I would like to thank those of you who attended yesterday's State of the University address. As you might have heard, Academic Affairs will be leading open forums on student success. These will provide space to have honest dialogue about what we are doing well related to student success, but they will also provide opportunity to discuss what we can do better. Please plan to attend one or more of these sessions in February:
Tue, Feb. 11 2020 - 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM
Thu, Feb. 13 2020 - 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM
Mon, Feb. 17 2020 - 8:30 AM - 9:30 AM
Wed, Feb. 19 2020 - 8:30 AM - 9:30 AM
Your participation in these forums is essential. We all have a part to play in advancing this institution and ensuring a great experience for our students!
Please join me in welcoming James Tarr to our SVSU family. James will serve as the new dean of the College of Education. He has the passion and experience for a job that will be critical to strengthening and developing the education industry at the regional level and beyond. His previous jobs have included working as a teacher, researcher and faculty leader at the K-12 and higher education levels, including most recently at the University of Missouri. In leadership roles there, he developed online education and graduate programs while advocating for policies that favored diversity and inclusion among students, faculty and staff. I am excited to watch how James will continue to empower education and educators in his new role at SVSU. Please also join me in thanking Vetta Vratulis for her outstanding work as interim dean.
Congratulations to Olivier Heubo-Kwegna, professor of mathematics; and Ross Singer, associate professor of communication, on receiving the SVSU Braun Fellowship, which they will utilize to advance their research interests. Olivier’s research will focus on further exploring a math theory — known as “multiplicative ideal theory” — first conceived in the 1930s. Ross’ research, meanwhile, will examine the relationship between gender and environmentalism, along with the stereotypes that sometimes result where those two topics overlap. I am excited to see the scholarly work that results from this year’s Braun Fellowship.
Speaking of scholarly research: Eric Gardner, professor of English, for the second time in his career received a highly-competitive National Endowment for the Humanities research fellowship. The initiative will allow him to spend 2021 researching for a book he plans to author about Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, a 19th-century African-American activist, orator and writer. Eric’s passion for shining a light on underappreciated figures in African-American history — particularly from the Civil War and Reconstruction eras — has earned him many accolades and awards since he joined our institution in 1996. Please join me in congratulating him on his latest accomplishment.
The Bridge Center, also known as the Bridge Center for Racial Harmony, hosted its 21st Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Youth Symposium at Saginaw Valley State University on Thursday, Feb. 6. More than 200 students from around the Great Lakes Bay Region attended the event and participated in activities.
The theme this year was “We are the Future.” The event is an excellent opportunity to provide a safe space for our next generation of leaders to engage in lively discussions about current diversity and social justice issues affecting our communities today. The Bridge Center hopes to inspire students to be the change that is needed to shape a better future for the community.
Next week, I hope you are able to attend the presentation from guest speaker Angela Naimou, an author, editor and associate professor of English at Clemson University. Her presentation, titled “Distressed Futures: Border Regimes and Global Forms of World Literature,” is scheduled Tuesday, Feb. 11, at 4 p.m. in the Rhea E. Miller Recital Hall. Her appearance is sponsored by the Dow Visiting Scholars and Artists Series as well as the Barstow Excellence in Teaching Humanities Seminar programs.
The dedication of our institution and community in supporting student success continues to impress me. Our annual “2/2 for SVSU” campaign experienced one of its most successful fundraisers last week. Over $75,000 was collected. What makes that number more impressive is the fact that 1,100 donors —, a turnout that was four times larger than our previous “2/2” best — helped us reach that figure. This year’s proceeds benefited SVSU Athletics teams.
Please congratulate Joe Vogl and Bruce Zimmerman. Both have announced their plans to retire after substantial contributions as head coaches in our Athletics department. Joe has served 14 years as head coach of the golf program while Bruce has been the first and only head coach of the swimming & diving program since it started in 2013. Joe has served in several roles at SVSU since 1972, including as director of Athletics from 2003-06. Joe — a two-time SVSU graduate — also played for the golf team during his days as a student here. While Bruce joined SVSU more recently, he enjoyed a long and successful career as a swimming & diving coach even before helping our program get its start. Prior to landing here, he served as head coach at Division I College of Charleston beginning in 1999.
No home matches are on the schedule until late next week, but there is plenty of reason this week for fans of our student-athletes to cheer. After their performances at the GVSU Invite last weekend, Libby Caird, Justin Ott and Megan LaFollette all qualified for the 2020 NCAA Division II National Dive-in Meet. Meanwhile, two student-athletes in other programs received recognition this week for their recent performances on the playing field. Myles Belyeu, of the men’s basketball team, earned his third GLIAC South Division Player of the Week; and Sam Black, of the track & field team, earned GLIAC Field Athlete of the Week.
Fans of SVSU softball will be excited to learn the team was picked to finish second in the 2020 GLIAC Preseason Coaches Poll announced this week. Spring training begins later this month, and the team’s first home game is scheduled March 18.
While the football program’s next game is even more distant on the horizon, there is still plenty to celebrate about the approaching season. If you have not done so already, watch the recent video feed of the 2020 SVSU Football National Signing Day Press Conference featuring head coach Ryan Brady and JJ Boehm, the team’s longtime play-by-play announcer and our interim executive director of University Communications. That video is available at https://team1sports.com/svsucardinals/?bfplayvid=169748.
I am looking forward to seeing our talented student-athletes shine. Go Cards!