I hope many of you have already circled at least one of two dates next week on your calendars. Next Friday and Saturday, Dec. 15-16, 570 of our 639 graduates are expected to participate in our commencement ceremonies. I am pleased to announce our commencement speaker this year: Rob Vallentine, who serves as both the global director of Corporate Citizenship for The Dow Chemical Co. as well as president and executive director of The Dow Chemical Co. Foundation. Rob is responsible for corporate engagement with Dow stakeholders at the global, regional and local levels. He has also been instrumental in creating many of the programs that have allowed our university to partner with Dow and its foundation to support STEM education throughout the region. One of the more recent initiatives involved creating the program that trains K-12 students to serve as “chief science officers” at their schools. I am looking forward to introducing Rob to our students and listening to his keynote address.
In our ongoing efforts to enhance our student recruitment efforts, we recently began mailing financial aid award notices to prospective students, showing the scholarships, grants and loans each student is eligible to receive. This has been a labor-intensive project involving several departments across campus, as each student’s individual notice is customized to his/her particular financial circumstance. More than 1,200 notices already have been mailed, and thousands more will be sent over the coming months. In particular, Trisha Heintskill, associate director of Scholarships and Financial Aid, and Julie Reinbold, senior programmer/analyst, did fine work to ensure each student’s information is presented accurately, which is critical to families in their decision-making process. My thanks to them, our colleagues in Admissions, the Graphics Center, University Communications and everyone who worked on this project.
Let me congratulate this year’s recipients of the Braun Fellowship: Jason Scott, associate professor of biology, and Danilo Sirias, professor of management. As part of the fellowship, Scott will investigate the influence of dietary fats, carbohydrates and contaminants on health and disease. Sirias plans to publish three teaching case studies related to managing patient flow in healthcare environments. Their work will enhance SVSU's academic standing among our peers, while also enriching what our students learn from our faculty.
Our moot team program continues to impress. Last week, we hosted the Great Lakes Regional Moot Court Tournament, and another one of our students qualified for the national tournament. Joshua Atkins, an English literature major from Reese, qualified for the national tournament in January along with his teammate from Kalamazoo College. They placed third in the regional tournament. Atkins will join fellow Cardinals Jrew Brickel and Lindsey Mead, who qualified during a tournament last month, when they travel to Dallas for the national tournament next month.
Another point of pride: During the regional tournament here, 13 former moot court students from SVSU served as judges (judge orientation pictured above, bottom). That’s a showing that illustrates how large and successful the moot court program has grown thanks to the dedication of our students and their advisors.
I want to invite all of you to attend this Friday’s fall Engineering Symposium in Pioneer Hall. Twenty-nine mechanical engineering students will showcase senior projects designed in partnership with clients such as the Bay Port Chamber of Commerce, B&P Littleford, Huhtamaki Group, Kremin Inc., and our own Boutell Memorial Greenhouse. The poster presentations are scheduled from 10 a.m. to noon in Pioneer’s first floor hallway. The students also will present to attendees in classroom sessions from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. in Pioneer 245 and 247.
Our institution’s dedication to community engagement continues to impress me. The K-12 students involved in our Great Lakes Bay Regional Youth Leadership Institute on Friday will wrap gifts collected to benefit two Saginaw-based nonprofits. The Emmaus House is an organization that provides shelter and services to help transition women recently released from incarceration. Restoration Community Outreach supports homeless men. Individuals supported by both nonprofits will receive holiday gifts thanks to the kind and generous spirit of those involved in our youth leadership institute.
Students – and likely many members of the campus community – are feeling end-of-the-year stress. Between exams and holiday-related commitments, there are a lot of reasons to feel overwhelmed in December. Please remain devoted to our students. As you weigh your own competing demands, please keep this foremost in your thoughts. If each of us does so, we all will be the better for it.
Congratulations to the men's and women's track and field teams, which completed the SVSU Holiday Classic last week with eight first-place finishes. And as a result of their performances in the competition, five members of the men's team — Sam Black in the heptathlon, Juan Bowers in the 60-meter dash, Ryan Kelly in shot put, Noah VanderVeen in high jump, and Jordan Walters in the 800-meter run — are provisionally qualified to compete in the NCAA Division II Championships in March.
The men’s and women’s basketball teams play several home games over the next week. Both face Lake Superior State in O’Neill Arena today: The women’s team tip-off is 6 p.m. while the men play at 8 p.m. Then Ferris State comes to campus Saturday to play the women’s team at 4 p.m. and the men’s team at 6 p.m.