Dear LSSU Alums:
The Fall 2022 semester got off to a good start, and we’re now approaching the holidays and final exams are just around the corner.
There have been several events from the fall that I would like to highlight. On August 24th, the University held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new U.S. Coast Guard Great Lakes Center of Expertise in the Barch Center for Freshwater Research and Education. U.S. Senator Gary Peters, Coast Guard Rear Admiral Jo-Ann Burdian, Sault Ste. Marie Mayor, Don Gerrie, and I all spoke at the event. The new center will examine the impacts of oil spills in freshwater environments and help develop effective responses to them. The Center is also a partnership with the Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab in Ann Arbor and the United States Coast Guard.
In my comments, I reported that 30 million people in the United States reside in the Great Lakes basin, and more than 40 million people in the United States and Canada rely on the lakes for their drinking water. The Great Lakes are also vital to the economies of both countries. A recent report found that the Great Lakes support more than 1.5 million jobs that together generate over $82 billion in wages annually. If you consider just the Sault Locks – roughly 7,000 vessels pass through the locks each year, hauling an estimated 86 million tons of cargo to industries in the U.S. and Canada. The locks help support more than 123,000 jobs in the U.S. and Canada and $22.6 billion in economic activity in the U.S. alone. With this economic significance, Lake Superior State University is proud to partner with the U.S. Coast Guard and the Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab to establish the Coast Guard Center of Expertise.
In honor of the 21st anniversary of 9/11, the University held a memorial on campus honoring all those who lost their lives on that horrific day. State Representative John Damoose, Mayor Gerrie, and I all spoke at the event offering our remembrances and impacts of that day. Many students, faculty, and staff also attended, as did large numbers of first responders and Coast Guard personnel from the area. LSSU athletes also placed flags in the ground honoring each person who was killed. The event was especially moving as we remembered the horrific events of that fateful day.
As many of you know, fall is college rankings season. That’s when publications like the US News & World Report and Washington Monthly rank universities. This year, US News & World Report ranked LSSU #1 in the "Top public colleges in the Midwest" category. Criteria for this ranking included graduation and retention rates, academic reputation, peer assessment, average federal loan debt of graduates, social mobility, faculty resources, class size, and financial resources per student, among others. And, US News isn’t the only national publication that ranked Lake Superior State University #1. The Washington Monthly ranked LSSU #1 in the state of Michigan for “Best Bang for the Buck,” and 13th overall in the nation for bachelor’s colleges. In that ranking, best bang for the buck means that LSSU is #1 at providing both marketable and affordable degrees, and we drive the social mobility of our students. When you consider over 60% of our students are first generation and over 50% come from financially disadvantaged backgrounds, it’s important to us that our graduates leave here with degrees that lead to good jobs and meaningful careers.
In October, LSSU celebrated Great Lake State Weekend. The activities over the weekend were highlighted by a Career Fair, a women’s volleyball game against Purdue Northwest, an Alumni Awards Reception and Ceremony, a large pre-game event, two hockey games against the University of Michigan, post-game fireworks, a 5k fun run, an open house for prospective students, two camps for kids, a celebration of the 75th anniversary of Chemistry at LSSU, and a game of Oozeball (volleyball in the mud). It was one of the largest Great Lake State Weekends ever, and a good time was had by all.
In our continued commitment to strengthening our relationship with our Native American communities, on September 30th we recognized the legacy of Indigenous Peoples’ residential school experience by having a campus-wide orange shirt day. We had a presentation by Dr. Veronica Pasfield, an Ojibwa member of the Bay Mills Community. Dr. Pasfield gave a wonderful talk on the history of residential schools and their impacts on native communities. Those impacts have been deep and profound and still reverberate to this day.
LSSU also honored Indigenous Peoples’ Day on October 11th with the first reading of Lake Superior State University’s Land Acknowledgement, followed by a featured speaker, Whitney Gravelle, President of the Executive Council of the Bay Mills Community. A land acknowledgment is a traditional custom that dates back centuries in many native nations and communities. Today, land acknowledgments are used by Native and non-Native peoples alike to recognize Indigenous peoples who were the original stewards of the lands on which we all now live and work.
In closing, winter is certainly here and it won’t be long before the students take their final exams of the semester before heading off to celebrate the holidays.
I want to wish you a wonderful holiday season. Thank you.
Dr. Rodney S. Hanley, President