REFLECTIONS recently asked both longtime and fresh-from-commencement Cardinal graduates to list the campus sights and traditions that continue to resonate with them.
Below, we share 50 of those items in a photo essay that frames a defining portrait of Saginaw Valley State University’s Red Pride.
Click on any thumbnail below to see the full-size image, then scroll through the photo gallery to read about the backstory and significance of each photo as it relates to the heritage of SVSU’s campus.
THE ENTRY SIGNAGE The sign that greets visitors at the Bay Road entrance to the university has received several makeovers during the campus’ 50-year existence. The current sign — a sweeping, curving structure — was built at the same time the Michigan Department of Transportation widened Bay Road to a four-lane boulevard in the 2000s. The newest version replaced a 3-foot masonry sign that welcomed guests beginning in 1991.
COMMENCEMENT CEREMONIES Beginning in 2015, campus leaders doubled the number of commencement ceremonies to four annually — two in December and two in May — in order to accommodate the growing attendance of this solemn occasion.
MOVIE NIGHTS Now known as the Valley Nights film series, SVSU’s tradition of campus movie viewings extends back to the 1970s, when a viewing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show turned into a massive snowball fight outdoors.
ROBERT AND AMY YIEN INTERNATIONAL GARDEN This Chinese-style garden was dedicated in June 2008. The 14,000-square-foot terrace features two waterfalls, a limestone walkway and 40 types of plants.
JULIA EDWARDS BELL TOWER Dedicated in 1998, this structure has become an iconic edifice at SVSU, serving as a site for outdoor ceremonies and memorials alike.
GERSTACKER REGIONAL AQUATIC CENTER The 8-lane, Olympic-sized pool hosts regional aquatic events. SVSU also added its own women’s and men’s swim teams in 2014 and 2015, respectively.
AXE BOWL TROPHY This is the prized possession of the winner of the annual football matchup between SVSU and Northwood University. Since the teams first faced off in 1975, the trophy largely has remained at SVSU, which owns a 26-15-1 series lead. The matchup mostly was even until the Cardinals took command for a period beginning in 1983. SVSU then kept the axe on its campus for 14 out of 15 years. The Timberwolves’ longest win-streak — three games — stretched from 1998-2000. Inscribed on the left cheek of the axe are SVSU’s years of victory against Northwood. The right cheek of the axe is inscribed with Northwood’s years of victory.
MALCOLM FIELD THEATRE FOR PERFORMING ARTS The theater is one of the most-visited settings on campus for community guests who attend SVSU’s speakers series and plays.
AUSTRIAN PINES Early on in the campus’ history, developers planted groves of Austrian Pines across the property. While many were eliminated to make room for new buildings, some of those original trees still stand.
NATURE TRAIL Joggers and nature-seekers alike enjoy this winding walkway along the quiet outskirts of SVSU’s property.
SPIRIT ROCK Brought to campus in June 2001, The Spirit Rock has served as a canvas for students who paint school pride-inspired messages on its surface.
WETLANDS PRESERVES About 13 acres of wetlands preserves exist on campus — one patch near Founders Hall and another north of the Health & Human Services building. Both sites host vegetation that grew in the region prior to European settlement.
THE LILLIAN R. ZAHNOW AMPHITHEATRE Built to emulate Ancient Greek-style theatrical venues, the amphitheatre was dedicated in June 1999.
THE LEAPING GAZELLE FOUNTAIN The Leaping Gazelle sculpture, designed by Marshall M. Fredericks, is one of the most iconic campus landmarks. This particular sculpture was donated to SVSU in 1988 and added to an existing courtyard fountain.
DOW/SVSU MOBILE RESEARCH LAB Perhaps the campus’ most recognizable vehicle, this lab-in-a-bus largely has been used to promote STEM studies to K-12 students since 2016. The research lab was funded in part by The Dow Chemical Company Foundation.
THE STUDENT LIFE CENTER After moving from Curtiss Hall to the Student Center building in the early 2000s, The Student Life Center used its new space to host a game room and large meeting spaces available to SVSU’s 150 registered student organizations.
MARKETPLACE AT DOAN The campus’ largest dining establishment has evolved over the decades. One of the largest and latest upgrades included the installation of a wood-fired pizza oven and Mongolian-style grill.
SOUTH ENTRANCE DRIVE In recent years, developers have beautified this increasingly-busy thoroughfare — which connects the campus to nearby townhomes and Pierce Road commercial district — with attractive greenery, signage and brickwork.
OWSLEY GROVE West of Arbury Fine Arts Center, this site is popular for official outdoors functions, including the Welcome Back Picnic that kicks off each academic year for alumni, students, staff and faculty.
THE SIMULATION CENTER Housed in the Health & Human Services building, this makeshift medical establishment provides hands-on training with modern equipment used in health care. Among the most common users of the center are students in SVSU’s undergraduate nursing program.
RHEA MILLER RECITAL HALL Equipped with sound cloud reflectors, a choir balcony and recital stage, this venue has played host to singers and symphonies alike.
WILDLIFE Not all of SVSU’s inhabitants are enrolled in classes. Wild turkey, geese, ducks and cranes frequent the property’s ponds. Inside the human-built ponds swim fish, possibly dropped there by birds. Deer sometimes wander onto the grounds in the late evening and early morning.
MOVE-IN DAY It has become a tradition for SVSU alumni, faculty, staff and students to help the latest freshmen class move in to campus housing each August.
THE MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. REGIONAL CELEBRATION SVSU’s traditions include its annual lecture events featuring high-profile guest speakers. This lineup of recurring lecture series includes the Great Lakes Bay Regional Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration, hosted on campus near each MLK holiday. Eric Holder, former U.S. attorney general under President Barack Obama, served as the event’s keynote speaker in 2017. He was interviewed by the keynote speaker from 2015, 70th Judicial Court Judge Terry L. Clark. Other notable speakers from past years include Stedman Graham in 2011 and N. Cornell Boggs III in 2016.
INTERCULTURAL NIGHT First organized by international students in 2001, this annual event features colorful showcases, comedy sketches and customary dances native to the home nations of SVSU students. And the number of nations represented at SVSU has grown substantially since that inaugural performance. In fall 2017, 630 international students enrolled at SVSU from a record 54 different nations.
VICTORIA This 3-foot trophy stays on the campus of the institution that fundraises the most money during the annual Battle of the Valleys charity competition between SVSU and rival Grand Valley State University. Since 2003, student leaders from each institution have annually chosen a local charity partner, then spend a week raising funds for their respective organizations. Both universities have raised $601,282 over the course of the competition. SVSU students alone have raised $389,444 of that total, keeping Victoria at SVSU’s campus for 12 out of 15 years. In September 2017, SVSU raised $32,115 for Mustard Seed Shelter, which provides housing and services for homeless women and children in Saginaw.
MELVIN J. ZAHNOW LIBRARY One of the cornerstone spaces on campus, the four-story library in 2017 received a $9.5 million renovation that modernized its resources.
INTRAMURAL FIELDS Flag football for years was played on a field between Curtiss Hall and the south entryway pond. New fields were opened near Ryder Center in 2017. Flag football is among the most popular of SVSU’s intramural sports. More than 1,500 students participated in intramurals during the 2016-17 academic year.
THE “I LOVE SVSU” SCULPTURE This popular backdrop for photos was designed in 2014 by Thomas Canale, art professor.
JO ANNE AND DONALD PETERSEN SCULPTURE GARDEN The Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum, opened at SVSU in May 1988, houses most of the campus’ 2,000-plus pieces of Fredericks’ art. Some of the most recent additions were installed outside in the garden entrance of the museum, dedicated in 2014.
THE EATON WAR MEMORIAL EAGLE Originally designed by Fredericks for the Eaton Manufacturing Plant in Saginaw in the 1940s, this memorial was moved to SVSU in 2008 after the plant closed. The names of Eaton employees who died in battle during WWII are inscribed on its marble. SVSU — recognized nationally for supporting military veterans and their families — surrounds the site with American flags on Memorial Day.
THE HOMECOMING PARADE Students, alumni, faculty, staff and local leaders alike participate in this annual campus tradition.
GROENING COMMONS This spacious entrance to Curtiss Hall houses many fine arts elements — theaters, sculptures and paintings — and is a popular hangout for students.
BOUTELL MEMORIAL GREENHOUSE The 1,500-square-foot research facility — and tour stop — utilizes minimal space, energy and material to grow food and other resources.
THE ENTRYWAY PONDS Built for practical purposes — as retention basins to prevent flooding — the twin ponds at the campus’ Bay Road entrance also were designed for aesthetic appeal.
THE CAMPUS RECREATION CENTER Opened in 2011, this two-story facility features weight lifting equipment, elliptical machines, cycles, a track, basketball courts and space for physical fitness workout sessions for the community.
FOUNDERS HALL Opened in 1995, this church-like venue north of Wickes Hall plays host to lectures, recitals, poetry readings, Honors Society gatherings and weddings.
WICKES MEMORIAL STADIUM Home to football games since 1975, this venue — once known as Cardinal Stadium — received a $1.2 million makeover in 1991. Stadium lights were installed in 2011.
THE FIELDHOUSE Opened in fall 2014, this facility added a synthetic turf field and 300-meter indoor track to campus.
TWO BEARS Marshall M. Fredericks created the original plaster for this sculpture in the 1960s. Two Bears was added to SVSU’s campus in 1991.
“THE ZOO” In 1969, the first residential students moved into a facility known as Great Lakes Hall. Informally dubbed “The Zoo,” the complex housed 350 students. Nearly five decades later, the facility still stands and is part of a larger network of apartments that accommodate 2,700 residents. Using data from the U.S. Department of Education as well as surveys, the website Niche in 2015 and ‘17 ranked SVSU housing facilities No. 1 among the state’s higher education institutions.
THE C-STORE While Meijer, Walmart and other popular grocery markets are located near campus, the Student Center-based C-Store has become a fixture in the lives of residential students seeking orange juice, Cheerios, toothpaste, M&Ms and the other goods for sale there.
THE PRESIDENT’S COURTYARD The centerpiece of the campus features some of its most scenic features and heaviest foot traffic. Students often study on benches, lounge in hammocks between trees and host events here.
THE INFLATABLE “COOP” HEAD Based on Coop, SVSU’s mascot, this cardinal head-shaped inflatable is a popular feature at sporting and prospective student events. At football and basketball games, student-athletes enter the playing field by running through Coop’s open beak, which doubles as a 10-foot-long tunnel.
JAMES E. O’NEILL ARENA Along with hosting SVSU basketball games and commencement ceremonies, this 60,000-square-foot space has served as a stage for hot-ticket events including the Detroit Pistons training camp from 1991-92; a campaign rally led by George W. Bush four days before his election as president in 2000; and concerts featuring musicians such as Ludacris, Michelle Branch, Moby, Neal McCoy and Sugar Ray. The arena also hosts some of the SVSU Cardinal Kids Club events aimed at offering sports clinics to children.
ANNUAL RING Located north of Ryder Center, this dome-shaped structure was created by sculptor Nancy Holt. At noon every summer solstice, four openings in the structure cast four beams of sunlight into a single circle on the ground beneath them.
THE CEREMONIAL MACE Wielded during commencement by the ceremony’s honorary marshal, the mace is considered a symbol of authority. SVSU’s mace is a 3-foot staff designed by Victoria Gillespie, wife of the late Thomas Gillespie, former professor of mechanical engineering.
THE SVSU BRICK Campus developers in the late 1960s decided a brownish-tan brick would become a signature facade for SVSU’s structures.
THE SVSU INSIGNIA Engraved in locations across campus, SVSU’s seal was chosen by Board of Control members in the 1960s. Its triangular motif is meant to represent the institution’s three surrounding counties: Bay, Midland and Saginaw. Its three Egyptian hieroglyphics-based symbols — from top, then counterclockwise — represent “truth,” ”inner light” and “strength.”
THE UNIVERSITY ART GALLERY Housed inside the Arbury Fine Arts Center since both opened in 1988, this gallery showcases paintings, sculptures, photography and other artwork from students, faculty, staff and visiting artists.