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August 12, 2020

Partnership expands Covenant HealthCare’s support for SVSU as fall semester nears

Saginaw Valley State University’s commitment to providing students a safe return to campus next month is bolstered by the institution’s strengthened partnership with Covenant HealthCare.
The partnership predates the pandemic that led the university — and others across the nation — to suspend in-classroom learning in March, but the emergence of COVID-19 provided impetus for SVSU to seek additional services and consultation from the Saginaw-based health care provider. As SVSU prepares to return students to in-classroom learning for the fall semester, university leaders credit Covenant HealthCare for providing support that will allow the campus to safely reopen, including the guidance of health experts and a health-related telephone hotline for students.
“We were looking for direction from a medical perspective that would help us navigate through these challenging circumstances,” said Sue Brasseur, one of the SVSU leaders critical to establishing the renewed partnership. “Really, our underlying concern is the safety and well-being of every member of the SVSU community, and with this partnership, I’m confident we will do the best we can. Covenant has really been here for us.”
Before the pandemic, the SVSU and Covenant HealthCare partnership included the establishment of a Covenant MedExpress site located on the university’s campus. The stand-alone medical facility resides on the west corner of SVSU’s property, near the intersection of Bay and Pierce roads. It remains open for both members of the campus community as well as the general public.
This new addition to the partnership brings consultation from Covenant HealthCare staff, including an SVSU alumnus. Dr. Matthew Deibel, medical director of the Covenant HealthCare Regional Emergency Care Center, received a master’s degree in health administration and leadership from SVSU in 2018.
“He’s been really valuable whenever we have a health-related question,” Brasseur said.
Consultation from Deibel and colleagues at Covenant HealthCare helped SVSU leaders determine specific policy decisions for the fall, including advice on university decisions relating to re-organizing furniture in campus spaces to create more room to practice social distancing. The consultation helped SVSU interpret regulations from state and federal government health agencies.
The SVSU and Covenant HealthCare partnership also has provided campus leaders with access to other health care-savvy personnel. Officials from both organizations talk regularly about ways in which the university can further strengthen campus safety.
Such discussions led to SVSU providing its staff and faculty with access to Covenant HealthCare services focusing specifically on health-related workplace issues. Covenant HealthCare helped SVSU as the university developed a self-screening process for faculty and staff. Soon, SVSU will finalize a self-screening process for students as well.
While faculty, staff and students will have access to an SVSU-based information phone line tasked with answering questions about the fall semester plans, any health-related questions will be forwarded to a Covenant HealthCare-based hotline staffed by medical experts.
An SVSU task force dedicated to health and safety issues for the fall semester also benefited from access to Covenant HealthCare experts.
Brasseur said SVSU leaders have relied heavily on Covenant HealthCare and general guidance provided by other agencies, both local and national. University officials regularly consult with staff at the Saginaw County Health Department on COVID-19-related matters in the region. And SVSU planners have utilized guidelines from both the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when applying modifications to campus policies.
“The bottom line is, we’re prepared for the fall semester,” Brasseur said, “and we owe a lot to Covenant HealthCare and other organizations for helping us prepare for it.”

August 5, 2020

Once determined to continue his education without pause, SVSU alumnus now thrives at Dow

Kevin Finley, a 2017 alumnus of Saginaw Valley State University, is proof that challenges can be overcome with drive and opportunity. 

The Flint native was determined to create a better future for himself and his community, despite facing adversity at a young age.

"I was beaten up really badly in high school," Finley said. "I was really, really frustrated but then I realized, it's not about who does what to you. It's about your response. I can say, 'I don't want to see that happen to someone else so let me show people that there's more to life than negativity.' I don't want to let stuff like that hinder me. I just want to stay positive."

A first-generation college student, Finley defied limits to overcome obstacles and forge his own path to success. After high school, he was determined to continue his education without pause, enrolling at SVSU to pursue a career in accounting.

“Growing up in the inner city you can get distracted by other things, but going to college was always important to me. I saw people in my community grow up without opportunities to do what they wanted to do,” he said.

Going to college opened new doors for Finley, and the opportunities he had at SVSU helped him to push his limits and better prepare for a successful career.

Finley took every opportunity to get involved with student organizations, on-campus jobs, and programs of distinction at SVSU, including studying abroad to Asia with the university’s Roberts Fellowship Program, which annually provides year-long leadership development opportunities for a select group of students. The program helped him expand his worldview and open his mind to new possibilities.

He also took advantage of networking opportunities and practice interviews through SVSU’s Office of Career Services, which helped him make connections and secure an internship at Dow, a Midland-based global corporation and one of the region’s largest employers. His perseverance and hard work paid off with a full-time job immediately after he received his bachelor’s degree in accounting.

He recalls how the leadership and communication skills that he developed at SVSU helped to grow his confidence and prepare him for his professional duties, including leadings events at Dow.

“These resources were really impactful from a professional standpoint. I really appreciate SVSU and I’ll always be grateful for them helping me learn who I am and how to lead,” he said.

Finley began his career at Dow as a financial accountant, and through his dedication and determination, was recently promoted to the corporate audit department of the organization.

He hopes to continue the trajectory of his career success and is diligently working toward his next professional milestone— becoming a certified public accountant. Finley has already passed his first exam and is studying for the following three in order to complete his certification. 

Finley became a mentor to other students during his time at SVSU, and he has continued this tradition of mentorship into his professional life as well. He hopes to encourage and inspire others to pursue their passions and go after what they want to achieve. As he learned first-hand from his own pursuits, following a high school diploma immediately with a college education at SVSU provided him with the momentum needed to earn him a full-time job that fulfills him.

“If you really want to do something, take a chance on yourself and believe in yourself,” Finley said. “It’s a learning opportunity, whatever you go through.”

August 5, 2020

Since childhood, Gabrielle Gittens felt drawn to nature. Now the SVSU alumna is one step closer to a career spent protecting it.

Gabrielle Gittens remembers summers spent laying on a trampoline in her family’s backyard, her eyes pointed skyward and her dreams aimed there too. These memories stretch deep into her childhood, when a 4-year-old girl first soaked in the surrounding sounds of nature, including animals that populated both her suburban neighborhood and her imagination. Sometimes she fantasized her favorite creature – the bald eagle – soared there above her.

Even in those youngest of summers, Gittens recalled a persistent thought occuring to her. At first, it surfaced as a question: "How can we make the planet a better place to live for us all? For people. For animals." Over time, the thought transformed into an answer:

"I will make the planet a better place to live."

Two decades later, that answer remains the driving force of the aspiring environmental conservationist's professional ambitions.

In May, Gittens graduated from Saginaw Valley State University, where affordability and opportunity merged to move her closer than ever to fulfilling that lifelong ambition. Her undergraduate experience empowered Gittens to operate – literally – at heights enjoyed by the bald eagles so beloved by her. Her environmental survey research work at SVSU involved piloting drone aircraft up to 200 feet in the air. The resulting credentials were one of many factors that helped secure her a full-ride scholarship to the postgraduate program she begins this fall.

“I wouldn’t have had the same opportunities elsewhere as I had at SVSU,” said Gittens, who earned a bachelor’s degree in geography from the university in May. “So many people from SVSU helped me get to where I am.”

For the next two years, Gittens will study for a master’s degree in geography with a focus on environmental analysis and resource management at Western Michigan University. Once graduated, she hopes to work as a steward of the environment – perhaps as a park ranger or environmental scientist –with an agency such as the National Park Service or the U.S. Forest Service.

“My heart has been set on this for about as long as I can remember,” said the Columbus Township native.

Along with sky-gazing on her childhood trampoline, Gittens’ formative experiences as a conservationist involved family, friends and teachers introducing her to the environment. She was instilled with a passion for the outdoors by her mother, an avid gardener who tasked her daughter with picking strawberries and peppers from their yard. As a kid, Gittens and two of her cousins shared an affinity for animals, and the trio often talked about growing older and occupying jobs that supported living creatures. Gittens regularly visited Peck, where property and a pole barn owned by the family of her best friend exposed her to a rural environment and its animal inhabitants. And, at school, she learned about climate change and its devastating consequences.

“I remember seeing videos of polar bears dying because they couldn’t find ice to travel on,” Gittens said. “That horrified me. As a kid, whenever I made a wish, I wished for climate change to end.”

She attended Merritt Academy, a New Haven-based charter school authorized by SVSU. While Gittens graduated as the salutatorian in her class, she said she under-performed on her ACT test, which limited her ability to secure scholarships. Her family also was struggling financially at the time, endangering her chances to attend college.

“My parents didn’t have money for me to go to college and I didn’t have money for me to go to college,” she said.

Gittens was determined to pursue her professional ambitions, though. Her higher education dreams were rescued by SVSU, a state university with the most affordable tuition rate in Michigan as well as home to more than 1,000 private and university-funded scholarship opportunities. Gittens was able to benefit from one of those opportunities: the Public School Academy Scholarship, which SVSU provides to qualifying students who attended an SVSU-authorized charter school. More than 11,000 students currently attend SVSU-authorized charter academies.

“Honestly, that scholarship made college possible for me,” said Gittens, who graduated with little debt. “I wouldn’t be where I am without it and without the professors at SVSU.”

After beginning as a biology major, Gittens switched to geography studies when she earned a student research opportunity at SVSU with Julie Commerford. The assistant professor of geography led a study of pollen in Avery Lake in Illinois, where environmental analysis helped determine how human activity shaped the environment there. The experience left Gittens enamored with geography and introduced her to the professor she still considers her mentor.

“She’s really pushed me forward, toward where I want to be,” Gittens said of Commerford. “She’s incredible.”

In November 2019, Gittens presented the study at The East Lakes Division of the American Association of Geographers conference. Her poster presentation for the project, titled “Reconstructing Ancient Landscapes: Pollen as the Key to the Past,” won second place in a competition there.

Gittens later joined another environmental study led by an SVSU educator. Rhett Mohler, associate professor of geography, tasked Gittens with providing geographical surveys of phragmites – non-native wetland grass that outcompetes native plants and can displace native animals – in the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge in Saginaw.

The work meant programming the flight of a quadcopter drone over the refuge and processing the images captured to determine the impact of the phragmites. To perform those duties, Gittens became certified to fly drones.

Other experiences available at the campus enriched her abilities. Along with her academic degree, Gittens received her GIS certification, which is earned by students seeking advanced skills in the application of geographic information systems.

While attending SVSU, she also spent a summer with a study abroad program in Montana. There, she earned college credits while learning how to track bears, wolves and other wildlife populating the Seeley-Swan Valley. She worked with the community to shape policy relating to endangered species and the humans living near them in that region.

The accumulation of experiences and awards led to her receiving a full-ride scholarship at Western Michigan University, she said. Her first day of class is Sept. 2. She plans to work as a student teaching assistant there, providing the same sort of guidance that led her closer than ever to realizing ambitions she first felt as a child in her backyard, where the blue sky above and the surrounding nature seemed to call her to step forward.

“I’m looking forward to what comes next,” Gittens said.

July 30, 2020

SVSU NEST Ambassador profile: Lauren Steen

Over the next few days, 100 enthusiastic students will begin orientation training in their roles as NEST Ambassadors. These individuals will assist with keeping the community healthy and safe, serving in one of three specialty areas: Student Experience, Information Technology, and Health and Wellness.

For the next few weeks, NEST Bulletin will spotlight members of this outstanding group, introducing them to the campus community they soon will engage as Ambassadors.

Today, that spotlight shines upon Lauren Steen, a fourth-year occupational therapy major from Peck. An enthusiast and participant in SVSU intramural volleyball, Steen joins the Health and Wellness division of the Ambassador program. Her orientation session is planned for later this week, but she was able to share some details about her role and motivations in the following Q&A session.


Q: As an Ambassador, you will be focusing on strengthening the mental health of your fellow students. Before accepting this job, you served as a behavior technician, working with elementary school-age children with autism. Also, you are an occupational therapy major. So, you seem to possess a passion for helping others. Where does that passion come from?


A: I’m in the occupational therapy program because I want to work with military veterans and wounded soldiers. My dad was in the Army and I have a lot of family in the military.

When I was a senior in high school, I helped my mom when she had thyroid cancer. I helped her go through recovery and survive that. It was a scary experience, but I learned I want to continue helping others. 

Q: What about being an Ambassador are you looking forward to?

A: I’m looking forward to helping others; especially helping freshmen so they feel adjusted and comfortable during uncertain times.

Q: What are your thoughts on the upcoming fall semester?


A: I’m excited to get the year started and get back on campus. I want to see the changes that are happening there, and I look forward to seeing students come back. I know people will support each other and come together.

July 28, 2020

SVSU establishes phone line to answer student, parent questions about return to classes in fall

Saginaw Valley State University officials continue to add services aimed at strengthening a safe campus environment ahead of students’ return to campus next month. 
The university recently opened a telephone information line that will provide students, prospective students and family members with information related to SVSU’s plans for the fall semester scheduled to start in August. 
While an SVSU webpage at can answer many general questions about the fall plans, a phone line provides a valuable resource for a university committed to establishing strong interpersonal relationships between students and the campus community, officials say. 
“We have been providing regular notifications to our campus community about our return to the classrooms, but a phone line gives students and their families access to a human element,” said Susan Brasseur, SVSU’s director of continuing education and external project management. 
“They have been calling different offices within the university, and we have been helping them, but this gives them a central place where they can call and talk to a person dedicated to answering their questions.” 
The SVSU NEST Info Line is available at (989) 964-2110. 
The phone line hours span 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Mondays through Fridays. 
NEST is SVSU’s comprehensive program dedicated to returning students to campus after the pandemic led U.S. universities to suspend in-classroom instruction in March. NEST is an acronym for “New Expectations for a Safer Tomorrow.” 
Brasseur said the phone lines will be managed by staff from SVSU’s The Conference Center, typically in charge of organizing events on campus including guest speakers and weddings. The staff is particularly equipped to manage the phone line because of their skill in hospitality and their knowledge of the campus and its offerings. 
“People are asking about a lot of things, and we want to be there to help answer all their questions and be of assistance in any way possible,” Brasseur said.

July 16, 2020

As fall semester approaches, SVSU reimagines campus spaces to address safety during pandemic

Since in-person classes were suspended in March, Ron Portwine has remained one of the few members of Saginaw Valley State University’s staff working at the campus. There – like so many higher education institutions in the nation that shifted the college experience to online and virtual environments in response to the pandemic – the vibrancy of student life at SVSU’s admired facilities was replaced by empty hallways and vacant classrooms. 
This week, that vibrancy seemed to stir back to life in the eyes of Portwine, who has spent months working with colleagues preparing the campus for students’ return in August. On Tuesday, freshmen participated in orientation sessions that placed them in classrooms and campus spaces re-configured with features designed specifically to keep students safe from the COVID-19 virus. 
“We have been working on this plan for a long time, and now we’re seeing how it looks with students here on campus,” Portwine said. “It’s exciting and provides an opportunity to receive student feedback on the changes we’ve made.” 
As SVSU’s associate vice president for Administration and Business Affairs and its chief business officer, Portwine has taken a leading role in adapting SVSU to the pandemic. While the university announced masks were required to enter campus, ensuring a safe fall semester also meant reimagining the physical makeup of classrooms, cafeterias and other spaces while also providing resources and signage that encourages other safety-based practices. It has been a massive undertaking involving consultation with local health experts, modified ventilation practices, an emphasis on frequent sanitation, lots of stored furniture, and plexiglass. 
Plenty of plexiglass. 
“Students will notice the changes when they come back in the fall,” he said. “Safety is our priority. We also want them to enjoy the college student experience.” 
Compared to many university settings, SVSU was uniquely suited to maintain a safe environment that defends against the spread of COVID-19. Historically, SVSU has maintained a reputation as an institution where students enjoy cozy classrooms. While other universities sometimes sit hundreds of students in a single room, many of SVSU’s classrooms traditionally hosted less than 30 people. That population-per-room this fall will be reduced further – by about 50 percent in most cases – to allow for even more room to safely practice social distancing, Portwine said. 
“Preparing for this involved a lot of spreading-out of tables and removing chairs so that no one is sitting closer than 6 feet apart,” he said. 
There will be exceptions to that 50 percent reduction rule. SVSU will utilize some of its larger spaces – typically reserved for events and conference gatherings – to host courses with larger numbers of students. The size of the venue, however, will allow for social distancing. 
Next week, the university plans to begin installation of plexiglass shields positioned at classroom podiums and transaction counters, adding another layer of security that reduces the likelihood of disease transmission when adequate social distance can’t be maintained. Portwine said the setup will resemble the use of plexiglass material utilized by grocery and retail stores during the pandemic. 
Hand sanitizer and environmentally-friendly cleaning agents also will be available in classrooms.  Students will be expected to clean their classroom work surface as part of a shared responsibility to maintain a safe campus. 
Other campus spaces that will be noticeably changed are SVSU’s dining locations. Using largely the same approach as the classroom changes, the removal of chairs and the spreading of tables will encourage social distancing, Portwine said. Students can eat in privacy or at a table for up to four people. 
“We’ll have plenty of residential students who live together in groups of four and we want them to be able to dine together as part of their college experience,” Portwine said. 
The cafeterias also will follow the practices of many restaurants. While the menu will remain largely the same, the way students gather food will change. Staff will serve food and beverages to students, with some plexiglass separating customers from cooks. The elimination of self-serve salad bars and beverage dispensaries reduces the number of touchable surfaces on which people can transmit diseases. 
Plexiglass will be installed in other transactional spaces including where students pick up and drop off documents from the Registrar’s and Campus Financial Services offices. Plexiglass also will protect people visiting offices for counseling or tutoring services, although staff will encourage most of those appointments take place online or at locations on campus where 1-on-1 interactions can be most safely practiced. The same approach will be encouraged when students visit their professors. In the past, those visits happened within the professor’s office, where social distancing practices will be challenging. 
Not all changes to the campus will involve rearranged furniture or installed plexiglass. 
Portwine said few physical changes were planned for the residential halls. Instead, the room capacity will be reduced in common spaces to encourage social distancing. Shared bedrooms that traditionally utilized a bunk bed to house two students have been converted to single occupancy.  The amount of space available to residential students already was a treasured feature that led to SVSU’s No. 1 ranking among public universities in the student survey-driven “Best Dorms” list from the website Niche. Now that space-per-residential student will widen for the 2020-21 academic year. 
Signage across campus will limit the number of people that can enter smaller spaces such as laundry rooms and elevators. 
Custodial staff will be deployed regularly to clean surfaces people often touch, including door handles and hand railings. 
Portwine said the university also will employ a 2-pronged ventilation strategy designed to address the circulation of shared air that could potentially transmit diseases. 
“We will increase the amount of outside air brought into the buildings and exhaust conditioned air outdoors to the extent possible, based on weather conditions and occupant comfort,” he said. 
“When we are unable to bring outdoor air into a building, we have to rely on filtration.  We will run air handlers for longer periods of time when buildings are occupied for increased air circulation and filtration.” 
Portwine said he expects the changes to the physical setup of the campus as well as the implementation of smart practices will encourage a culture of safety that students will accept and champion. 
“We’re creatures of habit, but we’re constantly learning how to adapt to the pandemic,” he said. “We’re going to continue to adapt, but this is still going to feel like SVSU." 

June 26, 2020

Navigating substantial obstacles, SVSU students move forward with annual fundraiser; beneficiary announced

For the second year in a row, Saginaw Valley State University students demonstrated determination to support their community and will organize a long-standing fundraiser to benefit others, despite major hurdles.
SVSU’s student government – known as Student Association – today announced it selected the Bay Area Women’s Center as the community benefactor of Battle of the Valley, an annual student-run fundraiser that has raised $652,385 for nonprofits across the state since 2003. 
“With everything going on in the world, people can feel hopeless,” said Olivia Nelson, the Student Association philanthropy chair and lead organizer of this year’s event. “With Battle of the Valley, we want to empower and uplift people by giving them a chance to make a positive difference.” 
Plenty of obstacles could have derailed this year’s fundraiser, but students were resolved to keep the community-engaging SVSU tradition alive, she said. While dates and other details remain unknown, Nelson and her peers are committed to organizing the event during the 2020-21 academic year. 
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic that ended in-person classes at SVSU and other universities in March, the Student Association organized its exhaustive search for a beneficiary largely without meeting in person. More than 40 nonprofits applied to benefit from the fundraiser this year. 
“The Bay Area Women’s Center stood out right off the bat in their application,” said Nelson, a psychology major from Highland. “I could see the passion coming through in their words.” 
The Bay City-based nonprofit offers crisis intervention, advocacy services and safe haven to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. 
“They deal with issues that are relevant today,” Nelson said. “So many people end up in situations where they could use the kind of services offered there. We want to support that.” 
For much of the SVSU fundraiser’s history, there was a competitive element. SVSU and Grand Valley State University annually raised money for each institution’s selected beneficiary, with the winning student population earning temporary possession of a trophy. The competition was scheduled during the week leading up to the football game between the two universities. 
But after GVSU students pulled out of the competitionlast year, SVSU students last year re-imagined the event in fall 2019 as a fundraiser without a competitive element. SVSU raised $20,302 for The Rock Center for Youth Development in Midland last year.
Nelson said she hopes her peers are able to raise a similar amount for the upcoming Battle of the Valley. Doing so will involve navigating new hurdles because of the pandemic. 
SVSU plans to resume in-class teaching in August. Many aspects of student life will look different, making it more challenging to raise funds, Nelson said. Student leaders still hope to center the week-long fundraiser around an SVSU sporting event. Student Association is remaining flexible on the dates because decisions regarding NCAA sports at the Division II level have yet to be made. 
“We don’t know what’s going to happen with the football season, but if that doesn’t happen, we may hold it in the basketball season during the winter,” Nelson said. 
“And, if that doesn’t happen, we will still figure something out. Our goal is to have the fundraiser involve face-to-face interactions, but we are going to do everything possible to keep people safe. We are going to follow the university’s guidelines on safety in a way that we can still make connections.” 
As in years past, there will be some elements of the fundraiser hosted online, she said. Nelson hopes Battle of the Valley will retain many of its traditions including a date auction and an event that allows participants to pay money to smash a junk vehicle. 
In total, SVSU has raised $445,959 for nonprofits as part of the annual event since 2003. GVSU from 2003-18 raised $226,728. 
A complete list of the year-by-year funds raised and nonprofit beneficiaries is available at

June 23, 2020

SVSU police officer earns national award for response to 2019 shooting of Saginaw Township officer

A Saginaw Valley State University police officer’s quick response to a fellow law enforcer’s need for help earned him national recognition this week. 
Ryan Persails, of SVSU's University Police, received the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators Award for Valor during a virtual awards ceremony Tuesday, June 23. The Philadelphia-based association's award annually recognizes members of college campus-based police forces who risk their lives in the line of duty. 
Persails’ act of heroism happened during the early morning hours of Jan. 22, 2019. He was the first person to respond to a call for help from Saginaw Township Police Officer Jeff Koenig, who was shot in the jaw and shoulder during a traffic stop in nearby Saginaw Township. 
Koenig survived the shooting, the gunman was apprehended hours later and then eventually sentenced to 75 years in prison. But, at time of the emergency call at 2 a.m. on that Tuesday morning, uncertainty and a determination to help a fellow officer meant “all bets were off” for Persails, he said. 
“In my mind, as I’m driving there, I’m thinking, ‘Is this going to be an ambush?,’” Persails said. “I was expecting the worst at first, but by the time I got there, I forgot all that. I was focused on helping Officer Koenig.” 
Within moments of Persails’ arrival, Saginaw Township Det. Greg Remer pulled up to the scene, Persails said. They helped their injured colleague into the back of Remer’s vehicle before it sped toward Covenant HealthCare in Saginaw. 
“You could tell Jeff was in pain, but it was a good sign that he was talking,” Persails said of Koenig, who had called in his own shooting to Central Dispatch earlier. “We just wanted to make sure he was calm while we were getting him to the hospital.” 
When they arrived at Covenant, Koenig was listed in critical condition at first. He was upgraded to stable condition and released to recover at home over the course of the next few weeks. 
The experience was humbling for Persails, a 10-year veteran of SVSU’s University Police force who enjoys a tight-knit relationship with his university colleagues as well as peers in the law enforcement agencies patrolling the region surrounding the campus. The agencies often collaborate and network resources, and Persails knew Koenig long before Jan. 22. 
Persails’ close relationship with his peers as well as his close proximity to the dangerous incident — he was patrolling the area less than five miles at the time of the shooting — put things into perspective for him. 
“It really opens your eyes to the kind of danger you can find yourself in as a police officer,” Persails said. “99 percent of the people we run into are good people, but there’s always that danger.” 
The experience was eye-opening in other ways, he said. 
“Everyone really came together to help, from the doctor and nurses who helped Jeff to all the businesses and people who have put together fundraisers to help him with expenses,” he said. 
“It’s been great, the way the community has responded to this. It’s good to know police have that kind of support here.” 

June 22, 2020

SVSU fall semester to finish through online/remote instruction

Donald Bachand PortraitThe final two weeks of the fall semester at Saginaw Valley State University will be conducted through online and remote instruction, so that students do not need to return to campus after Thanksgiving break.
“We want our students, faculty and staff to be safe, and this is one prudent measure we can take to reduce potential transmission of COVID-19 in the event of a late fall resurgence,” said Donald Bachand, SVSU president.
“Most on-campus operations will continue, and we plan for academic and student support services, such as Zahnow Library, to be open after Thanksgiving, following appropriate health and safety protocols.”
SVSU will begin its fall semester on Monday, Aug. 31. Students living on campus will move into their residence halls on a more staggered schedule, in the interest of health and safety.
More information on move-in plans will be shared in early July.
For more information on plans for the upcoming year, including New Expectations for a Safer Tomorrow (NEST) at SVSU, visit

June 19, 2020

SVSU initiative for registered nurses ranked among state's elite academic programs

A Saginaw Valley State University online academic program that empowers working nurses with a bachelor’s degree education was recognized as one of the best of its kind in the state. 
SVSU’s RN to BSN (shorthand for “registered nurses” and “Bachelor of Science in Nursing,” respectively) online program recently was ranked No. 2 in the state by in the category of Best Online RN to BSN Programs. is a Carlsbad, California-based organization that provides resources for prospective nurses. To determine SVSU’s ranking, used data from multiple sources – including the U.S. Department of Education and the National Center for Education Statistics – as part of its methodology. 
Karen Brown-Fackler, the chair of SVSU’s Department of Nursing and an associate professor of nursing, said she was honored to learn about the distinction ... even though she did not entirely agree with the placement. 
“We think we should be ranked No. 1,” Brown-Fackler said. “We offer some great advantages. We have online classes but accessible faculty teaching the classes. Students can start the program whatever semester is best for them and take classes at their own pace.” 
She said other highlights of the online RN to BSN program include an adviser that helps students with admission, scheduling and academic progression. 
Another element she said elevates the program: Its standout faculty. For instance, Sally Decker, a professor of nursing that helped design and establish the program, recently was honored with a lifetime achievement award from American Nurses Association-Michigan in part for her contributions to helping registered nurses earn bachelor's degrees in their professional field.
Brown-Fackler said the RN to BSN program offers empowering coursework. 
“There are only five core classes and the other courses are electives they choose from, which could be graduate courses toward future programs or interesting continuing education courses relevant to working nurses,” she said. 
SVSU President Donald Bachand said he was proud of the university's faculty and staff for building the program and developing some of the region’s top health care professionals.
“Especially in times such as these, this program’s excellence is critical to the public health of our region, state, nation and world," Bachand said.
For more information about SVSU's RN to BSN program, go to the following URL link:

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