It is with great sadness that I share with you that Jack Ryder, our second president, passed away this week. Jack led the university from 1974 until May 1989. These were critical years for a fledgling institution established only a decade before his arrival. Jack’s vision and leadership steered the institution toward growth while solidifying SVSU’s identity as a 4-year institution critical to the region’s future. Enrollment more than doubled — from 2,638 students when he took office to 5,915 students when he retired — and our campus physically transformed during his tenure here. Pioneer Hall, Brown Hall, Zahnow Library, Arbury Fine Arts Center, the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum, and the building named in his honor — Ryder Center — all were built during Jack’s administration.
Jack was beloved by so many members of our SVSU family and community partners. In June, we will honor his legacy during a memorial service on campus. We will keep you informed as the details of this memorial are finalized. In the meantime, please join me in extending condolences to Jack’s family, including his wife, Lila.
FIRST Robotics returned to campus for a third year, and once again, everyone involved emerged victorious. The competition was dynamic. The students were excited. Our volunteers were outstanding and I can’t thank them enough. And our campus once again shined bright in the spotlight for the 8,000 people who visited for this annual event, which is a great boost to our student recruitment efforts. About 1,800 students shared their contact information with Admissions during the competition.
A few weeks ago, Battle of the Valleys’ future seemed uncertain after our partnering university withdrew from the fundraising competition after 15 years. But there is good news to share this week. Student Association leadership — including current representatives as well as the recently-elected students who will take office later this month — recently signed a public letter of statement pledging to keep the tradition alive at SVSU. While many of the details are yet to be ironed out, SA plans to identify a nonprofit that will benefit from a fundraising event this fall that will exclusively involve SVSU. Our students’ effort to keep this tradition alive highlights one of SVSU's best traits: Our inspiring spirit of perseverance.
Congratulations to the 14 seniors who will participate in the Honors Program convocation ceremony today. The Honors Program offers an enriching performance and empowering opportunities throughout the course of its participants’ time at SVSU. Thank you to Elizabeth Rich, professor of English and Honors Program chair, and all the faculty and staff whose support for these students have allowed them to graduate with such high distinction.
Congratulations to our educators who received the 2019-20 Dow Professor Teaching Awards from SVSU’s Center for Academic Innovation. The supporting funds will be used to implement innovative ideas to improve student learning and professional development. Aneesha Gogineni, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, will use her funds to redesign a course focused on thermodynamics. Brandon Haskett, assistant professor of music, plans to upgrade SVSU’s music technology lab. Scott Kowalewski, associate professor of rhetoric and professional writing, and Bill Williamson, professor of rhetoric and professional writing, plan to use their funds for upgrades in their department’s recording studio and usability lab. Many thanks to the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Academic Fund at SVSU that supported these awards.
Throughout this academic year, I have updated you on the many victories by our students involved in forensic competitions. This week, two of our top competitors are traveling to Santa Ana, California to participate in the National Forensic Association Tournament. Jessica Carpenter, a communication major from Saginaw, and Dan Visnovsky, a political science major from Sparta, will be the first SVSU students to compete in the national tournament. Congratulations to them — as well as their faculty advisers, Amy Pierce, associate professor of communication, and Ryan Rigda, lecturer of communications — on this outstanding accomplishment.
Two different poster presentations are planned next Friday, April 26 to highlight more than 120 research projects pursued by our students and their faculty advisers. The Science and Engineering Symposium is scheduled from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Pioneer Hall. And the Undergraduate Research Program Student Showcase is planned for 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. in Gilbertson Hall. These poster presentations will feature research from all corners of all five academic colleges. Our students are hard-working researchers and their faculty advisers remain dedicated to supporting these fascinating projects. I hope you are able to attend and see for yourself.
Mary Draves, a proud SVSU alumna and longtime supporter of our university, will deliver the plenary lecture as part of the Science and Engineering Symposium Friday, April 26 at 9 a.m. in SE 204. Mary, a 2018 distinguished alumna, serves as vice president and chief sustainability officer at Dow.
I hope you are able to attend our annual celebration of the Holi Festival of Colors Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Ryder Center. One of the most popular elements of this event is the color powder throw, which is expected to take place between 2:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. near the outdoor pond outside the Fieldhouse. Tickets are $10 for the public, $5 for students and $5 for those only attending the powder throw. Our students with the South Asian Student Association do a tremendous job organizing this colorful event.
In support of National Sexual Assault Awareness month, you are encouraged to participate in “Denim Day” on Wednesday, April 24. Faculty and staff are encouraged to wear jeans to work by contributing $5, which supports local sexual assault centers. Please give your $5 contribution to the Campus Financial Services Center.
Let me extend my congratulations to all of the recipients of the Student Life Awards Ceremony scheduled today at 6 p.m. in the Malcolm Field Theatre for Performing Arts. Our dedicated, hard-working, passionate student organizations and student leaders amaze me each year, and I am happy to see them receive this warm appreciation from their SVSU family.