SVSU’s longest-serving president is credited with across-the-board growth at the university in areas including academic programs, enrollment, fundraising and physical size.
When Gilbertson’s arrived in 1989, enrollment stood at 5,915 students. That figure climbed above 10,000 by the time he retired in February. The number of facilities tripled in size to more than 1.5 million square feet of building space. Structures added include Curtiss Hall, Doan Science East, the Regional Education Center, the Health and Human Services building, along with the expansion and renovation of older buildings. Several housing structures also were built, transforming SVSU into more of a home for its students. The number of students living on campus more than quadrupled from 616 residents in 1996 to 2,734 last fall, and now more than 70 percent of freshmen reside there. Private fundraising also increased dramatically under Gilbertson. The market value of SVSU’s endowment grew twenty-fold during his presidency.
Beyond SVSU, Gilbertson fostered improvement and increased cooperation among Saginaw, Bay City and Midland, as well as their surrounding communities. Gilbertson currently is on a sabbatical, but intends to return to SVSU to teach courses in administrative science and constitutional law.