Dear campus community,
We care about you, and your health and well-being. The State of Michigan has confirmed two individuals have contracted the COVID-19 virus. We are monitoring the latest guidance from the state and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
The SVSU leadership team meets daily to discuss the status of this outbreak and SVSU’s operations. The team had a conference call with the Saginaw County Health Department this morning and is communicating with the department frequently. At this time, the risk for contracting the virus in our area is low, but this is a rapidly developing situation. Please remember that race or ethnicity has no bearing on the likelihood of becoming sick or transmitting disease.
Effective today (March 11), SVSU is suspending all university-sponsored international travel through at least June 30. We strongly advise faculty, staff and students to avoid personal international travel, as well.
We strongly discourage SVSU-sponsored domestic travel by faculty, staff and students, as well. Faculty, staff and students should consult with their supervisor prior to any trips. We may further restrict domestic travel with little advance notice, as circumstances warrant.
We are suspending face-to-face instruction for lecture and discussion classes and moving to online or remote instruction, effective Monday, March 16 and through at least Friday, April 17. All instructors will contact their students no later than Wednesday, March 18 to provide further information about course delivery. We are continuing to work with faculty and staff on laboratory and performance classes, and the university will provide additional guidance.
We will re-evaluate the need for remote learning before April 15 and will provide further information at that time. During this time period, students doing purely remote work can return to their permanent place of residence but for students who remain on campus, we will maintain operations in our residence halls and dining services. For campus dining, we will be taking steps to increase “grab and go” options and reduce communal dining.
Academic and student support services, as well as business operations, will remain open.
At this time, SVSU is evaluating the upcoming public events we are scheduled to host. We are planning to hold events scheduled for this weekend and will make a decision regarding future events later this week. We will continue our enhanced cleaning and sanitation procedures, and we will encourage our visitors to practice good hygiene, as we all should be doing, and to consider their personal health in connection with the implications of large gatherings. Again, this could change with little advance notice.
Symptoms of the COVID-19 virus include: a cough, a fever greater than 100.4 degrees, and shortness of breath. If you exhibit these symptoms, please call-in sick, avoid contact with others and call your health care provider. It is important to call ahead so that health care agencies can provide appropriate assessment, care and instructions. Please know that many health insurance plans offer tele-medicine services. Individuals who have been sick should remain home until their fever has been gone for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medicines.
The health and welfare of our entire campus community is our highest priority. We will continue to update the campus community with the latest information surrounding the COVID-19 virus, and will update our www.svsu.edu/coronavirus webpage.
Donald J. Bachand, President
SVSU continues to take action in the interest of the health and safety of the campus community related to the COVID-19 virus. We also continue to remind you of precautions you should be taking.
Information and guidance surrounding the spread of the virus is fluid and changing rapidly. We have been working closely with the Saginaw County Health Department and following the guidance of the CDC and other agencies to ensure we are following the latest guidance for protecting the health and safety of our campus community. Our Campus Facilities staff have enhanced our cleaning and sanitization procedures for frequently touched surfaces. We will continue to collaborate with our local partners throughout the duration of this virus outbreak.
Our best protection and your best protection against the spread of this or any other virus is to practice good hygiene.
As of this writing (March 6), there are no confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus in Michigan, but we urge you to follow these recommendations out of an abundance of caution and out of respect for your fellow students, faculty and staff.
We will continue to provide updates to the campus community, as developments dictate. You can find our most recent information at http://svsu.edu/coronavirus.
Saginaw-born Broadway and Hollywood actor Brian d’Arcy James will grace the stage alongside Saginaw Valley State University student performers as part of a one-night-only song-and-dance extravaganza at the campus next month.
The curtains open for “An Actors Showcase” Monday, March 30, at 7:30 p.m. in SVSU’s Malcolm Field Theatre for Performing Arts.
Joining James that evening will be some of the university’s top theatre students as well as award-winning Gershwin pianist Kevin Cole. James plans to meet, mentor and rehearse with the students in advance of the event, when they will perform a series of songs and monologues on stage.
The event is free, but due to anticipated high demand, attendees must reserve tickets. They are available online by clicking here. Once the theatre reaches capacity, SVSU will offer ticket reservations to a simulcast in the adjoining campus venue, the Rhea Miller Recital Hall.
James' introduction to much of the performing arts world began on Broadway. Perhaps most famously there, he donned green makeup as the titular character in “Shrek the Musical” from 2008-09, earning a Tony Award nomination for Best Leading Actor in a Musical along the way. The performance later was captured for a feature-length film available now on Netflix.
Playing Shrek earned him the second of three Tony Award nominations for leading actor in a musical. The first was for “Sweet Smell of Success” in 2002. Most recently, he received a nomination for “Something Rotten!” in 2015.
His on-stage résumé also includes serving as an original cast member of “Hamilton,” playing King George III.
James’ star continued to brighten when he transitioned to the big screen. Perhaps his most notable movie role to date was in “Spotlight,” which won Best Picture at the Academy Awards after its release in 2015. He portrayed real-life Boston Globe reporter Matt Carroll in the drama about a team of newspaper journalists uncovering a community scandal.
He became even more of a household name when he appeared in the popular Netflix series, “13 Reasons Why,” now entering its fourth and final season. He plays Andrew Baker, the father of the character whose suicide sets the series’ plot in motion.
Later this year, the 51-year-old is scheduled to appear in the Steven Spielberg-directed remake of “West Side Story.”
James graduated from Nouvel Catholic Central High School of Saginaw Township in 1986.
Inspired by passionate players and fans in a rapidly-growing field of competition, Saginaw Valley State University will hit the “start” button on its own club sports team in fall 2020 for competitive video game players.
Competitive video game leagues – commonly known as "eSports" – are quickly gaining popularity. The largest league governing college competition grew from seven to 170 teams between 2016 and 2019.
“The level of student interest in eSports is extremely high and we look forward to providing this new opportunity for student engagement,” said Brian Thomas, SVSU's associate vice president for Academic Affairs.
eSports are played with individual competitors or teams of up to eight people. Competitions can be played with teams in a central location or via online-based tournaments. Those competitions feature players battling for top scores in popular games such as "Fortnite," "Overwatch," "League of Legends," "Super Smash Bros." and "Hearthstone" on consoles such as Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4 and XBox One. Worldwide market revenue from eSports competition surpassed $1 billion last year, compared to $130 million in 2012.
SVSU's campus is ripe territory for such a competition and its students are hungry to participate, Thomas said. The opportunity will offer more than simply a fun outlet for fans of video games.
“By creating a dedicated space with high-end gaming computers, students will be able to practice and compete while at the same time socializing around a sport that they love,” Thomas said. “With the rapid growth of eSports as an industry, this will create new opportunities for academic collaborations ranging from computer science and electrical engineering to business and graphic design.”
SVSU's eSports club will launch with a dedicated space on campus – at a location still yet to be determined – likely featuring 13 gaming computers along with video streaming and monitoring equipment, Thomas said.
At the same time, eSports will be organized competitively as a club sport. The gaming space will be available to members of the club team and other SVSU students as well.
James Stahl, an SVSU criminal justice major, said he expects an eSports club will be a smash hit with his peers. He would know. As a leader of an SVSU student organization that has hosted video game tournaments, Stahl has witnessed a growing appetite for a club sport dedicated to gaming on campus.
“It's going to be big,” Stahl said, predicting the response of students to an eSports club. “Depending on how it's handled, it could be really big.”
Stahl served three years as president of Press Start, the SVSU student organization that hosts a variety of video game-centric events across campus. He said a tournament hosted recently by the group attracted more than 100 gamers from across the state to SVSU.
“To see more than 100 people in a bracket tournament, playing 'Super Smash Bros.' is chaos but so fun,” said Stahl, who remains a member of Press Start this year.
Stahl has attended gaming tournaments outside of SVSU, including a Detroit-based competition known as The Big House 8 that featured more than 1,000 players during an October 2019 event.
“Unless you've been to a gaming competition, it's hard to describe the excitement in the room,” he said. “It's a spectator sport, so it's a lot like a crowd watching football.”
Before the eSports club is launched in the fall, SVSU plans to host video game tournaments on Saturday, May 2, Thomas said.
The main event will involve a tournament playing "Overwatch," a popular first-person shooter available on all major gaming consoles. That particular game will be limited to high school students while others will invite all members of the public. "Overwatch" participants will compete for $1,000 scholarships on the stage of the Rhea Miller Recital Hall. Tournaments for "Fortnite," "League of Legends," and "Super Smash Bros. Ultimate" will take place at the same time. All tournaments will be free of charge and include prizes.
Those interested in participating in the May 2 tournament can contact Thomas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SVSU currently offers 20 club sports, ranging from ice hockey and volleyball to cricket and equestrian.
Members of the campus community:
We care about your well-being and we want to update you regarding the measures SVSU is taking regarding the 2019 Novel Coronavirus.
As of this writing (Feb. 27), there are no confirmed cases in Michigan. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control states that “for the general American public, who are unlikely to be exposed to the virus at this time, the immediate health risk from COVID-19 is considered low.”
However, this is a developing public health emergency that is spreading in other parts of the world, and we want to inform you about the steps we are taking as a university and steps you can take as individuals. We want you to be educated and to stay healthy.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause mild to moderate upper-respiratory-tract illnesses, similar to the common cold. Symptoms may include runny nose, headache, cough, sore throat, fever, and a general feeling of being unwell.
The viruses also can sometimes cause lower-respiratory-tract illnesses, such as pneumonia or bronchitis. These appear more commonly in people with cardiopulmonary disease or a weakened immune system, and in older adults and infants. Symptoms can appear two to 14 days after exposure to the virus.
Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent the COVID-19 virus. The best way to prevent infection is to take simple precautions such as:
Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
Avoid close contact with people who are sick
Stay home when you are sick
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
The U.S. Department of State upgraded its warning against travel to China to the highest level, advising Americans not to travel there due to the coronavirus outbreak.
As a result, SVSU has cancelled all planned trips to China for the remainder of the academic year, and we have temporary restrictions for all university-sponsored travel to China. These restrictions will remain in place as long as circumstances warrant, and we will continue to monitor federal guidance regarding travel to other countries.
In addition, we have consulted with our sister institutions in China and have canceled inbound trips from students and faculty who had been planning to visit SVSU later this year.
For personal travel, we strongly advise all students, faculty and staff to follow travel alerts from the Centers for Disease Control and U.S. State Department.
As always, the health and safety of all members of our campus community is our top priority. Ou r Office of International Programs has been offering support services to students who have family or loved ones affected or otherwise have concerns related to this virus outbreak. International Programs also is available to assist students with issues related to international travel, immigration matters. etc. The Student Counseling Center is a resource for students who desire to speak with a trained professional in a confidential setting. We ask everyone to please be mindful of the stresses our community members may be feeling and be sensitive to them and their needs.
Thank you for taking the time to be and stay informed, and for taking precautions to protect yourself and others. We will continue to monitor updates from local, state and federal officials and communicate with you as developments dictate.
This statement was updated on Thursday, Feb. 27.