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Profile SA









Fifty years ago, citizens from Bay City, Midland and Saginaw contributed $4.5 million to buy land and help fund the establishment of a university in their midst.


oday, Saginaw Valley State University, enrolling more than 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students, stands as testimony to their vision. Located on spacious and well-landscaped grounds, a fully modern and functional campus has been built. The university has experienced remarkable growth and is a source of pride to all who live in the Great Lakes Bay region. After 24 years of distinguished service, President Eric Gilbertson has announced his plans to step down from the presidency and to return to classroom teaching. The university’s Board of Control has begun a search for his successor. Saginaw Valley State University (SVSU) has a deep commitment to its students, viewing itself as both a university

SVSU has a fully modern and functional campus.


of opportunity and a university of choice. It treasures as well its historic relationship to the communities and region from which it sprang. All three of its presidents have been active in civic affairs, and SVSU has embraced a mission of being a “steward of place,” extending its collective expertise to support Great Lakes Bay regional development, and promoting service learning opportunities for its students. SVSU has one of Michigan’s lowest undergraduate tuition and fee rates, reflecting its commitment to providing educational opportunities for all citizens. The university recognizes that affordability is critical for educational opportunity to be meaningful. Given facilities, programs, and staffing, there is considerable consensus on campus that the current size of the student body is optimal. More important is the sense that current enrollment levels permit the university to offer high quality learning experiences akin to what is found in recognized private colleges but at public university tuition rates. (With only a few exceptions, classrooms accommodate no more than 60 students). The university is in solid financial condition with an excellent bond rating. The fully modern physical plant is wellmaintained and the beauty of the campus, a source of immense pride. Michigan’s public universities are fortunate to have constitutional autonomy. There is no state wide coordinating or super governing board. These constitutional provisions, combined with prudent financial management, have contributed to long-standing and effective Board-President relationships.

SVSU promotes service learning opportunties for students.

An Agenda for the Coming Years

The next President will be called upon to provide leadership in several important and interrelated area. The first of these is enrollment management. With a projected 20 percent decline in Michigan’s high school graduates, the university will be challenged to maintain its current (and desired) enrollment level. The campus community recognizes that central to addressing this challenge is appreciable improvement in the campus’s student retention and graduation rates. An evaluation of programmatic offerings to make the university more attractive to students from beyond the immediate service region is probably warranted as well. Success in addressing enrollment management issues is closely related to the need to sustain a strong financial base for university operations. SVSU has become increasingly dependent on tuition and fee revenue. Enrollment growth over the past few years has provided the revenues to offset

significant declines in state appropriations, a condition reflective of the economic recession which impacted Michigan more severely than many states. The projected decline in the pool of high school seniors suggests that the financial base for the university needs greater diversification. Such an expansion would likely entail more productive student recruitment beyond the state’s borders as well as comprehensive efforts to raise funds through private and corporate giving. The university is midway through a $25 million capital campaign. The next President will need to extend his/her personal efforts to complete this successful campaign and then to be engaged in expanded developmental efforts. As Michigan continues to rebound from its recessionary woes, strong advocacy will be needed to increase state appropriations for public higher education. SVSU receives one of the lowest per capita funding among the state’s public universities. While this funding inequity undoubtedly results from significant enrollment growth in years the state did not have the funding to support that growth, high on the President’s agenda must be engagement with policy makers in order to achieve more equitable treatment for SVSU and the education of its predominantly Michigan student body. Key to both attracting more students from beyond its primary recruitment areas, and building a stronger support base for increased funding, is the need for the university to achieve a more distinctive identity and greater public awareness. Building greater diversity within faculty and administrative ranks, better to reflect the citizenry in the university’s primary service region, will warrant presidential attention. 3

Small classes




SVSU athletes compete at the NCAA Division II level.


There is as well a strong campus interest in expanding the university’s study abroad programs in order to accord students enhanced learning opportunities. Concomitantly, the university community wishes to increase the number of international students studying on campus, and to attract them from a broader array of countries than are now represented.

Desired Attributes of the Next President

Study Abroad

International Students

Saginaw Valley State University’s next President would ideally possess a combination of personal qualities and professional experiences responsive to the “Agenda” issues outlined in the previous paragraphs. The university seeks an energetic and experienced leader: • Possessing unquestioned integrity; • Passionate about being a part of a student-centered university where opportunity, inclusivity, and student success are highly valued; • Skilled in strategic planning and team building; • Capable of providing leadership to a university transitioning from continuous growth to qualitative advancement;

• Prudent and strategic in the management of resources; • Dedicated to the constant improvement of student retention and graduation rates; • Able to communicate well, and who will be an articulate advocate for the university and the Great Lakes Bay Region in public settings and with governmental officials; • Committed both to building upon the university’s excellent connectivity with local communities and the region, and expanding its visibility statewide and in the Midwest; • Enthusiastic about seeking private funds for the university and celebrating its accomplishments; and • Who enjoys personal contact with students, faculty, and staff and welcomes being an integral part of the campus community.

Next Steps

For full consideration by the Search Committee, candidates should submit to by October 21, a vita or résumé, a letter outlining specific interest in the SVSU presidency, and a list of five references with contact information. (References will not be contacted until candidates are so notified.) The Saginaw Valley State University Board of Control envisions an appointment will be made by early spring with the new President assuming the position in summer 2014. The Search Committee is assisted by AGB Search. Dr. Constantine (Deno) Curris,, is pleased to respond to inquiries. Applications and nominations should be sent electronically to

Saginaw Valley State University is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action University. 4

SVSU Profile  

SVSU Profile used in Presidential search process (Fall 2013)