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March 12, 2020

Event featuring Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha canceled

The Michigan State University College of Human Medicine has canceled the planned Thursday, March 12 presentation featuring Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha at Saginaw Valley State University in keeping with MSU’s proactive measures to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The SVSU-hosted event was organized through SVSU’s Early Assurance Program partnership with Michigan State University College of Human Medicine.
Hanna-Attisha is a pediatrician, scientist, and public health advocate whose research and insistence helped reveal dangerous levels of lead in Flint's water supply following a change in the city's water source.

March 11, 2020

SVSU coronavirus update concerning classes

Dear campus community,

We care about you, and your health and well-being. The State of Michigan has confirmed two individuals have contracted the COVID-19 virus. We are monitoring the latest guidance from the state and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

The SVSU leadership team meets daily to discuss the status of this outbreak and SVSU’s operations. The team had a conference call with the Saginaw County Health Department this morning and is communicating with the department frequently. At this time, the risk for contracting the virus in our area is low, but this is a rapidly developing situation. Please remember that race or ethnicity has no bearing on the likelihood of becoming sick or transmitting disease.

Effective today (March 11), SVSU is suspending all university-sponsored international travel through at least June 30. We strongly advise faculty, staff and students to avoid personal international travel, as well.

We strongly discourage SVSU-sponsored domestic travel by faculty, staff and students, as well. Faculty, staff and students should consult with their supervisor prior to any trips. We may further restrict domestic travel with little advance notice, as circumstances warrant.

We are suspending face-to-face instruction for lecture and discussion classes and moving to online or remote instruction, effective Monday, March 16 and through at least Friday, April 17. All instructors will contact their students no later than Wednesday, March 18 to provide further information about course delivery. We are continuing to work with faculty and staff on laboratory and performance classes, and the university will provide additional guidance.

We will re-evaluate the need for remote learning before April 15 and will provide further information at that time. During this time period, students doing purely remote work can return to their permanent place of residence but for students who remain on campus, we will maintain operations in our residence halls and dining services. For campus dining, we will be taking steps to increase “grab and go” options and reduce communal dining.

Academic and student support services, as well as business operations, will remain open.

At this time, SVSU is evaluating the upcoming public events we are scheduled to host. We are planning to hold events scheduled for this weekend and will make a decision regarding future events later this week. We will continue our enhanced cleaning and sanitation procedures, and we will encourage our visitors to practice good hygiene, as we all should be doing, and to consider their personal health in connection with the implications of large gatherings. Again, this could change with little advance notice.

Symptoms of the COVID-19 virus include: a cough, a fever greater than 100.4 degrees, and shortness of breath. If you exhibit these symptoms, please call-in sick, avoid contact with others and call your health care provider. It is important to call ahead so that health care agencies can provide appropriate assessment, care and instructions. Please know that many health insurance plans offer tele-medicine services. Individuals who have been sick should remain home until their fever has been gone for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medicines.

The health and welfare of our entire campus community is our highest priority. We will continue to update the campus community with the latest information surrounding the COVID-19 virus, and will update our webpage.


Donald J. Bachand, President

March 9, 2020

21st-century feminism topic of SVSU Women’s History Month presentation

Bringing with her a message of female empowerment, Philadelphia-based author and activist Feminista Jones will discuss the state of feminism in the 21st century during a Saginaw Valley State University Women's History Month presentation later this month.
Her talk, titled "Intersectional Feminism/Women’s Empowerment," is scheduled Thursday, March 19, at 6 p.m. in SVSU's Rhea E. Miller Recital Hall. Her presentation will be followed by a question-and-answer session. Both are free and open to the public.
Jones is a feminist writer, public speaker, retired social worker, and community activist. She is an award-winning blogger and author of four books including the critically-acclaimed 2019 release, “Reclaiming Our Space: How Black Feminists Are Changing the World from the Tweets to the Streets.”
Her thought-provoking, conversation-starting writing has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Time magazine, Essence, Complex, Vox, Salon, and EBONY.
Jones recently addressed challenges facing the modern feminist movement in a July 2019 blog entry, titled "We Need a 21-Century Kind of Feminism."
"The 21st-century wave of feminism will not be collectively successful in its fight for gender equality if we do not embrace intersectionality as praxis and create space and support for all girls and women to become actively engaged in the work," Jones wrote in the blog entry. "Women of color, queer and trans women, disabled women, immigrant women, and poor women must all be called in and allowed space at the table to contribute their wisdom and experiences to the modern feminist movement."
In 2017, Jones was named one of the “100 Most Influential People in Philadelphia” by Philadelphia magazine, and in 2018, she was featured in Philadelphia Style magazine for her community and activism work.
Jones’ lecture is part of SVSU's Dow Visiting Scholars and Artists program. For more information about Jones’ presentation and the Dow Visiting Scholars and Artists program, visit

March 6, 2020

SVSU updates on coronavirus

SVSU continues to take action in the interest of the health and safety of the campus community related to the COVID-19 virus. We also continue to remind you of precautions you should be taking.

Information and guidance surrounding the spread of the virus is fluid and changing rapidly. We have been working closely with the Saginaw County Health Department and following the guidance of the CDC and other agencies to ensure we are following the latest guidance for protecting the health and safety of our campus community. Our Campus Facilities staff have enhanced our cleaning and sanitization procedures for frequently touched surfaces. We will continue to collaborate with our local partners throughout the duration of this virus outbreak.

Our best protection and your best protection against the spread of this or any other virus is to practice good hygiene.

  • Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  •  Stay home when you are sick
  •   Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces  

As of this writing (March 6), there are no confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus in Michigan, but we urge you to follow these recommendations out of an abundance of caution and out of respect for your fellow students, faculty and staff.

We will continue to provide updates to the campus community, as developments dictate. You can find our most recent information at

March 5, 2020

Channeling a new skill in theater production, SVSU student now recognized nationally as a top college talent

When Rhiannon Hall enrolled at Saginaw Valley State University in 2017, she was excited to pursue her passion for theater but was not yet sure which role — either as a performer or behind-the-scenes crew member — best suited her. Empowered by SVSU faculty and inspired by her experience working on award-winning campus productions, Hall in less than three years both found her niche and was recognized nationally for excelling at it.
The Bay City resident learned this week she was selected to attend the Kennedy Center American College Theater National Festival from April 7-11 in Washington D.C. There, she will join some of the top U.S. college talent as they network and learn from industry professionals.
She earned the opportunity in part because she was recognized recently for her skills in dramaturgy work, an off-stage role that involves finding opportunities to deepen a play's immersive effects outside of the boundaries of the on-stage production. She was the recipient of the Regional Dramaturgy Award given at a Kennedy Center regional competition covering Midwest colleges in January. The award was presented to students at the eight regional divisions associated with Kennedy Center in the U.S., but only four of those recipients — including Hall — were selected to attend next month's national festival.
Hall and her three peers will spend five days honing their craft at the festival's workshops while receiving tutelage from Mark Bly, who has worked in dramaturgy for 35 years at theaters in Washington D.C. and New York City.
“I was shocked when I found out I was invited,” Hall said.
“The regional competition was in January and I had not heard anything since then. I had put it out of my mind so I wouldn’t think too much about it. Then I was opening my email to do homework on Tuesday when I saw the invitation, and I just started crying.”
The all-expenses-paid opportunity represents both a validation of her hard work and determination as an SVSU theatre major as well as a signal that her shift to practicing dramaturgy was a wise choice, she said.
Graduating from Fairview High School in 2017, the Grand Blanc-born Hall enrolled at SVSU with an initial interest in acting. Not long after her arrival, though, she was exposed to other elements of theater production that allowed her to channel untapped talents within her, she said.
“I came to SVSU thinking I knew theater, but I didn’t really know theater,” she said. “I’m thankful for all the people who showed me what I didn’t know.”
Among her SVSU mentors were David Rzeszutek, associate professor of theatre, as well as Margaret “Peggy” Mead-Finizio and Tommy Wedge, assistant professors of theatre. The trio challenged Hall to explore stage management and dramaturgy work on SVSU's play productions. And she responded.
In particular, Hall gravitated toward dramaturgy. Her flair for the work shined especially bright during SVSU's fall 2019 adaptation of "Proof." She provided writings to the actors that offered them deeper explorations of character motivations than what was available in the play’s script. For the audience, she arranged for SVSU’s Student Counseling Center to occupy a booth outside the production, making staff available to answer questions from attendees after they watched the drama about grief, depression and mental health.
The work won her the Kennedy Center regional award, and ultimately, the invitation to Washington D.C.
“I didn’t even know what dramaturgy was when I came to SVSU,” said Hall, who expects to graduate in May 2021 and hopes to eventually provide dramaturgy work professionally.
“I’m really grateful that I found a passion in a part of theater that speaks to me and makes sense in my heart.”

March 4, 2020

Doctor who exposed Flint water crisis to present at SVSU

A public health advocate — once named among the “100 Most Influential People in the World” by Time magazine — will visit SVSU next week to discuss her role in uncovering the Flint water crisis.
Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha will appear for her presentation Thursday, March 12, at 6:30 pm in SVSU’s Malcolm Field Theatre for Performing Arts. The event is free and open to the public.
Hanna-Attisha is a pediatrician, scientist, and public health advocate whose research and insistence helped reveal dangerous levels of lead in Flint's water supply following a change in the city's water source.
In a bestselling book, she chronicled her role in discovering the Flint water crisis, detailed how officials initially resisted her findings, and described the fallout that followed its public exposure. “What the Eyes Don't See: A Story of Crisis, Resistance, and Hope in an American City” was named to The New York Times "100 Notable Books of 2018" list and was selected as the 2019-20 Great Michigan Read by Michigan Humanities.
Hanna-Attisha is the founder and director of the Michigan State University-Hurley Children’s Hospital Pediatric Public Health Initiative, a model program aimed at mitigating the impact of the water crisis. The program combines community and clinical programs, childhood health policy and advocacy, and robust evaluation to provide Flint children the best chance at success.
She was recognized for her public health advocacy, courage and expertise by agencies and organizations across the nation. She testified twice before the United States Congress, was awarded the Freedom of Expression Courage by PEN America, and was named among Time magazine's "100 Most Influential People in the World" in 2016.
In a summary of the doctor's selection to the prestigious list that year, Time published the following about Hanna-Attisha:
"Residents knew something was wrong right away, but to get anyone to listen, it took civil-engineering professor Marc Edwards blowing the whistle on lead in the water and then Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, a local pediatrician, testing Flint’s kids, proving they’d been poisoned. Up against official ignorance and indifference, Edwards and Hanna-Attisha were right, they were brave, and they were insistent. Flint is still a crime scene, but these two caring, tough researchers are the detectives who cracked the case."
Hanna-Attisha's appearance at SVSU is made possible through the university’s Early Assurance Program partnership with Michigan State University College of Human Medicine. The event is sponsored in part by the SVSU Foundation Resource Grant Program. Her visit is part of the annual Your Health Lecture Series initiative between SVSU, Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, and MidMichigan Health.
While admission is free, RSVP is requested by going online at or by calling (616) 234-2694.
Copies of Hanna-Attisha’s book will be available for purchase with a book signing following her presentation.

March 3, 2020

At Saginaw Art Museum exhibition, SVSU student's photography puts trauma in focus

A Saginaw Valley State University student's photographic exploration of childhood trauma and adult PTSD will be on display beginning today at The Saginaw Art Museum.
Danielle Cecil, a fine arts major from Plymouth, will see her collection — titled “On Thin Ice: Therapy Through Photography” — on exhibition through Saturday, May 30 in the Artisan Wing of the museum at 1126 N. Michigan in Saginaw.
The exhibition consists of 11 black and white framed photographs taken by Cecil’s lens.
”This is the first time a series of mine is being shown somewhere other than SVSU, and I feel lucky that I was asked to participate,” Cecil said.
For her pieces, Cecil used an arrangement of found objects to represent the childhood trauma that led to her later diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.
"Individually printing each image from a film negative not only allows Danielle to communicate her experiences to the public but also opens up an avenue of self-reflection," reads the museum's introduction to the exhibition.
The resulting images were created using unique equipment. Hideki Kihata, SVSU professor of art, said Danielle used a type of camera that few young professional photographers know how to use. For these pieces, Cecil operated a 4x5 view camera, which Kihata said is only used by the “top, cutting-edge photographers.”
Benn Quinno, exhibitions manager and curatorial assistant with the Saginaw Art Museum, said it is not common to have a student exhibition at the museum, and that they are a very important part of being a professional artist.
“Every exhibition an artist participates in — be it a solo, group or juried exhibiting — will appear on an artist’s curriculum vitae or artist résumé,” he said. “This can tell a curator or exhibition manager how experienced an artist is in the exhibition world and how relevant their work is to the public.”
Quinno said Cecil’s pieces were chosen because of the topic they covered.
“The work was selected because of the way she chose to use photography to address mental illness and PTSD, a subject that has a history of being ignored,” he said. “We felt it was important to not only address this type of work but to also support our local community, being that the Artisan Wing is dedicated to exhibiting local art.”
Cecil plans to graduate with a bachelor's of fine arts with a concentration in photography in May. After graduation, she hopes to find a full-time position doing commercial photography for a business in Michigan.
For more information about the exhibition, visit
The Saginaw Art Museum hours are Tuesdays through Saturdays from noon to 5 p.m. The facility is closed Sundays and Mondays.
Admission costs $5 for adults, and $3 for students and senior citizens 62 and older. Attendees aged 15 and younger can enter the museum for free

February 28, 2020

SVSU students set to help communities across the U.S. during spring break

Sixty Saginaw Valley State University students will continue their predecessors’ tradition of spending spring break week providing support and good will to in-need communities across the nation.
SVSU’s Alternative Breaks program organized six groups — with 10 students participating in each — set to begin traveling when spring break week begins Saturday, Feb. 29.
When they arrive at their destinations, each team will spend the week supporting agencies and nonprofits engaging a variety of issues including providing shelter for those in need, empowering communities to overcome racism, and educating children about HIV and AIDS.
The following is a list of the planned Alternative Breaks trips and objectives:
  • At the Capital Area Therapeutic Riding Association in Grantville, Pennsylvania, SVSU students will support individuals with special needs and disabilities by exploring non-traditional therapies that could benefit them. At the nonprofit, that “non-traditional therapy” often involves connecting visitors with animals such as horses, goats and cats.
  • In Memphis, SVSU volunteers will provide education about HIV and AIDS to children at Hope House Memphis, a nonprofit that works with families affected by HIV and poverty.
  • Students will join the effort to eliminate substandard housing and provide shelter for the homeless with the nonprofit known as Sussex County Habitat for Humanity in Georgetown, Delaware.
  • With the help of Sisu Integrated Early Learning — a nonprofit in Gainesville, Georgia — students will advocate for education and literacy to the region’s youth.
  • SVSU volunteers will support women both recovering from drug addiction and suffering from mental health disorders at the Nashville organization known as Mending Hearts Inc.
  • In St. Louis, students will assist LifeWise STL, a nonprofit that helps in-need individuals and families prosper financially by addressing systemic barriers in society such as racism.
Alternative Breaks is a student-run organization that has organized volunteer efforts during breaks in SVSU’s school scheduling — including the winter break — since 2004.
Social media users can follow the SVSU Alternative Breaks group updates via Facebook at and Twitter at

February 28, 2020

Hometown Hollywood star Brian d'Arcy James to perform with students at SVSU event

Saginaw-born Broadway and Hollywood actor Brian d’Arcy James will grace the stage alongside Saginaw Valley State University student performers as part of a one-night-only song-and-dance extravaganza at the campus next month.

The curtains open for “An Actors Showcase” Monday, March 30, at 7:30 p.m. in SVSU’s Malcolm Field Theatre for Performing Arts.

Joining James that evening will be some of the university’s top theatre students as well as award-winning Gershwin pianist Kevin Cole. James plans to meet, mentor and rehearse with the students in advance of the event, when they will perform a series of songs and monologues on stage.

The event is free, but due to anticipated high demand, attendees must reserve tickets. They are available online by clicking here. Once the theatre reaches capacity, SVSU will offer ticket reservations to a simulcast in the adjoining campus venue, the Rhea Miller Recital Hall.

James' introduction to much of the performing arts world began on Broadway. Perhaps most famously there, he donned green makeup as the titular character in “Shrek the Musical” from 2008-09, earning a Tony Award nomination for Best Leading Actor in a Musical along the way. The performance later was captured for a feature-length film available now on Netflix.

Playing Shrek earned him the second of three Tony Award nominations for leading actor in a musical. The first was for “Sweet Smell of Success” in 2002. Most recently, he received a nomination for “Something Rotten!” in 2015.

His on-stage résumé also includes serving as an original cast member of “Hamilton,” playing King George III.

James’ star continued to brighten when he transitioned to the big screen. Perhaps his most notable movie role to date was in “Spotlight,” which won Best Picture at the Academy Awards after its release in 2015. He portrayed real-life Boston Globe reporter Matt Carroll in the drama about a team of newspaper journalists uncovering a community scandal.

He became even more of a household name when he appeared in the popular Netflix series, “13 Reasons Why,” now entering its fourth and final season. He plays Andrew Baker, the father of the character whose suicide sets the series’ plot in motion.

Later this year, the 51-year-old is scheduled to appear in the Steven Spielberg-directed remake of “West Side Story.”

James graduated from Nouvel Catholic Central High School of Saginaw Township in 1986.

February 27, 2020

SVSU introducing eSports program as club sport for fall 2020

Inspired by passionate players and fans in a rapidly-growing field of competition, Saginaw Valley State University will hit the “start” button on its own club sports team in fall 2020 for competitive video game players.

Competitive video game leagues – commonly known as "eSports" – are quickly gaining popularity. The largest league governing college competition grew from seven to 170 teams between 2016 and 2019.

“The level of student interest in eSports is extremely high and we look forward to providing this new opportunity for student engagement,” said Brian Thomas, SVSU's associate vice president for Academic Affairs.

eSports are played with individual competitors or teams of up to eight people. Competitions can be played with teams in a central location or via online-based tournaments. Those competitions feature players battling for top scores in popular games such as "Fortnite," "Overwatch," "League of Legends," "Super Smash Bros." and "Hearthstone" on consoles such as Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4 and XBox One. Worldwide market revenue from eSports competition surpassed $1 billion last year, compared to $130 million in 2012.

SVSU's campus is ripe territory for such a competition and its students are hungry to participate, Thomas said. The opportunity will offer more than simply a fun outlet for fans of video games.

“By creating a dedicated space with high-end gaming computers, students will be able to practice and compete while at the same time socializing around a sport that they love,” Thomas said. “With the rapid growth of eSports as an industry, this will create new opportunities for academic collaborations ranging from computer science and electrical engineering to business and graphic design.”

SVSU's eSports club will launch with a dedicated space on campus – at a location still yet to be determined – likely featuring 13 gaming computers along with video streaming and monitoring equipment, Thomas said.

At the same time, eSports will be organized competitively as a club sport. The gaming space will be available to members of the club team and other SVSU students as well.

James Stahl, an SVSU criminal justice major, said he expects an eSports club will be a smash hit with his peers. He would know. As a leader of an SVSU student organization that has hosted video game tournaments, Stahl has witnessed a growing appetite for a club sport dedicated to gaming on campus.

“It's going to be big,” Stahl said, predicting the response of students to an eSports club. “Depending on how it's handled, it could be really big.”

Stahl served three years as president of Press Start, the SVSU student organization that hosts a variety of video game-centric events across campus. He said a tournament hosted recently by the group attracted more than 100 gamers from across the state to SVSU.

“To see more than 100 people in a bracket tournament, playing 'Super Smash Bros.' is chaos but so fun,” said Stahl, who remains a member of Press Start this year.

Stahl has attended gaming tournaments outside of SVSU, including a Detroit-based competition known as The Big House 8 that featured more than 1,000 players during an October 2019 event.

“Unless you've been to a gaming competition, it's hard to describe the excitement in the room,” he said. “It's a spectator sport, so it's a lot like a crowd watching football.”

Before the eSports club is launched in the fall, SVSU plans to host video game tournaments on Saturday, May 2, Thomas said.

The main event will involve a tournament playing "Overwatch," a popular first-person shooter available on all major gaming consoles. That particular game will be limited to high school students while others will invite all members of the public. "Overwatch" participants will compete for $1,000 scholarships on the stage of the Rhea Miller Recital Hall. Tournaments for "Fortnite," "League of Legends," and "Super Smash Bros. Ultimate" will take place at the same time. All tournaments will be free of charge and include prizes. 

Those interested in participating in the May 2 tournament can contact Thomas at

SVSU currently offers 20 club sports, ranging from ice hockey and volleyball to cricket and equestrian.

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