Saginaw Valley State University honored one of Saginaw's most active community leaders, as well as faculty and staff who display extraordinary enthusiasm and dedication, during SVSU's All -University Awards Banquet Friday, April 27.
The Distinguished Service Award, SVSU's most prestigious award for a community member, was given to Dave Abbs.
Abbs served on the SVSU Board of Control from 2005 to 2013, including two years as chair.
After completing his term on the board, he accepted perhaps his most significant SVSU assignment: serving as chair of the presidential search advisory committee during 2013 and 2014. Abbs continues to support SVSU through his volunteer service on the board of directors for the SVSU Foundation, where he currently serves as secretary. He also has served on SVSU's Board of Fellows and the Alumni Association board.
In the community, Abbs has supported numerous philanthropic causes and organizations. He is a past board chair of the Saginaw Community Foundation, and he has served as board president for the Bay City Noon Optimists, the Saginaw Valley Rotary club, the Saginaw Art Museum, and the One Hundred Club of Saginaw County, which provides financial support to the families of first responders killed in the line of duty. In business circles, Abbs has served on the boards of the Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce and the Kochville Township Business Association.
Abbs graduated from SVSU in 1983 with a bachelor's degree in marketing and management. He is the owner of Abbs Retirement Planning Advisors in Saginaw; he is also a certified financial planner.
Several SVSU faculty and staff members also received recognition for outstanding achievement and dedicated service during the 29th annual ceremony.
Andrea Frederick, associate professor of nursing, received the prestigious Franc A. Landee Teaching Excellence Award. She has spent years cultivating a career in nursing, nursing management, health care administration and nursing education. After retiring from MidMichigan Medical Center, Frederick joined the SVSU nursing faculty in 2010. As an instructor, she strives to enhance curiosity, tenacity, compassion and accomplishments that inform lifelong learning. Frederick enjoys the energizing atmosphere of an academic setting because it links experienced professionals with passionate novices that are eager to make an impact.
Kaustav Misra, associate professor of economics, received the Earl Warrick Award for Excellence in Research. His research interests are in the fields of public economics, international economics and family business. Misra has authored more than 20 scholarly articles appearing in peer-reviewed journals such as "Economics of Educational Review," "Journal of Socio-Economics" and "Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice." He also has presented at more than 70 national and international conferences. Among his honors, he received the Best Doctoral Paper in the Entrepreneurship/Information Technology/Innovation track for 2011 for the Southern Management Association.
The House Family Award for Teacher Impact was presented to Warren Fincher, associate professor of sociology. Since joining the faculty in 2012, he has served as the faculty adviser for the Sociology Club; he has organized three student trips to the annual Michigan Sociological Association meeting and he led a month-long study abroad trip to India. A recent alumna headed to graduate school nominated Fincher. She wrote: “Dr. Fincher saw my potential as an excellent student and scholar way before I began to believe in myself. He has supported my insight as well as challenging certain ideals. He was one of the reasons I was excited to continue at SVSU in the sociology program.”
Roberto Garcia received the Mary H. Anderson Adjunct Faculty Award for his part-time teaching role in the English department. He aims to inspire his students to think differently about modern culture. To do that, Garcia’s course, titled "Rethinking the Dominant Culture: Jay-Z and Modern America," teaches students about the history of hip-hop and rap in order to examine the genre's impact on modern society and culture. His nominator wrote: “Roberto is an outstanding adjunct faculty member. He has taken a step to create a general education course that is relevant to urban culture and society that students have really enjoyed.”
The Thomson Award for Empowering Learning in Community Engagement was presented to J. Blake Johnson, professor of art. He dedicates a great deal of his time to SVSU and the surrounding community through Cardinal Solutions, which was started by Johnson and others to support community businesses and organizations while offering students the opportunity to build their résumés and portfolios by completing real projects for clients. A student nominator wrote: “Since arriving at SVSU, Blake has been a mentor to me and has pushed me to produce my best work. By working with local businesses and organizations in a real-world studio environment, I have seen my design, communication and project management skills grow by leaps and bounds.”
Jennifer Bridges, professor of kinesiology, received the Excellence in Online Teaching award. In the field of kinesiology, there is an expectation that each course will offer a high level of interactivity and hands-on learning. To accomplish that through her online courses, Bridges developed Motor Development Day in Kinesiology 372, a hybrid course in which students are presented with the primary theories of motor learning and motor development throughout the lifespan. In the course, infants, children and older adults volunteer to work with the students to assess various aspects of their motor milestones.
The Ruben Daniels Community Service Award was presented to Kevin Schultz, director of alumni relations, who is active on the SVSU campus and in the community. He lends his time to the Saginaw Children's Zoo where he serves on the board of directors; he is a past president of both the Fordney Club of Saginaw County and the Saginaw Sunrise Rotary Club. His community involvement also has included volunteer service for the American Legion, the Knights of Columbus, Leadership Saginaw County and the Saginaw County Republicans, among others.
Two recipients were given the Terry Ishihara Award for Outstanding Co-Curricular Involvement: Ava Lewis, professor of nursing, and Sharmee Gloss, public school academy transitions coordinator.
Lewis aims to serve both students and the larger community. She is a nurse practitioner at the Bay Community Health Clinic in Bay City and at the Saginaw Health Clinic. Lewis shares these experiences with her students through course lectures and student volunteer opportunities. Her care for others extends beyond the region, as Lewis has led study abroad trips to Zambia in 2010, 2013 and 2016 where students worked to provide nursing care and HIV education in schools, villages, clinics and through home health visits.
Gloss dedicates a great deal of her time to the success of students of SVSU; she advises 87 undergraduate students and cultivates their confidence, independence, curiosity and passion through support and engagement. To give students the opportunity to learn about the history of surrounding communities, Gloss organized a two-day program for students in 2017 in which they viewed the film "Detroit," participated in a discussion on the impact of the movie, traveled to the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History and spent an afternoon in downtown Detroit.
Monica Reyes received the Roosevelt Ruffin Diversity Award. She dedicates a great deal of time to community causes, developing organizations such as the Great Lakes Bay Hispanic Leadership Institute, for which she currently serves as director. The program, designed to address a lack of Hispanic representation on community boards within the region, aims to identify potential leaders who may not normally be recognized through traditional channels. Reyes also was appointed to the Governor's Hispanic Latino Commission of Michigan in 2016. The commission recently selected Saginaw for the state's annual Hispanic Heritage Celebration.
The Outstanding Performance Award for Administrative Professional staff was given to Cara Shaw, accounting supervisor. She contributes a great deal to the Controller's office through her technical, organizational and communication skills. Shaw's responsibilities encompass a range of tasks, including accumulating and providing the annual grant reporting for the university, a task she completes flawlessly, according to her colleagues. In addition to her many other duties, she devoted countless hours with SVSU's Information Technology Services department during the initial setup of the university's new financial reporting software and installation phase, making her the resident expert for her colleagues.
Donna Helmreich-Lopez, faculty secretary and office coordinator, received the Outstanding Performance Award for Support Staff. She is highly-respected for her dependability, attention to detail and positive attitude in all the roles she fills. Though her duties are time consuming, colleagues note that Helmreich-Lopez consistently offers her assistance to those who need it, completing tasks efficiently and accurately. One nominator wrote: “We are continually amazed at both the quantity and quality of the work she accomplishes. She is a dynamo of energy and gets things done very quickly.”