February 8, 2017

SVSU President responds to governor’s budget recommendation

Saginaw Valley State University President Donald Bachand issued the following statement in response to the state budget recommendation announced by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder today:

“We are grateful to see the recent trend of increased investment in higher education continue in Governor Snyder’s recommended budget for the 2018 fiscal year, as well as increased support for financial aid and scholarships. A well-educated citizenry and workforce is vital to the health and economy of our state, and SVSU alumni overwhelmingly choose to remain in Michigan.

“We are particularly pleased to see common sense applied to tuition restraint language. In recent years, this has been calculated strictly on a percentage basis, and has been punitive to schools like SVSU who have exercised tuition restraint over multiple decades.

“We will work closely and cooperatively with our region’s legislative delegation, as well as leadership in the House and the Senate, to maintain support for these priorities. We will continue to do our part to keep a college education within reach of students and families, and provide Michigan employers with the talent they desperately need.”

February 8, 2017

SVSU professors receive Braun Fellowship to improve health of pregnant women, write poetry collection

Two Saginaw Valley State University professors have received support from SVSU for their scholarly activity. Arra Ross, associate professor of English, and Rebecca Schlaff, assistant professor of kinesiology, have been selected for the Braun Fellowship.

Ross intends to write and publish a book of poetry, while Schlaff will further her growing community-based research aimed at improving the health of pregnant women and new mothers. Each will receive research support grants totaling up to $37,500 over the next three years to further their scholarly and professional activities. Funds may be used for research expenses, equipment, travel and/or other related support.

Ross plans to author a full-length poetry collection that will build on the work of her first poetry book, “Seedlip and Sweet Apple (2010),” which followed the historic personage Ann Lee to explore the spiritual roots of the Shaker religion in the mid to late 1700s. She also plans to submit poems for publication in leading literary journals.

Two sacred mythic figures, Mary Magdalene and the Old Norse fertility figure Frejya, will be examined by Ross in her work. Some of her poems will ask questions about dogma and judgment, and about compassion and faith, drawing from the gnostic gospel, The Gospel of Mary. Ross previously received an SVSU Research Grant which funded extensive place-based research into Scandinavian prehistory and Old Norse religion, which provides a foundation as she explores ideas about abundance and scarcity, both within the human psyche and on a larger scale.

Ross joined the SVSU English faculty in 2010. She completed a bachelor’s degree at Macalester College in Minnesota and a Ph.D. at the University of Nebraska. In addition to her previous book, she has written more than a dozen poems and short stories that have been published in literary journals. In 2015, Ross was invited to present at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs national conference.  

Schlaff, assistant professor of kinesiology, will expand her community-minded research to target postpartum depression and mental health outcomes among pregnant women and new mothers. Poor postpartum mental health has been found to be associated with negative maternal, fetal, and childhood outcomes. Little is known about the impact of initiating or continuing physical activity and healthy eating through participation in interventions during pregnancy on physical and mental health in the postpartum period.

Since joining the SVSU kinesiology faculty in 2012, Schlaff has worked to develop and implement a behavioral physical activity and nutrition intervention for pregnant women; this began in April 2016. The data will be used for scholarly publications and presentations; applications for grant funding; and will add knowledge to the field to help pregnant women at a vulnerable time in their lives.

Schlaff completed a bachelor’s degree at SVSU and a Ph.D. at Michigan State University. She has authored or co-authored 19 articles and abstracts that have appeared in scholarly journals. Schlaff also has been awarded eight research grants, including a 2015 grant of more than $19,000 from the Allen Foundation in Midland to study a pilot nutrition and physical activity intervention for pregnant women.

Established in 2005, the Braun Fellowship program was created through a $1.5 million endowment from the Saginaw-based Harvey Randall Wickes Foundation. Administered by the Saginaw Community Foundation, the program's purpose is to recognize the exceptional accomplishments and potential of select SVSU faculty and staff. It is named in honor of Ruth and Ted Braun of Saginaw.

February 8, 2017

SVSU to support cancer research during Relay For Life event Friday

Relay For Life’s cause against cancer strikes a personal chord for Courtney Franzel.

The Saginaw Valley State University senior’s grandmother, Martha Willis, died of breast cancer in 2000. Since then, Franzel has remained dedicated to helping others and fighting the disease in all its forms.

Soon Franzel, a biochemstry major from Sandusky, Michigan, will lead efforts to raise funds to combat  cancer by coordinating SVSU’s Relay For Life event Friday, Feb. 10. It is scheduled from noon to midnight in SVSU’s Ryder Center.

“It’s an amazing event, for a good cause,” said Franzel, president of SVSU’s chapter of Colleges Against Cancer. The group organizes the university’s annual Relay For Life events.

“It brings people together,” Franzel said. “My saying is, ‘Together, we can.’ Together, we can make a difference with Relay For Life.”

Last year, the SVSU community raised $37,000 for the American Cancer Society through its Relay For Life. This year, Franzel said organizers hope to collect $40,000.

Those interested in contributing can donate online at www.relayforlife.org/svsumi.

Friday’s event kicks off at noon with opening remarks from Franzel and SVSU President Don Bachand. Other activities include a dinner and a silent auction at 5 p.m.; the auction will include gift cards from local businesses and organizations as well as SVSU clothing and gear.

Alicia Ennis, a cancer survivor who graduated from SVSU in 2013, will speak at a ceremony recognizing fellow survivors at 6 p.m.  A ceremony to recognize all who have fought — and, in some cases, lost — the battle against cancer begins at 9 p.m., and the closing ceremony be held from 11:30 p.m. to midnight.

Franzel, who plans to pursue a career researching cancer genetics, has participated in SVSU’s Relay For Life events since 2014.

“It’s been a great feeling to know you’re helping people,” she said.

February 6, 2017

SVSU student invited to present at World Congress on Public Health and Nutrition in Italy

Saginaw Valley State University student Jarrod Eaton, a health science major from St. Johns, has a genuine interest in the health of college students, and has pursued research in this regard. He has been invited to present his research at the 2nd World Congress on Public Health and Nutrition in Rome, Italy March 22-24.

Eaton will present his study on the contributing factors surrounding influenza vaccination rate disparities among college-aged populations. His project is titled “Vaccination of Influenza on College Campuses: A study to identify the correlation of determinants on influenza vaccination rate disparities.”

While his research is still in progress, Eaton has drawn preliminary findings from his study to date.

“I have concluded that there are an increasing number of factors that are leading to college students receiving the influenza vaccination at significantly lower rates than other populations of society which, ultimately, can lead to greater risk of exposure and an increased likelihood of the spread of disease,” he said.

James Collins, Ph.D., SVSU executive-in-residence for health sciences, has served as the faculty mentor and advisor for Eaton’s study. Collins said it is unusual for an undergraduate to be invited to present at such an international conference.

“Jarrod had to compete with people in the public health field with professional and advanced degrees,” Collins explained. “He wrote a fine summary of his proposed research.

“While about a third of persons receive flu vaccines in the United States every year, only about 10 percent of college-age people do. Jarrod’s research will provide insights and much-needed information on why students may or may not decide to obtain a flu vaccination.”

Eaton expressed gratitude for the empowering opportunities and close relationships with faculty he has enjoyed.

“During my time at SVSU, I have been given an immense number of opportunities that have shaped both my professional and academic career,” Eaton said. “It has instilled in me a duty to, one day, have the same degree of impact on the global community as well.”

Eaton will graduate from SVSU in May and plans to pursue a career in public health. He intends to pursue a Master of Public Health degree with a specialization in epidemiology, and ultimately complete a Ph.D. in epidemiology. Eaton hopes to one day work for the World Health Organization or the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

In addition to his academic scholarship, Eaton served as president of Student Association, SVSU’s student government, for the 2015-16 academic year.

February 6, 2017

SVSU music department earns national reaccreditation

The Saginaw Valley State University Department of Music hit a high note with accreditors, and has earned accreditation from the National Association of Schools of Music for the second time, this time for a 10-year period.

The distinction demonstrates the department’s determined efforts to meet the highest standards of higher education music and music education programs across the nation, said Jane Girdham, SVSU professor of music and department chair.

“This is a badge of quality,” Girdham said. “It shows we are doing good things.”

The 10-year reaccreditation is the maximum extension available from the association. The department received the boost after first earning a 5-year accreditation status from the organization.

Girdham said the accreditation process provides both input on the department’s quality programs as well as suggestions for improvements. In the five years since the previous site visit, she and her colleagues focused on following some of the suggestions included in the previous accreditation report. For instance, that critique recommended improvements to SVSU’s band room.

“We now have a beautiful band room,” Girdham said. “They keep us on our toes. We are aware we have to meet those standards.”

SVSU music students perform multiple public concerts each year, and they are provided opportunities to attend specialty workshops and work with visiting musicians in a variety of genres, such as jazz, opera and contemporary music. For more information, visit svsu.edu/music/.

February 3, 2017

SVSU business students selected for global business leadership

Eleven Saginaw Valley State University students passionate about global business will receive leadership development and travel abroad after being selected for the 5th class of SVSU’s Vitito Global Leadership Institute.

Vitito Fellows are selected on the basis of academic ability, character, leadership experience or potential for leadership, and a community-minded commitment to learning and service.

During the 18-month program, SVSU business students learn the importance of leadership to organizational success in a global context, and develop the knowledge, skills, and perspectives that distinguish great leaders. The class also travels internationally during the final semester of the program; past destinations have included the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Portugal.

Nine students from Michigan and two from abroad have been selected to begin their Vitito Fellowship during 2017 winter semester. They are:
•    Aranya Biswas, an economics major from the nation of Bangladesh
•    Anthony Bodeis, an accounting major from Mayville
•    Kara Brunk, an accounting major from Southfield
•    Bradford Duke, a management major from Coldwater
•    Bijesh Gyawali, a finance major from the nation of  Nepal
•    Mitchell Kennedy, an accounting major from Bad Axe
•    Chase Martin, a finance major from Applegate
•    Carter Mazur, a management major from Saginaw
•    Lauren Miller, a marketing and management dual major from Byron
•    Tyler Newell, an international business and supply chain management double major from Kingsley
•    Charity Warren, a management major from Pinconning

The 11 selected students each wrote an essay explaining their personal and professional goals, as well as their performance and potential as a leader. To be eligible, students in SVSU’s College of Business and Management must have completed at least 45 credits to apply the program. The candidates must commit to three consecutive semesters of course work, co-curricular activities, and global travel experience in order to be admitted.

The program is named in honor of Bob and Bobbi Vitito, who have donated generously to support and empower SVSU students through leadership and service opportunities, and study abroad experiences. Bob served as chair of SVSU’s Board of Control and Foundation Board of Directors; professionally he served as president and CEO of Citizens Banking Corporation (now part of Huntington Bank). Bobbi enjoyed a distinguished teaching career in Saginaw schools. Their exceptional dedication to developing the next generation of leaders culminated in the establishment of the Vitito Global Leadership Institute in 2013; it is supported through a $2 million endowment.

February 3, 2017

SVSU Rhea Miller Concert series to feature acclaimed musicians

Saginaw Valley State University will showcase internationally-acclaimed baritone John Muriello, who will be joined by renowned composer and pianist Richard Pearson Thomas during the next Rhea Miller Concert Series installment Saturday, Feb. 4. 

The performance, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. in SVSU's Rhea Miller Recital Hall, is free and open to the public.

Muriello's career includes performances in opera, musical theatre and concert. He has performed at contemporary music festivals globally including the Union of Composers Autumn Festival in Moscow and has appeared at venues such as the Banff Centre for the Arts in Canada.

The baritone has worked with the Skylight Opera Theatre, Opera Carolina, Lyric Opera Cleveland, L’Opera Français de New York, Ohio Light Opera, Seaside Music Theatre, Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre, and La Gran Scena Opera di New York.

Thomas is a recipient of an American Composers’ Forum Continental Harmony commission for the Alabama Tri-State Orchestra as well as commissions from the Great Falls Symphony Orchestra, the Empire State Youth Orchestra, and the Riverside Philharmonic Orchestra.

Thomas' compositions have been performed by the Boston Pops, Covent Garden Festival, Houston Grand Opera, Manhattan Chamber Orchestra, Chautauqua Opera, and the Riverside Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir. 

Saturday's program will include selections from composers such as Friedrich Hollaender and Ralph Benatzky, as well as Thomas' original compositions.

The Rhea Miller Concert Series is made possible by a generous gift from Rhea E. Miller, a longtime friend of SVSU. Her gift, administered by the Miller Trust for Music Education, has provided the university with the opportunity to offer outstanding performances by nationally and internationally acclaimed musical artists at no cost to the audience since 1993.

For more information, call (989) 964-4159 or email music@svsu.edu.

January 31, 2017

Film scholar to speak on Navajo weavers during SVSU talk

Saginaw Valley State University will welcome Janna Jones to campus for a public lecture Wednesday, Feb. 15 at 7 p.m. in SVSU's Alan Ott Auditorium.

Jones’ talk is titled “Recovering History through Film Preservation: Researching the Subjects of a Film on Navajo Rug Weaving.” She will focus on her discovery of a 1939 amateur film documenting the making of a Navajo rug.  Because of the time period, the Navajos in the film go unnamed and their location is never mentioned. Jones obtained funding to preserve the film and research the biographies of its subjects.

In her lecture, Jones will recount the stories of one of the Navajo weavers that she identified through her research: Sally Peshlakai and her family. While giving the family the attribution they deserve, Jones will relate this case study to issues of representation and cultural memory in film preservation.

A professor of communication at Northern Arizona University, Jones teaches courses on media history, film production, and screenwriting. A prolific scholar, she has authored two books and numerous articles on the social history of film. Jones also has produced a number of award-winning student films, and written four feature screenplays.

Jones’ lecture is free and open to the public. Her visit to SVSU is supported through the Dow Visiting Scholar program, which brings visiting scholars to campus to expand and enrich SVSU’s curricular offerings for students, and its cultural offerings for people of the surrounding community. The program is sustained through an endowment from the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation.

For more information, please call SVSU's College of Arts & Behavioral Science at 989-964-4062.

January 25, 2017

SVSU international students celebrate art during annual Intercultural Night

Saginaw Valley State University’s international students will share their culture —through song, dance, fashion and theatre performances — with the community during the 16th annual Intercultural Night.

The theme for this year’s show is “Citizens of Art.” It will be held Friday, Jan. 27 at 7 p.m. in the Malcolm Field Theatre for Performing Arts; it is free and open to the public.

Some 40 students representing 15 nations will participate in the event. Many of the students will be dressed according to customs of their homeland.

The nations represented are Algeria, Azerbaijan, Burma, Cameroon, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Nepal, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, and Spain.

Members of SVSU’s gospel choir, Valley Voices, will represent the United States.

“Intercultural night is an opportunity for our international students to share their culture with the campus and community,” said Pat Shelley, an SVSU international student advisor and one of the event’s coordinators.

“It’s an opportunity for the audience to experience cultures from around the world without the cost of travel to go there.”

With limited seating, attendees must pick up the free tickets at SVSU’s Office of International and Advanced Studies, which is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. through Friday in SVSU’s Wickes Hall, Room 230. Those interested also can call the office at (989) 964-4473 for information on ticket availability.

Previously, there was a charge for tickets to attend Intercultural Night event. Campus and community organizations showed support for SVSU’s international students, allowing organizers to offer the show free of charge this year. The sponsors include Independent Bank, as well as SVSU organizations such as Student Association, Program Board, and Residence Housing Association.

January 20, 2017

SVSU residential student honored with national award for promoting health

‌A Saginaw Valley State University student's passion for promoting a safe environment for her peers has earned her national recognition. Megan Christoson, a health science major from Fowlerville, recently received the National Association of College and University Residence Halls Student of the Month award for November.

Christoson has taken an active role in educating and encouraging students to make healthy decisions through SVSU’s Peer Health Education program where she is currently the alcohol education intern. She was invited to present at the national Boosting Alcohol Consciousness Concerning the Health of University Students (BACCHUS) conference where she presented on the topic of the SVSU CHEERS program, which she helped create. The CHEERS program encourages students to arrange for a designated driver after consuming alcohol away from home.

Taking advantage of other empowering opportunities, Christoson also is a member of SVSU's chapter of Phi Delta Epsilon, a medical fraternity. She assisted in hosting a benefit dinner where the group raised over $11,000 in support of the Children's Miracle Network at Flint's Hurley Medical Center.

In order to receive the national honor, Christoson received the Student of the Month award for the Great Lakes Association of College and University Residence Halls. From there, regional Student of the Month award recipients were evaluated by a national selection committee. More than 400 colleges and universities are members of the national association, including 57 in the Great Lakes region.

For more information on the National Association of College and University Residence Halls, visit http://www.nacurh.org/