SVSU psychology educator offers advice on maintaining mental health during COVID-19
Maintaining a daily routine is one of a number of measures individuals can practice in order to maintain their mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic, a Saginaw Valley State University educator advised.
Travis Pashak, associate professor of psychology, offered three tips and resources for those struggling with mental health during the pandemic. They are as follows:
1. This is an unprecedented global crisis, so mental health fluctuations are to be expected. It's perfectly normal to be feeling anxious, upset, sad, angry, etc., about the circumstances. I think we sometimes have a knee-jerk reaction to want to label and pathologize every non-happy emotion and every non-smile behavior, and that's simply not reasonable in these times. It's normal to feel.
2. While we're dealing with a lot of collective uncertainty and existential angst, there are some things we can do to protect our sanity. Routine, sleep hygiene, exercise, connecting with friends/family, nutrition, and healthy self-care can all make a positive impact.
3. Lastly, if the above efforts aren't enough and someone feels like they really need help, there are indeed resources available. Suicide hotlines, local therapists offering phone-therapy, crisis textlines, and plenty of self-help materials are only a few clicks away. A few are listed below:
Pashak this week was interviewed about mental health maintenance during a WNEM, TV-5 feature Wednesday, April 2.
April 1, 2020
With demand boosted by COVID-19, SVSU Master of Public Health program educators to host informational sessions online
Public health professionals are on the front lines of battling COVID-19 pandemic, and Saginaw Valley State University educators anticipate both demand and interest in public health professions will skyrocket in the coming years. Responding to the call for that demand and interest, SVSU is hosting two online-based informational sessions this month for individuals interested in enrolling in the university's Master of Public Health program, which is taught online.
“Public health professionals serve in a variety of roles and settings along the public health and U.S. healthcare continuum, including health promotion, epidemiology, public health policy, regulation and leadership,” said Chris Noller, SVSU assistant professor of health science.
“This is especially important in times of public health crisis, as evidenced by the current COVID-19 pandemic.”
Noller and her colleague, Meghan Baruth, associate professor of health science, will lead the online informational sessions at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 7, and noon on Wednesday, April 8. Participating in the virtual session is free.
Those interested can attend the meetings by clicking on the following link: https://zoom.us/j/506908710?status=success.
The two helped launch the 30-credit Master of Public Health program at SVSU in fall 2018. Today, 75 students are enrolled in the initiative.
Employees with a public health education are the second-largest sector of the health care industry, behind clinical practitioners — a category that includes doctors and nurses who work 1-on-1 with patients. Public health-educated workers deal in the administration, analysis, education and policy-making of health care. More and more employers in more and more industries are hiring workers with those skillsets.
The national opioid epidemic, Flint water crisis, the implementation of Affordable Care Act policies, and the impact of climate change on infectious diseases all have contributed to a rising demand for public health-trained professionals in all types of professions. The COVID-19 virus will create an even larger need for workers in the public health industry for years to come, experts say.
If you have questions about SVSU’s Master of Public Health program or are unable to attend these informational sessions, please contact Noller at firstname.lastname@example.org.
March 31, 2020
Provost offers more details regarding spring semester course offerings
I hope that things are going well as we work through a very challenging semester. These unprecedented circumstances have been met with unprecedented efforts by the SVSU community and we continue to do our best to support you through this difficult time. In order to ensure that you can continue your education through this crisis, we have made the decision to offer courses only online for the spring semester. Fieldwork courses remain on the schedule, however, please check with your academic department as fieldwork is subject to agency, state and federal policies during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The schedule has been updated to show our online course offerings for the Spring semester. For those of you who were enrolled in a face-to-face course, you have either been or will be contacted directly to make the switch to online. For those who are not enrolled for Spring courses, the online options have been expanded so this may be a great opportunity to take a course remotely. Registration for Spring courses is still open and the payment deadline has been extended to April 22.
To help you continue your education uninterrupted, we are waiving the Academic Computing Fee ($79/course) and the Online Course Fee ($44/cr.hr.) for Spring and Summer 2020. Students who had already signed up for an online course for the spring term will receive a credit or refund for the online fees they had already been charged.
We have not yet determined whether summer courses will be entirely online; however, we are monitoring the situation closely and will provide you with updates as soon as possible. Please continue to support each other and take care of yourselves during this difficult time.
Deborah Huntley, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
March 30, 2020
Waiting out COVID-19, Facebook group harmonizes SVSU music community
For Norman Wika and Saginaw Valley State University's music community, nothing can stop the music.
Hunkered down in homes scattered across the state in reaction to a global pandemic, members of SVSU's extended music department are transforming a Facebook group into a makeshift recital hall. There, individuals are uploading videos of their vocal and instrumental performances, offering each other feedback and levity in trying times.
Norman Wika, SVSU associate professor of music, created the Facebook group March 15, the day before SVSU transitioned its in-class courses to online and remote learning sessions as a response to COVID-19.
“There’s a social aspect to making music that’s just not possible in this environment, so I hoped the Facebook group would keep people interacting musically,” Wika said. “It’s become very therapeutic for some of us in these circumstances.”
While the Facebook group initially was utilized by students and faculty, several long-since-graduated alumni eventually joined the group to contribute their own musical performances. More than 120 people are members of the group as of today, with nearly 250 videos uploaded to the social media platform.
Many of those videos feature performances from the garages and basements of homes where the musicians are practicing social distancing in isolation or with family members. Some of the productions are standard fare as musical rehearsals go; others display a creative -- sometimes humorous -- flair.
In one video, a student performs George Michaels’ “Careless Whisper” on saxophone, using the chimes of SVSU’s Julia Edwards Bell Tower as a stand-in partner. Other recordings show individual performers syncing two rehearsals into a single split-screen video, creating the appearance of a duet featuring identical musicians. In another video, a student tests the patience of a pet during a rehearsal: “This guy is not happy about the at-home practice thing,” read a message accompanied by a video of a seemingly-unamused cat, looking interrupted from a nap.
Other videos showcase SVSU alumni brushing off skills and instruments left untended for years. Valori (Robinson) Darling estimated nearly two decades elapsed since she last revisited some of the musical sheets she performed for the Facebook group in the last two weeks.
Using the same flute she played as an undergraduate, the Saginaw Township real estate agent said she has enjoyed the escapism offered by the project.
“I’ve been itching to play again,” said Darling, who earned a bachelor’s degree in music from SVSU in 2000. “This group is a great way to keep our minds on something productive, and I’ve been impressed with the work ethic I’ve seen from these students.”
The social media connections made between alumni and their successors at SVSU could lead to in-person musical relationships.
A former member of SVSU’s Concert Band, Darling said she hopes to play in-person with some of those same performers during a tribute concert dedicated to the late Mary H. Andersen, a beloved music instructor in the region and former adjunct faculty member at SVSU. A tribute recital originally was scheduled for April but was canceled because of the COVID-19 outbreak. There are tentative plans to reschedule the gathering this fall.
In the meantime, current SVSU students such as Kylie Hawkins continue to find joy in performing for the Facebook group. Nearly daily, she uploads flute rehearsals recorded in her parents’ home in Flushing, where she temporarily re-located once SVSU transitioned to online and remote learning.
“The group has helped me hold myself accountable,” said Hawkins, a music education major. “I try to make it a goal for myself to practice every day. If I were still at school, I might not practice as much.”
March 27, 2020
SVSU teams with Saginaw distillery on plan to produce hand sanitizer in response to COVID-19
Saginaw Valley State University is doing its part to answer the call by beginning plans to produce 300 gallons of much-sought-after hand sanitizer that health care professionals can use while responding to the COVID-19 virus.
SVSU's plans involve a partnership with Saginaw-based Old Town Distillery, which recently donated 270 gallons of 190-proof alcohol that serve as a key sanitizer ingredient.
The project is one of several COVID-19 response initiatives being pursued by SVSU in collaboration with Michigan Health Improvement Alliance, a nonprofit that coordinates health care-related efforts across 14 mid-Michigan counties.
“SVSU has long-established partnerships in the community,” said Matthew Kline, manager of the SVSU Independent Testing Laboratory where the sanitizer would be created.
“As we face this public health crisis together, our university is proud to join with the Michigan Health Improvement Alliance and our regional economic development leaders to protect our brave health care professionals across the state."
Production of the hand sanitizer tentatively is scheduled to begin next week, but the fast-evolving response to COVID-19 could shift those plans, he said.
Kline would be involved in the production as well as an independent contractor and potentially an SVSU student, all while practicing social distancing in the lab setting.
The hand sanitizer project isn’t the only initiative Kline is pursuing.
Within days of the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the state, SVSU began working with Michigan Health Improvement Alliance representatives to both explore developing prototypes and create access to critical personal protection equipment (PPE) needs for regional health care providers.
Using 3-D printers and other campus resources, Kline in the last two weeks has created prototype face shields and face masks as well as medical swabs for the consideration of companies as far away as Connecticut, he said.
While the hand sanitizer project is the initiative closest to reaching a full-scale production cycle, the SVSU alumnus hopes to add other initiatives to that category soon.
“A lot of these projects are in their infancy, but I’m working hard to move them along,” said Kline, a Merrill resident. “When I see an opportunity to serve the community, I jump on it.”
Along with the Independent Testing Laboratory, the effort to identify projects with Michigan Health Improvement Alliance has been coordinated by staff of the SVSU-based offices of Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center Northeast Regional Office and Great Lakes Bay Manufacturers Association.
March 26, 2020
SVSU provides storage space for medical equipment donated to fight COVID-19 virus
As local health care organizations stock up on supplies while the fight against the COVID-19 virus intensifies, Saginaw Valley State University leaders committed a secure space for storing items that could prove critical to protecting the region's nurses and doctors.
Through a partnership with Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance and Michigan Health Improvement Alliance, SVSU this week began providing space in its Ryder Center facility to store items such as disposable latex gloves, N-95 masks, medical face shields and gowns, and hand sanitizer.
“SVSU is committed to assisting the community as we face this public health crisis,” said James Muladore, SVSU executive vice president for administration and business affairs.
“We plan to provide this site for our health care communities and maintain it for as long as needed.”
Representatives from the Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance and Michigan Health Improvement Alliance have been collecting the donated items from across the community. Those representatives then drop off the donations in the secured room at the university, where the items will remain until health care officials request the additional resources.
The stockpile continues to grow daily -- a delivery of thousands of disposable latex gloves arrived this afternoon -- with plenty of room remaining for additional items, SVSU officials say.
March 24, 2020
Provost offers more details regarding Pass / No Credit
I hope you and your loved ones are healthy and that your classes are going well. As you know, we recently announced that undergraduate students would be given the option of electing a letter grade as usual or a Pass/No Credit option. This message provides details and clarification of this option.
The option to elect Pass/No Credit applies only to undergraduate students and only to courses taken in the Winter 2020 semester. The Pass/No Credit option does not impact grading procedures and faculty will assess and submit grades as usual.
You will have the option of converting your grade to Pass/No Credit by submitting a form to the Registrar's Office between April 13 and May 11. An electronic form is being developed for this purpose and will be available on the Registrar's website. When you submit your form, you can choose to elect this option for any number of your courses from the Winter 2020 semester.
If you elect the Pass/No Credit option, grades of D or higher will be changed to Pass in the courses specified. Grades of F will be changed to No Credit. Pass grades and No Credit grades will not impact your GPA.
Pass grades from the Winter 2020 semester will fulfill General Education, major and minor requirements, and satisfy pre-requisites.
If you are enrolled in or applying to a program that requires professional licensure you should discuss this option with the faculty and dean of your college. We do not yet have guidance from the licensing bodies regarding the impact of Pass/No Credit grades on licensure.
If you anticipate applying to a professional or graduate program (e.g. Medical School, Law School, Master’s or Doctoral programs), you should meet with an advisor or faculty member to discuss the impact of Pass/No Credit on admissions in your post-baccalaureate program.
If you are a military-affiliated student, please contact the Office of Military Student Affairs prior to electing the Pass/No Credit option.
If you are an NCAA student-athlete, please contact the Athletics Academic Advisor or the Athletics Compliance Director prior to electing the Pass/No Credit option.
We are all facing uncertainty and challenges as the impact of the coronavirus grows. I want to assure each of you that we are working very hard to maintain SVSU's core operations, including instruction, academic support, safety, housing and dining through this public health crisis.
My advice is for you to do your best to do well in your classes. As always, reach out to your faculty members if you are having trouble or need clarification and utilize the online tutoring that is available. If you are struggling with the emotional impact of these changes, our counseling center is offering their services in a virtual setting. To schedule a meeting, please call the office at: (989) 964-7078 or email email@example.com
With your hard work and dedication along with our efforts to retain instructional continuity, I have confidence that you will be successful this semester.
The campus is far too quiet these days and I cannot wait to see all of you back on campus as soon as possible. Until then, take care of yourself and be well.
Deborah Huntley, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
March 23, 2020
SVSU response to "Stay Home, Stay Safe" executive order
Dear campus community,
In light of Governor Whitmer’s executive order to “stay home, stay safe” through Monday, April 13, we are moving forward with plans to further reduce the number of staff reporting to campus, while maintaining University operations. Classes are continuing in the remote/online formats begun last week.
Many faculty and staff have been in a “work from home” environment since last week, and that will continue for them. Some individuals who had been reporting to campus now also will transition to work from home. All supervisors and staff should communicate with one another regarding expectations and accountability for assignments during this public health emergency.
A few hundred students continue to reside on campus. We will continue to serve them through Campus Dining, using “grab and go” service. University Police will be visible on campus as they continue to protect and serve the campus 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. Campus Facilities staff will continue their important work to ensure sanitization and other critical services, though fewer of them will be reporting to campus on a daily basis. Due to the reduced staffing levels, we will be securing certain areas of campus, locking exterior doors, closing some restrooms, etc.
Faculty, staff or students who need a computer to complete their duties should submit an IT support ticket (mysupport.svsu.edu) or call 989-964-4225 and leave a voice mail. An IT staff member will be in touch to make arrangements for use of a loaned laptop.
Faculty and staff who experience problems with university equipment should submit an IT support ticket (mysupport.svsu.edu) or call 989-964-4225 and leave a voice mail. If a remote session fails to resolve the issue, an IT staff member will make arrangements to provide a loaned laptop.
We cannot stress enough the importance of social distancing, wherever we might be. SVSU is a friendly, welcoming place. In normal times, we hold doors open for one another, and we gather together in close proximity. These are not normal times. The most friendly, welcoming thing you can do right now, for yourself and others, is to shelter in place as much as possible; when you must interact with others, please practice social distancing and good hygiene.
Registered Student Organizations and all other student groups must suspend face-to-face meetings for the duration of the governor’s executive order. Many have already moved their meetings online. At the same time, we know students, faculty and staff may be experiencing changes in our every-day routines and social isolation during this difficult time. Please reach out to your fellow Cardinals. Offer them a word of encouragement. Share ideas on how you are staying on top of your work and school assignments. Let’s stay connected, learn from one another and show one another – and everyone else watching us – how much we care.
Finally, to all of our students and alumni working on the front lines to respond to this pandemic: thank you. Our Cardinal family is supporting our state and our world as first responders, health care professionals, educators, IT professionals, business leaders, and in countless other ways. As a former criminal justice professor here at SVSU, I have heard from dozens of my former students working at the local, state and federal level. Their commitment to serving others inspires me and motivates me to ensure that we work together to continue to prepare the next generation of servant leaders.
Stay healthy. Stay home. Stay safe.
Donald J. Bachand, President
March 19, 2020
SVSU coronavirus campus update concerning pass / no credit option for students
We know that the sudden move to online and remote instruction comes with uncertainty. You are concerned about your academic progress and rightfully so. We have decided to provide all undergraduate students with a pass/no-credit option for their classes this semester. We hope this will bring some peace of mind for many of you.
You will be able to select the “Pass” or “No-credit” option for any of your courses beginning in mid-April until after final grades are submitted, when you will know your letter grade for the course. Students who choose to accept their letter grade may do so. Students who pass their course and select the “pass” option will receive a grade of “P” and will receive credit for the course. Students who do not pass the course may select the “no-credit” option; they will not receive credit for the course, but it will not affect a student’s GPA.
Students will submit an online “Pass/No Credit” request form to the Office of the Registrar. We will notify you when the form is available.
We are still working through some of the finer details, and we will have more to say about this, but we wanted to share this information with you now, as we know many of you have been asking about this.
Please know that your instructors are working very hard to adapt to a teaching and learning environment that is new to many of them. We know it is new to many of you too. Please continue to work hard in your courses, and please be understanding and patient with yourself and your instructors.
Deborah Huntley, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
March 17, 2020
SVSU coronavirus campus update and transition to remote operations
Dear students, faculty, and staff,
It seems unimaginable, but it was only one week ago (Tuesday, March 10) that the first two confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus were reported in Michigan. In just one week, life as we know it has been radically changed. I am proud of the way in which our campus community has responded.
We made the transition to remote and online instruction on Monday, and starting tomorrow, most campus operations will be conducted online, by phone, or using other technology. We continue to operate the university, but we are doing it differently. Everyone will continue to perform their duties to the best of their ability. We expect to continue remote and online operations through Friday, May 1, but this is subject to change, given the rapidly evolving nature of this situation.
I would like to thank the leadership of all of our bargaining units for their responsiveness and collaboration during these unprecedented circumstances. This level of cooperation in achieving shared goals is needed and most appreciated. Supervisors and members of the Support Staff Association will be receiving specific guidance on expectations relevant to working from home.
We have made the difficult decision to postpone Commencement. We do not want to diminish this incredibly important milestone in graduates’ lives, and with the latest guidance from the CDC to avoid gatherings of 50 or more for the next 8 weeks, we cannot hold a ceremony that we and our graduates would be proud of. We will communicate with you when a new date is identified.
While Commencement is postponed, this does not affect the ability of students to complete graduation requirements and receive their degrees. Students who complete their degree requirements in May will graduate in May.
For students, your university is here for you. Beyond instruction, dining and other necessities, we remind you that the Student Counseling Center has services available. Please make use of this service if you need to. We all should look after ourselves – and each other – during this incredibly stressful time.
Please continue to visit the www.svsu.edu/coronavirus web page for the latest information. We will be updating this page regularly. We also will continue to be here for you by e-mail, by phone, and using other technology.
The dedication, flexibility and creative problem-solving of our Cardinal community never ceases to amaze me. I appreciate it. We all do. Together, we will get through this.