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President’s Weekly Update - Week of Monday, October 15, 2018

$200,000 DNR grant to support the reduction of watershed contamination


Our faculty continue to place our institution at the forefront of environmental research in our region. We recently received a $200,000 grant from the Office of Great Lakes, a division of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to perform molecular source tracking in the Saginaw Bay Watershed. Led by Tami Sivy, professor of chemistry, this project is aimed at reducing watershed contamination, resulting in fewer beach closings and safer swimming conditions. The research involves tracing the origin of fecal contamination found in the environment to determine whether it originated from humans, cows or other sources. SVSU is home to one of only two laboratories at higher education institutions capable of this research, which will involve several undergraduate students. This project is a continuation of earlier SVSU-led research projects examining bacterial contamination in Michigan waterways, which were supported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, and regional health departments.

SVSU faculty to present at national teaching and learning conference


Five faculty representing various departments on campus will present at the Lilly Conference in Traverse City this week. Art Department faculty Emily Kelley and Phillip Hanson will present on “departmental community” as it is related to encouraging student retention. Tami Pobocik, associate professor of nursing, will present on community nursing simulations and high stakes testing. Aricka Schweitzer, assistant professor of occupational therapy, will present on students’ cross-discipline success, and Melojeane Zawilinski, an adjunct instructor of English, will conduct a poster presentation. Lilly Conferences are focused on fostering learning communities for faculty across disciplines in order to advance student learning and provide opportunities for faculty across the country to showcase and discuss best practices for teaching and learning. I am proud of our reputation as a teaching-centered institution. It is faculty like these who continue to promote a culture of teaching excellence at SVSU, and I wish them the best over the course of the week.

Director of Multicultural Student Affairs recognized with community award


Roberto Garcia, director of the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, will be honored at the 9th annual Adelante Awards early next month as one of five award winners from the regional Latino community. The Adelante Awards is presented by La Union Civica Mexicana and recognizes contributions of Latino individuals from five categories: faith, culture, business, education, and legacy. Roberto will be recognized in the category of education for all that he has done to advance the educational goals of underrepresented students in higher education throughout his career. Roberto is committed to creating accessible learning opportunities for all of our students. I commend him for his work and congratulate him on this well-deserved recognition.

SVSU students to face off against Grand Valley in annual Battle of the Valleys


It’s that time of year again. For the 16th year, our students will compete against Grand Valley State University in the Battle of the Valleys (BoV) fundraising competition. Since its beginning, Battle of the Valleys has turned a football rivalry into an opportunity to raise funds for local organizations. In the past 16 years, SVSU has raised over $389,000 for local organizations through this fundraiser, which is well over half of the $601,282 raised by both institutions in the history of the competition. Our students raised over $32,000 for the Mustard Seed Shelter of Saginaw last year alone. This year, Battle of the Valleys will support the Barb Smith Suicide Resource and Response Network. The contest will begin this Sunday, Oct. 21, with the Battle of the Valleys Kick Off Party. Charitable events will continue through the week and end with the SVSU vs. GVSU football game on Saturday. Our students have seen 10 consecutive Battle of the Valleys victories, and we hope to see another this year. Our faculty and staff have been exceptionally supportive of this fundraiser throughout the years, and I encourage you to continue this support through the coming week. A full schedule of BoV events and links to donate can be found at

Wearing pink, fighting cancer


Last year I competed in the Real Men Wear Pink fundraiser through the American Cancer Society. This year, John Kaczynski, director of Governmental Affairs, carries the baton for SVSU. You might have seen John (dressed entirely in pink) on campus. He’s wearing pink every day in October in support of the Real Men Wear Pink Campaign, and has consistently led the campaign since its launch. His goal is to raise the most money in the state through various events and fundraisers on campus and in the community, and I believe he can do it! Keep an eye out for upcoming t-shirt sales, where all proceeds will go directly to support the Real Men Wear Pink Campaign. As a two-time cancer survivor himself, I can think of no better individual to carry this campaign to success and represent our university as one of the Great Lakes Bay Region’s “Real Men.” 

You can support John’s campaign by visiting

"Friends of SVSU" kicks off 2018-2019 campaign


Next week our “Friends of SVSU” Political Action Committee (PAC) will kick off the 2018-2019 campaign at Pierce Road Bar and Grill on Friday, Oct. 26, at 5 p.m. Since 1989, the Friends of SVSU PAC has supported a number of elected officials, which has helped us secure over $125 million in state funding to build or remodel several facilities at our institution. Close to $30 million in yearly appropriations come as a result of the work of our PAC, and I am grateful for our members’ support. If you are already a contributor to Friends of SVSU, thank you for your support. If you would like to contribute, please go to We hope to see you next Friday!

Open enrollment to begin Monday

ALEX Logo for Open Enrollment - ALEX is a benefits counselor

As you saw earlier in the week, the two-week open enrollment period for SVSU-provided benefit plans will begin Oct. 22 and run through Nov. 2. It is especially important that you take an opportunity to review your benefit options, as some have changed. I understand that such changes can be daunting, and we are committed to providing the tools you need to make the best decision for you and your families. I strongly encourage you to utilized the interactive “benefits counselor” ALEX, which can be found at the Human Resources Benefits tab in the mySVSU portal or by clicking on this link. This tool is meant to help guide your decisions during the open enrollment period, and I hope you will take full advantage of this and other supports. If you should have any questions along the way, please contact the Human Resources department at ext. 4108.

Cardinal Athletic teams continue successful seasons

College of student athletes

Our Cardinal athletic teams continue to perform well this fall. After a Homecoming victory that improved their record to 6-1 last Saturday, the football team prepares to host No. 2 Ferris State this Saturday at 1 p.m.

The men’s and women’s soccer teams both remain nationally ranked, and each is currently ranked no. 3 in the Midwest region, which is important, because the regional rankings determine who qualifies for NCAA post-season play. Women’s soccer hosts Michigan Tech on Friday and Northern Michigan on Sunday; both matches begin at noon. In the GLIAC standings, the men’s team is one point behind UW-Parkside; they will face the Rangers on the road Sunday.

The men’s and women’s cross country teams are both nationally ranked as well. They will run at Wayne State this Saturday.

The men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams each opened the season with wins over Alma College last Friday; they compete at Kalamazoo College on Saturday.

Women’s tennis hosts their final two fall matches this weekend. Weather permitting, we will host Grand Valley at noon Saturday and Ferris State at 10 a.m. Sunday on campus. In the event of poor weather, the matches will be played at the Greater Midland Tennis Center.

Women’s volleyball is on the road at Northern Michigan and Michigan Tech this weekend.

Finally, I would like to congratulate this year’s Ryder Athletes of the Year: Melanie Soensken and Andrew Mudd. Melanie received Honorable Mention All American honors three times in her swimming career and has earned All-GLIAC honors eight times. Andrew is a four time All-American, taking home conference championships in the heptathlon for which he has the SVSU record; he also placed 5th nationally in the indoor heptathlon and 2nd in the decathlon. Congratulations to both, and Go Cards!

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