January 7, 2015

SVSU named a community-engaged university

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.

December 19, 2014

SVSU students tops at forensics competition, qualify for national tourney

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.

December 19, 2014

SVSU student receives national honor for peer health education

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.”

December 17, 2014

SVSU educator secures $5K grant to develop middle school Spanish language lessons

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.

December 17, 2014

Leading Educators Selected for 2015 Gerstacker Fellowship at SVSU

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.

December 17, 2014

2014 Holiday Video

By Holly LaRose-Roenicke

As a reminder of the diverse and extraordinary talents of our students, please enjoy this SVSU holiday video featuring the vocals of Madalyn McHugh, a music major from Caro, and a few familiar faces of faculty, staff and students. 

December 17, 2014

STEM expert and university president to keynote regional MLK event at SVSU

Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, president at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and noted thought leader on STEM education, will be the keynote speaker for the Great Lakes Bay Regional Martin Luther King, Jr. event at Saginaw Valley State University. He will speak Wednesday‌, Jan. 21 at 7 p.m. in the Malcolm Field Theatre for Performing Arts.

In addition to serving as president of UMBC since 1992, Hrabowski is a consultant on science and math education to national agencies, universities and school systems. Recently, he was named by President Obama to chair the newly created President's Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans.

Time magazine named Hrabowski one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2012 and one of American's 10 Best College Presidents in 2008. He was awarded the Heinz Award in 2012 for contributions to improving the “Human Condition,” and holds honorary degrees from more than 20 institutions.

Hrabowski chaired the National Academies' committee that produced the recent report, “Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America's Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads.” He has authored many articles and co-authored two books; his research and publications have a special emphasis on minority participation and performance in science and math.

Born in Birmingham, Ala., Hrabowski was a child leader in the Civil Rights Movement. He completed his doctorate in higher education administration/statistics at age 24.

In addition to Hrabowski’s talk, the program will include the presentation of regional scholarship awards by the Bay Area, Midland Area and Saginaw community foundations to high school seniors who have embodied Martin Luther King's ideals.

The event is free and open to the public. SVSU’s partner hosts include the Bay Area, Midland Area and Saginaw community foundations and chambers of commerce, as well as the Bridge Center for Racial Harmony and the local chapters of the NAACP.

For more information, including a full list of sponsors, visit svsu.edu/mlk.

December 16, 2014

Youth Leadership students to present gifts to children at First Ward Community Center

Wednesday, Dec. 17, 4 to 6 p.m.
First Ward Community Center, 1410 North 12th Street, Saginaw

Students from high schools across the Great Lakes Bay Region and from Saginaw Valley State University will make the holidays a little brighter for children who participate in after school programs at Saginaw’s First Ward Community Center.

The students in the Great Lakes Bay Regional Youth Leadership Institute have been volunteering at First Ward during the school year. They will present gifts to their younger counterparts during a holiday celebration Wednesday, Dec. 16 from 4 to 6 p.m.  SVSU President Donald Bachand is expected to attend.

“Since its inception, the Great Lakes Bay Regional Youth Leadership Institute has partnered with United Way of Saginaw County to help provide others a happier holiday season,” said United Way President/CEO, Cherrie J. Benchley.

“This year the students attending the institute were able to volunteer as mentors and work firsthand with the students at First Ward prior to the holiday season. Not only will the students appreciate the generosity of others, they have enjoyed the time spent working together and getting to know these young leaders. United Way is thankful for each of these volunteers who have learned what it means to ‘Live United’ and have given their time and resources to help others in the Saginaw County community.”

In years past, Youth Leadership Institute students have wrapped and delivered gifts to families  selected through United Way’s adopt-a-family program.

The Great Lakes Bay Regional Youth Leadership Institute is a year-long community outreach program facilitated by SVSU's Office of Diversity Programs, in partnership with the Bridge Center for Racial Harmony. The initiative pairs 96 high school students from the region with 35 SVSU mentors. The program provides leadership development experience for youth focused on issues related to the intersection of diversity and leadership.

December 15, 2014

SVSU Board Grants Degrees to 521 Graduating Students

The Saginaw Valley State University Board of Control approved granting degrees to some 521 students during the Board’s regular meeting Friday, Dec. 12.

The graduating class consists of 399 students who are expected to complete bachelor’s degrees and 122 students expected to receive master's or education specialist degrees. A total of 437 students have indicated that they intend to don regalia and participate in commencement exercises Friday, Dec. 12 and Saturday, Dec. 13.

David E. Kepler, executive vice president, chief sustainability officer and chief information officer for The Dow Chemical Company, will address graduates at both ceremonies.

In other action, the Board:
•    Passed a resolution congratulating the SVSU Student Association for their leadership in this year's “Battle of the Valleys” fundraising competition. In one week, SVSU raised more than $32,000 for the Cory Rivard Jr. Promise Foundation, which seeks to educate college students about depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses by working directly with college campuses to increase suicide awareness and prevention.
•    Passed a resolution to congratulate the 2014 SVSU women’s soccer team which qualified for the NCAA Division II national tournament and recorded the first NCAA playoff victory in program history.
•    Passed a resolution to congratulate the 2014 SVSU men’s soccer team which qualified for the NCAA Division II national tournament and advanced to the “sweet sixteen” for the second time in three years.
•    Granted emeritus status to Drew Hinderer, professor of philosophy.
•    Approved sabbatical proposals for 15 faculty: Cyrus Aryana, mathematical sciences; John Baesler, history; Vanessa Brooks Herd, social work; Thomas Canale, art; Fenobia Dallas, rhetoric and professional writing; Sally Decker, nursing; Stewart French, political science; Olivier Heubo-Kwenga, mathematical sciences; Beth Jorgensen, rhetoric and professional writing; Emily Kelley, art; Yu Liu, management; Nameeta Mathur, history; Vincent Samarco, English; Steven Sherlock, sociology; James Sullivan, English
•    Approved the appointment of board members for previously authorized charter schools.
•    Approved the authorization of borrowing funds to meet temporary cash flow deficits.
•    Approved compensation for the 2015 calendar year for executive staff.

“The Board has been favorably impressed with the work of President Bachand and his leadership team since Don took office in February,” said Board chair Jeff Martin. “In that short time, SVSU has reached new milestones in fundraising, created new opportunities for students, and continued to strengthen relationships within the Great Lakes Bay Region.”

President Bachand's salary was set at $256,250. Deb Huntley, provost and vice president for academic affairs, will receive a salary of $211,000, and James G. Muladore, executive vice president for administration and business affairs, will receive a salary of $205,373. 

December 2, 2014

Passing of SVSU Student Seth Thomas

Posted Friday, Dec. 5 at 2:25 PM EST
For those who wish to pay their respects to the family of Seth Thomas, our student who passed away on Tuesday, we are sharing funeral and visitation arrangements with the campus community.

Visitation will be held Sunday, Dec. 7 from 1 to 8 p.m. at Marsh Funeral Home in Marlette. A memorial service for Seth will be held Monday, Dec. 8 at 11 a.m. at Good News Assembly of God church in Marlette.

Please know that Seth’s family expressed appreciation to the hundreds of students, faculty and staff who attended the vigil Tuesday night. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the family.
Posted Thursday, Dec. 4 at 6:40 PM EST
The Saginaw County medical examiner performed an autopsy on the late Seth Thomas today, and the results of that autopsy will not be complete until toxicology results are received. This is standard procedure; the process typically takes several weeks.

Posted Tuesday, Dec. 2 at 6:40 PM EST

We extend our condolences to the family and friends of Seth Thomas, a biology major from Dryden, whose body was discovered in First Year Suites shortly before 1 p.m. today. President Bachand personally spoke with Seth’s mother and father this afternoon and extended condolences to them on behalf of the university.

There were no obvious signs of foul play. University Police continue to investigate. The Saginaw County medical examiner has tentatively scheduled an autopsy for Thursday, Dec. 4.

Students have organized a candlelight vigil for 10 p.m. (Tuesday, Dec. 2) in the courtyard of First Year Suites. All members of the campus community are welcome to attend.

The Student Counseling Center has been offering grief counseling to students and staff today and their staff will remain on campus until they have met with all students requesting their services.

Posted Tuesday, Dec. 2 at 2:42 PM EST

We regret to inform you that a student died on campus today.  His body was discovered by his roommate shortly before 1 p.m. in the First Year Suites, where the student resided on campus. There were no obvious signs of foul play.  University Police are investigating.

The Student Counseling Center is open and available for students who may find their services of use.

We will provide additional information on this page as it becomes available.