President Hanley at Podium

A Word from LSSU President Rodney S. Hanley

Dear LSSU Alums:

The spring 2022 semester is nearing an end, and we are busy planning for the 2022 Commencement Ceremony in May.  The last two graduation ceremonies were virtual as a response to the COVID pandemic, but I am happy to report that we are returning to an in-person ceremony this year.  As part of this year’s ceremony, the speaker for the 2022 Commencement Ceremony will be United States Senator from Michigan, the Honorable Gary Peters.  Senator Peters has been a strong partner of LSSU for many years and has been an unyielding champion of preserving the Great Lakes for future generations.  I believe now is a perfect time for our graduating students to hear from one of the prominent leaders in our state and the nation, in a return to an in-person graduation. 

Over the past few months, we have had many accomplishments at the university.  In early December, we celebrated the Grand Opening of the Richard and Theresa Barch Center for Freshwater Research and Education Building.  The Grand Opening event was well attended with a few hundred people witnessing the ribbon-cutting and taking tours through the building.  The state-of-the-art facility will be home to a wide variety of freshwater-related research and courses for students.  This project has been in the works for about a decade, and there were times I didn’t think it would get done.  Buried refuse, construction delays, rising costs, and even a global pandemic were all things that stood in the way at one time or another.  Nonetheless, the university persevered through these challenges to see the project to completion.  CFRE will be a jewel for Lake Superior State University for many years and decades to come.

One of the interesting things from LSSU that gets widespread coverage around the nation and globe is the banished words list – the tongue-in-cheek look at overused or just tired words and phrases.  The list was released on New Year’s Day, and was picked up by an especially wide variety of news outlets.  A few examples from this year’s list include: “that being said, asking for a friend, deep dive, you’re on mute” and the number one overused phrase: “wait, what?”  Thanks to contributors, and the LSSU Department of English, along with the Marketing Department for their efforts in producing the list and promoting a long-standing tradition.

Another Laker tradition is our annual Snowman Burning.  To mark the official end of winter and signal the arrival of spring, the university continues its 51-year tradition of hosting a snowman burning.  The university first began burning the snowmen in 1971 to celebrate the end of winter and mark the start of spring.  I like to think of it as driving winter away.  The fabricated snowman, a husky figure looming 12-feet tall, typically takes on different characters and themes that embody the times.  Campus and community members are welcome to enjoy the event and drive off winter for another year. 

Recently we followed our number one seeded LSSU Women’s Club Hockey team during the American Collegiate Hockey Association D2 national tournament in St. Louis, Missouri.  The Lady Lakers have had an outstanding season with a 26-3-1 record.  In just their second season, the team spent most of the season ranked number one in the nation, and recently brought home the Central Collegiate Women’s Hockey Association, Division II Championship.  In just their second year, they moved on to the national tournament.  Although they fell in their third game of the tournament, we are all so proud of this team.  They are once again showing the hockey world that Lake Superior State University is passionate about hockey.

LSSU was honored to host the renowned author Angeline Boulley in March, in a tremendous event in the library where she read selections from her book, Firekeeper’s Daughter, and shared insights.  Firekeeper’s Daughter weaves together themes of identity, jurisdiction, traditional knowledge, and culture, set against the backdrop of the city of Sault Ste. Marie, Sugar Island, the university campus, and the dynamics of youth hockey.  Ms. Boulley is a member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians and is a storyteller that writes about her Ojibwe community here in the Upper Peninsula. 

In closing, as spring approaches and the graduation season will soon be upon us, I want to say what a wonderful time it is on campus.  Each warm day is, of course, greatly appreciated, and the academic year begins to close with final tests, quizzes, and assignments coming due.  It is an exciting time at the university.

As always, we appreciate your support of Lake Superior State University!  Thank you.

Superior Education. Superior Experience. Superior YOU!

Stay safe and best regards,

Dr. Rodney S. Hanley