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June 28, 2017

SVSU study shows blight removal a significant factor in Saginaw’s drop in crime

Armed with federal funds, crews demolished 884 vacant homes in the city of Saginaw from 2013 to 2015. Two Saginaw Valley Andrew Miller, SVSU associate professor of geography, presents research showing blight removal in Saginaw has contributed a drop in crime in the city and its neighbors. Miller spoke at the Reinventing Saginaw symposium at the Bancroft building in downtown Saginaw May 26, 2015.
State University professors say those demolitions are directly linked to a significant reduction of serious crime in the city.

Andrew Miller, associate professor of geography at SVSU, Evelyn Ravuri, professor of geography, and multiple SVSU students studied the factors involved in the dramatic drop in crime in the Saginaw area. From 2010 to 2015, major crimes in the City of Saginaw dropped by 80 percent, and neighboring communities also saw crime go down. (See: SVSU analysis shows Saginaw has seen major gains in safety)

Demolitions had "massive" effect

The demolitions were among the variables that had a “massive” effect, Miller said.

“Our research shows that the demolitions are responsible for 20 percent of the decrease in crime,” he said. “That’s a highly significant finding.”

While Miller’s previous work had shown a correlation between blight removal and crime reduction in Saginaw, quantifying how much of the reduction can be explained by the blight removal is a new finding. Crime rates dropped in the city, and in neighboring Bridgeport, Buena Vista, and Saginaw townships.

“I was not expecting the demolitions to have such a significant impact on crime rates,” Ravuri said.

Miller and Ravuri worked with the City of Saginaw, the Saginaw County Crime Prevention Initiative and other partners to collect data and conduct the research.

Tim Morales, Saginaw city manager, is grateful to have evidence that the demolitions were effective.

“Through our work with SVSU, the City has statistical evidence of the impact of blight removal and proactive policing in Saginaw,” he said. “Blight removal has improved our neighborhoods through reduction of abandoned and decaying structures, which has also produced a safer city.  Without the reduction of the blighted and abandoned buildings, I don’t think Saginaw would have experienced such a sharp decline in violent crime.”  

Morales also credited effective working relationships with the Saginaw County Land Bank, and state and federal agencies.

Crime "hot" and "cold" spots help police target resources

As part of their community-based research, Miller and Ravuri also worked with local law enforcement to identify crime “hot spots” and “cold spots,” so that police can target their resources more effectively.

The SVSU research team used  Data-Driven Approaches to Crime and Traffic Safety (DDACTS) standards for analysis in accordance with Michigan State Police policies, to map the “hot spots” for crime for the 3 years prior to the demolitions (2010-2012), the demolition period (2013-early 2015) and the post-demolition period (early 2015-2016) to determine the effects the demolitions had upon the diffusion of crime in the greater Saginaw region from 2010-2016.

In 2010, the most serious crimes were highly concentrated within Saginaw city limits. Following demolitions funded through $11.2 million to Saginaw from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, primarily via the federal Troubled Asset Relief Plan, criminal activity is more widely distributed.

“The demolitions drove crime out of Saginaw, and it dispersed evenly, for the most part,” Miller said, “That’s kind of what we’re looking for. If you’re in policing, you want a more even playing field that everyone can then play on and that every police agency, if working together, can all work together to deal with. Because then, it becomes a much more manageable problem.”

New research studing home prices

Miller and Ravuri plan to continue their research; they are currently examining whether the housing demolitions affected home prices in the Saginaw area. For them, a critical element of their work is sharing the findings with community leaders with the goal that recent safety gains persist.

“To redevelop urban areas,” Miller said, “you don’t want to just displace the crime and move it somewhere else and deal with the same problems in a different place. The idea is to create a better community, a better region, that works cohesively together. Based on what we’re seeing, Saginaw is making meaningful progress in this direction.”


In the photo, Andrew Miller, SVSU associate professor of geography, presents research showing blight removal in Saginaw has contributed a drop in crime in the city and its neighbors. Miller spoke at the Reinventing Saginaw symposium at the Bancroft building in downtown Saginaw May 26, 2015; new research shows the housing demolitions conducted from 2013 to 2015 are responsible for 20 percent of the overall drop in crime seen in the Saginaw community.

June 27, 2017

SVSU receives $1.39 million federal grant to improve health care in northern lower Michigan

Saginaw Valley State University has won federal funding to improve health care delivery for residents in rural areas immediately and into the future. A grant of nearly $1.4 million will support an innovative approach that will place graduate students in SVSU’s nurse practitioner program into the field to provide patient care, and will prepare them for careers in rural settings.

SVSU is creating a rural residency program for family nurse practitioners – the first of its kind in Michigan – to provide students with practical experience to empower them to better meet the health care needs of rural Michiganders. The initiative combines didactic, simulation, and clinical immersion experiences to enhance advanced practice rural nursing competence and confidence.

SVSU will concentrate its efforts in northern lower Michigan.

“The shortage and distribution of primary care providers in Michigan has contributed to health disparities, particularly in northern Michigan where pockets of rural and underserved populations reside,” said Kathleen Schachman, Harvey Randall Wickes Endowed Chair in Nursing at SVSU. “Like many rural communities, they struggle to maintain access to quality health care services.”

SVSU is partnering with the Sterling Area Health Center, a federally qualified health center that encompasses five rural clinics. The project is intended to benefit 21 rural counties in northern lower Michigan, and will impact most directly the five counties served by the center and with a clear need for improved health care: Arenac, Gladwin, Iosco, Ogemaw, and Oscoda.  

“Out of the 83 Michigan counties that were ranked by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s County Health Rankings in 2016, Iosco (No. 82) and Arenac counties (No. 81) were near the bottom in terms of health outcomes, and Gladwin, Ogemaw and Oscoda counties were all ranked in the bottom third,” Schachman said.

The program will start in July and is funded by a $1.39 million grant through July 2019.  SVSU received the grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the primary federal agency for improving health care to people who are geographically isolated, and economically or medically vulnerable.

Plans call for using tele-health and other technologies to connect SVSU’s Bay Community Health Clinic (previously know as the University Clinic) in Bay City – which includes students and faculty from several programs in SVSU’s College of Health and Human Services – with the Sterling Area Health Center’s five clinics. This approach is intended to improve rural health care delivery and outcomes by drawing upon expert knowledge in multiple fields.

“In many rural settings, nurses are often faced with working with older and outdated equipment – if it is available at all,” Schachman said.

SVSU also will prepare students in its family nurse practitioner program to serve rural communities.

“Rural nurse practitioners tend to have a smaller network of local colleagues and specialists that they can rely on,” Schachman said. “While this allows for greater autonomy in functioning to their full scope of practice, the professional isolation and heightened responsibility can be daunting for a new graduate.

“This lack of confidence and competence may discourage new family nurse practitioner graduates from seeking employment in rural settings. Our rural residency is designed to fill both the knowledge and the skills gap related to rural practice.”

Over the 2-year period, SVSU expects 33 family nurse practitioner students to be supported through traineeships and complete the rural residency. Each will receive an $11,000 stipend.

SVSU introduced its Doctor of Nursing Practice degree in 2013; the program prepares nurse practitioners and is the first doctoral program offered at SVSU. For more information about the program, visit www.svsu.edu/nursingdnp/.

June 23, 2017

AT&T-sponsored STEM camp at SVSU aims to generate academic interest among high school students

A dozen high school students are getting an early taste of college life this week , all while Saginaw Valley State University educators expose them to the exciting side of science studies.

The AT&T Great Lakes Bay Region High School STEM Residential Camp — funded in part by a $25,000 grant from the global communications company and hosted at SVSU’s campus — kicked off Monday, June 19, and concludes Friday, June 23.

During that span, SVSU educators and undergraduates are exposing high school students both to campus life and a series of projects aimed at generating interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) studies. The students are living in SVSU’s residential housing under the supervision of undergraduates.

Rajani Muraleedharan, SVSU assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, has served as the camp’s coordinator. She said the participants are students with little exposure to higher education environments and opportunities. Muraleedharan hopes the experience inspires participants both to pursue an education beyond high school and to consider STEM studies when doing so.

“They are experiencing what life is like away from home, and that’s important for this group,” she said. “We also want to expose these students to different STEM fields to show them what may interest them.”

The students spend mornings in classrooms, learning about different STEM topics. Later in the day, they participate in team-building exercises across campus meant to generate camaraderie between their peers. All of the activities are meant to demonstrate the fun involved in college life and STEM studies.

“Some of these students say, ‘I’m not sure what I would want to do as an undergraduate,’ and when you ask why they aren’t sure, you discover they haven’t been exposed to many of these fields,” Muraleedharan said. “We want to give them that exposure; give them a career pathway.”

On Monday, the students learned about astronomy and spectroscopy. Tuesday’s lesson involved computer programming. On Wednesday, they learned about biology. Thursday’s agenda involves health sciences and included a trip to the Kochville Farmers Market near campus. On Friday, an engineering- and robotics-based lesson will include designing and building a rocket from a water bottle.

Muraleedharan said the camp has proven a success, and that participants have responded to the week’s agenda with enthusiasm.

“It’s been fantastic to see them show up with so much energy every morning,” she said.

The students are from school districts including Bullock Creek Schools, Carrollton Public Schools, Freeland Community School District, Midland Public Schools, Marlette Community Schools, and Valley Lutheran High School.

June 22, 2017

All-American running career prepares SVSU grad to serve U.S. Navy as submarine engineer

With exceptional discipline and inspired determination, Joey Southgate became an All-American athlete during a personal best-smashing, “storybook-ending” final run in May as a track athlete at Saginaw Valley State University.

By the end of this week, the Unionville native will begin applying that same discipline and determination toward his training as a nuclear engineer aboard a submarine with the U.S. Navy.

“It might be an unnerving feeling at first, being in a submarine like that,” Southgate said, “but this will be a really quality experience. I’m looking forward to it.”

The May 2017 SVSU graduate will depart Saturday, June 24, for Newport, Rhode Island. There, he will embark on a 12-week-long U.S. Navy Officer Candidate School — a “boot camp” of sorts — followed by two years of training in the Nuclear Propulsion Officer Candidate program. He plans to conclude his 5-year Navy commitment aboard a submarine, dedicating himself to managing and maintaining the nuclear reactor that keeps the vessel running and its men alive hundreds of feet beneath the surface of the seas.

Southgate has had his sights set on an engineering career for some time and said SVSU’s top-notch mechanical engineering program was a big factor in choosing his school.

“I’ve always liked the problem-solving aspect of engineering,” he said. “I enjoy math, and engineering has a lot to do with math.”

Once at SVSU, Southgate thrived in what he described as a “down-to-earth, personal, hands-on” experience that allowed him to work one-on-one with professors. One of his mentors was Brooks Byam, professor of mechanical engineering, who served as Southgate’s advisor during a senior capstone project that involved designing and building an indoor practice hitting platform for SVSU’s golf program.

“Joey has a good balance of technical and entrepreneurial skills that should serve him well in the military,” Byam said. “In the military, you also need good mental and physical toughness, and Joey showed that he has that as an athlete.”

He showcased that toughness in particular during his final competition as a Cardinal at the NCAA Division II Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Bradenton, Florida in May.

“It was kind of a storybook ending to my career,” the three-year team captain said.

For weeks, Southgate’s earlier performances placed him on the bubble of those athletes hoping to qualify for the championships. He eventually slipped in as the 19th of 19 athletes invited to compete.

Competing in the 10,000-meter run, Southgate approached the contest with a level of determination and confidence he hadn’t experienced previously, he said.

His mastery of that particular race had become a theme of his senior season campaign. A year earlier, his personal best finishing time was 30 minutes, 40 seconds. By the time he entered May’s contest, his latest best was 30 minutes, 2 seconds — a 38-second difference considered sizable for that distance.

But, on the biggest stage of his athletic life, Southgate was ready to finish even faster.

“Distance running is a very heavily mental sport,” he said. “A lot of people probably don’t appreciate the mental preparation that goes into it. I was in a good spot mentally that day.”

The result was a national championship performance that shaved 18 seconds off that personal best and nearly one minute off his top performance a year earlier. He finished in 29 minutes, 44 seconds, placing sixth in the race.

The distinction earned him a spot on the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association First Team All-American lineup.

“I always wanted to be an All-American,” he said. “I thought, ‘That would be the pinnacle of my career,’ and it was.”

Southgate learned from a previous SVSU All-American, during his years as a student at Unionville-Sebewaing High School. There, he participated in competitive running sports under the mentorship of a member of SVSU’s Cardinal Athletic Hall of Fame, Ed LaBair, a seven-time All-American and member of two national championship indoor track and field teams while at SVSU in the early 1980s.

LaBair coached Southgate’s high school cross country team.

“He has been a big influence for me when it came to my running career,” Southgate said. “He has been a great leader and motivator for me.”

That motivation helped Southgate excel in the sport, receiving All-State honors during his sophomore and junior years. Off the course, Southgate’s tireless commitment to his studies helped him earn top grades until he graduated high school in 2012. That continued in college: he graduated SVSU with honors (cum laude) and qualified for the Deans’ List five teams.

Now Southgate is determined to achieve excellence in his next challenge in life — this time, out at sea.

While he is the grandson and nephew of U.S. Navy veterans, he didn’t consider a life in the military until attending a career fair at SVSU in the winter semester of 2016, when a Navy recruiter connected Southgate’s interest in engineering to the Nuclear Propulsion Officer Candidate initiative.

“I kind of walked into this program by accident,” Southgate said.

His enrollment wasn’t as simple as “walking in,” however. Southgate engaged in a months-long application process that included meeting with Navy officials in Washington D.C. and visiting Naval Base San Diego. He was officially accepted into the nuclear propulsion program in July 2016.

During his trip to San Diego, he toured a submarine docked at the naval base. While the vehicle never submerged, “you could get a sense of how small and cramped it was inside,” he said.

“But it didn’t lose its appeal for me.”

Southgate said that appeal includes maintaining the discipline necessary to manage a nuclear reactor responsible for keeping dozens of men alive below water and a nation protected on the surface.

“I’m prepared to work hard and do the best I can,” he said. “That’s what I always do.”

June 20, 2017

SVSU Board approves 2017-18 budget, tuition to increase $474

The Saginaw Valley State University Board of control approved a tuition increase of $474 for in-state students as part of the 2017-18 general fund operating budget adopted during the Board’s regular meeting Monday, June 19.

A Michigan undergraduate student taking 30 credits will pay $9,819 for the upcoming academic year. SVSU students were charged $9,345 during the 2016-17 academic year.

“I was a first-generation college student who worked full-time while going to school, so I understand that any tuition increase can be challenging for students and their families,” said SVSU President Donald Bachand. “At the same time, we have a responsibility to ensure that students receive a high-quality education at the best possible value, and that we continue to invest in their future.

“Our students continue to demonstrate that they can compete with the top students anywhere, as shown through their strong performance in all manner of academic competitions in recent years.”

SVSU will continue to have the lowest tuition among the 15 Michigan public universities for 2017-18, even after the increase of 5.07 percent takes effect.

In other action, the Board:
•    Passed a resolution to congratulate the 2016-2017 SVSU outdoor track and field team, which had both men’s and women’s student-athletes earn All-American honors at the recent NCAA Division II national championships.
•    Passed a resolution to congratulate the 2016-2017 SVSU men’s golf team, which qualified for the NCAA Division II Midwest/Central Super Regional tournament.
•    Passed a resolution to congratulate the 2016-2017 SVSU women’s softball team, which qualified for the NCAA Division II national tournament and advanced to the finals of the Midwest Regional No. 2 tournament.
•    Passed a resolution to approve Board of Fellows emeritus status for the late Vicente Castellanos.
•    Passed a resolution to approve the reappointments of David Dunn, Peter Ewend, Mark Gettel, Tom McIntyre, Michael Rowley and Kenneth Roznowski to the SVSU Board of Fellows, a community advisory board.
•    Passed a resolution to approve the reauthorization of public school academies. SVSU renewed its contract with Charlevoix Montessori Academy for the Arts for three years; Flat River Academy in Greenville and White Pine Academy in Leslie each received two-year renewals.
•    Passed a resolution to approve the confirmation of board members for previously authorized public school academies.
•    Approved revisions to SVSU’s Code of Student Conduct for the 2017-18 academic year.
•    Approved faculty promotions for 30 individuals, effective July 1. Promoted to the rank of professor were: Marty Arford, geography; Lacreta Clark, educational leadership and services; David Cline, teacher education; Adam Coughlin, kinesiology; Mark Giesler, social work; Joe Jaksa, criminal justice; J. Blake Johnson, art; Sara Beth Keough, geography; Art Martin, biology; Tami Sivy, chemistry; Brian Thomas, sociology. Promoted to the rank of professor were: Arundhati Bagchi Misra, mathematical sciences; Jennifer Chaytor, chemistry; Kyle Cissell, chemistry; Denise Dedman, social work; Warren Fincher, sociology; Stacie Krupp, accounting; Kimberly Lacey, English; John Lowry, kinesiology; James McEvoy, biology; Rhett Mohler, geography; Rajani Muraleedharan, electrical and computer engineering; Shiva Nadavulakere, management; Christopher Nakamura, physics; Annamalai Pandian, mechanical engineering; Timothy Rowlands, criminal justice; Rebecca Schlaff, kinesiology; Jason Scott, biology; Kevin Simons, music; Yu Zou, electrical and computer engineering.
•    Passed a resolution to Grant emerita status to Mary Harmon, who retired from SVSU after 25 years on the English faculty.
•    Approved $800,000 in energy conservation projects. SVSU will install LED lights to the interior of a number of campus buildings and will enhanced the chilled water loop that assists with heating and cooling a number of campus buildings. After energy saving rebates are received, the total cost to SVSU will be closer to $400,000.

June 14, 2017

SVSU disc golf team wins Collegiate Cup championship

The disc golf team at Saginaw Valley State University won the inaugural Collegiate Cup Sunday, June 11 at Flip City Disc Golf Course in Shelby, Michigan.

SVSU competed against some of the best teams in the country, including two teams from Ferris State University who won national championships last year. Central Michigan University, Grand Valley State University and Hendrix College from Arkansas also competed.  

“The championship was a tremendous accomplishment,” said Kenneth Mize, a social work major from Flint and member of SVSU’s disc golf team. “We took home $2,000, which goes to our club fund so it will help us out tremendously.”

Disc golf is one of 27 club sports offered at SVSU where students compete against other collegiate club programs. Club teams receive some administrative and financial support from the university, but they also learn valuable skills through fundraising, making travel arrangements and the like. A total of 387 SVSU students competed in club sports during the 2016-17 academic year.

In disc golf, players toss flying discs toward targets; scoring is similar to golf. For the Collegiate Cup, the SVSU team played seven rounds of 24 holes.

“Personally I love the competition and seeing people fall in love with the sport” Mize said.

Other members of the winning SVSU team were:
•    Mitchell Kloc of Freeland, who graduated in May with a degree in professional and technical writing
•    Matthew Murdock, a physical education major from Montrose
•    Alex Villanueva, a criminal justice major from Davison‌

June 14, 2017

Five SVSU representatives bring their passion to 2017 Miss Michigan competition

The 2017 Miss Michigan Scholarship Pageant in Muskegon will feature a heavy dose of “Red Pride” this week, as five of the 34 contestants hail from Saginaw Valley State University.
 
SVSU students Jaeleen Davis of Bay City and Alana Rae Wilson of Monroe, and recent SVSU alumni Ashli Maser of Au Gres; Mallory Rivard of Bay City; and Kara Terry of Davison will all compete for the crown. Each of them brings passion for their platform – a cause they support – and their university.

Maser’s platform is “S.T.E.M. from Your Roots.” Inspired in part by her own biochemistry studies, she promotes science, technology, engineering and mathematics learning among K-12 students, including visits to classrooms.

“My focus is figuring out how to engage middle school students in STEM through hands-on curriculum,” she said. “What brought me to SVSU was its good science program. To give back by telling other students how much fun STEM can be has been very rewarding. It’s fun to spark their curiosity and hear what they have to say.”

Maser earned second runner-up status in 2016; she and Davis now have advanced to the final weekend for three consecutive years; and Rivard for four years. Wilson competed in Miss Michigan’s final weekend in 2015. Miss Saginaw County was Terry’s first pageant win.

Wilson said her fellow SVSU-affiliated contestants consider each other friends.
 
“Knowing I get to spend a whole week with some of my best friends and get to do what I love at the same time is so exciting for me,” Wilson said. “I am very blessed with all the people I have met and become close with over the years I have been competing.”

Davis has shown a remarkable competitive spirit to remain a contestant. Last July, she suffered a 30-foot fall that fractured several bones and required months of recovery. Her resilience is well established in pageant circles. As a child, Davis was diagnosed with alopecia universalis, a condition that caused her to lose her hair. She has since adopted Wigs 4 Kids as her platform.

“I realized, a hairpiece can fix a child who is aching to feel normal again,” Davis said. “I felt normal — I am normal — because of a hairpiece.”

If Wilson wins this week’s competition, she would be crowned Miss Michigan 30 years after her mother earned the same title. Her mother, Kaye Lani Rae Rafko, also advanced and won the Miss America crown that same year.
 
“That would be very cool, to say the least,” Wilson said about the prospect of winning on the anniversary year of her mother’s victory.
 
“I am here competing for myself — because this is my dream as well — but how exciting would it be to not only become the first mother-daughter Miss Michigan, but then the first mother-daughter Miss America.”
 
The 2017 Miss Michigan Scholarship Pageant contest kicks off with preliminary competition Thursday and Friday, June 15-16. The new Miss Michigan will be crowned during competition that begins at 7 p.m. Saturday, June 17.
 
The Miss Michigan Scholarship Pageant is affiliated with the Miss America Organization, one of the world’s largest providers of scholarships for women. The winner earns a $12,000 scholarship and clinches a spot in the Miss America competition in September. Four runners-up earn $5,000, $4,000, $3,000 and $2,000 scholarships, respectively.
 
To qualify for the Miss Michigan competition, contestants must capture one of 34 pageants in the state. Davis earned Miss Heartland; Maser won Miss Spirit of the State; Rivard earned Miss SouthCentral; Terry won Miss Saginaw County; and Wilson earned Miss Bay County.
 
Davis, a criminal justice and communication major, plans to graduate from SVSU in December 2017.

Maser graduated in May 2016, earning a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry. She plans to attend Midwestern University College of Dental Medicine-Illinois in the fall.

Rivard graduated from SVSU in May 2017, earning a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and early childhood education. She has been hired full-time as a teacher by Bay City Public Schools.

Terry graduated in May 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in athletic training. She plans to attend graduate school at Auburn University in the fall, studying human nutritional sciences.
 
Wilson, a business management major, expects to graduate in December 2018.

June 14, 2017

SVSU Community Writing Center to be introduced at Wirt Public Library in Bay City

Saginaw Valley State University has received grant funding to establish the Bay Area Community Writing Center, which will open in September at the Alice and Jack Wirt Public Library in Bay City.

SVSU received $16,500 from the Community Initiative Fund and the Youth Advisory Endowment Fund at the Bay Area Community Foundation. The funds will cover two years of support for student tutors from SVSU’s Writing Center; they will offer workshops as well as individual tutoring sessions for members of the Bay County community.

“We are delighted to partner with SVSU and the Wirt Library to provide this service to community residents,” said Eileen Curtis, president and CEO of the Bay Area Community Foundation. “The skills the writing tutors will share with individuals to help them become more effective writers will be of great benefit to our community.”

An opening for the Bay Area Community Writing Center is planned for Tuesday, Sept. 19. It will join the Saginaw Community Writing Center, hosted at the Butman-Fish Library in Saginaw, which began in September 2015.

Helen Raica-Klotz, director of the Writing Center at SVSU, said the Saginaw Community Writing Center is the first of its kind in Michigan. The new center in Bay City will become the second.

“We are excited to bring the expertise of our SVSU student tutors to Bay County to help all the members of this community develop their writing, whether it be polishing a resume, crafting a scholarship application, or writing a short story,” she said.

“At our Saginaw location, over 250 community members have participated in our individual tutoring sessions and writing workshops.”

The Bay Area Community Writing Center will be open from 4 to 8 p.m. the first and third Tuesday of each month at the Wirt Public Library in downtown Bay City.

“We are pleased to be able to host the center and collaborate with SVSU with the support of the Bay Area Community Foundation,” said Trish Burns, director of the Bay County Library System.

“As libraries continue evolving to meet diverse community needs, centers like this will become more important. The tutoring and workshops that take place in the center are another tool for patrons to use to continue building a better life.”

For more information about the Bay Area Community Writing Center, contact the SVSU Writing Center at (989) 964-2829.

June 8, 2017

SVSU earns national acclaim for inclusive housing policy

Saginaw Valley State University received national recognition recently for its efforts to provide gender-inclusive student housing options on campus.

The National Association of College and University Residence Halls announced SVSU earned the group’s Outstanding Advocacy Award for Gender Inclusive Housing during the organization’s annual conference hosted at Purdue University May 26-29.

SVSU student leaders sought more inclusive housing options and worked with SVSU officials to implement them in advance of the 2016-17 academic year. The new policy allows students of different genders to room together if they choose.

Historically, colleges and universities have designated housing assignments where male and female students are in separate rooms, but a growing number of schools have implemented gender-inclusive housing in recent years.

“A brother and sister might choose to room together, or a couple in a romantic relationship,”  explained Michele Gunkelman, SVSU’s director of residential life.

Gunkelman, said she was honored that the university received a national honor for meeting student needs.

“This recognition of a student initiative and SVSU's response supports our core values to create a safe and respectful campus climate as well as our focus on inclusivity,” she said. “Gender-inclusive housing creates an inviting and supportive home for all students, including those whose sexual orientation or gender identity can make roommate choices a sensitive topic.”

SVSU introduced the gender-inclusive housing option for returning students during the past academic year, and SVSU staff and students found it served students well. For 2017-18, entering freshmen also can sign up for gender-inclusive rooms at SVSU.

Nine students and Gunkelman attended the national conference to receive SVSU’s award. Along with attending the conference’s ceremonies, the group participated in a philanthropy project, raising $150 to purchase non-perishable food items. In addition, they also donated nearly 12 lbs. of pop can tabs to benefit the Ronald McDonald House, a nonprofit that provides support for child health care needs. The organization recycles the pop can tabs to pay for expenses.

June 7, 2017

SVSU partners with K-12 schools to prepare ‘chief science officers,’ thanks to grant from The Dow Chemical Co.

Saginaw Valley State University hopes to send students back to their K-12 schools to serve as leaders and “chief science officers” when the new school year begins in the fall.

Modeled after a similar program that has proven successful in Arizona, middle and high school students are elected by their peers to be a “chief science officer” and then are empowered to influence a wide range of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) opportunities in their schools and communities. The goal is to have students take an active role in increasing student interest in the STEM fields and ultimately create a diverse pipeline of STEM leaders.

SVSU received a $40,000 grant from The Dow Chemical Company Foundation to run the community-minded pilot program at middle schools and high schools in Bay, Midland and Saginaw counties for the 2017-18 school year.

“We are proud to collaborate with our longtime partner SVSU to bring the chief science officer program to the Great Lakes Bay Region,” said Rob Vallentine, president of The Dow Chemical Company Foundation.

“This program will empower students and educators to be local STEM leaders, who by sharing their knowledge in our community will create a multiplier effect of more young people getting excited about and prepared in STEM subjects, and hopefully interested in pursuing STEM careers.”

The funds will support up to two students and a teacher mentor from each participating school to attend a two-day summer institute that will bring middle school and high school students to SVSU August 22-23. Around 50 students are expected to participate for the upcoming year.

Money from the grant also is set aside to provide mini-grants of up to $250 to support the “chief science officers” who develop plans for STEM projects to serve their school or community. Adrianne Cole, STEM Program Manager at SVSU, will oversee the program in the Great Lakes Bay Region.

Several local schools already have registered to participate:
•    Bay City Public Schools (Handy and Western middle schools; Central and Western high schools)
•    Bridgeport-Spaulding Community Schools (Atkins Middle School and  Bridgeport High School)
•    Bangor Township Schools (John Glenn High School)
•    Carrollton Public Schools (middle school and high school)
•    Freeland Community Schools (middle school and high school)
•    Midland Public Schools (Jefferson and Northeast middle schools; H.H. Dow and Midland high schools)
•    Swan Valley Schools (high school)
•    Saginaw Township Community Schools (Heritage High School and White Pine Middle School)
•    Valley Lutheran High School

Additional schools who are interested in joining the program should contact Cole at (989) 964-4058, or acole@svsu.edu.

The Chief Science Officer Initiative is supported by the U.S. Department of Technology; it was created and is overseen by Jeremy Babendure, Ph.D., executive director of the Arizona Technology Council Foundation. For more on the program, visit https://chiefscienceofficers.org/.

The Great Lakes Bay Region pilot program through SVSU is one of several being started across the country in connection with the National STEM Ecosystem Project.

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