colleges across the nation have earned this particular designation.

This designation reflects the institutional commitment of both excellence, education and support for the region. It looks for enhancement projects and programs that involve faculty, students, and staff. To achieve this designation, the university must document on a continuous basis we are meeting criteria to be classified as a community?engaged institution.

The following video will provide you with a clear picture of what this designation really looks like at SVSU and the community that it serves.

[video starts]

[video ends]

I would like to express my appreciation for all of the faculty and staff across this entire University that participated in the development of that very comprehensive application to the Carnegie Foundation. It was coordinated by Kerry Rastigue and the Provost Office.

To just say that this is a big deal is an understatement. I believe it reflects exactly what most of the folks of this University believe in. This in regards to terms of our relationship with the region and our primary responsibility to students, and the betterment of the quality of life to this region. So again, thank you.

You probably know a lot of faculty and staff who are involved in this video. For that I would like to recognize a few of those individuals who have received special recognition in and outside SVSU in the last year.

Special Recognition

I'll begin with the RUBY award winners. Congratulations to this year's RUBY award recipients. For those of you that aren't familiar with the RUBY award, the award recognizes top professionals under the age of 40 in the Great Lakes Bay Region. 

This year's recipients are Tony Crachiola for the Math Department, and Stephanie Brouet of the Chemistry Department.

This marks the seventh consecutive year that SVSU has had faculty or a staff member that received an award in this very competitive competition.

Bob Tuttle, professor of Mechanical Engineering, will receive the 2015 Applied Research‌ Award from the American Foundry Society.

Martin Arford, of the Geography Department, will receive the Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy Offspring Award.

‌David Rzeszutek, from the Theatre Department, who you just saw in the video, will receive the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Faculty Service Award.

Dawn Hinton, professor of Sociology, has received the NAACP Saginaw Chapter Young Professional Award.

And receiving the highest internal recognition for research are Peter Barry, associate professor of Philosophy, and Sarabeth Keough, associate professor of Geography. You are both identified as Brown Fellowship recipients. This award carries with it a research stipend that allows them to engage in serious research projects over the next three academic years.

So congratulations to all of these folks.

Economic Impact

And for some time in this new role I moved around town talking to rotary group after rotary group, Kiwanis, morning, noon and night about the virtues of SVSU, the quality of the people who work here, the facilities, the opportunities that we create for students.

I've always known we have a significant economic impact in this region, but I didn't have at my fingertips the data. So I knew that my friend, Hong Park, in the Economics Department, had done research along these lines. So I talked to Hong, and said, "Hong, it's important that we have a richer understanding of what SVSU means to this region in terms of economics." We know what it means to us, it's a place we love, a place you are employed, a place where we are committed to.”

Hong worked and worked, and he sent me two drafts. And this could be very helpful when I talk to people in this region, especially about why they should be supportive of SVSU, surrounding business people, automobile dealerships, a long range of folks. What would pizza parlors around here do without our students?

We have 9,829 students. A grand total of 1,302 employees. About 900 full time employees, a lot of part time and adjunct faculty, and a big payroll.

These people spend, and this money multiplies. There's some multipliers that are used in these calculations. And as you can see in the last 15 years we've built $234 million worth of construction projects on this campus.

We've employed a lot of plumbers, a lot of brick layers, a lot of excavators, electricians, bought millions of dollars worth of furniture, tens of millions of dollars worth of technology and continue to do so on a regular basis. We also have a large deferred maintenance budget, five or six million a year in projects you never see. Boilers that need to be replaced, plumbing that needs to be upgraded, offices and classrooms that needed to be upgraded. We buy from local vendors, we use local talents, skill trades and others. So, at the end of the day, this number adds up to $326 million. Maybe in the next year after you can come up with a larger number Hong. But this place is worth $326 million of economic impact in this particular region.

I hope you think about this, and I hope the people that you talk to in future months think about how important it is for us to continue to be as successful as we have been.

In a sense, our obligation is a little bit more than just the obligation to ourselves and what's good for us. But we are an important component of what's good for the whole Great Lakes Bay Region. So thank you, Hong Park, and the check is in the mail.

Talent. Opportunity. Promise. Campaign

For our 50th anniversary, Andy Bethune came to the executive staff at the University with a kind of a bizarre idea. His idea was that we could raise $25 million in a campaign. It's kinda bizarre, because we've never done that in a campaign before; or that I can ever recall.

However, we did. A couple of days ago, Andy reported that we've raised $26.2 million in this $25 million campaign. Since the beginning of the year, we've been gifted $8 million of support for the STEM that Carolyn Wierda is going to manage.

Of that eight million dollars in gifts, the gift of five million dollars from the H.H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation was the biggest single gift in University history. People like you and I, in this room, contributed one million dollars to support this place. I can tell you, now that I
‌have this job of asking from people for money every where I go, it's a lot easier asking when you can articulate what kind of commitment your own employees have made. This has created scholarships and research opportunities for students. This $26.2 million has generated 195 new scholarships that make us more competitive and help us offset the cost of an education for prospective students.

We've also received the largest single gift from alumni in University history, a $1 million donation from Jan Botts to support the liberal arts program.

But these endowment funds have allowed us to create the Vitito Global Business Leadership Institute, the Wolohan Fellowship Program, Roberts Fellows program, Cardinal Business Edge, Center for Family Business. And that beautiful greenhouse at the back end of the science building.

So I'd like to thank you all for your support and this spectacular accomplishment for our University.

New Construction

People always ask about buildings. Most of the contractors I bump in along the way are always interested in when we are going to build the next 200,000 square foot instruction building. I respond to that by saying that we don't need one right now.

But the last year we completed a couple projects. This real spectacular indoor practice facility. For those of youthat have been in it, it's really quite amazing. This is a significant regional asset. Hundreds of thousands of high school students and young people will participate in competitive activities in this building over the next several years.

‌I can tell you that there'll be folks from Saginaw Valley State University recruiting them and their parents as they walk through the door. So this building serves a lot of different purposes. Our athletic teams now have a place to work out and practice in the winter time. Those of us that need to walk 300 meter track, who need to be working out now, have the excuse of it being “cold” taken out of the equation.

I go by there at 10:00 o'clock at night and they have this at capacity where you can divide the football field. It looks like a football field 80 yards long, divided into four different fields. There's rugby, and there's soccer that you can play on that field. It was done on time, under budget.

Also designated this Fall, was the College of Education building was renamed Gilbertson Hall for the appropriately 24 years of very, very solid and dedicated service to SVSU.

There is a current major project that's ongoing is Wickes Hall. But there's nothing pretty about removing asbestos. Removing all of the internal piping, electricity, and heating, and ventilation systems in the building is a messy process, but needs to be done.

This is such a great project that at the end of the winter semester, the beginning of May, I will move out of my office, along with Mary and my entire staff. The Provost office, Jim Muladore. We'll all move into the dorms for the summer. Look out. But we'll be back in by August 15th, because students need to be in those spaces. We need to move out, and get them propped up, and cleaned up, and refreshed for our freshmen to move in in the fall.

That project is $6 million of State funding, and $3.2 million of university funds.

The next major renovation project that's in the early developmental stages is renovation of our existing library. The library has been around for a while. Many libraries across the country have transitioned into kind of a learning commons kind of setting. Most of you know that we've moved to Academic Achievement Center, Writing Center, a lot of support activities into the library. The idea was to make it the epicenter of campus, a place where students are drawn to.

So, we are in the early stages of looking at some plans and strategies to seriously think about renovating the interior space of the library over the next couple of years.

The other projects that I mentioned such as the three, to four, to five million dollars worth of work we do every year are just incremental projects. We obtain a huge list of them every year. We got buildings that are 30-35 years old. They have maintenance issues just like you do at home, but we just happen to have five or six million dollars worth a year.


And again, I can tell you we have some challenges. One of the challenges we have is enrollment. Rather than show you 25, 30, or 40 graphs, I'm going to make it real simple. I just have one chart here. And there's one number that you really need to be interested in.

This chart depicts the enrollment at SVSU from fiscal year 2010-2017. You’ll notice the peak enrollment at SVSU occurred in 2012 with 10,790 students. And we've been on a steady, nothing dramatic, decline ever since. Overall we have an incremental decline of about two percent annually.

The number that is really significant is the ?6.3 percent. So if somebody would get confused about this, they would say, "How is your enrollment? How many students do you have enrolled?"

For those of us that are dealing with financial matters, the number of students really don't matter. I mean it matters, but it doesn't matter as much as the number of credit hours that students take. So, the 6.3 percent refers to the decline in student credit hours, over this period of time.

Of course, there are a lot of reasons for the decline. One of those reasons being low high school graduation rates. Smaller percentage of students are graduating from high school, are even attending college. Also we are dealing with migration of families from Michigan over the last four to five years. So, again, the decreases have been incremental, but if you add them up, it's 6.3 percent.

Now, 80 percent of this university's budget is heavily based on tuition revenue. So we have lost 6.3 percent of the tuition revenue. What we have, to be very honest and candid with you, is we have a workforce in place for 10,500 students. Very similar to where we were at our peak. We are not at 10,500 students.

We are not budgeting for 10,500 students. That means there are a couple of options here, and you probably know what the two options are. Either scale down, or you find more students.

Now, recruiting students isn't a serious problem for us; being that we have tremendous assets, and have done it in the past. But I can tell you the competition for recruiting college students is so much different today than it was three or four years ago.

Being that the number of students available to be recruited is smaller, and no universities have decided to close their doors yet, some things are going to change. There will be some closing.

Because many universities across the state, especially private, and this is just my judgment, are discounting their tuition in such a way to lure students into their universities, that they've created a non-sustainable economic model to appear attractive. You can't discount to the point where you can't pay your bills. But if you recruit a student and discount their tuition to a certain point, they become a financial liability, not an asset. And you only can do that for so long. So we don't do that here at SVSU, where we have a long storied history of fiscal management and responsibility as an effective strategy.

I can tell you, that we take this issue of recruiting students very seriously. I want you to know that this isn't an Admissions Department kind of problem. This is an issue for all of us. If you like this place, if you value this place, if you believe in this place, you’ll help us recruit students.

We don’t need 1,000 new students, not because we are off by 1,000 students, but because we can't lose two percent a year. We need a few hundred here, a few hundred there. Now, we made some major changes on how we recruit students. We are focusing on being more aggressive into social media market.

We totally reconstructed our financial aid package. In the old days, most of our financial aid or scholarships went to the top students. There wasn't much money available for good students in the middle. We've redistributed that financial aid because good students in the middle are good students for SVSU.

So, we've made a lot of movement in recent years, especially in the last 12 months. We will continue to do that and much more. But again, we need your help. We've got some programs, such as the Refer a Cardinal Program.

I get Board of Control members that send their first students to SVSU. We have talked to them about Refer a Cardinal. They've got nieces, nephews, neighbors, and our board members believe in this place. They believe it's a high quality institution. We are not selling bad goods, none of us are. So, why don't you help us a little bit?

We have 365 alumni this year that have sent their sons and daughters to SVSU. That's a nice number. Dwyer, also known as parent 364, I did that one all by myself. So next year, I'm looking for about 700 alumni. Send your sons and daughters here. I consider that a good year. I consider 850 a really good year. But to my point, everybody can play a part here.

We have these recruitment days and fairs. A lot of times, educated parents and high end prospective students will want to talk to faculty members. They want the specifics of the program.

They want to know about this kind of the engagement, because it talks about internship opportunities, work experience, co?op opportunities at companies like Nexteer, and Dow chemical. "What are your placement rates? Where do your students go after they graduate? What kind of graduate schools do they get in to?" are all the types of questions we hear.

These are not questions that the average admissions officer can answer, but you can answer. The people in your department can answer.

So, again, this is just an example of how we can engage our alumni and a general overview of what we are trying to do and what we are trying to accomplish at SVSU. Out of 40,000 alumni, about 84 percent live in the state. So, they are around. It's really important to know that we are interested in them, and we could use their assistance. We need them to come back here and see what we look like. We look a lot different than we did 20 years ago.There are universities that I'm familiar with, including Ohio State, where they ask their alumni to come back on these big recruiting days to talk to students that are interested in accounting. The CPAs. So they talk to prospective students in the business school and in the accounting program about the opportunities and experience they had at Ohio State University, and many other universities .

‌Students' success and retention is another big issue. This is a very important issue because part of this decline that you saw on the chart, is retention loss. So, you recruit them, and then they flunk out. We need to improve the rates of success for incoming freshmen at SVSU.

So we recruit them, we get them engaged, we introduce some of the fine faculty members, and at the bottom right, that's the end result. That's our mission, graduation rate. It's all about students.

Student Philanthropy

Student philanthropy at SVSU is unbelievable and off the charts. 

These students at SVSU are unbelievable. 

When a student is involved or talks about Battle of the Valleys it still amazes me. I don't know if any of you are involved in this much, but we have 9,000 students, Grand Valley has 26,000 students.

We have this annual competition, where each university picks a good cause to raise money for. Students have a week to raise the money. SVSU won this year. We raised $32,294 in seven days. So, Grand Valley raised like $6,000. There was a different score on the football game, but we really kicked it up during Battle of the Valleys.

We are also part of Relay for Life. We had a goal this year of $45,000. The Relay goes on through August. We've raised $44,000, already. Our students alone have raised 44,000.‌

The students at this university have raised $300,000 over the last several years. This shows the unbelievable commitment to things that are very important. And although the pleasures of being the president, is they ask you to help.

‌The guy in the back there, with the sunglasses dumping that frigid ice water on the President's head is Joey Rexford. He's the President of the Student Association. But the beard, I'm not sure who that is, but I will find out.

And then you have other opportunities. The guy sitting there with the big banana cream pie in his face, is me.

And the person who did that to me is the Provost, who's still on probation.

Office of International Programs

International students, Marc wants to see you. I think he's doing a great job down in master's program. International recruitment is important to us. It's another way of bringing students to campus. And I can tell you that our applications for regular undergraduates is up over last year. That is a good thing.

Applications and admissions for students at international programs is up as well. So, I thank both the Admissions Office and the Office of International Programs for their fine work. But there's still lots of opportunities for your folks to help us.

Student Athletes

I just want to make a comment about the students' ethic. This is a picture of the new,  re-configured gymnasium over in the Ryder Center. That's what the stadium looks like when you start winning basketball games.

I tell you, it's really pretty exciting. New athletics it's very exciting. It becomes a very intense atmosphere. But, again, what I want to 

say is I've spent a lot of time at volleyball games, soccer games, basketball games, and football games. I've got tremendous respect for these student athletes. You know, to play college sport at this level. All but 20 percent of the athletes who compete at the high school level ever play college sports.

‌When they get on a team in the college level the amount of investment of time and energy that these young people put into their sport and in representing this university is rather incredible.

Though, what's really impressive is our 500 athletes have an average GPA of 3.15. It exceeds the average GPA for all students at SVSU, which is 2.81.

So, these folks play hard, they work hard, and they are extremely competitive. It's very important to them just to perform at the academic level that they do.

And that's an attribute to the leadership of Mike Watson, the athletic director, and all of the fine coaches that he has in these sports that encourage these students to meet all of their academic obligations, because first and foremost, that's why they came to this university.

People Eat

In a final note, I thought it would be interesting for you to know what people eat on this campus these days. I was astounded by another one of Jim Muladore’s reports the other day, when he gleefully reported that we sold $10 million worth of food this year. $10 million. A lot to students, but also to you.

And I said, "Jim, I met you almost 25 years ago, and the food wasn't very good. Get some good food and they will come. Provide some options and they will come. Sell good coffee and they will buy coffee."

So, this is just some data here. Starbucks had over half a million dollars worth of sales last year. 1,000 people a day go that little Starbucks. Papa John's had $350,000 worth of pizza. Einstein's had $312,000, just an astonishing number.

And the hottest food item on this campus is Subway. We haven’t been through our first year of calculations. But Subway is red hot. The Food Court sells $5.6 million worth of food. And that's a good thing.


Wi-Fi Upgrades

Finally, I want to tell you a little bit about WiFi, because it's been the biggest pain in my neck all academic year.

I'm stalked regularly by Joey, the president of the Student Government, his sidekick, Jacob Mojica, who's the Vice President. They keep coming to me all the time about WiFi.

I got to tell you, these young folks are fine representatives of the student body. They don't come in and moan, and they don't come in complain, they come with data. They come with information. They are reasonable people and they identify why WiFi is a problem on campus. It is not a problem everywhere, but it's a problem.

We discovered it's a significant problem. With their help, we found out one of the reasons was for this particular problem is that students have on average four pieces of electronic equipment. Each and every student.

There's a picture here, of this young guy. On the left hand corner, he's holding a smartphone. And you can't see it, but he has another piece of equipment down there, just below his elbow. There is multiple pieces of equipment runningsimultaneously.

And by the way, you know we have roughly 3,000 students living on campus. Those are people who pay regularly. Those who visit, they bring two or three pieces of equipment themselves.

So, I got to tell you, these representatives from Student Government are good people. They represent their constituents very well. And through their particular efforts, we've done a significant amount of research that is going to improve the WiFi capability rather substantially over this summer.

I did see on social media that one of our students wrote something somewhere that the Board of Control passed a financial measure, allocating resources to improve WiFi, but I know since complained that it's been two days and that and it hasn't improved.

But let me tell you something, it takes more than two days to do what we are going to do to improve on the WiFi.

It's been a great first year. Many successes and opportunities at SVSU next year promises, many more opportunities along with many challenges. I've described some of them to you today.

We have a plan. We have the people to bring SVSU from being Michigan's best kept secret to being recognized as the outstanding teaching and learning institution that we are. Keep up the good work, and thank you so much.



Office of the President
Wickes 349
(989) 964-4041