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February 3, 2015

SVSU to Host Japan Expert for 2 Public Talks

Japan will be the focus of two lectures sponsored by the Saginaw Valley State University Department of Modern Foreign Languages. Michael Bourdaghs, a professor of Japanese literature at the University of Chicago, will speak on the subject of Japanese literature Thursday, Feb. 12 at 2:30 p.m., and on Japanese history Friday, Feb 13 at 10 a.m. Both lectures will be held in SVSU’s Rhea Miller Recital Hall.

In his first talk, Bourdaghs will present “Theorizing World Literature from Japan,” examining the work of Natsume Soseki.

Best remembered today as one of modern Japan's most important and influential novelists, Soseki also produced scholarly work as one of the first theorists of what we now call “world literature.” He conducted an extensive survey of the then-cutting-edge sciences of psychology and sociology in an attempt to derive a universal, fully scientific definition of literature, one that would be valid for all cultures and times. The results, published in 1907 as Soseki’s “Theory of Literature” foreshadowed many central trends in 20th century literary criticism.

On Friday, Feb. 13, Bourdaghs will present “Rethinking 'Postwar' Japanese Culture as 'Cold War' Culture: The Case of Kurosawa Akira.”

In this talk, Bourdaghs looks at what happens when writers, artists and filmmakers previously thought of as exemplars of "postwar Japanese culture" are considered as Cold War figures. He explores the figure of film director Kurosawa Akira. Through both formal and historical analysis, the lecture seeks to broaden our understanding of Kurosawa by examining how he skillfully threaded his way through the minefields of Cold War cultural politics, simultaneously invoking and denying his connection to Soviet aesthetic theories and film practices.

A professor in modern Japanese literature and East Asian languages and civilizations at the University of Chicago, Bourdaghs also is a critically acclaimed author. His most recent book, “Sayonara Amerika, Sayonara Nippon: A Geopolitical Prehistory of J-Pop,” explores the history of Japanese popular music during the Cold War era. Bourdaghs’ earlier work, “The Dawn That Never Comes: Shimazaki Toson and Japanese Nationalism,” takes up the works of one of Japan’s most important modern poets and novelists as a test case for rethinking the complex structures of national identity.

Bourdaghs is also an active translator of Japanese literature and critical theory, including his co-translation of “Natsume Soseki, Theory of Literature and Other Critical Writings,” which was awarded the 2011 Scaglione Prize for a Translation of a Scholarly Study of Literature by the Modern Language Association.

Both lectures will be moderated by Monika Dix, SVSU assistant professor of modern foreign languages (Japanese), and are sponsored by The Distinguished Speakers Bureau of the Northeast Asia Council. They are free and open to the public. For further information contact Dix at or (989) 964-4333.

January 30, 2015

Saginaw County Judge Darnell Jackson to speak at SVSU for black history month

Saginaw County Circuit Judge Darnell Jackson will speak at Saginaw Valley State University Tuesday, Feb. 3, at 7 p.m. in SVSU's Rhea Miller Recital Hall. His talk is part of Black History Month events at SVSU; it is free and open to the public.

Jackson is the author of the book, "The Steps of a Good Man." It outlines the paths Jackson has taken during his career and represents his desire to help others to see that no matter what the odds are that their goals are attainable. In the book, Jackson writes about how he developed his work ethic through his first paid job at age 16 as a bag boy at a grocery store, among other anecdotes from his life.

A sought-after speaker, Jackson is a nationwide presenter for The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges.

Jackson has been the first ethnic minority to hold several positions during his career. In addition to his current post as Saginaw County Circuit Judge, he also was the first person of color to serve as director of Michigan's Office of Drug Control Policy, and deputy chief assistant prosecuting attorney for Saginaw County. Jackson's career also has included serving as a deputy police chief, assistant city attorney, and an attorney in private practice.

Immediately following his presentation, Jackson will sign copies of his book.  For more information, contact SVSU's Office of Diversity Programs at (989) 964-4068.

January 28, 2015

SVSU names Jim Dwyer executive director of alumni relations

Saginaw Valley State University has appointed Jim Dwyer to the newly created position of executive director of alumni relations.

“As we seek to advance SVSU’s reputation and draw upon those relationships that can help us recruit bright students, our alumni must be engaged with the university and serving as our ambassadors to a much greater extent and in innovative ways,” said SVSU President Donald Bachand.

“For thousands of our graduates, Jim was their first point of contact here. His ability to relate to people and his extraordinary enthusiasm for SVSU – the same traits that made him so effective recruiting students – will serve him well in this new assignment, one that is critical to our long-term success."

In his new role, Dwyer will report directly to Bachand. Dwyer had been serving most recently as associate provost for enrollment management. He also previously served as director of international programs and a remarkable 22 years as director of admissions. Dwyer completed bachelor's and master's degrees at SVSU.

“After 35 years in enrollment management, I am eager for this new challenge,” Dwyer said.  “I can’t wait to get started.  I know so many alumni who are so supportive of SVSU. My job now is to get them more engaged in terms of returning to campus, connecting with our current students, helping us recruit new students, and simply showing their Red Pride.”

Dwyer is expected to officially begin his new duties some time in February.

January 23, 2015

Author to discuss Martin Luther King Jr's ‘forgotten legacy’ at SVSU event

Jennifer YancoAn historian of Martin Luther King Jr. will discuss her book about the American Civil Rights leader’s less-known legacies during a presentation and book signing Tuesday, Jan. 27 at Saginaw Valley State University. The 7 p.m. event in the Malcolm Field Theatre for Performing Arts is free and open to the public.

The presenter, Jennifer Yanco, is the author of "Misremembering Dr. King: Revisiting the Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr." The book explores King's campaigns outside of the Civil Rights movement, focusing on his criticism of military action and his belief that materialism was damaging the moral and spiritual health of the nation.

Along with her presentation, Yanco will host a workshop, titled "Challenging Racism," from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 28, in SVSU's Curtiss Hall in Seminar Room G. The workshop, which will focus on creating solutions to fight racism, is free and open to the public.

Yanco, who earned a Ph.D. in linguistics and African studies from Indiana University, is the U.S. director of the West African Research Association and a Visiting Researcher at the African Studies Center at Boston University. She designed and taught a course, "White People Challenging Racism: Moving From Talk To Action," which has been offered at adult education programs and college campuses in the Boston area. The program also has been adapted for teachers, law enforcers, public servants and social service providers.

For more information on Yanco’s visit to SVSU, please contact the Office of Diversity Programs at (989) 964-4068.

January 23, 2015

SVSU Business Dean with new Super Bowl ad finding on emotional appeal; fewer auto companies advertise in this year’s game

The NFL’s Super Bowl will be played Sunday, Feb. 1 and while stakes are high on the field, advertisers are competing just as fiercely during the television broadcast. Last year’s game, Super Bowl XLVIII, set a new record for the most watched television program in American history, attracting 111.5 million viewers. The price for a 30-second commercial during the game also is at an all-time high: $4.5 million.

Rama Yelkur, dean of the College of Business and Management at Saginaw Valley State University, is one of the nation’s leading experts on whether viewers find ads to be likable. She has studied Super Bowl ads for 20 years and has identified certain factors that can predict whether an ad will appeal to viewers.

Yelkur’s most recent finding is that ads with a positive emotional appeal are better liked by audiences.

“In recent years, there have been more ads that tug on people’s emotional heartstrings,” she said. “Showing affection or enjoyment appeals to the mood of the consumer watching the Super Bowl, someone who often is in a party setting, having a good time.”

Yelkur, Ph.D., and SVSU student researchers looked at all 109 Super Bowl ads for the past two years and found ads’ positive emotional messages correlated very highly with how well the commercials were liked. She and SVSU student Courtney Seamon, a marketing major from New Lothrop, will present their findings at the Marketing Management Association Conference in Chicago, March 25‌-27.

Along with her late research colleague Chuck Tomkovick, Yelkur’s previous studies have found other factors that tend to make ads more likable: the use of humor, including animals or children in the commercials, and the appearance of celebrities. Their work has been published in leading scholarly journals and has been cited widely in popular media, including Advertising Age, CNN Money, The New York Times, USA Today‌, and The Wall Street Journal.

One interesting trend that has emerged among the companies choosing to purchase Super Bowl commercials for this year’s game on NBC is that there will be fewer car commercials.  Last year, 11 auto companies advertised during the big game, accounting for nearly one-quarter of air time, but only six are confirmed for this year (BMW, Kia, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan and Toyota).

The broadcast will feature a few Super Bowl ad debuts as Carnival cruise lines, super glue maker Loctite, cell phone accessory company Mophie, and the web site service Wix have all purchased air time for the first time.

The dieting company Weight Watchers also announced recently they will be advertising.

“There is a great deal of speculation already about how their aid will be received in a party atmosphere where there tends to be a lot of eating,” Yelkur said.

Several recognized names will be returning as advertisers.

“The usual suspects are in,” Yelkur said.  “M&M/Mars, Pepsi, Anheuser-Busch, Coca-Cola and GoDaddy are all back. SquareSpace is back, too, after appearing in last year’s game for the first time.”

Yelkur joined SVSU in July 2013‌ and will continue her Super Bowl ad research, including SVSU students in the process.  A focus group will watch the game on campus and evaluate this year’s commercials.

January 16, 2015

SVSU hosts 'Feminism and Hip Hop' lecture and performance

The Saginaw Valley State University Department of Music will host a lecture titled, “Everyday Feminism and Hip Hop in Detroit" Tuesday, Jan. 20 at 7:30 p.m. in the Rhea Miller Recital Hall.

The lecture features Oakland University professors Rebekah Farrugia and Kellie Hay; the program also includes a special performance by Detroit hip-hop artist, Nique LoveRhodes. The event is free and open to the public.

Farrugia is an associate professor of communication at Oakland University specializing in media studies. A large portion of her research focuses on digital culture and the interconnections between gender, technology and popular music.

Farrugia has been published in a vast array of both national and international journals ranging from Current Musicology and Feminist Media Studies, to Music & Politics, and Journal of Popular Music Studies. In 2012 she also published her own book titled, "Beyond the Dance Floor: Female DJs, Technology, and Electronic Dance Music," labeled "A path breaking study of the women who create electronic dance music." Farrugia completed a Ph.D. in communication from the University of Iowa.

Kellie Hay, also an associate professor of communication at Oakland University, specializes in critical cultural studies. Her work focuses on the ways groups use different cultural forms, such as music, dance, poetry and comics, to build alliances and forge social change. Hay has been published in various journals, including The Quarterly Journal of Speech, International Journal of Communication, Journal of American Culture and International and Intercultural Annual. She received her Ph.D. from The Ohio State University.

Nique LoveRhodes is an up-and-coming hip-hop artist from Detroit. Her debut album, "Against All Odds: The Epic," was released in 2012 and "combines smooth lyrical delivery with penetrating lyrical content." As an artist, Nique LoveRhodes has a passion to ignite positive change and provoke critical thinking, thus blurring the boundaries between hip-hop musician and social activist.

For more information about the lecture and performance, please contact the SVSU Department of Music at or (989) 964-4159.

January 13, 2015

SVSU Foundation tops $1 million milestone in resource grants for students

The Saginaw Valley State University Foundation has eclipsed a major milestone in their support of students, passing the $1 million threshold in resource grants awarded to SVSU faculty and staff for special student-focused initiatives.

Established in 1998, the resource grant program seeks to stimulate innovation and enrichment of opportunities for students by providing funds for programs, projects, or travel. Proposals must be submitted by SVSU faculty or staff.

In late 2014, the SVSU Foundation awarded more than $46,000 to support 10 separate proposals for 2015, bringing the total awarded over the past 17 years to $1,034,454. A total of 251 projects have received funding since the program’s inception.

“We are deeply grateful to our many committed donors who have supported SVSU and our students through the years,” said Andy Bethune, executive director of the SVSU Foundation. “Their financial support has allowed us to provide our students – who often could not afford these endeavors themselves – with a vast range of opportunities that enhance their learning and better prepare them for careers.”

Examples from the latest grants include:
•    $10,000 to support 14 nursing students traveling to Alaska to study health practices there
•    $6,390 for students in SVSU’s James A. Barcia Center for Public Policy and Service to complete a transportation research project
•    $3,630 to allow students and faculty from SVSU’s Writing Center to attend the 2015 Bear River Writers’ Conference hosted by the University of Michigan and apply the lessons learned there to conduct a free, one-day creative writing workshop for Saginaw High School students participating in SVSU’s Gaining Early Awareness & Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP)
•    $3,560 to enhance SVSU’s Passport to the World program which brings local elementary school students to campus to interact with SVSU international students and explore cultural traditions from around the globe

Over the years, many SVSU Foundation resource grants have improved the quality of life for residents within the Great Lakes Bay Region. Examples have included engineering students designing playground equipment for the Millett Learning Center, a school for special-needs students in Saginaw County, and occupational therapy students developing a low-intensity exercise program for the elderly.

The SVSU Foundation was established in 1977 as a separate legal entity to function as the fund-raising arm of the university. Its purpose is to provide support for SVSU in order to assist in the accomplishment of the university’s educational purposes.

January 7, 2015

SVSU named a community-engaged university

Saginaw Valley State University announced Wednesday, Jan. 7 that it has been selected by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching to receive its 2015 Community Engagement Classification, marking SVSU as a university that is exceptionally engaged with the community it serves.  

“Throughout my nearly 37 years here and during my first year as president, we have sought to instill in our students a deep sense of responsibility to the communities where they live and learn, and as an institution, we strive every day to advance the region we call home,” said SVSU President Donald Bachand. “This is the ultimate affirmation of meeting those goals at the highest national standard.”

Among 241 first-time applicants who requested applications from the Carnegie Foundation for 2015, SVSU was one of 83 who were successfully classified as community engaged institutions during this application cycle. To be selected, institutions provide descriptions and examples of institutionalized practices of community engagement that showed alignment among mission, culture, leadership, resources and practices. SVSU’s status will remain in effect for 10 years.

The selection is the culmination of decades of supporting and drawing support from the Great Lakes Bay Region, and years of internal planning and preparation.  Deb Huntley, provost and vice president for academic affairs, and Merry Jo Brandimore, dean of students, co-chaired a task force of 26 SVSU faculty, staff, students, alumni and supporters that was formed in 2011 to critically evaluate whether SVSU should pursue the community engagement designation.

“Receiving this classification is an important validation of one of our fundamental educational philosophies: learning is enhanced when the content and skills taught in the classroom can be applied directly,” Huntley said.  “Our partners provide opportunities for our students to learn by working in professional settings, and our students provide tangible service back to the community. Everybody wins.”

SVSU students are actively engaged in field-based learning and volunteer service throughout the region and Michigan as a whole. By their senior year, 84 percent of students have engaged with community employers and agencies in internships, field placements or some other component of their academic preparation, and more than 60 percent of students have engaged in co-curricular service outside of academic course work. [ Community Leaders Attest to SVSU’s Community Engagement » ]

In her capacity as dean of students, Brandimore sees SVSU students’ spirit of service on a daily basis.

“Our students show a strong desire to give back both on campus and in the community,” she said. “You see this through the funds they raise for charities during Battle of the Valleys and Relay for Life, and in the thousands of students who volunteer their time for community service during the course of their SVSU education. These are more than feel-good activities. They help our students learn and develop confidence and relationships that will serve them well after they graduate.”

National research has shown that students who are engaged in the community and on campus are more likely to be successful academically, and to have the critical thinking, problem-solving skills, self-efficacy, and adaptability desired by employers.

In all, 240 U.S. colleges and universities received the community engagement classification this year, and another 121 continue to hold the designation following their selection in 2010. The full list of 361 includes 12 colleges and universities from Michigan; SVSU is the only institution from the Great Lakes Bay Region to be included.

January 7, 2015

Community Leaders Attest to SVSU’s Community Engagement

Saginaw Valley State University has developed productive partnerships with community organizations throughout the Great Lakes Bay Region. Relationships with the business community, other educational institutions, human services providers and local governments are prevalent; these benefit faculty, staff, students and the community at large.

These longstanding ties have played an important role in SVSU’s selection by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as a university that has received its 2015 Community Engagement Classification.

Leaders with the Bay County Health Department, Midland Area Chamber of Commerce and United Way of Saginaw County spoke to how SVSU’s engagement with their organizations has benefited the people they serve and the region SVSU calls home.

Joel Strasz, health director for the Bay County Health Department, has been impressed by SVSU’s sustained commitment to the community.

“We've worked with a few organizations of higher learning in the past, but SVSU is different,” Strasz said. “They go beyond just ‘doing research.’ The instructors, staff, and students are fully engaged right here in Bay County. Their expertise and commitment have helped us immensely. 

“We have partnered with SVSU on a variety of projects since 2009, from establishing the first real-time, state-of-the-art water testing laboratory for Bay County’s numerous beaches to opening a comprehensive, primary care clinic for persons with multiple chronic conditions. This unique partnership has allowed the two organizations to jointly develop strategies for research and education, provide excellent placements for students and faculty, and more importantly, provide innovative solutions for community problems.”

Bob Stafford, president and CEO of the Midland Area Chamber of Commerce, said SVSU has worked closely with regional businesses to connect academic offerings with industry needs, and to promote internships and other professional learning opportunities.

“SVSU has been an asset to the business community in many ways,” Stafford said. “They take an active role in fostering in-demand jobs for our workforce. Our chamber has partnered with them to create a connection to help train members of our business community that may not have access to training and professional development for sales, marketing, management, human resources and workforce compliance. With educational partners like SVSU, our business community can continue to grow with a well-trained, highly educated workforce.”

Stafford also praised SVSU’s participation as a thought leader to advance the region.

“SVSU was among a key group of forward-thinkers who understood that by banding surrounding counties together, our area could become stronger and attract more business to this area, not only creating jobs, but creating a better place to live, work and play. Great ideas are fostered and grown when strong organizations like SVSU take an active interest in the business community surrounding them, as they have for many years.” 

Cherrie Benchley, president and CEO of the United Way of Saginaw County, said SVSU has been generous with resources and support to meet human services needs in the community.

“We are very proud of our long-standing, diverse partnerships with SVSU,” Benchley said. “Throughout the years our two organizations have collaborated on programs such as Holiday Wish List, Best Practices Nonprofit Management Institute, and other volunteer and leadership opportunities.  It is always a rewarding experience working with the faculty and students at SVSU as their efforts allow us to expand our reach within the community impacting the areas of health, education and financial stability.”

Recently, SVSU and United Way have teamed up on the AmeriCorps Healthy Kids Healthy Futures Partnership Program to keep Saginaw County children safe, promote healthy lifestyles, increase collaboration among community agencies and to encourage the sharing of scarce community resources.

“Students and faculty at SVSU have played a crucial role in the program’s success,” Benchley said. “Partnering with SVSU has allowed the organizations we work with to expand their capacity, allowing them to serve more children and families. Furthermore, the college students set amazing examples for the youth while receiving real world, hands-on experience in the community. We feel that because of this partnership, this is a win-win program for all that are involved.”

National research has shown that students who are engaged in the community and on campus are more likely to be successful academically, and to have the critical thinking, problem-solving skills, self-efficacy, and adaptability desired by employers. By their senior year, more than 60 percent of SVSU students have engaged in co-curricular service outside of academic course work, and 84 percent have engaged with community employers and agencies in internships, field placements or some other component of their academic preparation.

SVSU was one of 83 U.S. colleges and universities who were successfully classified as community engaged institutions during the 2015 application cycle. To be selected, institutions provide descriptions and examples of institutionalized practices of community engagement that showed alignment among mission, culture, leadership, resources and practices. SVSU’s status will remain in effect for 10 years.

December 19, 2014

SVSU students tops at forensics competition, qualify for national tourney

Four Saginaw Valley State University students qualified for a national forensics competition after earning high placement in a recent tournament.

The SVSU Forensics Team competed in the Michigan Intercollegiate Speech League (MISL) Fall Tournament - which tests students' public speaking and debate abilities - at Oakland University Saturday, Dec. 13.

The four qualifying students are:

•    Cara Deschermeier, a communication major from Petoskey, who earned a top novice and first-place award in the tournament's persuasion category.

•    Megan Hillman, a social work major from Port Huron, who earned a second-place award in the informative category and a fifth-place award in the persuasion category.

•    Samantha Jackson, a political science major from Goodells, who earned a first-place award in the impromptu category.

•    Cassidy Morey, a theatre major from Saginaw, who earned a top novice and first-place award in the prose category.

The four students qualified to compete at the National Forensics Association National Championship Tournament at Ohio University in April.

First, though the team will gather at the MISL Novice States tournament at Northwood University in February. Then they will compete in the MISL State Tournament at Wayne State University in March.

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