1974, when Dr. Jack Ryder took over the presidency of then Saginaw
Valley College, the pine trees along the Fox Drive were barely knee
high, and the nearly 2,000 students and faculty of this tiny college
were divided over issues of governance, ethnic representation and
When Dr. Sam
Marble retired Saginaw Valley was in the market for a new President.
The candidate ideally would posses abilities that included according
to Charles Curtiss, chair of the Board of Control. "The ability
to work effectively with the state legislature, high integrity,
a good understanding of the tri-county area, a believer in academic
freedom, responsiveness to minorities, strong public relations skills
and a sensitivity to the purpose of the college."
In Dr. Jack
Ryder, Saginaw Valley found a leader who, with a varying degree
of success, fulfilled all those requirement and added some strengths
of his own to the list. His first few months on campus weren't particularly
easy. Dr. Ryder's inaugural speech was accompanied by picketers
hoping to retain Dr. Hanos Wenek and the Polish Institute. Ryder's
first few days in the president's office were marked by a furious
student who demanded payment for an expensive leather coat that
had been ruined by a smoke bomb tossed into his classroom. In addition
to the day-to-day frictions of running a college, Dr. Ryder had
to overcome some unique problems, Saginaw Valley suffered from a
sagging image among legislators and local residents.
to past House Minority Leader J. Michael Busch, "Before Ryder, SVSC
has a great deal of problem's with credibility." Dr. Ryder went
to Lansing and listened to the complaints. He felt some complaints
were warranted. Other complaints were "pretty much just posturing.
Politicians doing what they do. But, I had a commitment to SVC,
as it was called then, and was very much up front about it."
The key to
Dr, Ryder's commitment to SVSU lies in his vision of the schools
mission. When he accepted the President's job in 1974, he knew that
the needs of all students would have to be met-traditional students,
transfers, part-time students and students returning to ease a job
transition or to seek a new career. Compound that with an approaching
recession and the stop in state funding to education that usually
accompanies tight fiscal belt tightening, and a very complex picture
emerged. "We had a chance to break ground here, to accomplish some
goals that could help this school meet the needs of a very diverse
population. I was looking forward to the challenge." Ryder was more
then qualified to meet the challenge.
two years in Navy, he graduated from MSU with a degree in biology,
and then spent two years teaching in Greece to fulfill part of his
graduate degree. He earned his MA in school administration and Doctorate
in educational administration, both from MSU. For a man with some
enthusiasm for foreign travel, Ryder has generally worked in the
Midwest, serving as s superintendent on the Brady School District
and in Cassopolis. While serving as a superintendent, he convinced
voters to pass a 1.5 million dollar bond issue - "A miracle." According
to Samuel Adams, quoted in the Saginaw News. Ryder worked as a assistant
instructor at MSU before leaving for a job as assistant dean at
Purdue. Immediately prior to his tenure at SVSU, he was working
as a Dean and Director at Purdue's Indianapolis campus. Looking
back over Dr. Ryder's tenure at Saginaw Valley, his commitment to
growth for the university seems very obvious.
The Valley Vanguard, August 11, 1989.
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