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November 5, 2021

SVSU faculty presented with Distinguished Professor of the Year Awards

The Michigan Association of State Universities (MASU) honored two Saginaw Valley State University faculty members with the Distinguished Professor of the Year Award during the Oct. 25 meeting of the SVSU Board of Control. The award recognizes the dedication and outstanding efforts of faculty from Michigan’s 15 public universities to the education of undergraduate students. 

Professor Joseph Ofori-Dankwa, Harvey Randall Wickes Professor of International Business and a professor of management at SVSU, was recognized as one of the state’s three recipients of the 2020 Michigan Distinguished Professor of the Year Award. Tami Sivy, a professor of chemistry at SVSU, was recognized with the honor in 2021. 

“Dr. Ofori-Dankwa’s commitment to bringing his students outside of the classroom and into the world shows how higher education in Michigan continues to evolve to meet the needs of its students and Michigan’s people,” said Dr. Daniel J. Hurley, CEO of the Michigan Association of State Universities. “These professors give their all when it comes to dedication to student success, helping them achieve their ambitions, all the while strengthening Michigan’s prosperity.” 

Since joining SVSU in 1987, he has earned several university awards including the House Family Award for Teacher Impact, the Rush Distinguished Lectureship, the Braun Fellowship, and the Thomson Award for Community Engagement. He has helped develop and teach courses for SVSU’s Vitito Fellows Global Leadership Institute, including experiential leadership projects for SVSU business students. He has also helped coordinate the B.A.T.S. (Business, Art, Theatre and Sociology) program as well as other inter-disciplinary teaching initiatives.  

A native of Ghana, Ofori-Dankwa is a leader in expanding programs to Africa. He has led and facilitated 10 trips with students, faculty, and Saginaw community leaders to Ghana since 2000. In addition, he served as a faculty advisor for SVSU electrical and computer engineering students planning to design and install solar panels at a health clinic for the Royal Seed Home Orphanage in Ghana.  

He has founded or coordinated additional programs including the Makola Institute, which is a training and advocacy center for market women and small-scale business operators in markets in Ghana, and the Makola Foundation which provides funding for entrepreneurs and students. He has also provided a curriculum on leadership and ethics for the U.S. State Department’s Young African Leadership Institute, initiated by former President Obama and located at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration.  

Ofori-Dankwa received his Bachelor of Law from the University of Ghana, his M.S. in management and technology from the University of Wales, and his Master of Labor & Industrial Relations and Ph.D. in organizational behavior from Michigan State University. 

Sivy joined the SVSU faculty in 2008 and has served as department chair since 2015. In her tenure at the university, Sivy has promoted outstanding student experiences for undergraduate students, creating opportunities for research and community partnerships. She emphasizes developing students’ critical thinking skills and helps them discover joy in learning.   

“Dr. Tami Sivy represents the best of teaching, research and dedication to student success,” said Dr. Daniel J. Hurley, CEO of the Michigan Association of State Universities. “She mentors and empowers her students, symbolizing the excellence in higher education for which Michigan’s public universities are globally renowned.”  

Sivy not only teaches classes at every level, she is responsible for the entire upper-level biochemistry curriculum and has mentored more than 50 SVSU students in laboratory research. Sivy sits on the steering committee of the Saginaw Bay Environmental Science Institute at SVSU. She also was involved in the development of the SVSU /STEM/Dow Science and Sustainability Center’s mobile laboratory and the curriculum that is used in outreach activities to area students. She has mentored many regional high school teachers and students in environmental research projects.    

In 2012, Sivy and her undergraduate students began using rapid DNA testing to detect fecal contamination and its sources at freshwater sites in the Saginaw Bay Watershed. After many years of collaboration and validation, the method has now been used to determine beach closings in Bay County since 2019. This pioneering work led the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy to request her assistance in adapting testing for the COVID-19 virus in wastewater. Sivy was the first in Michigan to engage undergraduate students in this testing, which spans the SVSU campus and seven surrounding counties. In support of freshwater and wastewater testing, she has received nearly $4 million in external funding. 

“As a faculty member at SVSU, Dr. Sivy positively impacts the classroom and surrounding community through her research on water quality,” said Deborah R. Huntley, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at SVSU. “She is a teacher who mentors and understands the needs of students. Her dedication to the success of students and her commitment to her community, colleagues and SVSU are well evident.”   

Sivy has won several awards at SVSU, including the Franc A. Landee Award for Teaching Excellence, the most prestigious teaching award conferred by the university. She also was an exchange professor at Shikoku University in Tokushima, Japan, where she served as an ambassador of SVSU to the community and taught undergraduate courses.   

Sivy earned her B.S. in biochemistry from Calvin College and her Ph.D. in chemistry and biochemistry from the University of Colorado, Boulder. 

The other two recipients of the 2020 award were Grand Valley State University Professor Stephen Mattox and University of Michigan Professor H. Scott Fogler. Thomas Werner of Michigan Technological University and Yunus Zeytuncu of the University of Michigan-Dearborn also received the 2021 award.