Monika Dix hadn’t planned to study the Japanese language, much less teach it.
As an undergraduate student at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, the native of Germany was an Asian art history major, developing a deep appreciation for Japanese art. When she continued in graduate school at UBC, she had to learn — really learn — Japanese to better understand the art she was studying. In time, she earned a Ph.D. in Japanese literature through UBC’s Department of Asian Studies.
After spending three years in Tokyo, Dix joined SVSU’s Department of Modern Foreign Languages in 2010. At the time, the university didn’t have a Japanese program, so she was able to shape it from the beginning. Now there are eight courses that contribute to a minor in Japanese, including first-, second- and third-year Japanese.
“Some students are interested in Japanese because they are interested in Japanese pop culture, including manga [Japanese comic books] and anime,” Dix explained. “I use elements of culture in my classes. We see films, read and create manga and sample Japanese food. Language is more than language study, so I try to bring in the cultural aspects.”
Japanese culture has a growing following in the United States. SVSU students can share their love of all things Japanese through the Japanese Culture Club. Dix advises the group, which discusses a variety of topics, including Japanese history and mythology as well as media and art.
“The students pick their topics for meetings each week, invite faculty to talk and help at the annual Japanese Festival [at the Japanese Tea House and Cultural Center in Saginaw]. It helps nurture their interest and understanding.”
Bringing East to West, Monika Dix helps broaden the horizons of SVSU students.
Saginaw Valley State University's Cardinal Marching Band will perform its 39th annual indoor concert for audiences next week.
Bill Wollner, SVSU associate professor of music, will direct an ensemble of 114 student musicians Monday, Nov. 24 at 7:30 p.m. in SVSU's Malcolm Field Theatre for the Performing Arts. Comprised of students from a variety of academic backgrounds, the marching band performs at all home football games and other fall events on campus.
The program lineup will include renditions of Billboard hits such as Pharrell Williams' "Happy," Randy Newman's "You've Got A Friend In Me," Elton John's "I Just Can't Wait To Be King," and Styx's "Mr. Roboto" and "Come Sail Away," along with "Let It Go" from the popular Disney movie, "Frozen."
The concert is free and open to the public. For more information on the concert, visit SVSU's Department of Music online at www.svsu.edu/music.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.