An historian of Martin Luther King Jr. will discuss her book about the American Civil Rights leader’s less-known legacies during a presentation and book signing Tuesday, Jan. 27 at Saginaw Valley State University. The 7 p.m. event in the Malcolm Field Theatre for Performing Arts is free and open to the public.
The presenter, Jennifer Yanco, is the author of "Misremembering Dr. King: Revisiting the Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr." The book explores King's campaigns outside of the Civil Rights movement, focusing on his criticism of military action and his belief that materialism was damaging the moral and spiritual health of the nation.
Along with her presentation, Yanco will host a workshop, titled "Challenging Racism," from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 28, in SVSU's Curtiss Hall in Seminar Room G. The workshop, which will focus on creating solutions to fight racism, is free and open to the public.
Yanco, who earned a Ph.D. in linguistics and African studies from Indiana University, is the U.S. director of the West African Research Association and a Visiting Researcher at the African Studies Center at Boston University. She designed and taught a course, "White People Challenging Racism: Moving From Talk To Action," which has been offered at adult education programs and college campuses in the Boston area. The program also has been adapted for teachers, law enforcers, public servants and social service providers.
For more information on Yanco’s visit to SVSU, please contact the Office of Diversity Programs at (989) 964-4068.
The NFL’s Super Bowl will be played Sunday, Feb. 1 and while stakes are high on the field, advertisers are competing just as fiercely during the television broadcast. Last year’s game, Super Bowl XLVIII, set a new record for the most watched television program in American history, attracting 111.5 million viewers. The price for a 30-second commercial during the game also is at an all-time high: $4.5 million.
Rama Yelkur, dean of the College of Business and Management at Saginaw Valley State University, is one of the nation’s leading experts on whether viewers find ads to be likable. She has studied Super Bowl ads for 20 years and has identified certain factors that can predict whether an ad will appeal to viewers.
Yelkur’s most recent finding is that ads with a positive emotional appeal are better liked by audiences.
“In recent years, there have been more ads that tug on people’s emotional heartstrings,” she said. “Showing affection or enjoyment appeals to the mood of the consumer watching the Super Bowl, someone who often is in a party setting, having a good time.”
Yelkur, Ph.D., and SVSU student researchers looked at all 109 Super Bowl ads for the past two years and found ads’ positive emotional messages correlated very highly with how well the commercials were liked. She and SVSU student Courtney Seamon, a marketing major from New Lothrop, will present their findings at the Marketing Management Association Conference in Chicago, March 25-27.
Along with her late research colleague Chuck Tomkovick, Yelkur’s previous studies have found other factors that tend to make ads more likable: the use of humor, including animals or children in the commercials, and the appearance of celebrities. Their work has been published in leading scholarly journals and has been cited widely in popular media, including Advertising Age, CNN Money, The New York Times, USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal.
One interesting trend that has emerged among the companies choosing to purchase Super Bowl commercials for this year’s game on NBC is that there will be fewer car commercials. Last year, 11 auto companies advertised during the big game, accounting for nearly one-quarter of air time, but only six are confirmed for this year (BMW, Kia, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan and Toyota).
The broadcast will feature a few Super Bowl ad debuts as Carnival cruise lines, super glue maker Loctite, cell phone accessory company Mophie, and the web site service Wix have all purchased air time for the first time.
The dieting company Weight Watchers also announced recently they will be advertising.
“There is a great deal of speculation already about how their aid will be received in a party atmosphere where there tends to be a lot of eating,” Yelkur said.
Several recognized names will be returning as advertisers.
“The usual suspects are in,” Yelkur said. “M&M/Mars, Pepsi, Anheuser-Busch, Coca-Cola and GoDaddy are all back. SquareSpace is back, too, after appearing in last year’s game for the first time.”
Yelkur joined SVSU in July 2013 and will continue her Super Bowl ad research, including SVSU students in the process. A focus group will watch the game on campus and evaluate this year’s commercials.
The Saginaw Valley State University Department of Music will host a lecture titled, “Everyday Feminism and Hip Hop in Detroit" Tuesday, Jan. 20 at 7:30 p.m. in the Rhea Miller Recital Hall.
The lecture features Oakland University professors Rebekah Farrugia and Kellie Hay; the program also includes a special performance by Detroit hip-hop artist, Nique LoveRhodes. The event is free and open to the public.
Farrugia is an associate professor of communication at Oakland University specializing in media studies. A large portion of her research focuses on digital culture and the interconnections between gender, technology and popular music.
Farrugia has been published in a vast array of both national and international journals ranging from Current Musicology and Feminist Media Studies, to Music & Politics, and Journal of Popular Music Studies. In 2012 she also published her own book titled, "Beyond the Dance Floor: Female DJs, Technology, and Electronic Dance Music," labeled "A path breaking study of the women who create electronic dance music." Farrugia completed a Ph.D. in communication from the University of Iowa.
Kellie Hay, also an associate professor of communication at Oakland University, specializes in critical cultural studies. Her work focuses on the ways groups use different cultural forms, such as music, dance, poetry and comics, to build alliances and forge social change. Hay has been published in various journals, including The Quarterly Journal of Speech, International Journal of Communication, Journal of American Culture and International and Intercultural Annual. She received her Ph.D. from The Ohio State University.
Nique LoveRhodes is an up-and-coming hip-hop artist from Detroit. Her debut album, "Against All Odds: The Epic," was released in 2012 and "combines smooth lyrical delivery with penetrating lyrical content." As an artist, Nique LoveRhodes has a passion to ignite positive change and provoke critical thinking, thus blurring the boundaries between hip-hop musician and social activist.
For more information about the lecture and performance, please contact the SVSU Department of Music at email@example.com or (989) 964-4159.
The Saginaw Valley State University Foundation has eclipsed a major milestone in their support of students, passing the $1 million threshold in resource grants awarded to SVSU faculty and staff for special student-focused initiatives.
Established in 1998, the resource grant program seeks to stimulate innovation and enrichment of opportunities for students by providing funds for programs, projects, or travel. Proposals must be submitted by SVSU faculty or staff.
In late 2014, the SVSU Foundation awarded more than $46,000 to support 10 separate proposals for 2015, bringing the total awarded over the past 17 years to $1,034,454. A total of 251 projects have received funding since the program’s inception.
“We are deeply grateful to our many committed donors who have supported SVSU and our students through the years,” said Andy Bethune, executive director of the SVSU Foundation. “Their financial support has allowed us to provide our students – who often could not afford these endeavors themselves – with a vast range of opportunities that enhance their learning and better prepare them for careers.”
Examples from the latest grants include:
• $10,000 to support 14 nursing students traveling to Alaska to study health practices there
• $6,390 for students in SVSU’s James A. Barcia Center for Public Policy and Service to complete a transportation research project
• $3,630 to allow students and faculty from SVSU’s Writing Center to attend the 2015 Bear River Writers’ Conference hosted by the University of Michigan and apply the lessons learned there to conduct a free, one-day creative writing workshop for Saginaw High School students participating in SVSU’s Gaining Early Awareness & Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP)
• $3,560 to enhance SVSU’s Passport to the World program which brings local elementary school students to campus to interact with SVSU international students and explore cultural traditions from around the globe
Over the years, many SVSU Foundation resource grants have improved the quality of life for residents within the Great Lakes Bay Region. Examples have included engineering students designing playground equipment for the Millett Learning Center, a school for special-needs students in Saginaw County, and occupational therapy students developing a low-intensity exercise program for the elderly.
The SVSU Foundation was established in 1977 as a separate legal entity to function as the fund-raising arm of the university. Its purpose is to provide support for SVSU in order to assist in the accomplishment of the university’s educational purposes.
Saginaw Valley State University has developed productive partnerships with community organizations throughout the Great Lakes Bay Region. Relationships with the business community, other educational institutions, human services providers and local governments are prevalent; these benefit faculty, staff, students and the community at large.
These longstanding ties have played an important role in SVSU’s selection by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as a university that has received its 2015 Community Engagement Classification.
Leaders with the Bay County Health Department, Midland Area Chamber of Commerce and United Way of Saginaw County spoke to how SVSU’s engagement with their organizations has benefited the people they serve and the region SVSU calls home.
Joel Strasz, health director for the Bay County Health Department, has been impressed by SVSU’s sustained commitment to the community.
“We've worked with a few organizations of higher learning in the past, but SVSU is different,” Strasz said. “They go beyond just ‘doing research.’ The instructors, staff, and students are fully engaged right here in Bay County. Their expertise and commitment have helped us immensely.
“We have partnered with SVSU on a variety of projects since 2009, from establishing the first real-time, state-of-the-art water testing laboratory for Bay County’s numerous beaches to opening a comprehensive, primary care clinic for persons with multiple chronic conditions. This unique partnership has allowed the two organizations to jointly develop strategies for research and education, provide excellent placements for students and faculty, and more importantly, provide innovative solutions for community problems.”
Bob Stafford, president and CEO of the Midland Area Chamber of Commerce, said SVSU has worked closely with regional businesses to connect academic offerings with industry needs, and to promote internships and other professional learning opportunities.
“SVSU has been an asset to the business community in many ways,” Stafford said. “They take an active role in fostering in-demand jobs for our workforce. Our chamber has partnered with them to create a connection to help train members of our business community that may not have access to training and professional development for sales, marketing, management, human resources and workforce compliance. With educational partners like SVSU, our business community can continue to grow with a well-trained, highly educated workforce.”
Stafford also praised SVSU’s participation as a thought leader to advance the region.
“SVSU was among a key group of forward-thinkers who understood that by banding surrounding counties together, our area could become stronger and attract more business to this area, not only creating jobs, but creating a better place to live, work and play. Great ideas are fostered and grown when strong organizations like SVSU take an active interest in the business community surrounding them, as they have for many years.”
Cherrie Benchley, president and CEO of the United Way of Saginaw County, said SVSU has been generous with resources and support to meet human services needs in the community.
“We are very proud of our long-standing, diverse partnerships with SVSU,” Benchley said. “Throughout the years our two organizations have collaborated on programs such as Holiday Wish List, Best Practices Nonprofit Management Institute, and other volunteer and leadership opportunities. It is always a rewarding experience working with the faculty and students at SVSU as their efforts allow us to expand our reach within the community impacting the areas of health, education and financial stability.”
Recently, SVSU and United Way have teamed up on the AmeriCorps Healthy Kids Healthy Futures Partnership Program to keep Saginaw County children safe, promote healthy lifestyles, increase collaboration among community agencies and to encourage the sharing of scarce community resources.
“Students and faculty at SVSU have played a crucial role in the program’s success,” Benchley said. “Partnering with SVSU has allowed the organizations we work with to expand their capacity, allowing them to serve more children and families. Furthermore, the college students set amazing examples for the youth while receiving real world, hands-on experience in the community. We feel that because of this partnership, this is a win-win program for all that are involved.”
National research has shown that students who are engaged in the community and on campus are more likely to be successful academically, and to have the critical thinking, problem-solving skills, self-efficacy, and adaptability desired by employers. By their senior year, more than 60 percent of SVSU students have engaged in co-curricular service outside of academic course work, and 84 percent have engaged with community employers and agencies in internships, field placements or some other component of their academic preparation.
SVSU was one of 83 U.S. colleges and universities who were successfully classified as community engaged institutions during the 2015 application cycle. To be selected, institutions provide descriptions and examples of institutionalized practices of community engagement that showed alignment among mission, culture, leadership, resources and practices. SVSU’s status will remain in effect for 10 years.
Saginaw Valley State University announced Wednesday, Jan. 7 that it has been selected by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching to receive its 2015 Community Engagement Classification, marking SVSU as a university that is exceptionally engaged with the community it serves.
“Throughout my nearly 37 years here and during my first year as president, we have sought to instill in our students a deep sense of responsibility to the communities where they live and learn, and as an institution, we strive every day to advance the region we call home,” said SVSU President Donald Bachand. “This is the ultimate affirmation of meeting those goals at the highest national standard.”
Among 241 first-time applicants who requested applications from the Carnegie Foundation for 2015, SVSU was one of 83 who were successfully classified as community engaged institutions during this application cycle. To be selected, institutions provide descriptions and examples of institutionalized practices of community engagement that showed alignment among mission, culture, leadership, resources and practices. SVSU’s status will remain in effect for 10 years.
The selection is the culmination of decades of supporting and drawing support from the Great Lakes Bay Region, and years of internal planning and preparation. Deb Huntley, provost and vice president for academic affairs, and Merry Jo Brandimore, dean of students, co-chaired a task force of 26 SVSU faculty, staff, students, alumni and supporters that was formed in 2011 to critically evaluate whether SVSU should pursue the community engagement designation.
“Receiving this classification is an important validation of one of our fundamental educational philosophies: learning is enhanced when the content and skills taught in the classroom can be applied directly,” Huntley said. “Our partners provide opportunities for our students to learn by working in professional settings, and our students provide tangible service back to the community. Everybody wins.”
SVSU students are actively engaged in field-based learning and volunteer service throughout the region and Michigan as a whole. By their senior year, 84 percent of students have engaged with community employers and agencies in internships, field placements or some other component of their academic preparation, and more than 60 percent of students have engaged in co-curricular service outside of academic course work. [ Community Leaders Attest to SVSU’s Community Engagement » ]
In her capacity as dean of students, Brandimore sees SVSU students’ spirit of service on a daily basis.
“Our students show a strong desire to give back both on campus and in the community,” she said. “You see this through the funds they raise for charities during Battle of the Valleys and Relay for Life, and in the thousands of students who volunteer their time for community service during the course of their SVSU education. These are more than feel-good activities. They help our students learn and develop confidence and relationships that will serve them well after they graduate.”
National research has shown that students who are engaged in the community and on campus are more likely to be successful academically, and to have the critical thinking, problem-solving skills, self-efficacy, and adaptability desired by employers.
In all, 240 U.S. colleges and universities received the community engagement classification this year, and another 121 continue to hold the designation following their selection in 2010. The full list of 361 includes 12 colleges and universities from Michigan; SVSU is the only institution from the Great Lakes Bay Region to be included.
Four Saginaw Valley State University students qualified for a national forensics competition after earning high placement in a recent tournament.
The SVSU Forensics Team competed in the Michigan Intercollegiate Speech League (MISL) Fall Tournament - which tests students' public speaking and debate abilities - at Oakland University Saturday, Dec. 13.
The four qualifying students are:
• Cara Deschermeier, a communication major from Petoskey, who earned a top novice and first-place award in the tournament's persuasion category.
• Megan Hillman, a social work major from Port Huron, who earned a second-place award in the informative category and a fifth-place award in the persuasion category.
• Samantha Jackson, a political science major from Goodells, who earned a first-place award in the impromptu category.
• Cassidy Morey, a theatre major from Saginaw, who earned a top novice and first-place award in the prose category.
The four students qualified to compete at the National Forensics Association National Championship Tournament at Ohio University in April.
First, though the team will gather at the MISL Novice States tournament at Northwood University in February. Then they will compete in the MISL State Tournament at Wayne State University in March.
Matthew Walla impressed national judges, but only because others looked past his timidity three years earlier.
The Saginaw Valley State University senior recently was named one of six students nationally to receive the Outstanding Student of 2014 award from BACCHUS Initiatives of NASPA, a collegiate peer education organization with members from more than 340 colleges and universities nationally.
“I get a smile every time I think about winning that,” said the biology major from Washington, Mich. “That's not what I do the work for, but it's nice to be recognized for it.”
But he nearly wasn't recognized for it. Not just because of the stiff competition nationally. Three years ago, Walla almost missed the cut when he applied for a spot on SVSU's Peer Health Education team, the organization that provided Walla the opportunity to win the award.
Sara Martinez, director of SVSU's Student Wellness Programs, has served as Walla's supervisor since he joined her Peer Health Education team in 2011. She remembers his shaky start well.
“He was the most nervous candidate we have ever had, and I have seen hundreds of interviews,” Martinez said. “We even brought him in to do a second interview because he seemed endearing, but we weren't quite sure why he wanted to be a volunteer in Peer Health Education.”
Martinez said the second impression convinced her and her board to bring him aboard. From that point, Walla's confidence and leadership skills grew rapidly and remarkably.
In his first year, he was instrumental in founding Greeks Advocating the Mature Management of Alcohol, which provides leadership opportunities for students in fraternities and sororities to educate peers about alcohol.
By year two, he joined the campus-wide advisory group overseeing peer health education for alcohol. There, he organized several campus events raising awareness on the subject.
This year, his Peer Health Education focus topic is environmental sustainability, a new initiative within Martinez's programs.
“Matt has taken on this charge and hit the ground running by creating a new group called the Eco Cardinals,” said Martinez, who nominated Walla for the BACCHUS Initiatives award. “This group already has 10 members and put on three programs during the fall semester.”
Walla said he may pursue the environmental sustainability focus as a career after SVSU, where he plans to graduate in May.
“Up until last semester, I was thinking I would attend medical school,” the Romeo High School graduate said. “I took the summer to rethink everything and I came back with a fresh mind. Environmental sustainability has really piqued my interests, and I can apply my biology degree to the environmental world.”
Walla said he plans to eventually pursue a postgraduate degree. That pursuit will most likely come after another summer at the Boy Scouts of America's Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico, where he has spent three years teaching both amateur adventurers and scouts how to navigate the Rocky Mountains there.
The job involves one of Walla's strengths: working with people. It's an asset Martinez hopes he utilizes in whatever career he pursues.
“Matt is a peer educator to his core,” she said. “I'm proud that Matt has come this far and I know that this is only the beginning for what will be an amazing journey of helping people, educating people, and trying to leave the world a better place.”
Marlena Bravender, a Saginaw Valley State University assistant professor of teacher education, has received a $5,000 grant recently from the National Education Association Foundation to research ways to integrate online language simulations into Spanish foreign language lessons.
She and co-applicant Virginia Martin, a Spanish teacher at Grand Blanc West Middle School in Grand Blanc, this fall began using the funds to design and share lessons for middle school students. The lessons will help students understand authentic situations in which Spanish is spoken, Bravender said.
“I want the students to learn and retain the content,” she said of the project's goal. “What drives me is that they're motivated to learn, and this gives them motivation.”
The simulations - using text, photos, art and audio - set up situations that involve the use of Spanish language, then quizzes students on those situations in English.
“If you respond incorrectly, you might see someone on screen looking at you funny,” Bravender said. “It's kind of like a choose-your-own adventure game. At the end, it produces a score and says which objectives the students are not hitting.”
Students can access the simulations on computers and smart phones alike.
Bravender said other colleagues in education have inquired about the program. As a result, three more classes in K-12 schools in Michigan are in the early stages of using the simulation.
Saginaw's Nouvel Catholic Central High School, Reese Middle School and Holly Academy all have students using the program. Students from grades 4 through 9 are involved.
Bravender and Martin received $5,000 of the $168,000 in NEA Foundation grants recently awarded to 42 educators nationally.
This year, 11 outstanding Michigan educators have been selected for the Gerstacker Fellowship at Saginaw Valley State University. They will receive concentrated leadership training over a one-year period, including a capstone international experience that will send the Fellows to Poland in April.
Previous overseas trips have included Finland, China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. These trips involve visits to educational institutions, where participants learn about international educational systems and corporate settings, where they discover how leadership plays out in different cultural and economic settings.
Established in 2005 and funded by an endowment from the Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation of Midland, the participants are known as Gerstacker Fellows and meet monthly on weekends. SVSU faculty from various disciplines instruct the Fellows on subjects dealing with organizational leadership, ethics, finances, communication, human resources, entrepreneurship and education with a global perspective.
Those selected for the Gerstacker Fellowship class of 2015 are:
• Lara J. Dixon, the principal at Troy Athens High School of the Troy School District
• Jennifer E. Egan, an adapted physical/health education teacher at the Woodland Developmental Center in the St. Clair County Regional Education Service Agency
• Erin Eastman, the director of Secondary Programs in the Port Huron Area Schools
• Lisa M. Fosnaugh, the assistant principal at Van Hoosen Middle School in the Rochester Community Schools
• Suzanne M. Grambush, the principal of Riverside Elementary School in the Waterford School District
• Dawn Linden, the executive director of elementary education for Ann Arbor Public Schools
• Kevin E. Moore, the assistant principal at Swan Valley High School in the Swan Valley School District
• Christian Mueller, the assistant principal at Jeannette Junior High School in the Utica Community Schools
• Laurie Pritchard, the principal at Jack Harvey Elementary School in the Utica Community Schools
• Eric Rutherford, the director of Hartley Outdoor Education Center, operated by the Saginaw Intermediate School District
• Vikki Wandmacher, the principal at White Pine Middle School in the Saginaw Township Community Schools
The participants were selected based on past academic and service accomplishments, along with outside recommendations. Each was nominated by a supervisor.
As a result of the Gerstacker endowment, there is no charge to program participants unless they elect to have the educational experience considered for graduate credit.