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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.

June 23, 2015

SVSU Board Approves Tuition Increase of 3.2 Percent Women’s Golf Added as Varsity Sport

The Saginaw Valley State University Board of Control approved a 3.2 percent tuition increase during the Board’s regular meeting Monday, June 22.

For the 2015-16 academic year, a Michigan undergraduate student taking 30 credits will pay $8,969 in tuition and mandatory fees for the upcoming academic year. This is an increase of $278 from the $8,691 charged in 2014-15.  

“This modest tuition increase continues our longstanding tradition of keeping SVSU affordable,” said SVSU President Donald Bachand. “This is a lean budget and some difficult decisions remain to balance the books, but we will not compromise our commitment to academic quality. Our students deserve the finest education we can deliver, and we will continue to enhance the value they receive for their hard-earned tuition dollars.”

SVSU’s tuition remains the lowest among Michigan's public universities. The increase was part of a $120.3 million general fund budget approved by the Board for the 2016 fiscal year.

The Board also approved establishing a women’s varsity golf program. Currently 12 other members of SVSU’s conference, the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC), offer the sport. Men’s golf coach Joe Vogl will add coaching duties for the women’s team and will take on new responsibilities as the lead fundraiser for SVSU Athletics. SVSU expects to begin NCAA Division II competition during the 2016-17 academic year.

In other business, the Board:
•    Passed a resolution to approve the appointment of Leonard A. Amat to the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum Board.
•    Passed a resolution to approve the appointment of Thomas A. George to the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum Board.
•    Passed a resolution to amend the Student Association charter (Bylaws) – Article I, Section 6.
•    Passed a resolution to amend the Student Association Charter (Voting) – Article VII, Section 1.
•    Granted promotions to 16 faculty members. Elevated to the rank of professor are:
    ?    Peter Barry, philosophy
    ?    Josh Ode, kinesiology
    ?    Vince Samarco, English
    ?    Marilyn Skrocki, health sciences
•    Promoted to associate professor are:
    ?    Kay Castillo, health sciences
    ?    Monika Dix, modern foreign languages
    ?    Julie Foss, modern foreign languages
    ?    Brandon Haskett, music
    ?    Kylie Jaber, economics
    ?    Kaustav Misra, economics
    ?    David Nichols, philosophy
    ?    Arra Ross, English
    ?    Dave Rzeszutek, theatre
    ?    Ross Singer, communication
    ?    Vetta Vratulis, teacher education
•    Promoted to assistant professor: Jason Kahler, English
•    Granted emeritus status to Shyamalendu “Sam” Sarkar, Ph.D., who recently retired after serving 45 years on the economics faculty.
•    Confirmed board members for previously authorized public school academies.
•    Renewed contracts with two public school academies. SVSU’s contract with Waterford Montessori Academy is extended through June 30, 2018, and the contract with Chandler Park Academy is extended through June 30, 2020.
•    Approved a banking and treasury management services agreement with PNC Bank for a period of up to 5 years.
•    Granted authority to SVSU executive staff to seek the sale of the property that is currently home to SVSU’s Regional Education Center-Macomb, located in Macomb County’s Chesterfield Township.
•    Approved a construction and completion assurance agreement, a conveyance of property, a lease and an easement agreement, if necessary, for the ongoing renovations to Wickes Hall.
•    Approved the negotiation of a contract with the U.S. Youth Soccer Development Program for SVSU to host the 2016 and 2017 Olympic Development Program summer camps.
•    Reappointed Jim Barcia, Gary Bosco, JoAnn Crary, David Hall, Phillip List, Reverend P. David Saunders, and Ricardo Verdoni to the Board of Fellows, a community advisory board.
•    Approved a Board of Control meeting schedule for the 2015-16 academic year.

June 18, 2015

SVSU earns National Weather Service’s ‘StormReady’ status again

The National Weather Service renewed Saginaw Valley State University’s “StormReady” certification on June 16 following a site visit.


The six-year certification recognizes SVSU as prepared to handle hazardous weather.


“The ‘StormReady’ certification that SVSU recently renewed is just one of the many ways university departments work together to keep the community safe,” said Ron Trepkowski, SVSU’s chief of University Police.


“The devastation that can happen during a storm makes preparedness a must.”


The “StormReady” program encourages communities — including universities — to take a proactive approach of improving hazardous weather operations and public awareness, said Richard Pollman, warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in White Lake.


“’StormReady’ arms communities with improved communication and safety skills needed to save lives and property — before and during the event,” he said.


Those communities certified as “StormReady” must meet certain qualifications. They must:

  • Establish a 24-hour warning point and emergency operations center to receive National Weather Service information.
  • Possess more than one way to receive severe weather forecasts and warnings, and more than one way to alert the public.
  • Create a system that monitors weather conditions.
  • Promote the importance of public readiness through community seminars.
  • Develop a formal hazardous weather plan, which includes training severe weather spotters and hosting emergency exercises.

“The United States is the most severe weather-prone region of the world,” Pollman said.


“The mission of the National Weather Service is to reduce the loss of life and property from these storms, and ‘StormReady’ will help us create better prepared communities throughout the country.”

June 10, 2015

SVSU students vie for Miss Michigan crown

Four Saginaw Valley State University students will compete in the Miss Michigan Scholarship Pageant in June, including one woman whose mother once won both the Miss Michigan and Miss America titles.


SVSU students Jaeleen Davis of Saginaw Township; Ashli Maser of Au Gres; Mallory Rivard of Bay City; and Alana Rae Wilson of Monroe are four of the 34 contestants in the pageant.


The Miss Michigan Scholarship Pageant is affiliated with the Miss America Organization, one of the world’s largest providers of scholarships for women. The Miss Michigan contest will award almost $50,000 in scholarships during a 5-day contest that concludes Saturday, June 20, in Muskegon. The winner earns a $12,000 scholarship and clinches a spot in the Miss America competition in September.


“Although this is a competition, we are close friends,” Rivard said of the SVSU foursome. “We have similar ideals and morals.”


One of those shared ideals is passion for community service work. Miss Michigan contestants promote a charity or cause as part of their competition “platform.” SVSU’s contestants say they are excited to promote their respective causes.


Davis’ platform promotes Wigs 4 Kids, a nonprofit organization serving youths suffering from hair loss. Davis at the age of 8 was diagnosed with a condition that causes hair loss at a young age. A child model before losing her hair, she credits Wigs 4 Kids with helping her regain confidence.


“I was modeling everything a little kid could model,” said Davis, a criminal justice and communications major.


“Once I lost my hair, I lost my confidence and I became antisocial and an introvert. Wigs 4 Kids, my family and my faith are the three things that brought me back.”


Maser’s platform encourages others “to pursue the American dream.” She recently spoke to members of the Michigan House of Representatives about initiatives that would beef up the number of guidance counselors in K-12 schools. Maser said more counselors are needed to guide youths toward successful lives after high school.


“I’m a first-generation college student, still debt free,” said Maser, a biochemistry major who plans to attend dental school to become an orthodontist and oral surgeon.


“If I can do that, anyone can.”


Rivard’s platform encourages volunteerism. In May the early childhood education major volunteered at the Aleda E. Lutz VA Medical Center's Saginaw VA2K and Annual Health Fair. The initiative raised funds for homeless veterans.


“I want to be a role model for others,” Rivard said. “I want to lead by example and encourage our youth to give back to our communities. In turn, this will make Michigan a better place to live.”


Wilson’s platform supports Gabby’s Ladder, a Monroe-based organization providing support for grieving families. She volunteers at the center and serves on its board of directors. Wilson said she has been passionate about the cause since childhood, when her baby brother died.


“I’ve been through the grieving process, so I can relate to that,” the elementary education major said. “It’s so important to offer those services for people grieving and dealing with loss.”


All four SVSU students are experienced in pageants. To qualify for the Miss Michigan competition, contestants must win one of 34 pageants in the state. Davis won Miss Spirit of the State; Maser, Miss Heartland; Rivard, Miss Bay County; and Wilson, Miss Monroe County.


Three of the four women competed in previous Miss Michigan challenges. Both Davis and Maser placed in the top 10 in 2014. Rivard competed in two earlier Miss Michigan pageants.


This year will mark the first Miss Michigan competition for Wilson, but she comes from winning lineage. Her mother, Kaye Lani Rae Rafko, won the state pageant and that cycle’s Miss America crown for 1988. The win came a decade before her daughter was born. Still, Wilson said she has attended 15 Miss America pageants with her mother, who is invited as an alumna of the competition.


“It’s exciting being the daughter of a Miss America,” Wilson said. “The organization feels a lot like family to me.”


Shelley Taylor, state director of the Miss Michigan Scholarship Pageant for ten years, is familiar with all four SVSU students.


“They’re a great bunch of women,” she said. “They are quality, quality people. Wouldn’t it be something if one of them won?”



June 5, 2015

SVSU chooses next class for leadership development program

Ten Saginaw Valley State University students will participate in a year-long leadership development initiative following their selection for the highly competitive Roberts Fellowship.

The program annually enlists SVSU students in both academic coursework and extracurricular activities designed to enhance their potential as future political, economic and civic leaders. The program culminates in a trip to Asia to provide the Fellows with an international perspective on leadership. The class recently selected for the program will travel to Asia in May 2016.  

This year's class was selected in part for demonstrating outstanding scholarship and leadership potential.

The complete lineup of Roberts Fellows includes:
•    Susie Balcom, a social work major from Millington
•    Alison Barger, an English major from Frankenmuth
•    Daphne Barkley, a social work major from Alma
•    Alyssa Cozad, a visual arts education major from Bay City
•    Billie DeShone, a history major from Saginaw
•    Taylor Fisher, a political science major from Saginaw
•    Gavin Knake, an international business major from Bay City
•    Chantala Kumar, a pre-occupational therapy major from Midland
•    Alexandra Satkowiak, a psychology major from Bay City
•    Audrey Speckhard, a biochemistry major from Freeland

To qualify, students must have completed between 48 and 100 credit hours with a minimum grade point average of 3.40 and pass a rigorous selection process. Students are chosen based upon their academic accomplishment, a record of university and community service, and other evidence of leadership potential.

Students selected to be Roberts Fellows will be required to complete a 3-credit Leadership Seminar in the fall and winter semesters, within one or more academic departments. During the year, the Fellows will also meet for informal seminars and discussions with various political, business and civic leaders from throughout the Great Lakes Bay region. Andrew Swihart, professor of psychology, and Brian Thomas, associate professor of sociology, serve as the group's faculty advisers.

Established in 1999, the program is named in honor of Donna Roberts of Midland, who has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to SVSU through her personal generosity and prior service on the Board of Control and the Board of Fellows. A respected attorney, business leader and philanthropist, Roberts retired from The Dow Chemical Company, where she was Secretary and Assistant General Counsel. She is an honorary director of the SVSU Foundation Board.

June 1, 2015

SVSU disability services director Woiderski earns state recognition

A state organization honored a Saginaw Valley State University disability services leader as she prepares to retire after more than two decades on the job.


Cynthia Woiderski, SVSU's Disability Services director, received the Michigan Association on Higher Education and Disability's (MI-AHEAD) Margaret A. Chmielewski, Ph.D., Memorial Award during the organization's conference Friday, May 15 at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center.


The award was a “double honor” for Woiderski, who considered the late Chmielewski a mentor. During her early years at SVSU, Woiderski often sought advice from Chmielewski, former disability services director at Michigan State University.


“I was humbled because, from my perspective, this is a prestigious award,” said Woiderski, who retires from SVSU Friday, June 5. “It was especially nice because this award is in honor of Marge, who was one of the leaders in the disability community.”


David Stokes, the immediate past president of MI-AHEAD, said he nominated Woiderski for her outstanding lifelong leadership and commitment to the disability community in higher education.


“It was high time we recognized her,” Stokes said.


MI-AHEAD, founded in 1987 to support and strengthen the state's higher education disability services community, includes 160 members today. Woiderski has been a member of the nonprofit organization for two decades and served on the group's board from 2010-13.


Stokes said Woiderski was an active participant in the group's annual conferences and served as a leader for the industry's newcomers over the years.


“Cynthia has always had a great ability to think about all sides, to be fair, and she was always up to speed on the law and policy (in disability services),” he said.


Woiderski began her job at SVSU in 1993, when the number of disabled students was 23. That figure this year was 350. Graduation rates for students with disabilities also increased during her tenure.


Some of the changes she has overseen include more handicap-accessible doors, the inclusion of captions on campus-produced educational videos, and handicap-friendly educational tools on services. In recent years, her office also has helped connect disabled students with a donor-funded technology grant that pays for assistive technology.


A Midland resident, Woiderski said she has no immediate plans following her fast-approaching retirement date.


“I think I'm going to relax first, and spend some time with my husband,” she said. “We'll see what happens.”

May 28, 2015

SVSU's Berry earns athletic trainer awards

Saginaw Valley State University's David Berry, professor of kinesiology, has earned two honors for his work in the athletic training field.

Berry was named the 2015 Distinguished Athletic Trainer of the Year by the Michigan Athletic Trainers Society as well as a 2015 Most Distinguished Athletic Trainer by the National Athletic Trainers Association.

“It's an honor to be nominated by previous students and to be part of a distinguished class for both organizations,” said Berry, who has worked at SVSU for five years.

Both awards recognize individuals who demonstrate commitment to leadership, volunteer service, advocacy and professional activities as an athletic trainer.  

Students in SVSU’s athletic training program are well-prepared to succeed in their field. During the most recent exam cycle, all six graduates passed the Board of Certification national exam necessary to become a certified athletic trainer, giving SVSU a 100 percent pass rate. In addition, more than 30 students have presented research at conferences across the nation over the past four years.

“We're a strong program because we try to balance course work with real world practical experience and research,” Berry said. “We try to use a three-pronged approach to allow students to get a comprehensive education that they can apply to their patients to improve their patients' outcomes.”

Students in the athletic training program are required to engage with the community outside of the classroom by gaining practical experience with a health care provider. They assist in athletic training at Delta College, local high schools, and outpatient rehabilitation clinics.

“Our students are very visible in the community,” Berry said.

Both organizations will host events where Berry will accept the awards. The Michigan Athletic Trainers Society symposium is scheduled Friday, June 5, at Ypsilanti's Eagle Crest Resort. The National Athletic Trainers Association meeting is Thursday, June 25, in St. Louis, Missouri.

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