We are hosting site visitors from the National Association of Schools of Music this week, as we seek reaccreditation. I attended a special recital Monday afternoon and enjoyed the performance; our students represented us well. My appreciation to Jane Girdham, department chair for music, and everyone who is playing a role in this important process. These specialized accreditations are valuable external validation of the quality of our programs.
Nine students in our honors program will present their theses next Friday, April 10 in Gilbertson Hall. If your schedule permits, I encourage you to attend. These students are doing exemplary academic work. A schedule, the students and their topic can be found at Honors Program Website. I would like to extend my appreciation to Elizabeth Rich for her fine work chairing our honors program and to all of the faculty who have worked with our students on their theses. Pictured is Valerie Adams, who will present, "Perceptions of Body Weight and Nutritional Practices among Male and Female Division II Collegiate Athletes: Investigation and Intervention."
You will notice some changes in the coming months to staff in the Academic Affairs office. Kris Gregory, longtime special assistant to three vice presidents – including yours truly – will retire this July. There will be opportunities to meet with her and thank her for all she has done for SVSU. In the meantime, Laura Peil, former project coordinator and information specialist, and Tammy Elliott, former administrative secretary, will now serve as special assistants to the provost. Heidi Chernich will replace Tammy as the administrative secretary. While we will all miss Kris, we are pleased to have a strong team in place.
We also will be saying farewell to Kerry Rastigue, assistant vice president for community engagement and integrated learning. She will be leaving SVSU to pursue new opportunities closer to home; her last day will be Friday, April 24. Kerry will return to the practice of law, specializing in elder care in Alpena, Michigan. Kerry came to SVSU in 2013 as service learning coordinator and led our efforts to secure the Carnegie Foundation’s Community Engagement designation. Her passion and tireless efforts on behalf of the Provost’s Office will be missed.
Community engagement and integrated learning remain critical elements of who we are as a university. I am pleased to report that Josh Ode has agreed to serve as associate vice president for Academic Affairs and build on the groundwork laid by Kerry. He is well-suited for this position. Josh is an alum, a winner of the House and Landee awards, and during his time at SVSU, he has been involved in leading many outreach and interdisciplinary efforts. Josh will continue to serve as assistant dean in the College of Health and Human Services until assuming his new role on July 1. Please join me in expressing gratitude and best wishes to our departing colleagues and please offer Josh your full support as he transitions into his new responsibilities.
I know many of you serve as advisers, formally and informally, for students and student organizations. I thank you for doing so. I often hear from students about how much these interactions mean to them. That’s why I was pleased to learn that Bryan Crainer (pictured second from left with Wolohan Fellows on recent trip to Washington D.C.), associate dean for Student Life and Leadership Programs, recently received the Outstanding Adviser Award from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) for District 5, which includes higher education institutions in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Bryan is the adviser to Forever Red, and his students went behind his back to nominate him for the award. I think he’s forgiven them. My congratulations to Bryan and my best wishes to him as he is now considered for this honor at the national level. Also, my continued admiration to all the students in Forever Red for all they do on behalf of SVSU. I can’t say enough about their extraordinary commitment to advancing our cause.
We are pleased to welcome Frank Hall as the new dean for the College of Science, Engineering and Technology. He comes to us from Worcester State University in Massachusetts, where he has been a dean and a professor in the Department of Earth, Environment and Physics; he also served on the state’s STEM Advisory Council. Frank completed a Ph.D. at the University of Rhode Island. He will begin July 1.
In the College of Arts and Behavioral Sciences, the search committee has been conducting phone interviews this week and we hope to bring finalists to campus in April. These are very important leadership positions for our university. My thanks to everyone involved in these selection processes.
Finally, with so much said and written this week about the religious freedom law passed in neighboring Indiana, we at SVSU should be thankful that our campus community embraces active student organizations representing various faiths throughout the world, as well as active student organizations representing LGBT students, and many, many more. SVSU should be a place where people of all backgrounds feel welcome and where they can coexist harmoniously. It is up to each of us to make this happen.
With that said, Liana and I look forward to celebrating Easter with our family. If your religion has you observing Easter or Passover this weekend, we hope your celebration is enjoyable and meaningful.