The Saginaw Valley State University Board of Control voted to honor Eric Gilbertson’s service to the university by re-naming SVSU’s Regional Education Center as “Eric R. Gilbertson Hall.” The announcement occurred during the Board’s regular meeting Monday, Aug. 18. Gilbertson retired from the presidency in February after holding the position for more than 24 years.
“While no single recognition can fully express our gratitude or adequately capture all of the contributions Eric made over the past quarter century, our hope is that Gilbertson Hall will serve as a lasting tribute to his legacy of commitment to putting students’ needs first and of building collaboration across the Great Lakes Bay Region,” said Jeff Martin, chair of the SVSU Board of Control. “I hope each of us is inspired to follow the example of Eric and his wife Cindy and to do our part to make SVSU and our community even better.”
A formal building-naming ceremony will be held Monday, Oct. 13. Faculty, staff and the public are invited to attend.
The building serves as an example of the dramatic growth seen at SVSU during Eric Gilbertson’s presidency. The $28 million facility debuted with the latest technology available throughout its 130,000 square feet when it was dedicated in August 2003.
When Gilbertson arrived in 1989, SVSU's enrollment stood at 5,915 students; it increased to 10,245 at the time he retired. The number of students living on campus rose more than fourfold, from 616 residents in 1996 to more than 2,700 in recent years.
SVSU’s physical campus saw perhaps the most dramatic transformation under Gilbertson's leadership, tripling in size to more than 1.5 million square feet of building space. In addition to student housing, major new construction projects during his tenure included Curtiss Hall and the Performing Arts Center in 1996, the Doan Science East building in 2001, the Student Center and Fitness Center in 2003, and the Health and Human Services building in 2010. In addition, Zahnow Library and Pioneer Hall saw major expansions.
Private fundraising advanced under Gilbertson, as well; the market value of SVSU's endowment increased more than twenty-fold and currently stands at nearly $77 million.
Many of the new endowments established were dedicated toward providing special opportunities for students. Examples include:
• the Roberts Fellowship, a year-long leadership development program for 12 outstanding students that culminates in a three-week trip to Asia;
• the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Student Research and Creativity Institute, which supports and promotes outstanding and innovative student work in any discipline by providing up to $10,000 per project;
• the Vitito Global Leadership Institute, which provides extraordinary business networking and international travel experiences for students in SVSU’s College of Business and Management.
Following his retirement from the presidency in February, Gilbertson was granted a sabbatical. He returns this fall as an executive-in-residence to teach courses in leadership and administration, and constitutional law; he also will serve as an advisor to SVSU’s moot court program.