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November 20, 2014

New York theatre company tasks SVSU to stage play before Buffalo production

Saginaw Valley State University theatre students and faculty will team with Buffalo-based Road Less Traveled Productions as SVSU produces the new play “Safe” one year before the New York theatre group puts on the show.

The collaboration will allow the playwright Donna Hoke and Road Less Traveled Productions staff to see the work at SVSU in November 2015 before it opens in New York in 2016.  David Rzeszutek, SVSU assistant professor of theatre, will direct the SVSU production.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for us,” he said. “We're working with a new script and having direct contact with the playwright.”

Hoke will visit SVSU during the pre-production phase – possibly revising the text and exchanging ideas about the play's other elements – and plans to be in the audience for opening night at the campus.

After their production is done, SVSU theatre students won't be finished with the project.  As part of the collaboration, they will be invited to Buffalo to watch the Road Less Traveled Productions version of “Safe,” which examines social tolerance and high school bullying.

“We'll meet the professional cast and design team,” Rzeszutek said. “This project will offer a whole slew of learning opportunities for our students.”

Road Less Traveled Productions was founded in 2002, and has hosted productions that have included Hollywood actors such as Alec Baldwin and James Rebhorn. The company largely produces new plays not seen before on professional stages.

The company's collaboration with SVSU began when Scott Behrend, Road Less Traveled Productions' executive director, participated in a January symposium as part of SVSU's B.A.T. Project: Business, Art and Theatre Reinvent Urban Communities program.

The initiative involved efforts to establish arts in downtown spaces in cities along Michigan’s I-75 corridor. Road Less Traveled Productions was involved in a similar renaissance effort in Buffalo, and Behrend offered his expertise to SVSU's initiative. At the symposium, Rzeszutek and Behrend first discussed utilizing SVSU's theatre resources for a Road Less Traveled Productions play.

November 20, 2014

Tech Know-How in "Know"vember

By Jennifer Paradise

Wow! Can you believe that the Fall Semester is nearly over? Winter is fast-approaching, and soon the holidays will be upon us. While change is inevitable, some things still remain the same in the world of technology. Here are a few notes from us in IT that you should always be aware of at SVSU.

  • Are you logging out? Many of us have sensitive information at our fingertips. Forgetting to log out of systems on campus such as Colleague, ImageNow, and even mySVSU when stepping away from your desk can put the information of yourself and others at risk. If you plan on being away from your desk for an extended period of time, like for a meeting, lunch, or at the end of the work day, log out of these systems. If you're stepping away for a moment, locking your workstation is the best practice.

  • Get help fast! ITS has set up the website so you can submit a new support ticket anytime, from anywhere. You can also track the statuses of other tickets. Watch this short video to learn how to use it.


  • Phishing can cost you. There is a new phishing attempt swirling around out in cyberspace where would-be hackers are sending emails in hopes of gaining financial information. SVSU has not been affected by this threat and rest-assured, there are preventative measures in place protecting us, many of which are outlined in the article. However, the threat of someone asking for your information is always out there and we wanted to take a moment to remind you to be vigilant of such efforts. If you receive email that is a phishing attempt, or you're unsure, please let the IT Support Center know. Also don't reply to the email, and don't click the links in the message body.

Of course, if you have ANY technology questions or concerns, we're here to help. Drop us a line or stop by and visit us in Curtiss 150.

November 18, 2014

SVSU Theatre presents Noël Coward comedy ‘Blithe Spirit’

The Saginaw Valley State University theatre department will present a play about a writer who is haunted by the ghost of his late wife in producing Noël Coward’s “Blithe Spirit.”

The SVSU production opens Wednesday, Nov. 19 with 7:30 p.m. performances through Saturday, Nov. 22. It concludes with a matinee Sunday, Nov. 23 at 3 p.m. All shows are held in the Malcolm Field Theatre for the Performing Arts.

In the play, while researching for his new novel, the character Charles Condomine invites the implausible medium Madame Arcati to his house for a séance. In a trance, Madame Arcati unwittingly summons the ghost of Charles’ dead wife Elvira. Appearing only to Charles, Elvira soon makes a play to reclaim her husband, much to the chagrin of Charles’ new wife Ruth.

Ric Roberts, SVSU professor of theatre, directs the play about one husband, two feuding wives and a whisper of mischief in the air.

Tickets for the play are $13 for the general public and $10 for seniors and students. For more information, please contact the SVSU Box Office at (989) 964-4261.

November 18, 2014

SVSU students win ‘Battle’ and raise $32k for suicide awareness/prevention

Saginaw Valley State University's student-led Battle of the Valleys competition last week resulted in raised $32,294 for the Cory Rivard Jr. Promise Foundation, a group based in Algonac, Mich. that educates college students on preventative measures for suicide, depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses.

Emily VanFleteren, a physical education major from Troy and SVSU’s 2014 Battle of the Valleys chair, said she was proud of the volunteers and supporters who contributed to the cause.

“It was a wonderful feeling to be out on the field with the Rivard family to hand them the check from SVSU,” VanFleteren said. “I could not be happier with how the week turned out, and I am definitely proud to be a part of such a wonderful student body who is so dedicated to and passionate about giving back through Battle of the Valleys.”

Begun in 2003, the annual fundraising competition pits SVSU against Grand Valley State University. This year’s contest concluded Saturday, Nov. 15 when the rival football teams played each other at SVSU. The Battle of the Valleys results were announced at halftime of the game. GVSU students collected about $7,000 this year for the Grand Valley Children’s Fund.

SVSU now has bested GVSU for nine out of the 12 Battle of the Valleys competitions.  During the past 12 years, SVSU students have raised $306,789 for a variety of charitable causes.

November 13, 2014

Bullock Creek students measuring more interest in math and science, thanks to Dow Corning Foundation and SVSU

Atop Bullock Creek Middle School sits a recently-installed miniature weather station that will help 42 eighth grade pre-algebra students better understand how the environment could energize their campus.

While that task is the machine's literal purpose, the technology serves a symbolic function as well. Education advocates hope the device is one of several metaphoric instruments that power these students' pursuit of careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

Their teacher, Ashley Meyer, is one of those education advocates, as are the individuals who selected her to participate in the Dow Corning Foundation-Saginaw Valley State University STEM Community Partnership. As part of the initiative, Meyer and 12 other teachers from across the Great Lakes Bay Region are receiving academic assistance and funding to support STEM-related studies such as the environmental project underway at Bullock Creek Middle School.

The goal is to pique K-12 student interest in the sciences in hopes those pupils one day will fill the state's growing STEM-related jobs pool.

“I want to change their attitudes toward math,” Meyer said of her students. “Hopefully, it works.”

The STEM partnership has teamed her with Garry Johns, SVSU professor of mathematics. Over the next year, they will continue to generate study plans - such as the experiment involving the weather station - meant to resonate with young students.

The 42 students in Meyer's fourth- and sixth-hour pre-algebra classrooms are among the inaugural class exposed to the STEM project. Their first assignment is to answer the question: Which alternative energy source would best suit Bullock Creek Middle School?

The assignment links mathematics to science – two subjects students rarely see as related, Meyer said. Over the course of the academic year, students will measure energy outputs from devices relating to both solar- and wind-produced power. Meyer already has collected data on energy use at the school, located just a few miles south of Midland.

“We're asking, ‘Should we go and get a solar panel? Should we invest in a wind turbine? Should we stick with the electricity we use right now?’”

A $254,000 Dow Corning Foundation grant is funding the technology supporting the classroom projects for Meyer and her 12 peers involved in the partnership.

For Meyer's project, that funding so far has supported both the small weather station and small, handheld solar panels. The data gathered from the technology will aid in the class research.


‌Meyer, a 2013 SVSU mathematics education graduate, said she is considering asking her students to present their findings to the Bullock Creek school board at the end of the academic year.

The work also is intended to connect to the new common core standards for eighth grade math, as adopted by the Michigan State Board of Education in 2010.

While the students only recently began their research, some already are excited by its prospects. The group recently spent a classroom hour on their school's front lawn. There, they set up the small solar panels, adjusted them at various angles and recorded the sun's energy measurements as provided by calculator-like devices attached to the panels.

Student Megan Sieffert saw immediate value in the hands-on approach.

“It's much more fun to do this than to read about it in books,” the eighth grader said. “This is a good idea to help us understand how this connects to the real world.”

Her classmate, Nataleigh Nadobny, seemed to agree.

“I'll remember this better than books,” she said.

Meyer said she hopes such sentiments are shared by all of the participating students by year's end – and beyond. She plans to continue the project in future eighth grade classrooms while also adapting the project to fit the curriculum of other grade levels.

“I also have a sixth and seventh grade math class, and when they saw the solar kit sitting in the side of the class, they would ask, ‘Oh, are those for us?’ I had to say, ‘No, those are for my eighth graders.’ So they're excited and they're hoping they have me next year so they can do this,” Meyer said.

“That was a good sign.”

November 13, 2014

Retiring Dow vice president to address SVSU graduates

A leading executive of The Dow Chemical Company will serve as the keynote speaker during two Saginaw Valley State University commencement ceremonies in December. David E. Kepler, executive vice president, chief sustainability officer and chief information officer, will address graduates Friday, Dec. 12 and Saturday‌, Dec. 13.

Earlier this year, Kepler announced he would retire after 39 years at Dow. He has been considered one of his industry's leaders in information technology deployment. Recognized for his influence in cyber security and risk management, Kepler was appointed to the U.S. National Infrastructure Advisory Council, a group that advises U.S. presidents on issues relating to the security of U.S. infrastructure sectors and their functional systems, physical assets and cyber networks.

Kepler has been responsible for environment, health and safety resources at Dow. He has served as chairman of the team that provided executive oversight for the company's sustainable performance. His responsibilities have involved leadership for Dow's Business Services Group; he also has provided oversight for the company's Canadian region.

Kepler has been a member of the board of directors at Teradata Corporation, an analytical data solutions company; the Toronto-based TD Bank Group; the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; and the National Safety Council. He also has served as board chairman of the MidMichigan Innovation Center, a nonprofit committed to growing Michigan small businesses.

Kepler resides in Midland with his wife, Patti. Both have been active in the community and are member’s of the United Way's Alex de Tocqueville Society.

The first of two SVSU commencement ceremonies will be held Friday‌, Dec. 12, at 7:30 p.m. in the Ryder Center. Graduates from the colleges of Health and Human Services, and Business and Management will be recognized.

The second ceremony is Saturday‌, Dec. 13, at 11 a.m. in the Ryder Center. Students from the colleges of Arts and Behavioral Sciences; Education; and Science, Engineering and Technology will be recognized.

November 11, 2014

SVSU student, staff receive top honors for service to residential students

Saginaw Valley State University was recognized by its regional peers for offering exemplary residential experiences for its students during the 2014 Great Lakes Association of College and University Residence Halls Conference at Indiana State University. SVSU received the award for National Residence Hall Honorary Outstanding Chapter, the highest regional honor a chapter can obtain.

In addition, Haylie Chamarro, an elementary education major from Oxford, received the Student of the Year Award.

“I was honored that people would think to nominate me, and then when I found out I won, it was disbelief,” Chamarro said. “I wasn't doing what I was doing because I was trying to get Student of the Year. I was honored.”

Chamarro's student peers nominated her for the award. Several members of SVSU's student housing community wrote letters of recommendation, including them in a bid proposal that also documented Chamarro's many responsibilities as a residence hall leader.

“Because of her hard work as a student, a resident assistant and a leader, they decided she was worthy of the award,” said Michele Gunkelman, SVSU director of residential life.

Gunkelman also was honored. She received the Hallenbeck Service Award, which recognizes a full-time housing or student affairs professional for his/her outstanding continuous service to his/her university community.

“The recognitions earned by Haylie, Michele and our NRHH chapter are well-deserved,” said Merry Jo Brandimore, SVSU dean of students and associate provost for Student Affairs.

“SVSU has a significant history of participation and recognition in the state, regional and national organizations that focus on residential student leadership development. Our record of accomplishment isn't surprising considering the legacy of consistent effort and dedication demonstrated by our students and staff.”

The Great Lakes Association of College and University Residence Halls includes colleges and universities in Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Ontario and Wisconsin. In all, 11 residential-student leaders represented SVSU at the conference, held October 31 to November 2. They attended leadership development sessions and networked with other college students; the delegation was advised by Jamie Franklin, SVSU resident director.

SVSU attendees included  Khindra Clarke, Charles Ferens, Daniel Hill, Mackenzie Hughes, Pedro Marin, Ashley Murdock, Haley Sedlar, Ashley Stanton and Alexander Williamson. National Communications Coordinator Tiffany Johnson and National Residence Hall Honorary Communications Coordinator Rebecca Tomasek also attended.

November 11, 2014

SVSU earns ‘Best for Vets’ recognition for best military services

Military Times recognized Saginaw Valley State University as part of its Best for Vets: Colleges 2015 rankings announced Monday, Nov. 10.

SVSU was ranked No. 60 among 140 institutions in the 4-year schools category, as ranked nationally by the independent media organization dedicated to news and information about the military.

The Best for Vets: Colleges 2015 rankings evaluate many factors that make an organization a good fit for service members, military veterans and their families.

The survey-based initiative requires schools to document services, special rules, accommodations and financial incentives offered to military and veteran students. It also considers the institution's culture for veterans on campus.

“We factor in what is, to our knowledge, the most detailed school-by-school data on veteran students' academic success anywhere, including graduation, retention, persistence and course completion rates,” said Amanda Miller, editor of Best for Vets.

Two years ago, only 11 percent of the hundreds of schools surveyed could provide that level of detail. This year, that figure is up to 45 percent, Military Times reports.

“By recognizing only the schools that do the most, we believe we're helping to raise the bar in veteran student services,” Miller said.

The rankings will be published in the issues of Army Times Navy Times, Air Force Times, and Marine Corps Times. The rankings also will appear in the November issue of Military Times EDGE magazine, as well as online at,,,, and The rankings also are available at

News of SVSU's ranking arrives about one month after the university was recognized by being named to the Military Friendly® list of schools for the fourth consecutive year. Selected by Victory Media, the list honors the top 15 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools that are doing the most to embrace America's military service members, veterans, spouses and dependents as students, and ensure their success on campus.

November 7, 2014

SVSU gears up for annual Battle of the Valleys fundraising competition

Saginaw Valley State University will commence another student-led Battle of the Valleys fundraising competition with Grand Valley State University starting Sunday, Nov. 9. It culminates with the rival football programs' 1 p.m. game Saturday, Nov. 15, at SVSU's Harvey Randall Wickes Stadium.

This year's efforts will carry an added personal meaning for student organizers familiar with the namesake of the SVSU charity partner, the Cory Rivard Jr. Promise Foundation.

Cory Rivard Jr. was a GVSU student who committed suicide in January 2011. Josh Rivard, his younger brother, graduated from SVSU in May and is now in graduate school.

SVSU Battle of the Valleys chair Emily VanFleteren, a physical education major from Troy, said she and other SVSU students met Cory Rivard Jr. several times years ago when he visited his younger sibling at the Saginaw campus. Now, she hopes to raise $35,000 for the Rivard family-established foundation in Algonac, Mich., which educates college students on preventative measures for suicide, depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses.

VanFleteren said the foundation's tag line, “A Hug From Above,” perfectly encapsulated Cory Rivard, Jr.'s affable nature with friends and strangers alike.

“He was a great kid,” she said. “This hits home for me, and for a lot of people on campus who had met Cory or who know Josh.”

Rivard's status as a GVSU student with close SVSU ties also drives home another important message regarding Battle of the Valleys.

“Although there's a rivalry, we're fighting for great causes together,” VanFleteren said. “It helps put this rivalry in a positive light.”

Members of Rivard's family will attend some of the week's events, all of which are open to the public. Events planned outside of campus include late-night fundraisers at T-Dub’s pizzeria and pub across the street from campus, who will donate a portion of proceeds to the cause.

One new event this year, is a combined effort with the Saginaw Spirit hockey team for their game with the Windsor Spitfires Friday, Nov. 14, at 7:11 p.m. at the Dow Event Center in downtown Saginaw. Tickets purchased using the username "SVSU" and password "spirit" will contribute $5 from each ticket purchased to support Cory Rivard Jr. Promise Foundation. SVSU student volunteers will collect donations and sell Battle of the Valleys T-shirts and sweatshirts, along with glow sticks, inside the arena. Valley Voices, a choir group featuring SVSU students, will sing the national anthem.

SVSU's campus will host several Battle of the Valleys events throughout the week too. That schedule includes a kickoff party Sunday; a date auction Monday, Nov. 10; attendees purchasing Cool Whip pies to throw at members of SVSU's Student Association and resident assistants Tuesday, Nov. 11; a pep rally Wednesday, Nov. 12; and a talent show Thursday, Nov. 13.

For more details on each event, visit‌. You also may donate online from the website.

At all events, SVSU Battle of the Valleys-themed T-shirts and sweatshirts will be sold for $10 and $20, respectively, or for $25 if purchased together.

All week long, students will collect donations at the intersection of Bay and Tittabawassee.

GVSU, meanwhile, will raise funds this year for The Grand Valley Children's Fund, a university-led initiative. Various organizations working with children can apply for mini-grants from the fund.

Since 2003, SVSU and GVSU have raised $432,963 during Battle of the Valleys for various charities and foundations. SVSU has collected $274,498, or 63.3 percent of the total, and out-raised GVSU during eight of the 11 years.

Last year, SVSU raised $25,185 for Area 22 Special Olympics Michigan, an organization that yearly sends hundreds of special-needs athletes to SVSU to compete.

November 6, 2014

SVSU's Cardinal Singers invited to statewide convention

Saginaw Valley State University’s Cardinal Singers were selected to perform at the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) state convention Oct. 24.

This was the first time an SVSU choir was invited to sing at an ACDA convention. The choir was selected by an esteemed group of choral directors through a blind audition.

The Cardinal Singers attended the conference at the First Presbyterian Church in Flint.

Kevin Simons, assistant professor of music at SVSU, conducted the Cardinal Singers.

“This was a major milestone for the choral program and music department at SVSU,” Simons said. “It’s a huge feather in our cap. In vocal performance, it’s the equivalent of the Detroit Lions making the playoffs in football.”

The ACDA was founded in 1959 and is a nonprofit music-education organization with the purpose of advancing choral music. Divided into seven geographic divisions and 50 state chapters, the ACDA consists of choral directors who represent more than 1 million singers across the United States.

Nine outstanding Michigan choirs in four concert performances were highlighted at the 2014 conference.

The Cardinal Singers are the chamber vocal ensemble at SVSU. The group sings a wide array of literature, from Josquin to contemporary jazz. Founded in 2008, Cardinal Singers is directed by Simons and accompanied by Cheryl Cheger-Timm. The group has been invited to sing at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. and have sung with the Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra.

Simons is the director of music and organist at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Saginaw. Simons also serves as a board member for the Michigan chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing and as a director for the Sewanee Church Music Conference.


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