SVSU and one of its community business partners are toasting a new tradition, and the celebration is expected to spill over to the next generations of Cardinal alumni.
After SVSU President Don Bachand added resources and staff to the university’s Alumni Relations office, new initiatives were developed to reengage alumni while simultaneously establishing a stronger connection with graduating seniors before they leave the campus. With that in mind, the first senior toast celebration was organized in December 2016.
That first celebration featured about 125 seniors who gathered in Curtiss Hall days before their commencement ceremony. Champagne, hors d’oeuvres, a photo portrait station and good conversation punctuated an evening led by Bachand, Alumni Relations Director Jim Dwyer and the SVSU community.
“It was a good start,” Dwyer said, “but it has far exceeded our expectations. A new tradition has begun.”
Over the course of the four toast celebrations that has grown (one is scheduled before each December and May graduation), the guest list has grown to more than 700 people thanks to “good word of mouth,” Dwyer said.
For this tradition to continue, SVSU leaders sought a hometown partner to financially support the toast. They found one in the Garber Management Group Inc., which has roots that run deep in the community. Along with owning car dealerships in four states and the Saginaw Spirit hockey franchise (to name a few of its business ventures) Garber Management Group Inc. invests in philanthropic work.
“It was just a natural fit to be partnered with them,” Dwyer said. “SVSU and Garber share so many of the same community values. We are both committed to making the Great Lakes Bay Region a region to be proud of.”
Dick Garber, president and chief executive officer of Garber Management Group Inc., echoed the sentiment.
“When my grandfather founded the company over 110 years ago, giving service to the community was a major priority,” Garber said. “Today, it remains an integral part of our culture at Garber.”
Those shared values in part are evidenced by Garber’s workforce. Today, 39 SVSU alumni work at the company.
“As our organization has grown, we’ve had the privilege to recruit and work with some of the great talent SVSU has developed,” Garber said. “Supporting SVSU — which shares our vision of community betterment — and its alumni is a natural partnership to make the Great Lakes Bay Region a great place to live, learn, work and play.”