I look forward to seeing many of you tonight. The All-University Awards Banquet feels a lot like the Academy Awards of SVSU, and you’re all worthy of Oscar trophies, by my estimation. But tonight we will shine a spotlight on a few of you and toast to the rest as well as to the success of the concluding academic year. I’d like to send a special thanks to the folks at Human Resources and The Conference and Events Center for all the work they have — and will — put in to making this yet another evening to remember. And, while we’ll celebrate them tonight, let me again congratulate and recognize those who we will honor. The awards and recipients are:
Ruben Daniels Community Service Award: Dr. Joseph Ofori-Dankwa, Harvey Randall Wickes Chair in International Studies, College of Business and Management
Roosevelt Ruffin Diversity Award (Sponsored by Team One Credit Union): Vanessa Brooks Herd, associate professor of social work
Terry Ishihara Co-Curricular Involvement Award: (faculty) Adam Coughlin, associate professor of kinesiology; (staff) Jaime Leyrer, special assistant to the dean, College of Business and Management
Thomson Award for Empowering Learning in Community Engagement: Jason Schoenmeyer, associate director of Student Life
Outstanding Performance Award: Debbie Fegan, senior programmer/analyst; and Denise M. Berry, director of Military Student Affairs
Mary H. Anderson Adjunct Faculty Award: Walter H. Reynolds, adjunct faculty, Department of Criminal Justice
House Family Award for Teacher Impact: David Rzeszutek, associate professor of theatre
Earl L. Warrick Award for Excellence in Research: Scott M. Youngstedt, professor of anthropology
Franc A. Landee Teaching Excellence Award: Erik Trump, professor of political science
Distinguished Service Award: Leola Wilson, former Board of Control member.
Speaking of people earning well-deserved recognition: Plenty of our students are in on the act too. Most recently, Mallory Rivard and Natalie Schneider were honored for their community-minded actions during the Michigan Campus Compact Awards Gala in East Lansing Thursday. Both received a Commitment to Service award for their extensive community involvements. Rivard also received the prestigious Outstanding Community Impact Award, which honors up to five undergraduate students in Michigan who have made service an integral part of their college experience by their significant contribution to community resources. Among her many activities, the elementary education and early childhood major from Bay City has been involved in several service projects and community engagement activities with a number of local agencies including Special Olympics, food pantries, and local schools. Natalie, meanwhile, was honored in part for her work as coordinator of our most recent Battle of the Valleys campaign.
While the business management major from Saginaw Township received an individual award, she and those who organized the 2015 BOV campaign also earned accolades from Michigan Campus Compact. The organization selected BOV as the recipient of the statewide 2016 Innovations in Community Impact Award. The latest fundraiser marked the eighth consecutive competition our campus has outraised GVSU — a fact I’m almost as proud of as of how much money we’ve raised for nonprofits over the years. For those counting: It’s $331,329 since the competition began in 2003. Both institutions have raised $508,819 total. A half-million dollars in charitable funds is a victory truly worth honoring, and I’m happy our students are receiving such praise.
Last fall semester, many of you participated in an online training course: “Preventing Discrimination and Sexual Violence: Title IX VAWA and Clery Act for Faculty and Staff.” This week, our students received an email invitation to participate in a version of the course tailored to them. I know this is the time of year when many students — and many of us — are working overtime to finish the semester strong, but please encourage participation in this initiative. This is a very important issue on college campuses nationwide. I cannot stress enough how important it is to ensure that our entire community is doing everything possible to create a safe and welcoming campus environment.
Please congratulate Eric Gardner next time you see him in the halls. His work and scholarly pursuits continue to lift our reputation as a home of some of the world’s finest academics. Next week, he will deliver the American Antiquarian Society’s James Russell Wiggins Lecture. This is a lecture that has featured prominent voices in literary studies and history such as David S. Reynolds, Carla Peterson and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Eric will be sharing how studying the lives of black Americans in the 19th century should reshape our consideration of black writers, editors and readers then and now. In his talk, titled “Re-envisioning Black ‘Book History’: The Case of AME Church Print,” he will reference a similar pool of research that provided the basis for his Black History Month lecture here in February. Congratulations, Eric, on the honor. You are deserving of this great spotlight.
Those of you who attended last week’s Red Zone Rally heard Athletic Director Mike Watson proudly boast about SVSU being ranked No. 25 in Learfield Director's Cup Division II standings, an award that honors institutions maintaining a broad-based athletics program that achieves success in many sports. Well, it turns out we’ve climbed the rankings a bit since then. We’re now No. 17 out of 202 institutions ranked in the division. What an accomplishment — and well-earned. Our successes included NCAA tournament appearances for the men's soccer and volleyball teams in the fall, followed by both the men’s and women’s basketball teams last month. Then consider that the swimming and diving as well as the track and field programs featured a number of successful student athlete seasons. It’s always a great day to be a Cardinal. This academic year, it’s been a great time to watch the Cardinals play sports. As our spring sports teams wrap up their seasons, let’s make sure we continue to show our support for our Athletics programs.
SVSU has a tremendous impact on the region’s economy. Our students have so much to do with that and, of course, the community is the ultimate beneficiary. That’s why I was pleased Scott Carmona, our Board of Control chair, was able to discuss our campus’ economic impact this morning during an event hosted by the Sunrise Rotary Club of Saginaw. Some of our own students — members of SVSU’s Rotaract Club — were present. Scott gave examples of students, faculty and staff who are engaged in a variety of community service projects, putting a face on the wonderful ways we keep this community so strong.