By: Blake Allen, Vanguard Staff Writer
President Eric Gilbertson addressed faculty, staff and students at his annual Welcome Back remarks.
He spoke about the largest class in years, with an increase from 10,058 to over 10,600 students. The University has seen a 1.3 percent increase in enrollment since last fall.
“SVSU once again enters the academic year with strong enrollments,” Gilbertson said. “We expect more that 2,700 to live on-campus, which includes the some 73 percent of our entering freshmen class.”
He said that the main focus now is not getting students into the door, but in keeping them.
“The academic success of our students must never be achieved by lowering our expectations for them,” he said. “It must come from raising their level of performance to meet those expectations.”
A large change in the federal rules will impact a larger share of undergraduate students through financial aid. To remain eligible for financial aid last year, a student only had to maintain a 2.0 grade point average. If they fell below, they were given two years to meet the requirement.
As of this fall, with the grade point average staying the same, a student only has a year to raise their average above that mark.
Gilbertson addressed the seriousness of the situation and said that the “consequences are dire” if the University doesn’t react quickly to the changes.
“It’s one failed year, and that could find students in debt, out of school, with nothing to show for their time and treasure,” he said.
He also spoke about the new addition to the Ryder Center, which is now open for use. The added section includes approximately 48,000 square feet of space for recreational sports and a second floor walking track.
Gilbertson promoted the use of the facilities for health reasons.
“One of the perks of working on campus is that each of us has what is effectively a membership to a first rate health club,” he said.
He spoke of the renovations that took place over the summer to the Student Center, dining space on campus, and the new location for the campus bookstore in Curtiss Hall.
Other renovations he spoke about were the newly installed lights in Wickes Memorial Stadium.
The first home football game Sept. 10 will be played at night with the lights.
Gilbertson concluded his remarks by talking about the positive environment offered at the University.
“It’s the kind of place where we try to make new colleagues feel welcome, and look forward to the year ahead,” he said.