It has been a month since Commencement, but stories of post-graduation plans continue to pour in, and several of these will be featured in our materials ths summer. A student leader who traveled the world, helping an earthquake-ravaged nation while sharing his experience at international academic conferences. A mechanical engineering major who lost part of his leg his sophomore year yet didn’t let that stop him from earning a full-time job opportunity before he was finished as a senior. A community-engaged student who balanced her bid to compete in the Miss Michigan pageant with her pursuit of a job in teaching — then succeeded at accomplishing both. These are just a few of the outstanding stories included in the latest New Cardinal Alumni project that profiles 15 of our May graduates. These stories — detailing how their determination as undergraduates resulted in perseverance in their early post-graduate lives — are sure to inspire and remind us all why we are here: to advance the lives of our students and their communities. Please take the time to enjoy this project.
One recent alumnus is returning to campus. Brandon Rushton, 2012 SVSU graduate, recently was named the second recipient of our Fredericks-Follett-Roethke Graduate Fellowship in the Arts and Humanities. The fellowship supports an individual’s visit to SVSU to study one of three collections housed on campus: poet Theodore Roethke, sculpture artist Marshall M. Fredericks, or British author Ken Follett. Brandon will spend a month on campus beginning Monday, June 26, immersing himself in Roethke’s poetry and related material. He will focus especially on “North American Sequence,” a series of six poems published posthumously in the 1964 Roethke collection titled “The Far Field.” I look forward to seeing how this fellowship enriches our understanding of this important poet in American history.
Our students, staff and faculty continue to perform outstanding community engagement work, at times helping our municipal neighbors better understand their environments. This has been the focus of research led by Andrew Miller, associate professor of geography, and Evelyn Ravuri, professor of geography, who have researched detailed data patterns over the years to help Saginaw law enforcement and emergency service agencies. One such study showed that the average time it takes police to respond to serious crimes in the Saginaw region is significantly less than the national average. Andrew and his students reached these conclusions after analyzing some 45,000 calls that Saginaw County 911 received in that time period regarding crimes such as assaults, burglaries and robberies. Watch for more to come on related research in the coming weeks; we are fully invested in sharing our expertise to improve our community.
We recognized the most recent Dow Corning Foundation/Saginaw Valley State University Community STEM Partnership cohort during an academic year-end symposium. This initiative has provided resources and training since 2014 for K-12 teachers interested in developing student interest in the sciences. In 2016-17, our largest cohort of 27 educators — from 14 schools in 12 districts spanning Bay, Midland, Saginaw and Tuscola counties — did outstanding work to better STEM education for K-12 students. I am very proud of their efforts, as well as the dedication of Stephanie Brouet, associate professor of chemistry, and all the faculty, staff and students who worked with these K-12 teachers along the way.
A new partnership program will further enhance our efforts to generate more STEM education interest among K-12 students. The Dow Chemical Company Foundation recently awarded us a $40,000 grant to run a community-minded pilot program that will develop K-12 students to serve as “chief science officers” at their respective schools. This initiative will involve middle schools and high schools in Bay, Midland and Saginaw counties, beginning in the 2017-18 school year. Modeled after a similar program that has proven successful in Arizona, middle and high school students are elected by their peers to be a “chief science officer” and then are empowered to influence a wide range of STEM opportunities in their schools and communities. Adrianne Cole, STEM program manager, will oversee the program. The funds in part will support up to two students and a teacher mentor from each participating school to attend a two-day summer institute that will bring middle school and high school students to SVSU in August. Around 50 students are expected to participate for the upcoming year. I am excited to see how this program influences STEM education in our region.
SVSU is truly a leader in providing expertise to support our neighbors. Our Saginaw Community Writing Center (pictured), hosted at the Butman-Fish Library in Saginaw, was the first of its kind in the state when it opened in September 2015. Now, thanks to grant funding from the Bay Area Community Foundation, we are establishing the Bay Area Community Writing Center, which will open in September at the Alice and Jack Wirt Public Library in Bay City. The funds will cover two years of support for student tutors from SVSU’s Writing Center; they will offer workshops as well as individual tutoring sessions for members of the Bay County community. This experience for our students is invaluable, and the community members who attend the sessions and workshops are most appreciative. My thanks to Chris Giroux, associate professor of English, and Helen Raica-Klotz, director of the Writing Center, for leading efforts to introduce this resource to our region.
Our outstanding residential environment received national recognition for our efforts to provide gender-inclusive student housing options for students. The National Association of College and University Residence Halls (NACURH) announced SVSU earned the organization’s Outstanding Advocacy Award for Gender Inclusive Housing during the organization’s annual conference hosted at Purdue University. Our student leaders sought more inclusive housing options and worked with our housing staff to implement them in advance of the 2016-17 academic year. The new policy allows students of different genders to room together if they choose. This was an important step in creating a more inclusive campus environment, and I appreciate the NACURH recognizing the significance of that step.
I was pleased to attend the recent reception for Creative Cardinals, an exhibition on display in the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum that shows off visually-compelling artistry from SVSU faculty and staff members. We have so many talented artists on our campus, and it really showed in the impressive paintings, photography and sculptures on display in this exhibition. If you have not yet browsed the work, I urge you to do so. You won’t be disappointed. You have until June 17 before the museum begins setting up for the next exhibition.
Career Services will host a job fair for positions in the education industry next Tuesday, June 13 from noon to 2 p.m. in Gilbertson Hall. There is a growing demand for K-12 educators in general, and SVSU graduates in particular. More than 30 school districts plan to attend our fair. School districts there will be looking for K-12 teachers, substitutes, principals, assistant principals and teachers for special needs students. Our state needs great educators at all levels. If you know students who are interested in pursuing a teaching career, please encourage them to talk to our colleagues in the College of Education.
I would like to congratulate Sue Crane, business and financial analyst, who recently was honored by the Midland Special Olympics as the 2017 Area Outstanding Coach of the Year. Sue and her family have been involved in the Olympics for a number of years now. She has served as a softball coach for four years with the Special Olympics, as well as an assistant basketball coach. Sue’s work and recognition provide yet another great example of how members of our campus support our community as volunteers.
Our athletic season finished in spectacular fashion at the NCAA Division II Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Five members of the men’s and women’s track and field teams earned spots on the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association’s First and Second Team All-American lineups. In his final run as a Cardinal, Joey Southgate – the last runner to qualify – smashed his own personal record in the 10,000-meter competition. He entered the event ranked 21st in the nation, but finished in sixth place to conclude his career on the medal podium. On the women’s side, Taylor Stepanski posted a fourth-place finish in the 1,500-meter run, breaking her own school record during her final competition as a Cardinal. Both earned First Team All-American status, as did sophomore Sam Black, who finished sixth in the men’s decathlon. Sophomore Ryan Kelly, shot put, and freshman Jullane Walker, 100 meters, each earned Second Team All-American honors.
Summer is a time to prepare for the seasons ahead, and members of our men’s and women’s golf teams have played well in recent tournaments. Junior Mason Motte shot a career-low 66 to win by two shots at Arbor Hills in Jackson in the Golf Association of Michigan Amateur qualifier. Freshman Sabrina Coffman, meanwhile, won the Midwest Collegiate Series at the Toledo Country Club by one shot. Go Cards!