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May 26, 2015

SVSU study supports link between blight elimination and drop in Saginaw crime

Saginaw Valley State University researchers have found a connection between a recent drop in Saginaw's violent crime rate and a Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) initiative aimed at eliminating blighted structures from the city.

Andrew Miller, SVSU assistant professor of geography, led the study. He presented the findings during a Tuesday, May 26 symposium that also will feature U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee and Saginaw Mayor Dennis Browning. The event will focus on Saginaw's community development since receiving $11.2 million in MSHDA funds to demolish abandoned homes beginning in late 2013.

Miller's analysis was commissioned by Saginaw City Hall officials looking to track the impact of the MSHDA funds the city received. He said the study represents SVSU's dedication both to community interaction and hands-on learning.

“This is a local university using local information to solve local problems,” Miller said. “On top of that, we're using local students with skills they attained at a local university to service their communities.”

Beginning in April, Miller performed statistical analysis while two of his students were responsible for much of the study's data management and GIS work. Those students were Mitchell Kloc, a professional and technical writing major from Freeland, and Daniel Johnson, a criminal justice major from Sparta who graduated in May. Johnson continued working on the project after he completed his studies.

Miller on Tuesday will discuss how his latest research revealed that the MSHDA-funded demolitions correlated with a decrease in “priority one crimes” in Saginaw. Those crimes include homicides, burglaries, robberies, arsons and aggravated assaults.

John Stemple, Saginaw's chief inspector, said he and other City Hall officials turned to SVSU to conduct the study because of the university's strong record of community engagement.

“The City of Saginaw has partnered with SVSU on several occasions with positive results, including participation in the multi-jurisdictional Saginaw County Crime Prevention Council, resulting in a crime statistics basis for creating crime measurement tools,” Stemple said.

In 2013-14, Miller and SVSU undergraduate students conducted research that helped Saginaw law enforcement leaders better understand the city's crime “hot spots.” That research received national media attention, and led to a related study that extended to the county level in 2014-15.

City officials are pleased with SVSU’s community commitment and encouraged by the research findings.

“It is because of these long-standing relationships, the faculty and students' commitment to seeing Saginaw prosper - and ultimately a report prepared by SVSU - which tells us we are on the road to prosperity,” Stemple said.

Reported incidents of part one crimes dropped from 2,631 in 2012 to 2,115 in 2013, when the MSHDA funds were made available for the latter part of the year. The crime figure dropped to 1,868 in 2014, marking a 29 percent reduction over that two-year span.

To date, MSHDA has funded the demolition of 599 abandoned structures; law enforcement experts say such blight contributes to crime. The MSHDA money will fund 301 more demolitions. That would eliminate half of the estimated 1,800 abandoned homes the city counted in 2013.

Miller's study also tracked trends in specific neighborhoods. The research showed crime “hot spots” had cooled in the areas where the concentration of demolition was heaviest. Those neighborhoods largely were located specifically in Saginaw's Houghton-Jones and Cathedral districts.

Other contributing factors to the drop in crime include the assignment of Michigan State Police patrols to the city as well as a decline in Saginaw's population, Miller said.

The May 26 symposium will be hosted by Bancroft Luxury Apartments, 107 S. Washington in Saginaw. A 9:30 a.m. press conference kicked off the event.

In 2015, SVSU received the Community Engagement classification from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, a distinction achieved by only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities. For more on SVSU's community engagement, visit svsu.edu/communityengagement/.

May 20, 2015

SVSU Cardinal Formula Racing team places 26th in the world, tops among exclusively undergraduate teams

The Saginaw Valley State University Cardinal Formula Racing team earned the fifth-best finish in the accomplished program's history at its most recent international competition.

The team finished in 26th place out of 110 colleges and universities from around the world at the Formula Society of Automotive Engineers Collegiate Design Series. The event was hosted at the Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan from May 14-16.

“I feel pretty good about our performance,” said Brooks Byam, Cardinal Formula Racing's adviser since 1998 and an SVSU professor of mechanical engineering.  “I'm just thrilled to be able to work with these students.”

Byam said this year's vehicle might have finished in the event's top 10 if not for a mechanical failure during the endurance portion of the competition. He said the vehicle was on pace to score more than 200 points in the endurance challenge until an oil line broke loose, spraying oil all over. The team instead earned 18 points in the category.

“It was about a 10-cent part,” Byam said of the oil line that never proved an issue during the team's year worth of preparation. “That's racing. That one little thing can make all the difference.”

SVSU recorded the highest overall finish among institutions without a graduate program in engineering, thanks to strong showings in all other categories, placing in the top 15 in acceleration, autocross, cost, presentation, and skid pad. The 2015 overall champion was Graz University of Technology from Austria.

The only Cardinal Formula Racing teams to place higher in the annual competition managed a sixth place finish in 2002, eighth in 2005, 14th in 2008 and 18th in 2010. Last year, the group finished in 36th place.

Byam said the experience of preparing an Indy-style race car for competition is invaluable to students.

“They're much more self-reliant,” he said. “They're becoming much better engineers.”

Byam - 2013 winner of the Carroll Smith Mentor's Cup from the Society of Automotive Engineers, the top honor given to faculty who advise college formula racing programs - said Cardinal Formula Racing's 20-student roster showed dedication and a solid work ethic this year. 
That could be a good sign for the 2016 team because all but three students from this year's crew are expected to return. 

Zack Haveraneck of Saginaw; Samuel Dantuma of Pinconning and Henry Shin of Saginaw are graduating. 

“The rest are already digging into it,” Byam said. “I was going to tell them to take a few weeks off, but they want to meet on Wednesday to discuss goals for next year.”

May 20, 2015

SVSU theatre grad hired at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Recent Saginaw Valley State University graduate Blake Mazur has a busy summer schedule, including plans to begin work as an audio technician at Hollywood Studios in Orlando's Walt Disney World.

A theatre major who acted and provided sound design in 10 SVSU theatre productions, Mazur was offered the full-time job when he interviewed for the position with Walt Disney World employers during a recent conference at the United States Institute for Theatre Technology.

“I'm very excited that I have a huge opportunity like this right out of college,” the Saginaw resident said. “I feel very fortunate that my education at SVSU helped me to reach this step. Without SVSU, I definitely would not be where I am right now.”

Mazur said he enrolled at SVSU because its theatre program - unlike many other institutions - allows freshmen the opportunity to play significant roles in theatre productions. As a result, Mazur gained experience that helped him develop his skills immediately.

At first, Mazur was interested exclusively in acting at SVSU. But, during his sophomore year, he served as the sound designer for the university's “Death Of A Salesman” play.

“It was tough, but I learned, and it ended up being something I wanted to do,” he said. “And here I am.”

As an audio technician at Hollywood Studios, Mazur's responsibilities will include helping to maintain the audio used at the resort's attractions. Those include rides and live performances based on popular characters including Cinderella and Indiana Jones as well as franchises such as “Star Wars” and “Frozen.”

Mazur said he is excited for the opportunity. He hopes eventually to rise in the ranks to pursue a career as a sound designer, which oversees a production's audio and manages its audio technicians.

Before he moves to Florida in August, Mazur will serve as a sound design and head audio engineer intern during productions at the Shawnee Summer Theatre in Bloomfield, Indiana, from June to July. 

May 14, 2015

SVSU students select ‘Get Outside for Healthier Inside’ as ‘Battle of the Valleys’ charity partner

The Saginaw Valley State University Student Association has selected its charitable partner for the 13th annual “Battle of the Valleys” fundraising competition. SVSU students will raise funds for Get Outside for a Healthier Inside, an affiliate of the Saginaw Community Foundation, when they compete against their rivals from Grand Valley State University during the week-long challenge in November.

Get Outside for a Healthier Inside is a young organization whose mission to increase physical activity in Saginaw, and is specifically focused on building parks and trails for families enjoy, all while staying close to their neighborhoods. It seeks to combat childhood obesity, and its rising rates from generation to generation. The SVSU Student Association and entire campus community will join Get Outside in enhancing the city of Saginaw, and fighting the problems of obesity during this week of fundraising activities.

“Battle of the Valleys,” began in 2003 to capitalize upon the football rivalry between SVSU and GVSU by raising funds for deserving non-profits. Over the past twelve years, SVSU students have raised a total of $306,789, winning nine of the twelve annual competitions. A total of $472,279 in charitable donations has been raised between the two schools.

The 2015 “Battle of the Valleys” fundraising campaign will be held November 8-14.

For more information, contact Natalie Schneider, Student Association philanthropy chair, at nmschnei@svsu.edu.

May 13, 2015

SVSU Cardinal Formula Racing ready to compete in top collegiate racing competition

Fresh off building the fastest college race car in the world last year, Saginaw Valley State University’s Cardinal Formula Racing has designed and built “one of the most well-developed vehicles” in the accomplished program’s history and is preparing to square off against top international competition.

 

Brooks Byam, SVSU professor of mechanical engineering and the team’s faculty adviser since 1998, has high hopes for No. 73 – the name of this year’s student-built Indy-style vehicle – on the eve of the annual Formula Society of Automotive Engineers Collegiate Design Series. A team of 20 SVSU students who designed and built No. 73.

 

The competition is May 14-16 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan.

 

“They’re ready for competition,” Byam said. “It’s the most thoroughly-tested vehicle we’ve taken down there.”

 

That is saying a lot considering SVSU’s success in the college racing circles over the years. Byam himself is the 2013 winner of the Carroll Smith Mentor’s Cup from the Society of Automotive Engineers, the top honor given to faculty who advise college formula racing programs.

 

SVSU’s Cardinal Formula Racing sports four top-20 overall finishes, placing sixth in 2002, eighth in 2005, 14th in 2008, 18th in 2010; they finished 36th in 2014. Known for building exceptionally fast race cars, the program has won the acceleration category twice – in 2014 and 2008 – and finished second in 2013.

 

The annual FSAE Collegiate Design Series competition features about 120 teams, from world-renowned colleges and universities with esteemed mechanical engineering programs. As with previous competitions, this year’s event will feature teams squaring off in categories such as design, cost, endurance and acceleration.

 

How will SVSU’s team fare this year?

 

“They just have to pay attention to details, follow through and finish,” Byam said. “With a little good luck, we’ll finish pretty well.”

 

Byam said the vehicle’s well-developed status is a result of hard work on behalf of students as well as experienced guidance from their advisers. The group’s other faculty advisers are Erich Paul Heuschele, adjunct instructor of engineering, and Mark McCartney, professor of accounting.

 

“We’ve gotten to a point where we are good at explaining the right approach and the right culture to have around the team,” Byam said, “and the students are buying into that. They have the confidence that what they are doing is the right thing.”

 

He also praised the dedication of (LAST) and the rest of the team.

 

“I’ve been trying to tell them to take a few days off, get some sleep, celebrate Mother’s Day, just take a break,” Byam said. “They can’t seem to take their hands off (the vehicle).”

 

The team roster is comprised of largely mechanical engineering students, including team captains Alex Fullerton of Onaway; Zach Haveraneck of Saginaw; and Logan Shelagowski of Mattawan.

 

Byam thanked SVSU and Cardinal Formula Racing’s sponsors for their support of the program.

 

“Without that, we’re nothing,” he said. “Part of our culture is appreciating the extraordinary support we get.”

 

The racing program exemplifies the hands-on learning and community interaction that is part of SVSU’s commitment to community engagement.  In 2015, SVSU received the Community Engagement classification from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, a distinction achieved by only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities. For more on SVSU’s community engagement, visit svsu.edu/communityengagement/.

May 11, 2015

Update Your Device's Software

Based on the article "Device Software Update How-To" © 2015 ePlace Solutions, Inc.

By Jennifer Paradise

Cyber thieves are constantly discovering software vulnerabilities to attack. Through such holes, malware can be installed on a device — YOUR device — without you knowing simply by visiting an infected web page or opening a malicious file. The malware can then be used to compromise computer systems. In response, developers publish software updates, or patches, to close the holes and prevent such attacks. Keeping device software updated has become a key part of computer system security.

Updating Regularly

It is critical to update anti-virus and anti-spyware programs as soon as new versions are available. Many compromises are the result of old vulnerabilities that were discovered and failed to be updated. Focus first on the parts of your system that thieves normally target. These include operating systems (e.g. Windows 7 or 8), web browsers (e.g. IE, Firefox, Chrome), helper programs used to run applications, and read and play files (e.g. Java, Adobe PDF Reader, Flash, QuickTime). If in doubt, the safest way to check for and install updates is from within each program. Look for About or Help menus, and in those menus, look for options to Check for Updates to the software.

Installing Updates Safely

  1. Pay attention to what software is on your device. Notifications about software you don’t have are likely fraudulent. If you don’t recognize it, don’t install it.
  2. Over time, learn to recognize the normal update process for your software. Only respond to notifications that fit the usual pattern.
  3. Some programs deliver updates via software already installed on the device. These notifications generally appear when the application is launched. Installing these is usually safe.
  4. Other continuously running programs (e.g. anti-virus and anti-spyware) may automatically scan for updates and notify via pop-ups when updates are available. This is a great example of why it’s important to know what software you have, and what update notice they normally provide.
  5. DO NOT install software or updates directly from email links or attachments. To check the legitimacy of an email update notice, go to the vendor’s web site. Don’t click the link in the email! If the site has an update for software that you use, download it yourself from the vendor's web site and install it.

Image of the poster, "Update Your Device's Software"

Update Your Device's Software (9,125kB)

May 11, 2015

SVSU Board Awards Degrees to 1,100 Graduates

The Saginaw Valley State University Board of Control passed a resolution during its regular meeting Friday, May 8 to grant degrees to more than 1,100 students set to graduate this weekend.

The graduating class consists of 1,112 students who have applied to graduate, including 978 who have indicated that they intend to don regalia and march in their respective ceremonies. In all, 455 students plan to participate in the 7:30 p.m. Friday ceremony. The 11 a.m. Saturday ceremony will feature an expected 523 graduates.  

The Commencement speaker for both ceremonies will be Harold “Hal” R. Wilde, who served as president of North Central College in Naperville, Illinois from 1991 to 2012. As a doctoral student at Harvard, Wilde studied the operations of the Detroit Police Department. During that time, he met a bright-eyed police cadet named Don Bachand, SVSU’s current president.

In other action, the Board:
•    elected officers for the 2015-16 year. Scott Carmona of Bay City will serve as chair; Jenee Velasquez of Midland will serve as vice chair. David Gamez of Saginaw will serve as secretary and the treasurer will be John Kunitzer of Saginaw.
•    passed a resolution thanking Joey Rexford, president, and elected representatives of the Student Association for their service during the 2014-15 academic year.
•    passed a resolution congratulating Jarrod Eaton, president-elect, and representatives of the Student Association for being elected to serve during the 2015-16 academic year.
•    passed a resolution commending faculty, staff, administrators and community members who contributed to SVSU receiving the Community Engagement classification from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
•    reappointed the Saginaw-based public accounting firm Andrews Hooper Pavlik to serve as SVSU’s auditors.
•    granted emeritus status to Basil Clark, professor of English, who is retiring from the university after 40 years of service.
•    renewed contracts with six public school academies. Contracts with Grattan Academy, Northwest Academy, and White Pine Academy were extended through June 30, 2017. SVSU  renewed contracts with Pontiac Academy for Excellence and Saginaw Preparatory Academy through June 30, 2018. Merritt Academy’s contract with SVSU was extended through June 30, 2020.
•    confirmed board members for previously authorized charter schools.

May 7, 2015

SVSU community rallies to support Nepal earthquake victims

Students, faculty and staff at Saginaw Valley State University have organized efforts to support the people of Nepal in the wake of the April 25 earthquake that has devastated the Asian nation.

 

An SVSU team that includes a student raised in Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu, plans to travel to Nepal this week to help disaster victims. The group will provide primary care services and deliver medical supplies to Kathmandu and surrounding villages. They will depart Saturday, May 9 and return Monday, May 18.

 

SVSU alumna and graduate student Smriti Pant will return to her hometown as part of the group. Members of Pant's family and friends still live in Kathmandu.

 

“This whole thing carries a lot of sentimentality for me,” said Pant, who lived in Kathmandu until she was 19 and last visited in 2011. “I know that place very well, and I just can't imagine what I will see when I get there.”

 

Pant said her 92-year-old grandmother was rescued from a home in Kathmandu by a caretaker, and her uncle escaped his apartment before the earthquake destroyed it. Her family and friends have described a community devastated by the earthquake.

 

“Kathmandu is like the New York of Nepal. To go back and see this massive damage and destruction, it will take me back to a time when things were normal.”

 

Pant said she is grateful she will be able to use her skills in nursing to help those in need. A registered nurse at Covenant HealthCare, she earned a bachelor's degree in nursing from SVSU in 2011. She is on track to graduate from SVSU's doctor of nursing practice program in 2016.

 

“From a professional side, I am glad I will be able to bring my knowledge to help the people affected by this,” she said.

 

She won't be the only student on the trip. Jarrod Eaton, the incoming president of Student Association (SVSU's student government), plans to join the group. Eaton is a health science major  from St. Johns.

 

The relief team also will include Judy Ruland, dean of SVSU's College of Health and Human Services, Dustin Spencer, assistant professor of nursing, and Rene Hernandez, assistant professor of health sciences.

 

“My colleagues and I are honored to be helping out in the earthquake relief effort,” said Hernandez, who visited Kathmandu in December 2014.
“My experience there was filled with warm and welcoming encounters from everyone I met. I am anxious to return to assist them in anyway I can. I would personally like to thank SVSU, and particularly SVSU President Don Bachand for making this relief effort possible.”

 

While the relief team prepares to depart, 26 Nepalese students have arrived or are in transit to SVSU to begin classes at the start of the spring term next Monday, May 11.

 

In addition, the SVSU community has raised more than $4,000 as of Wednesday, May 6 for the American Red Cross to support the relief effort.  Online donations can be made at www.crowdrise.com/svsunepalrelief.

 

SVSU has a history of enrolling students from Nepal, and several groups of SVSU students and faculty have taken study abroad trips to the country in recent years.

 

Thousands died and thousands more were injured during the magnitude-7.8 earthquake that struck April 25. The United Nations estimates the disaster affected 8.1 million people in Nepal.

May 4, 2015

Great things ahead for 2015 SVSU graduates

Graduation is an exciting time, and exciting opportunities lie ahead for many of the 1,100 members of SVSU’s 2015 graduating class.

We Are New Cardinal Alumni — available online at www.svsu.edu/weare2015 — is a series that takes a snapshot of that excitement through the eyes of several of our outstanding graduates.

The series reflects on our exceptional graduates’ experiences at SVSU. Their résumés include membership to engaging student organizations, participation in volunteer and service-learning opportunities, and recognition for outstanding research and academic achievement.

And their stories stretch beyond SVSU, as this series also looks forward, toward our students’ plans after graduation. While some students are poised for postgraduate studies at prestigious universities across the U.S., others already have secured jobs in industries dedicated to strengthening the Great Lakes Bay Region.

All of our graduates are ready to write the next chapter in their lives while adding to the outstanding lineup of Cardinal alumni.

Keep an eye on www.svsu.edu/weare2015 as we continue to tell these success stories in the coming weeks.

May 1, 2015

Frankenmuth 19-year-old to graduate from SVSU, high school simultaneously; MSU grad school up next

Sarah Klammer will become one of Saginaw Valley State University’s younger graduates this spring, when the 19-year-old earns a bachelor's degree in economics at the same time she earns a high school diploma from the Academic and Career Education Academy in Midland.

 “I'm very excited,” said Klammer, who will graduate summa cum laude. “It's been a wonderful opportunity for me and has opened the door for me to experience a lot of things I would have otherwise missed out on.”
 
In the fall, the Frankenmuth resident will begin studying for a master's degree from Michigan State University's Agriculture, Food, and Resource Economics program.
 
“We're excited to see what the future holds for her,” said Jennifer Pahl, SVSU’s director of admissions who helped Klammer navigate the dual enrollment process. “She's an exceptionally talented young lady.  She took advantage of all the opportunities that SVSU made available to her, and exceled in them. She's been a great addition to our campus community.”
 
Klammer credits SVSU faculty members – especially Kylie Jaber, Weiwei Liu, and Kaustav Misra, all of the economics department –  with providing the inspiration and impetus for her application to MSU, where she was offered full funding as well as a research assistantship.
 
“They not only taught me so much in my years at SVSU, but were also extremely helpful to me in navigating through the ins-and-outs of finding a program and funding,” said Klammer, who plans to pursue a career as a professor in higher education.
 
The faculty in Klammer's department helped her identify opportunities for growth, she said. For instance, Klammer engaged in undergraduate research with Liu, analyzing housing evaluations in relation to their proximity to bodies of water.
 
“The great thing about the economics faculty is that they are all willing to help you, even if it isn't about economics,” Klammer said.
 
Receiving a high school diploma and bachelor's degree simultaneously is a feat Klammer was able to accomplish thanks in part to her enrollment at PACE, a dual enrollment program.

She was accepted into the program as a high school sophomore at age 15 after spending her freshman year at Frankenmuth High School.

 For the most part, PACE allowed Klammer to take college-level courses that met the requirements for high school-level studies. As a result, she only stepped into high school hallways to attend dances and athletics events with her teenage peers. Her studies happened in higher education settings.
 
“One nice thing was that I could pick up my friends from high school and take them to lunch,” Klammer said.
 
PACE paid for Klammer's tuition and fees. The program's director, Nancy Paris, said she believes Klammer is the first person in the United States to receive full funding from a dual-enrollment program while completing a high school diploma and bachelor's degree simultaneously.
 
Klammer credits Paris and SVSU’s Pahl with helping her to achieve her undergraduate goals at such a young age.
 
“Without Nancy and Jennifer - and the support of my family - I never would have been able to come so far so quickly,” she said.
 

Klammer served as a tutor at SVSU's Center for Academic Achievement and was selected as vice president of the school's recently-founded Economics Club. She also was inducted into Beta Gamma Sigma, an international college honor society for business students.

 

At a Career Services fair on campus, Klammer connected with organizers for the Frankenmuth Farmers Market, where she now serves as the market activities coordinator.

 

Klammer isn't the only member of her family to participate in the dual-enrollment program. Her older sister, Leahana, is a member of the program and will complete her bachelor's degree in communication at SVSU in December. Her younger sister, Rachel, is currently enrolled in the program and is expected to graduate from SVSU in spring 2016.