Skip to main content Skip to footer

August 3, 2015

SVSU and high school educators and students participate in SVSU, Dow Chemical Foundation research projects

Saginaw Valley State University faculty are leading six environmental research studies this summer, working with 10 teachers and 21 students from a dozen K-12 schools in Bay, Gladwin, Midland, Saginaw, Shiawassee and Tuscola counties.

Ten SVSU students also are participating in the studies, which will involve field studies in the Saginaw Bay and its connected river systems.

The studies are coordinated through SVSU’s Dow Science and Sustainability Education Center. The education center is the result of a partnership between SVSU and the Dow Chemical Co. Foundation aimed at increasing interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). 

David Karpovich, SVSU's H.H. Dow Endowed Chair in Chemistry and one of the Dow Science and Sustainability Education Center’s leaders, said the education center and its research projects benefit all participants. 

“The high school students get their first big experience of STEM outside of the classroom by working on real research,” Karpovich said. “The college students also gain very beneficial experience. Most of all, I hope that all of the students are inspired by the program as they decide what careers to pursue.”

“The high school teachers benefit from the experience in many ways from their own professional development to finding ideas for their own classrooms,” he added. “Our faculty certainly enjoy the chance to share their research, but they are especially enthusiastic about the interactions with all of the participants.”

This marks the second summer of the Dow Science and Sustainability Education Center summer research experience. Adrianne Cole was a teacher at Heritage High School in Saginaw Township when she participated in 2014's research initiative.

“I was also able to explore the engineering aspect of STEM - something that had always intimidated me as a biology and chemistry teacher,” she said. “Being part of the overall research on the Saginaw Bay watershed also allowed me to bring my newfound knowledge back to my own classroom and make chemistry relevant to the area that my students live in.”

Since last year, Cole joined SVSU as the university's STEM program manager, putting her in a leadership role with the summer research projects.

Participating local schools for 2015 include:

•    All Saints Central High School in Bay City
•    Bangor Township Schools
•    Bay City Central High School
•    Beaverton High School
•    Bullock Creek 
•    Cass City High School
•    Essexville-Hampton Public Schools
•    Freeland High School
•    Midland Public Schools
•    New Lothrop High School
•    Nouvel Catholic Central High School in Saginaw Township
•    Saginaw Arts & Sciences Academy
•    Saginaw Township Community Schools
•    Reese High School 
•    Valley Lutheran High School in Saginaw Township

The Dow Science & Sustainability Education Center at SVSU was funded by The Dow Chemical Company Foundation in December 2013 for the purpose of enhancing STEM education in the Great Lakes Bay Region at all levels. For more information, visit

August 3, 2015

SVSU moot court program attains national top 20 ranking

Saginaw Valley State University’s moot court program is quickly establishing itself among the nation’s best. 

SVSU’s undergraduate program now ranks no. 20 overall in the national rankings and earned a no. 17 finish for the 2014-15 academic year. A relatively young program (formed in 2010), SVSU has quickly climbed ahead of highly regarded schools such as Duke University and the University of Chicago.

“We have progressed so quickly because of the culture of excellence and hard work created by the students in the program,” said Julie Keil, SVSU assistant professor of political science and moot court adviser.  “Students with very busy schedules take time to practice outside of class, go to invitational tournaments and to mentor each other.  We also receive a great deal of support from the university that makes competition at such a high level possible.”

SVSU’s high ranking is based upon strong performances at the American Collegiate Moot Court Association national tournament in Miami last January. Recent graduates Samantha Jackson, a political science major from Goodells, and Rachel Stocki, a business major from St. Clair, together placed 21st in the tournament, losing to the eventual champion. 

The SVSU team of Rachel Cahill, a political science major from Niagara Falls, Ontario, and Jacob Mojica, a political science major from Freeland, also qualified for the national tournament and finished 59th overall. 

In a moot court competition, students act as attorneys in teams of two. They make arguments to a panel of judges by drawing from constitutional law and Supreme Court cases. Judges then decide winners based on public speaking ability, knowledge of cases and of law, and the ability to answer questions.

Jackson is attending the University of Michigan Law School this fall; Stocki is employed as a continuous improvement analyst for a major automotive supplier in suburban Detroit.

Keil, a former practicing attorney, said students reap significant benefits by participating in the program.

“Our students getting into good law schools and graduate schools is not new, but the skills moot court students learn and the relationships they form with the local bar associations, attorneys and judges through this program help them be more competitive for scholarships, as well as helping to ensure success when they get there,” she said. 

SVSU moot court graduates are seeing success at the law school level. SVSU graduate Ashley Hanson Chrysler was part of a Michigan State University College of Law team that won the nation’s largest law school-level moot court competition, topping 202 teams at the American Bar Association’s National Appellate Advocacy Competition April 9‌-11 in Chicago. 

For more information on SVSU’s moot court program, visit‌.

July 22, 2015

SVSU Students Construct Playground Equipment for local Child Care Center

A group of Saginaw Valley State University students will devote a summer Saturday to a service project, as they build and install playground equipment at Great Beginnings Christian Childcare Center in Saginaw County’s Kochville Township. Work will begin at 10 a.m. this Saturday, July 25 and continue until the project is completed.

The students are members of Alpha Phi Omega, a national coed service fraternity. The SVSU chapter has more than 40 members, and event organizer Anna Nowak, an elementary education major from Garden City, expects more than a dozen students to participate Saturday, as well as a few alumni.

SVSU students selected Great Beginnings after learning of the facility’s needs from two of the chapter’s advisers. Mike Major, director of Career Services, and Bob Tuttle, professor of mechanical engineering, both use the center for their children.

July 22, 2015

Limited tickets on sale for TED Talks-style event at SVSU

Saginaw Valley State University will host a speaker series and technology showcase in the style of the TED Talks videos made popular on social media. TEDxSVSU is scheduled Saturday, Aug. 1, from 9 a.m. to 3:40 p.m. in SVSU’s Rhea Miller Recital Hall.

Guest speakers scheduled to appear plan to discuss topics including smartphone security, how to be a good father, Pinterest, and how humans can learn from horses.

George Corser, SVSU assistant professor of computer science and computer information systems and faculty adviser for TEDxSVSU, is leading a team of SVSU student volunteers in organizing the event.

“My mission here is to present new ideas, as well as insightful, creative and uncommon perspectives to people who love learning,” he said. “We want to bring anybody interested in learning to this event, and introduce them to all sorts of topics.”

Tickets for TEDxSVSU are $25 and remain available. To purchase tickets, visit or call (989) 964-4295.

Tickets allow access to the speaker series; attending an accompanying technology showcase, however, is free of charge.

Outside of the recital hall, attendees will be able to view and interact with technology such as remote control vehicles, 3-D printers, an online bitcoin mining system and a virtual reality head-mounted display known as Oculus Rift.

The initiative TEDx encourages independent organizers - including universities - to host events similar to the TED Talks speaker series.

A full list of scheduled presenters is available at Those scheduled to speak include:

•    Kate Cardinali, an SVSU alumna and owner of Bay City-based Innovative Media and Design, a marketing solutions firm. Her discussion will cover topics ranging from Pinterest to parenting.
•    Drew Korpal, a veteran of the first Gulf War who later pursued careers as a warehouse worker and a corrections officer. His interest lies in puzzles. During his SVSU appearance, he plans to discuss a newer model of problem-solving involving human communities in this hyper-connected age.
•    Godfrey Nolan, a renowned book author and expert in the field of security in smartphone software development. He plans to discuss mobile device security during his SVSU appearance.
•    Jason Pockrandt, a motivational speaker, will discuss fatherhood during his TEDxSVSU talk. He hopes to inspire and motivate struggling fathers to re-evaluate choices and re-examine their lives.
•    Tracy Weber, a recognized leader in horse-assisted learning for humans. She has facilitated horse-assisted learning programs across the globe, and will discuss how humans can learn from horses.

Lunch at SVSU’s Marketplace at Doan cafeteria is included with each ticket purchase. For social media updates, visit the TEDxSVSU Facebook page or follow the Twitter account @TEDxSVSU.

July 15, 2015

SVSU to offer new endorsement for special education students

Saginaw Valley State University has received renewed authorization from the Michigan Department of Education to offer an endorsement for students in its teacher preparation and special education programs. SVSU will begin offering an updated curriculum for the endorsement in cognitive impairment this fall for students pursuing bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

“This endorsement will help us better prepare educators to meet the unique learning needs of youth who have a cognitive impairment,” said Dorothy Millar, SVSU professor of teacher education. “There is a shortage of teachers in Michigan with this specialization.”

Cognitive impairment, previously referred to as mental impairment or mental retardation, is a broad and complex classification regarding intellectual and developmental disabilities. Under the Michigan Administrative Rules for Special Education, students are eligible to receive individualized special education programming when they are determined to have a cognitive impairment.

When identifying the students’ strengths and needs, and when provided effective instruction and support, students with cognitive impairments can reach their full potential in academics and in all aspects of living resulting in a high quality of life.

Millar said SVSU graduates of the program will be well-prepared.

“We have designed our program to be heavy on field experience, collaborating with school districts in urban and rural settings to ensure our students receive a well-rounded education,” she said. “We also have placed an emphasis on connecting course work to the leading evidence-based instructional practices in the field, so that our graduates are using the most effective methods to teach their students.”

SVSU will begin offering courses in the program this August.  For more information, contact Millar at, or Kathy Lopez, SVSU certification officer at 989-964-4057 or

July 15, 2015

SVSU Athletics Receives GLIAC Community Engagement Award

The Saginaw Valley State University Athletic Department has been awarded the Community Engagement Award from the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) for the 2014-15 academic year. It is the sixth time that the department has been honored for its community activities.

The event that earned the SVSU Athletic Department the award was the Cardinal Kids Club Kick-off Event, which featured a membership drive for the Cardinal Kids Club and a free football clinic. The CKC Kick-off was open to the general public and served as the first official event that triggered a series of seven free sports clinics (Community Youth Days) for the 2014-15 season. The clinic was held on August 24, 2014 for kids in grades K-8. During registration for the event, inflatables were available for play and kids entered for chances to win prizes, including replica jerseys of former SVSU football players who currently play in the National Football League. After the free clinic, the SVSU football team signed autographs and took pictures with the kids.

The 2014 Kick-off event registered 75 kids for the Cardinal Kids Club and there were a total of 111 children who attended the free football clinic. Post-event membership numbers for the club grew to 111. The club provides kids and families the opportunity for first hand interactions with the SVSU student-athletes, helping them relate to them on a more personal level when they attend various athletic contests throughout the year.  Many more families are now seen in the stands at athletic contests because of the positive experiences the kids and parents have being a part of the Cardinal Kids Club.  

Saginaw Valley created the Cardinal Kids Club in 2009 with the intent to bring families with young children in the Great Lakes Bay Region to the campus of SVSU to engage in the Cardinal Athletics experience. Members of the club are exposed to not only the athletic contests and discounts on camps, but they have the opportunity to continually interact with SVSU student-athletes, coaches, other athletic department staff, and their favorite Coop the Cardinal.

"Our Community Youth Day series provides the youth of the Great Lakes Bay Region an opportunity to learn basic skills from our talented coaches and student-athletes," stated Angela Pohl, Associate Athletic Director and Senior Woman Administrator. "With community engagement being such an integral part of the NCAA Division II initiative, we are proud to champion that effort year after year and look forward to hosting the kids and their families on campus where they can be both a participant and a spectator. The contributions from our entire athletic department and community partner, Catholic Federal Credit Union have been instrumental in the community youth days long standing success and popularity."

This 2015 GLIAC Community Engagement Award marks the third time that the SVSU Athletic Department has received the honor from the league in the seven years since its inception. SVSU has garnered recognition from the NCAA in the 2010, 2011 and 2012 seasons as well for the Community Youth Days, Trunk or Treat Around the Track and Breast Cancer Awareness events, respectively.  

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. 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. 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. 

"This newest award exemplifies how community engagement extends across the campus of SVSU," said Dr. Deborah Huntley, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. "Whether it is academic or athletic-based involvement in the community, our students act as positive role models for area youth to achieve excellence."

Community engagement is an important Division II initiative directed at building meaningful, long-lasting bridges among athletics programs, their institutions and the communities in which they are located.

July 7, 2015

Statement from SVSU President Donald Bachand

I am aware of the extraordinary attention surrounding a traffic stop last February involving University Police and one of our students. I am taking this matter very seriously. As a University president entrusted with the safety and welfare of students and as a former police officer, I recognize this situation is complicated and requires careful review. I also understand that our students come from many different communities and arrive with different expectations for how to interact with police.

I have directed our University Police to review their policies and procedures on how we deal with students in similar situations. This will begin immediately. I am also stepping up our efforts to ensure good relationships between our University Police and the campus community in general.

Many concerns have been expressed in regards to this incident. I want students, faculty, staff, alumni and visitors to our campus to feel comfortable sharing their thoughts on all of the important issues that this incident has generated. You can e-mail messages will be read only by me and my staff. 

I hope to meet with DaJuawn Wallace, the student, personally to discuss this matter. We are working to make this happen.

My staff and I also will be working closely with Student Association and other interested parties to ensure we are addressing those who have concerns.

We are committed to treating everyone at SVSU with respect, and we will continue to stay abreast of this evolving situation and keep you informed.


President Bachand

June 26, 2015

SVSU student to study French in Quebec as part of Morley internship program

A Saginaw Valley State University student will spend part of the summer in Montreal as part of a new fellowship program that will lead to an internship at Morley.

Alan Rifenbark, a French and history double major from Bad Axe, will live and study at the University of Quebec at Montreal from July 5 to August 14.

“This is an unbelievable opportunity for me,” Rifenbark said. “It's neat that I will be in a truly bilingual city and I'm going to love talking with locals in French.”

Morley, a Saginaw Township-headquartered company with a global clientele base, is supporting the study abroad experience via the Morley French Immersion Fellowship. Rifenbark is the first student selected for the program meant for SVSU students exclusively.

The experience will allow Rifenbark to immerse himself in a French-speaking culture that speaks a dialect known as Québécois.

Then, beginning in January 2016, he will work as an intern at Morley, providing phone-based customer service for Quebec-based, Québécois-speaking individuals and businesses.

Jill Gushow, director of human resources at Morley, said officials with SVSU and Morley partnered because of the company's need for French-speaking associates, and particularly, Québécois dialect-speaking associates.

“Partnering with SVSU on this unique program is a win-win,” Gushow said.  “Morley gets an opportunity to support local educational endeavors, and students learn specialized skills both in their cultural immersion experience and during the post-travel internship.”

Rifenbark, who expects to graduate from SVSU in December 2015, is an advocate for multilingualism. His passion for other languages began with French.

“I feel like I was born to speak French, and it was just dormant,” he said. “I remember I was 12 in a public library and I picked up a French phrase book and just started reading off the words for colors (in French). That was my first experience with the language and it just stuck with me.”

He plans to learn eight languages, including German, Italian, Dutch, Arabic and Portuguese. He already has a head start in learning French, Russian and Hungarian.

Rifenbark also hopes to travel to many of the nations where people speak those languages. He visited France in summer 2014, when he met one of his 10 foreign language-speaking pen pals from across the globe.

“It was such a thrilling time,” Rifenbark said of the trip to France. “Knowing the language, I didn't feel like a tourist. It made all the difference.”

He credits SVSU faculty with helping him advance his love of language.

“I love the Modern Foreign Languages department here,” he said. “They're so wonderful and inspiring. They're willing to help their students succeed no matter what.”

Rifenbark is the former president of SVSU's Alpha Mu Gamma foreign language honors society as well as the former founder and president of SVSU's Phi Alpha Theta history honors society. He plans to apply for graduate schools to study linguistics in fall 2016.

“Bilingualism matters,” he said. “It's such a benefit in terms of career outlets, and it lets you think in different ways. People who have knowledge of more than one language are better off. I feel so grateful for my knowledge of other languages.”

The fellowship is made possible by a contribution from Morley to the SVSU Foundation’s “Talent. Opportunity. Promise.” campaign.  For more information, visit

June 26, 2015

Eleventh Annual Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum Gala to feature “Saints, Sinners and Silk”

The Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum at Saginaw Valley State University will host its 11th annual gala benefit, "Saints, Sinners and Silk", Friday, Oct. 2 at 5:30 p.m.


This year's event takes on an Asian theme featuring special cuisine, music, and a karaoke afterglow.


"The event is going to be fantastic," said event co-chair Madeline Burke. "The Asian theme is incredibly fun and will make for a memorable night for everyone who attends."


"Saints, Sinners and Silk" also includes a silent art auction and a live auction hosted by Midland auctioneer Mike Furlo. More than 50 regional artists will donate a work of art for the auction with proceeds supporting exhibitions and educational programs at the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum.


The event will showcase a themed menu that includes Hunan Style Tien-Tsin Beef, Garlic Shrimp, Dak Bulgogi, Lion's Head Meatballs, carved Jiangsu Style Salmon Filet, Peking duck quesadillas, Crunch Dragon Roll, and more.


"Saints, Sinners and Silk" also serves as the kick off to the museum's fall exhibition FRAGMENTA: Jay Holland/Sergio DeGiusti.


FRAGMENTA: Jay Holland / Sergio DeGiusti is an exhibition of sculptures and reliefs by two Detroit artists who have been making art for more than 90 years collectively. Holland taught sculpting at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit from 1964 to 1998. DeGiusti taught art history and studio classes at Wayne State University and sculpting at the College for Creative Studies for many years. The exhibition will be displayed at the Museum Friday, Sept. 25 to Saturday, Jan. 23.


"DeGiusti took classes under Holland for a semester and so in some ways this is an exhibition of the master and the student," said Museum Director Marilyn Wheaton. "Both artists are highly regarded in the world of art in southeast Michigan," she added.


The Dow Chemical Company is this year's title sponsor for the gala. Additional sponsors at this time include Nexteer Automotive, Bill and Sue Vititoe, Benefactors; Thomas A. Braley, Denis and Madeline Burke, Champagne & Marx Excavating, Inc., Consumers Energy, Episcopal Diocese of Eastern Michigan, Carl Fredericks, Garber Automotive, Patti and Dave Kepler, Pumford Construction, Mervyn and Avril Roundtree Patrons; Don and Liana Bachand, Bierlein Companies Inc., Bob and Sue Bloenk, Braun Kendrick, Fabiano Brothers, Roger and Judi Hill, Lucy and Fritz Horak, Labadie Auto, McLaren Bay Region, Michigan Pipe and Valve, Michigan Sugar, Drs. Peter and Susan Morley, Payne, Broder and Fossee, P.C., Ric Roberts, Robert and Jane Rogers, Saginaw Bay Underwriters, Spence Brothers, SVSU Office of Academic Affairs, SVSU Office of President and Tri-Star Trust Bank.


Sponsorship at all levels offers the opportunity to be a presenter of a work of art from an online list of fabulous auction items. Contact Laurie Allison for information about how you can become a sponsor of this annual event at or 989-964-7082.


The event takes its name from the "Saints and Sinners" sculptures by the museum's namesake located in the Dow Gardens in Midland.


For more information about "Saints, Sinners and Silk", call 989-964-7125.

June 23, 2015

SVSU Board Approves Contract with Support Staff Union

The Saginaw Valley State University Board of Control approved a contract with the SVSU Support Staff Association (MEA/NEA) during its regular session Monday, June 22.

The three-year agreement covers the period from July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2018.  Terms call for wage increases of roughly 1.25 percent for each of the three years covered by the contract (1.28 percent for 2015-16; 1.26 percent for 2016-17; 1.25 percent for 2017-18).

“Our support staff employees provide valuable service to the university,” said SVSU President Donald Bachand. “ I regularly hear favorable comments from parents and visitors about the outstanding appearance of our campus, and regarding the professionalism and positive attitude of secretaries and other front-line employees.”

The Support Staff Association represents 183 employees, including secretaries, clerks, and campus facilities personnel.  Union membership ratified the contract Thursday, June 18.

“This was one of the most pleasant bargaining experiences we’ve had,” said Tish Yaros, administrative secretary for Information Technology Services and president of the Support Staff Association.  “Everyone was very willing to work with us, and we are happy to reach an agreement that is beneficial to all affected.”

Similar to the contract approved with the SVSU Faculty Association last year, the contract includes modest adjustments in the capped contributions the university makes to employees’ health care coverage.

Go to page: