Dear LSSU Alums:
The 2021-2022 academic year has come to a close, culminating with a beautiful commencement in early May in the Taffy Abel Arena, where 387 students graduated. Graduation serves as the practical end of a student’s journey to an academic degree, but it also serves as a symbolic transition to the next stage of the student’s life. This was the first in-person commencement since 2019, and we were honored to host United States Senator Gary Peters as our commencement speaker. In his address, Senator Peters highlighted the education graduates have received that blends technical skills with traditional liberal arts studies to develop a workforce that is well prepared to lead the State of Michigan.
The commencement ceremony capped off many days of commencement activities, including an impressive Business Awards Dinner, Nursing Pinning Ceremony, and a Golden Grads Reception at the President’s House. I am thankful for all of the staff who worked so diligently in the days leading up to the ceremony to get everything ready so that it could be a special day for the graduates and their family and friends.
While commencement was the most significant event in the last few months, there have been several other events I want to highlight. Students majoring in fisheries and wildlife management, fire science, kinesiology, engineering, robotics engineering, nursing, criminal justice, business – plus many other areas, presented their thesis and capstone projects at the Lake Superior State University Undergraduate Research Symposium. Seniors present the findings of their projects through poster displays and oral presentations. I have attended a multitude of professional conferences and society meetings, and our Undergraduate Research Symposium may be the best I have ever seen. Beyond the excellent quality of the work being presented, it is the passion of the students that stands out. Our students and their faculty mentors are truly outstanding.
In early June, the University hosted the annual salmon release from the University Fish Hatchery and the Barch Center for Freshwater Research and Education. We released 27,000 – plus Atlantic salmon yearlings that had been spawned and raised into the St. Mary’s River. The event honored Martin Vanderploeg, CEO and cofounder of Workiva, Inc., a cloud-based software technology company. Mr. Vanderploeg is an avid fisherman and is a major donor to CFRE. The University designated the salmon release the “Vanderploeg Class of 2022” in recognition of Marty’s late father. We were also honored to also host our friends Dick and Theresa Barch at the event. Their strong support of the Center for Freshwater Research and Education has been transformative for the university, and we are profoundly appreciative. The real stars of the event were the students who work in CFRE and the Fish Hatchery. Their enthusiasm and high energy were on full display.
Earlier this month, Lake Superior State University renewed its long-standing annual tuition agreement with the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Sault Sainte Marie, MI. The collaboration, dating to 2009, encourages active-duty personnel, their spouses, and dependents to pursue higher education at LSSU by lowering the cost of study to do so. Every year I look forward to renewing our agreement because it epitomizes our mission of enhancing the quality of life of the Great Lakes region, reinforces community partnership that is part of our strategic plan, and furthers our vision of identifying potential, enabling success, and driving social mobility. As a military veteran, I am thrilled to support this win-win agreement – the Coast Guard serves the greater good and it is only right that LSSU, housed on a former Army fort and established in 1946 for World War II veterans, give back to them.
In closing, a glorious summer in Sault Ste. Marie is well underway. The University is beginning to get geared up for the new 2022-23 academic year, and all of us are all getting excited for the new academic year and all the opportunities that it holds. As always, we appreciate your support of Lake Superior State University! Thank you.
Superior Education. Superior Experience. Superior YOU!
Dr. Rodney S. Hanley
(Featured Photo: Dr. Rodney S. Hanley with Golden Graduate, Gerry Munsell '71)