My compliments to our colleagues who labored long and hard to move nearly a foot of snow from parking lots and sidewalks this week. While most of us are still warm in our beds, they are up early to ensure we are ready for everyone to arrive, and they do a fine job. Their on-sight observations are one consideration in when we decide to close and when we decide to open, but there are many other factors we must consider. The safety of our students, faculty and staff is always our top priority. As a criminal justice professor, I taught night classes for many years; for much of that time, I lived in Lapeer and had a long commute, so I empathize with students in similar circumstances. I read social media comments from students saying SVSU doesn’t care about them or their well-being. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you hear students complaining about our decision-making regarding when to close campus – and when not to – I hope you will take a moment to educate them. I further hope that you will work with students who cannot safely travel to campus and who communicate this to you in a timely and responsible manner.
After spring break, you will be hearing more about our participation in the Chronicle of Higher Education’s Great Colleges to Work For survey. This survey was designed specifically for higher education institutions; it will be distributed to a random sample of faculty and staff later this month. If you are among those who receive the survey, I encourage you to participate. I hear from so many of you that this is a great place to work, and it would be wonderful to be recognized for this. The reason we are participating is more fundamental, however. We want to know what you think about the work environment here. What do we do well? Where could we improve? The survey should provide useful insight in this regard. Again, if you are among those chosen for the confidential survey, please take the time to complete it.
Many of our students will be devoting their spring breaks to service. Seven groups totaling 82 students will be traveling to perform volunteer projects through our Alternative Breaks program. These trips are a wonderful opportunity for our students to not only study a societal issue in a new setting but to also contribute to making a difference in one community for a week, but also in their home communities for a lifetime. We also have Cardinal Business Edge students traveling to Chicago to study banking and business; our Vitito Fellows are learning how they conduct business in Portugal. Many other students are taking part in other enrichment activities. My thanks to all the faculty and staff who support them, and my best wishes to the students participating.
My appreciation to everyone who participated in our Relay For Life last weekend. Our campus community raised $37,000 for the American Cancer Society. Perhaps just as importantly, this event captures the spirit of engagement we work so hard to cultivate, and it provides valuable learning opportunities for our students.
My sincere thanks to everyone who participated in our first Admitted Student Showcase last Saturday. I received much positive feedback on the event, and it did result in more than 230 prospective students and their families coming to campus. We saw around 80 students sign up for orientation over the weekend, which is encouraging. Our work is far from done, however, as we must continue to reach out to students and help them understand the quality of our academic programs and our people.
Our basketball programs have received many awards for their fine seasons and deservedly so. I am particularly proud of the fact that Emily Wendling was named an Academic All-American; on the court she leads the team averaging 18.6 points and 9.4 rebounds per game and she carries a cumulative 3.88 GPA as an occupational therapy major. She has demonstrated her determination to come back from a serious injury that cost her a year on the court. Congratulations, Emily.
Our Cardinal teams are entering March like lions. Men’s basketball suffered a disappointing defeat Tuesday, but their strong regular season should give them a shot at redemption in the NCAA tournament next week. Women’s basketball has advanced to the semifinals of the GLIAC tournament hosted by Ashland University this weekend. An automatic berth is at stake, but the women also appear to be a serious contender for an at-large bid. This will be an interesting Division II selection Sunday.
We have a number of student-athletes who already have qualified for national competition. In swimming and diving, we have six student-athletes competing at the NCAA Championships in Indianapolis next week: Max Buxton, Wilhelmina Francisco, Rebeca Martinez, Kathleen Murphy, Amanda Thielen and Shaun Yap. In track and field, we have six student-athletes who will compete in the NCAA Championships at Pittsburg State University in Kansas next week, three men: Robert Atwater (high jump); Andrew Mudd (heptathlon); and Robert Tarpley (long jump, triple jump); and three women: Anna Fochesato (high jump, triple jump); Emerald Joiner (shot put); and Taylor Stepanski (800 meters). Meanwhile, our baseball, golf, softball and tennis teams all will be competing down south next week, as well.
I don’t know about you, but these last two snowstorms have me ready for spring. I know many of you will be working next week and it is important that university operations continue. For those who will have a “break,” I hope you enjoy it and return refreshed and ready for the final two months of the academic year. If you follow me on Twitter (@SVSUPrez), you will find me cheering SVSU Athletic teams in Florida and meeting with donors. Many of our most committed friends spend their winters there, and it is an ideal opportunity to connect with a number of them.