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SVSU History: 1980's

Quick Facts

  • April 24 1985 Wickes Annex fire burns a cluster of 9 buildings
  • Jan. 13, 1987 Marshall Fredericks gallery and Arbury Fine Arts Building are opened.
  • Nov. 1987 SVSC is renamd Saginaw Valley State University
  • May 15 1988 Arbury Fine Arts Building opens
  • 1989 Jack Ryder steps down as President.
  • Nov. 1989 Eric Gilbertson becomes SVSU's 3rd president

1980 through 1989


  • 1980: Women's track, tennis and softball are added as sports. Volleyball was also brought back as a sport after its absence since the late-1960s.
  • February: A prayer vigil is held on campus for the United States' hostages in Iran.
  • March 14: After the school's first football coach Muddy Waters  resigns to coach at Michigan State, SVSC hires his assistant, Jim Larkin.
  • Fall: The men's cross country team places third in the nation after winning the GLIAC championship.
  • Fall: Enrollment jumps by 12.3 percent.


  • 1981: The college secures an engineering program with some difficulty. At a November Academic Affairs meeting of the Council of State College Presidents, the state body which votes on new academic programs for higher education institutions, an election is held concerning an SVSC engineering program. With only 13 of 15 representatives present, the engineering program receives a positive vote by a six-to-four count. The vote was disputed months later because of the three absent members, but that motion was turned down, and SVSC's engineering program was born.
  • Spring: Two Japanese students attend SVSC for two weeks to start off International Programs.


  • 1982: SVSC's Athletics experiences one of its most successful years ever as the school captures one national championship with the men's indoor track and field team, two GLIAC championships with the men's cross country and men's track and field teams, three district championships with men's basketball, men's track and field and women's tennis.
  • June: SVSC buys a computer-based program that helps identify career paths for students.
  • Winter: George Ihler is named football's new head coach.


  • January: Michigan Gov. James Blanchard announces an indefinite delay of $500 million in state funds to schools from elementary to higher education.
  • February: Student Government President Fred Harring cuts his own pay by 22 percent as a show of good faith during bad economic times.
  • Fall: SVSC celebrates its twentieth anniversary.
  • September: Despite the state cuts, the school gets a new building project "Instructional Facility No. 2" passed. Ground is broken for the project in November when Chemistry Prof. George Eastland detonates powdered aluminum and iron oxide.


  • January: Asst. Prof. Ghulam Raz is hired as part of the school's new engineering program.
  • March: The 1983-1984 Gourman Report: A Rating of Undergraduate Programs in America and International Universities rates SVSC as 'adequate,' giving it a 3.03 rating out of 4.99.
  • Winter: Prof. Dasha Nisula's Humanities 255 class travels to the Soviet Union during the heated Cold War.


  • April 24: A fire ravages Wickes Annex, burning a cluster of nine buildings over nine hours. The loss of financial records, registration files and other office materials are part of the $380,000 worth of damage.
  • April 26: Two days after the fire, names of two of the three buildings built under the Instructional Facilities No. 2 plan are unveiled; Melvin J. Zahnow Library and Brown Hall.
  • October: Women's basketball begins its best season to date, finishing second in the nation. Senior Gail Goestenkors, now the head coach for the Duke Lady Blue Devils, and head coach Marsha Reall lead the team. The Lady Cards lose the title game to Southwestern Oklahoma, 55-54.


  • 1986: Enrollment at SVSC begins to increase by large amounts. In the fall semester, it jumps by 8.5 percent with 5,377 students signing up for classes. Total credit hours jump even more at 10.6 percent. Some college administrators feel the increases are at least partially due to the new Instructional Facilities project.
  • June 4: ItÕs announced that SVSC professors with a significant scholarly accomplishment will be eligible for cash rewards thanks to the Dow Corning Corporation. The announcement of the $20,000 endowment to fund the Earl L. Warrick Excellence in Research Award came during a luncheon hosted by Dow Corning.
  • Fall: Ground is broken for the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Gallery and Arbury Fine Arts Building.


  • 1987: 39-year-old Lonnie Gibson dies of a brain aneurism and, on April 18, is awarded posthumously with a psychology degree at the commencement ceremony. Son Christopher, 17, participates in Gibson's place.
  • April 12: The buildings involved in Instructional Facilities No. 2 are dedicated.
  • May 17: SVSC breaks ground for the new Ryder Center to be built.
  • June 13: The Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Gallery opens and the Board of Control names the new fine arts center after longtime supporter Dorothy (Honey) Arbury.
  • November: SVSC is renamed Saginaw Valley State University.


  • 1988: Longtime English Prof. Raymond Tyner dies. Several years later, a writing award is named in his honor.
  • April 21: The Leaping Gazelle Fountain is put into place.
  • May 15: The Arbury Fine Arts Building is dedicated and opened.


  • 1989: After 15 years, SVSU President Jack Ryder steps down from his position and later returns to the school as a faculty member in the College of Education. He retires entirely from the university in December, 1991.
  • November: Current SVSU President Eric Gilbertson becomes the institutionÕs third president. The inauguration party is held in the Ryder Center on a low budget at the request of Gilbertson.