I know many of you are busy grading final exams and papers, but that work will be completed soon, and our focus will turn to Commencement and the ceremonial conclusion of another academic year. We have nearly 1,100 students completing degrees, and nearly 1,000 of them plan to participate in their ceremony. Our speaker this year is Joseph Fifer, an SVSU alumnus and president and CEO of the Healthcare Financial Management Association, the nation's leading membership organization of healthcare finance executives and leaders. Commencement celebrates why we do what we do: supporting, empowering and motivating our students to complete degrees and make a difference in their lives and our community. It means a great deal to students and families to share the occasion with faculty and staff who have played a part in their college journey. I look forward to seeing you there.
The path from precocious freshman to confident graduate includes interaction with many individuals in all manner of ways. Our student tutors are an often overlooked but critically important element of student success here. Recently, we recognized the winners of our 2016 Mayme Hamilton and Mary Pat Hamilton Tutoring Award: Allison Sterken, a professional and technical writing major from Essexville, recognized for her work in the SVSU Writing Center; Rachel Weller, an accounting major from Fenton, awarded for her efforts as an accounting and economics tutor with the Center for Academic Achievement; and Autumn Zender, a mathematics major from Fostoria, honored for her time working as a math and physics tutor in the Center for Academic Achievement. My congratulations to them and my appreciation to everyone who takes time to assist our students in the course of their studies.
When we talk about the importance of STEM education, it is easy to show a science experiment or engineering project, but the “M” is critically important, too, and our math students and their faculty advisers have enjoyed significant success this year. Earlier this month, Brooke Szymoniak, a math education major from Onaway, won the outstanding student talk award at the Michigan section meeting of the Mathematical Association of America. Recently, three teams of SVSU students competed at the Lower Michigan Math Competition, and two of our teams tied for third among 25 groups statewide. Last December, 16 students were among more than 4,000 competing at the William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition, and five Cardinals finished in the top 39 percent of the field, including Christopher St. Clair, who scored in the top 15 percent. Congratulations to all, and special thanks to faculty Olivier Heubo-Kwenga, Dora Nedeva, and Emmanuel Ncheuguim for their fine work with these students.
Good luck to our softball team, who begins play in the GLIAC softball tournament today. We enter as the no. 6 seed, but we have wins over the top teams in the league, so with some strong pitching and timely hitting, we may just be able to play our way to a championship. Our baseball team is in action against Northwood this weekend, and track and field competes in a meet at Hillsdale. Let’s go Cards!
I hope you were able to attend last week’s inaugural Student Showcase hosted by the Undergraduate Research Program. Jennifer McCullough, associate professor of communication, did a fine job organizing the event. It was an inspiring display of the important research and diligent determination of our students and their faculty mentors. My compliments to Dennis Gray, assistant professor of biology, who received the UGRP Faculty Mentor Award. Students Susie Baulcom, Cameron Belevek, Kami Decker, Carrie Lusty and Kara Terry received the Top Poster Awards. Alison Barger and Elizabeth England won the Top Paper Awards. Gina Kearley received Top Performance Award. With such a great beginning, I am excited to see what the future holds for our Undergraduate Research Program.
This week, I had the pleasure of speaking at the annual luncheon to support the Saginaw Promise, a program that provides scholarships for eligible students who reside within the boundaries of the Saginaw Public School District. We know that many students require additional financial assistance and that as a community-engaged university, we have a responsibility to our region. That is why we are establishing a new Saginaw Urban and Civic Partnership Scholarship. This will provide up to $3,000 annually – renewable for up to four years – for up to 10 students who meet the criteria and attend SVSU, starting this coming fall. Students who receive the scholarship will be expected to engage in one or more service projects aimed at encouraging students within Saginaw Public Schools to pursue higher education. If you know of deserving students who qualify, please ask them to contact our Admissions office.