For those who were not in attendance Thursday, we were treated to a wonderful open house re-dedication ceremony for our newly-renovated Zahnow Library. With powerful new resources and a modern aesthetic look, the library shines as a centerpiece on our campus. I encourage you to visit this upgraded space to see for yourself.
Our enrollment numbers for the fall are in. We have some work to do, and recruiting students must be a top priority for everyone. Our total headcount stands at 8,662 students enrolled, a decline of more than 5 percent. This is below our budget projections, but a bit better than estimates in August, thanks to fine work by many of our colleagues across the university to enroll students at the eleventh hour. There are some encouraging signs. Our retention rate for domestic students increased from 73.7 percent to 74.3 percent, and our overall retention rate stands at 74.4 percent. We continue to make progress toward our strategic goal of 78 percent. We saw an increase in the number of teacher certification students, due in part to our new accelerated residency program. The number of new graduate students improved, compared to a year ago, due to the new graduate programs we have introduced in social work, and computer science and information systems. We should be pleased that new initiatives are showing returns, but we must not be satisfied. All of us – all of us – must work together to tackle our enrollment challenges with a sense of urgency and purpose. Our academic programs are too strong and our campus environment is so good we know we can turn this around.
The work to build the 2018 freshman class is already underway. We have a Cardinal College Day next Saturday, Sept. 23. My thanks to everyone who is volunteering. I encourage you to invite high school students you may know to attend this event or our Admissions Open House Saturday, Oct. 28. Together, we can make these events and all of our recruitment efforts a shared success.
Speaking of library resources: The Writing Center provided a tremendous asset to Saginaw residents in September 2015 when it opened the Saginaw Community Writing Center, which offers services similar to our university-based Writing Center. Two years later, the Writing Center is offering the same type of support with the Bay Community Writing Center at the Alice and Jack Wirt Public Library in Bay City. The grand opening and open house is scheduled this Tuesday, Sept. 19, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. This initiative was made possible through partnerships with the library as well as the Bay Area Community Foundation, which supplied a $16,500 grant for the 2-year program. This is yet another great example of our institution's commitment to community engagement.
Here is your early reminder that Battle of the Valleys is right around the corner. This year, our fundraising competition against GVSU will begin Sunday, Sept. 24. Our institution’s collections will benefit The Mustard Seed, a Saginaw nonprofit that provides shelter and valuable resources for women and children in need. We will provide more details about how you can contribute to the fundraiser closer to the competition. In the meantime, I would encourage those who are curious about The Mustard Seed to visit the organization’s website at https://themustardseedshelter.org/.
Let me remind you that the first guest in our Visiting Scholars and Artists series, Silvia Pedraza, will speak at 4 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 21 in Founders Hall. Pedraza, who is also part of our Hispanic Heritage Month lineup, is a professor of sociology and American culture at the University of Michigan. Her lecture is titled, “Cuba and its Exile: Political Generations.”
You may have noticed members of a film crew in action across campus this week. Our branding and marketing partners were capturing footage and images for use in our #WeCardinal campaign. New material has been produced since the campaign launched last year. Look for our new TV ad on Monday Night Football Sept. 18.
Another member of our community is doing great work informing others about our campus: Tim Kenyon, lecturer of English. This summer, he launched an SVSU-centric podcast series called SVSU RedPod, which features in-depth interviews with members of our Cardinal family. His first two episodes included sit-downs with student tutors from the Writing Center as well as Mike Major, director of Career Services. Podcasts are an emerging medium thanks to advances in smartphone and audio technology, and I am pleased we have faculty representing SVSU in that space. If you are interested in listening to RedPod, you can download episodes for free on SoundCloud or iTunes.
While we are on the subject of Career Services, that office recently produced a five-minute video emphasizing the importance of our local chambers of commerce while also providing tips on how best to network at chamber events. On top of being well-produced and featuring several familiar faces from campus, the video also works great as a tutorial for students who would benefit from networking with local chambers of commerce. You can view that video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4IHP8y6QCA&feature=youtu.be.
During the winter semester, we introduced the Nightline bus service route, available for students interested in free transportation across Saginaw’s commercial district nightlife on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. I am pleased to announce the success of that pilot initiative has allowed us to continue the program this academic year in partnership with STARS bus service. This service is both beneficial to our students as well as the business community gaining patronage. I would like to thank everyone who supported Nightline’s success.
The tennis team will try to earn its first wins of the season during home matches against Purdue Northwest and Davenport on Saturday at 11 a.m. and Sunday at 11 a.m., respectively. Those are the only home matches over the next week.
Congratulations to Whitney Fleming, the sophomore women’s soccer forward who was selected as the GLIAC Women’s Soccer Offensive Player of the Week after leading her team to three consecutive wins recently. The team will begin GLIAC play when it travels to Northern Michigan for a 1 p.m. game Friday and Michigan Tech at noon Sunday. The men's soccer team also kicks off its GLIAC schedule with an away game at Northern Michigan at 4 p.m. Friday.
The football team also deserves some kudos after a 28-0 home shutout of Walsh last Saturday. It was the program’s first shutout since 2004. Coach Jim Collins and crew will attempt to go 3-0 during a 6 p.m. game versus 1-1 Wayne State on Saturday. Go Cards!