Last weekend I had the pleasure of congratulating over 500 of our graduates during Friday and Saturday's commencement ceremonies. A total of 643 students graduated this semester with a cumulative GPA of 3.4. This is a testament to our faculty, many of who go above and beyond to ensure our students' success and to our staff who do all they can to provide an environment in which our students can thrive. I take great pride in our graduates and am hopeful of what they will accomplish in the next chapter of their lives. Congratulations, once again, to these graduates, and thank you to all of the SVSU faculty, staff and volunteers who made this weekend possible.
As I reflect on last week's commencement ceremonies and look forward to the holidays, I am reminded of the unfortunate fact that not everyone will reach this tremendous academic milestone – or be home for the holidays.
Last Friday, one of our senior kinesiology students – Amber Gillespie – was severely injured in a head-on collision on her way to take a final exam. I am happy to report that Amber, though still in ICU, is making progress, breathing comfortably on her own and responding to touch and her family member's voices. She is still not speaking and has undergone numerous surgeries with hopes of a healthy recovery, though she still has a long recovery ahead of her.
I encourage you to keep Amber and her family in your thoughts this holiday season, and if you are able, please consider making a donation to the family, which will help tremendously with care and lodging expenses for her family, who are currently spending their nights in the hospital.
Donations can be made here.
Giving up winter break to travel away from family and serve others is quite the undertaking, but nearly 100 of our students are doing exactly this through the Alternative Breaks program in the coming weeks. Each year, hundreds of students volunteer their winter and spring breaks to serve various organizations across the country. This winter, participating students will be traveling as far as Seattle to work with the LGBTQ+ community in areas of health and wellness. Others are headed south to Kentucky, the Carolinas, Washington D.C., Georgia and Tennessee to work with organizations dedicated to the alleviation of various social issues. Many students will return to tackle their assigned issue at home. I commend these students for taking personal time to set an example of service during the winter break!
Even with break around the corner, our Admissions staff and many others continue to work hard, welcoming a combined 1,500 high school students this week for the HOSA and DECA competitions on campus. The 875 high school juniors and seniors participating in the HOSA competition will be engaged in various mock health professions practices, such as patient assessment and medical procedures, while the 625 juniors and seniors participating in DECA will undertake similar business-related activities, such as marketing and management. These events provide opportunity for our faculty and staff to engage high school students and a space for these driven young people to compete on a regional platform. This would not be possible without the dedication of our faculty and staff. I particularly would like to recognize Anderson Bearden, associate director of admissions, for his coordination of these events; it was his efforts that brought DECA from Northwood to our campus!
A team of environmental researchers and technical experts met yesterday as part of a larger series on ecological issues affecting the Saginaw Bay through the Saginaw Bay Environmental Science Institute at SVSU. These meetings, which will continue into the New Year, seek to address a number of ecological issues, with hopes of positively influencing the restoration of the complex Saginaw Bay ecosystem. In addition, this project will provide technical speakers for the State of the Bay 2019 Conference in September 2019. We are proud of this project, the opportunity it provides for us to be leaders in research and the impact it will have on the Great Lakes Bay Region. This project is led is by David Karpovich, Herbert H. Dow Endowed Professor of Chemistry, and is supported by the Saginaw Bay Watershed Restoration Fund at the Bay Area Community Foundation.
We will need your input! Last week a committee of SVSU employees met with renowned higher education expert Dr. Susan Rankin and Dr. Jordan West of Rankin & Associates Consulting to develop next fall's Campus Climate Survey. This will be the third time our institution has participated in this survey. We continue to participate in this survey because they indicate honestly how well we are meeting Goal 2 of our strategic plan: Our people, climate and culture transform lives. The results also give us a basis on which improve our practices on campus, continually working to create an accessible, friendly and equitable environment for all faculty, staff and students at SVSU. So, please look forward to updates on the development of this next survey in the coming months. Your response matters!
Our Cardinal Athletics teams have just about slowed down for the holiday, but both women's and men's basketball have been in action through the early course of the week.
Last week, I had mentioned that our women's basketball team was headed south to Florida to play nearly back-to-back against Florida Southern on Monday afternoon and Eckerd on Tuesday afternoon. Unfortunately, the Cardinals fell to the No. 17 ranked Florida Southern Mocs 91-65, and again to Eckerd 79-50. They play next at Hillsdale on Sunday, Dec. 30.
You might have seen the men's basketball team in action on Monday; they posted an impressive 94-65 victory against the Grace Christian Tigers, including 15 three-pointers between sophomore guards DJ Hoskins and James Toohey. They will be back in action at home on Sunday, Dec. 30, at 3 p.m. against Olivet.
As we head into break, I would like to acknowledge all of the outstanding Cardinal student athletes whose efforts have lent themselves to several institutional accolades, including a No. 9 standing in the Division II Learfield Director's Cup and multiple All-GLIAC and All-American honors.
Job well done to all!
I would like to take this opportunity to, once again, thank all of you for the part that you have played in making the fall 2018 semester so outstanding. It seems that each year the semesters go by more quickly than the year before, but in that time, we have broken fundraising records, opened or expanded upon new community engagement facilities and initiatives, continued impactful research throughout the region and beyond, broken ground on an innovative College of Business and Management, won awards and garnered recognition from our community supporters, hosted thousands of prospective students on campus and empowered hundreds more to see their college career through to the end to walk across the stage in front of their friends, family and supporters.
Heading into break, I invite you to view this year's holiday greetings video developed by our University Communications team and to reflect on how much we have to be proud of and thankful for.
Have a restful break, and I look forward to seeing each of you in 2019.