This week’s update will be relatively brief, as most matters of consequence will be covered in my first State of the University address tomorrow. It’s at 4 p.m. in the Malcolm Field Theatre for Performing Arts and you are all invited. We have some significant achievements of the past year to celebrate, some important information items to share, and some challenges that we must all understand and work together to overcome. I hope to see you there.
I had another “big stage” this week as I testified on behalf of SVSU to the Michigan Senate Tuesday. I shared with them some of the important ways in which we are serving our region and our state. I also share some of my fellow university presidents’ concerns about ensuring quality instruction while working with a modest increase in our state appropriation and a restrictive tuition cap. Because we have the lowest base tuition, a 2.8 percent increase here results in far fewer dollars than it would elsewhere. In some ways, setting tuition policy in only percentage terms penalizes an institution like ours that has an historical commitment to affordability. As last Friday’s scheduled Board of Fellows Legislative Breakfast was postponed due to the bitterly cold temperatures, if you see any of our friends in the legislature, I encourage you to help them understand our unique circumstance.
Photo credit: Mlive.com courtesy of Hinoki International School
I’m sure many of you have read news accounts that criticized our performance as a charter school authorizer. First, let me say that I have full confidence in Craig Douglas and his staff; they are doing an exemplary job in working with our charter schools to ensure accountability and student performance. We are reviewing this most recent report and will see if it offers useful guidance on how to improve. We should not and will not accept mediocrity from the schools we authorize, but we must also be mindful of the communities they serve. Some of our charter schools are working with difficult populations of students and we should not abandon them if they are truly doing their best to educate their students.
Once again, our faculty, staff and students did a great job raising money -- more than $43,000 -- for the American Cancer Society in this past weekend's Relay for Life. I'll have more to say about this in my address, but I would like to extend my appreciation to all who contributed.
Disclaimer: Being a gathering of creative minds, the event theme was Junk Gypsy/Cowboy/Southern Rock.
Our students never cease to amaze me. At the regional American Advertising Federation-Great Lakes Bay Region awards competition last Friday, SVSU captured a number of awards, but one of our students stole the show. Kaitlyn Zumbach, a graphic design major from Millington, won a total of 10 awards, including best in show (student). Ten! Congratulations to her and my appreciation to all our art and graphic design faculty who have worked with Kaitlyn to develop her obvious talent. Kaitlyn also works as a student employee in University Communications, and I know that experience has helped her grow professionally, as well. Two of her mentors, graphic designers Jill Allardyce and Craig Snook, each won two individual silver awards. My congratulations to the University Communications team, too, as they also won a gold award for their integrated campaign to promote the Earl Klugh concert we hosted last fall. Their entry now advances to the statewide competition.
For those who are taking a spring break next week, I hope you use it as an occasion to refresh and renew for the home stretch of another academic year. I will be traveling to Florida to cheer some of our sports teams and to host our annual “Friends in Florida” event, which has become a favorite spring affair for many of SVSU’s most committed donors. Their generous support of our university never has been needed more. If you are traveling, I hope you travel safely and return ready to serve our students when we return Monday, March 9.