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President’s Weekly Update - Week of Monday, Nov. 16

Great support for ‘Battle of the Valleys’

My congratulations to Natalie Schneider, Battle of the Valleys chair, and Jarrod Eaton, president of Student Association on winning the fundraising competition with Grand Valley State University again this year. My thanks to everyone who contributed to this cause, which raised $24,450 for this year’s charity partner, Get Outside for a Healthy Inside, whose mission is to improve healthy and increase physical activity in Saginaw, especially through building parks and trails for families to enjoy. This is a great learning opportunity for students and a great way to show our support for the local community. And it’s great to win.

Best for Vets

‌‌‌‌‌Best for Vets 2016

I was pleased to participate in Veterans Day activities on campus last week, and we all can be proud that SVSU was once again recognized by Military Times in its Best for Vets: Colleges 2016 rankings. SVSU was rated No. 1 in Michigan and No. 38 nationally for our veteran and military student services and rates of academic achievement. My compliments to Denise Berry, director of military student affairs, and everyone on this campus who helps to create a welcoming and supportive environment for our 375 military-affiliated students.

Student wins Outstanding Undergraduate award

We have really good students working with really good faculty, and this is evident when their research and scholarship efforts are judged against their peers from other institutions. Another recent example came courtesy of Melissa Jones, an exercise science major from Shelby Township in Macomb County, who won the Outstanding Undergraduate Oral Presentation award at the Midwest American College of Sports Medicine annual conference in Fort Wayne, Ind. November 6-7. She credits Meghan Baruth, assistant professor of health sciences, and Rebecca Schlaff, assistant professor of kinesiology, for mentoring her. Congratulations, Melissa. Keep up the good work.

Healthy U best wellness program in Midwest

At the same conference, the Midwest American College of Sports Medicine awarded SVSU’s HealthyU program with the 2015 Active U Competition award. The honor is given to the top health and wellness program among higher education institutions in Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Ohio and Wisconsin. This is a great honor, but more importantly, it’s a great benefit to our faculty and staff to have this program to encourage us to be healthy. Cyndie Bala, associate director of Human Resources, does a fine job coordinating this program, and her past interns have gone on to great things, so we are expecting the same from Elizabeth Ballien, her current intern.

Moot Court


Congratulations and best wishes to Mark Babcock, a recent alumnus from Saginaw who is enrolled in additional courses; Rachel Cahill, a political science major from Niagara Falls, Ontario; Billie DeShone, a history major from Saginaw; and Rob Mass, an economics major from Howell. These four students qualified for the American Collegiate Moot Court Association national tournament in Long Beach, California in January, by virtue of their strong showing at the regional tournament held at SVSU this past weekend. My continued appreciation to Julie Keil,  assistant professor of political science and moot court adviser, for her fine work with this program, which is no. 20 overall in the national undergraduate rankings.

Kudos to Monica Reyes


Governor Snyder recently appointed Monica Reyes, director of disability services, to the Hispanic/Latino Commission of Michigan. Housed within the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, this 15-member commission develops and maintains a unified policy and plan of action to serve the needs of Michigan's Hispanic and Latino residents. Monica also is active locally with the Great Lakes Bay Hispanic Leadership Institute. She does a fine job representing our university, and I have no doubt she will do a fine job representing our state. Congratulations, Monica.

Off to Oxford

A group from SVSU has departed for Oxford, England. They were invited to present their research paper at the 13th annual Global Conference on Business and Economics at Oxford University Nov. 22-23. George Puia, Dow Chemical Co. Centennial Chair in Global Business, authored the paper, “Indulgence, Restraint, and Within-Country Diversity: Exploring Entrepreneurial Outcomes with New Constructs,” with two alumni and two students. Joining him in the research were: Heidi Hicks, a management major from Saginaw, and Zackary Gibson, a marketing major from Davison; along with alumni Lisa Maroni and Rosalie Stackpole. This is quite a feather in our cap; it is not every day that one gets invited to present at the oldest university in the English-speaking world. My congratulations to all.

SVSU Theatre Presents World Premiere

Our theatre department is producing the play “Safe” to audiences this week in the play’s worldwide premiere. It is part of a collaboration with Road Less Traveled Productions, a professional theater company based in Buffalo, New York, which plans to follow with its own production of “Safe” in March. The script has won multiple awards, and the playwright, Donna Hoke, has been on campus; in fact, she has already made changes to the script based on watching our students rehearse the play. Liana and I attended the opening performance and enjoyed meeting the playwright and continue to be impressed by our fine student actors.  My compliments to Dave Rzeszutek, associate professor of theatre, for working to bring this truly extraordinary learning opportunity to campus. “Safe” continues through the weekend with shows tonight and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. I hope you can attend and enjoy the show.

Final concert for Bill Wollner

My student employees had to explain to me what a flash mob is, but I thought it was a great tribute by members of our marching band to stage one this week to encourage students to attend the marching band indoor concert Monday, Nov. 23 in the Malcolm Field Theatre for Performing Arts. This will be the final such concert directed by Bill Wollner, associate professor of music, who has done a remarkable job directing our marching band for the past 34 years. Bill is here through the academic year, but attending the concert would be a good way to acknowledge his contributions to the university, so I encourage you to attend if your schedule permits.

“Friends of SVSU” Update

After enjoying the Thanksgiving holiday, I will be ready for a party. The Friends of SVSU political action committee has accommodated by scheduling the annual PAC party, for Monday, Nov. 30 at Bay Valley resort. The committee is independent of the university, and your support is voluntary. I know many of you have chosen to contribute over the years, and that is appreciated, as no university funds can be used to support political candidates or causes. Several faculty, staff and alumni have volunteered to serve on a newly-formed advisory committee to determine how PAC funds are distributed. I thank them for agreeing to serve in this capacity. For more information on the party and the committee, visit

Cardinals in postseason play

Congratulations to the men’s soccer team on winning their opening match over the University of Indianapolis in the opening round of the NCAA tournament before bowing out in the second round. Our volleyball team lost in the quarterfinals of the GLIAC tournament but remains alive for a possible NCAA bid. Our winter sports are under way, as well. Best wishes to men’s and women’s basketball and to men’s and women’s swimming, who all have contests this weekend. Men’s basketball has a home game next Tuesday, Nov. 24 at 7 p.m. I know they would appreciate your support. Go Cards!

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