Skip to main content Skip to footer

April 26, 2023

SVSU honors community supporters, outstanding faculty and staff

Portrait of older man beside portrait of woman in blue blouse

Saginaw Valley State University honored two longtime supporters as well as outstanding faculty and staff during the university’s 32nd All-University Awards Banquet Friday, April 21.

Approximately 300 faculty, staff and honorees attended the banquet, which was the first for SVSU President George Grant Jr., who lauded the dedication of the SVSU community.

The Distinguished Service Medallion, SVSU’s most prestigious award for a community member, was awarded to two longtime supporters of the university and Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum, respectively: Dr. E. Malcolm Field and Avril Roundtree.

Dr. E. Malcolm Field, a nationally renowned neurosurgeon from Saginaw, has been a loyal supporter of Saginaw Valley State University for 30 years, generously sharing his knowledge, expertise and financial resources to fund scholarships, academic positions, facilities, and programs to benefit SVSU students and the community at large. Of note, at SVSU Dr. Field and his wife, Lois, established the James O’Neill Annual Lecture Series and the Field/Spicer Fellowship in Science and Engineering. They also recently created an endowment to expand and enhance the newly renamed Roberts-Gilbertson Fellowship Program, which prepares outstanding SVSU students for the challenges of local and global leadership.

Since relocating from County Mead, Ireland, to Pigeon, Michigan, more than a dozen years ago, Avril Roundtree has been an avid supporter of the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum. Not only does she provide financial support to the Museum, she also lends her expertise as secretary of the Museum’s board of advisors, bringing her business sense and passion for art to the board. An artist in her own right, Roundtree is a master quilt-maker and accomplished chef. She has donated several of her creations and her culinary skills as coveted auction items at the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum’s Saints and Sinners fundraising gala.

Several SVSU faculty and staff members also received recognition for outstanding achievement and dedicated service.

Warren Fincher, professor of sociology, was the winner of the 2023 Franc A. Landee Teaching Excellence Award. Established in 1971, this is SVSU’s longest-standing award and honors faculty members who are recognized for consistently demonstrating their knowledge of subject matter, exercising fairness and integrity, motivating students to excel, offering counsel and advice, and maintaining high standards for academic achievement.

Fincher joined SVSU’s faculty in 2012. Since then, he has consistently demonstrated a commitment to education and a dedication to students, which earned him the House Family Award for Teacher Impact in 2018. At SVSU, Fincher conducts a Community Research Lab with students to address community needs. He has served as a faculty advisor and organized trips to professional meetings and led a study abroad program in India. Fincher completed his Ph.D. in sociology at the University Texas at Austin.

Khandaker Abir Rahman, an associate professor of computer science and information systems, was presented with the Earl Warrick Award for Excellence in Research. This award was established in 1988 in honor of Dr. Warrick, a researcher for the Dow Corning Corporation and one-time interim dean of SVSU’s College of Science, Engineering & Technology. The honoree is a faculty member whose scholarly activity over an extended period of time has been of the highest quality.

Since joining SVSU’s faculty in 2013, Rahman been active in research as well as in teaching. His research interests include detecting and mitigating cyber-behavioral anomalies, behavioral biometrics, machine learning, knowledge discovery from data, image processing and human activity detection from video. In 2016, Rahman and his undergraduate student research assistants filed a request with the U.S. Patent Office for technology that would allow consumers to unlock their smartphones using a series of physical movements. Rahman has served as an advisor of the SVSU club that competes in the International Collegiate Programming Contest and has advised SVSU’s Bangladeshi Student Association and the Saginaw Valley Cricket Club. He earned a Ph.D. in computational analysis and modeling from Louisiana Tech University.

Kenneth Jolly, a professor of history at SVSU, was recognized with the House Family Award for Teacher Impact. This award recognizes teaching faculty in SVSU’s College of Arts & Behavioral Sciences, College of Education and Carmona College of Business who have had a profound impact on their students. Established in 1990, this award is funded by the family of Dr. Robert House.

Jolly joined the SVSU faculty in 2004, quickly gaining a reputation among students as an outstanding educator. He teaches courses in African American history, Africana studies, Black liberation movements, the African diaspora and U.S. history. Jolly was instrumental in creating SVSU’s academic programs in Black studies. He has authored two books and has published articles and reviews in several academic journals, and he has presented his work at numerous academic conferences. At SVSU Jolly the Franc A. Landee Teaching Excellence Award in 2009, the Roosevelt Ruffin Diversity Award in 2007and the Terry Ishihara Award for Outstanding Co-Curricular Involvement in 2006. He has been honored with Michigan Campus Compact’s Community Service-Learning Award and by SVSU’s Abler’s Club as a faculty member who advocates for students with disabilities. Jolly completed his Ph.D. at the University of Missouri.

Rosina Hassoun, associate professor of sociology, received the Ruben Daniels Community Service Award. This award represents the university’s highest recognition of employee community involvement. Named for the late Ruben Daniels, a Saginaw community leader, it was first given in 1993.

The Roosevelt Ruffin Diversity Award was presented to Veronika Drake, associate professor of English. The award created in 2005 to recognize SVSU individuals or groups who have demonstrated diversity leadership and creativity. It is named for the late Dr. Ruffin, who served as SVSU’s director of Multicultural Programs and Affirmative Action.

Sara Beth Keough, professor of geography, and Scott Youngstedt, professor of anthropology, were recognized with the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Research Award. This award honors SVSU faculty who made a significant and/or long-standing contribution to the advancement of research or practice in the field of diversity, equity and inclusion.

Danilo Sirias, professor of management, received the Global Diversity Award, which recognizes the extension of SVU’s impact from the Great Lakes Bay Region to the global community. It represents the university’s highest acknowledgement of global leadership and service by SVSU faculty, staff, student groups and other individuals associated with the campus community.

Two SVSU employees were presented with the Outstanding Performance Award, which recognizes exemplary work that consistently exceeds goals and job expectations in quantity, quality, customer service, teamwork and leadership within the department, division and university. Bruce Hart, a lab technician in the Department of Chemistry, was the administrative/professional recipient. Kelly Nitschmann, a financial services representative, was the support staff honoree.

The Terry Ishihara Award for Outstanding Co-curricular Involvement was presented to Rajani Muraleedharan-Sreekumaridevi, professor of electrical and computer engineering, and Kathleen Chantaca-Kubczak, administrative secretary in the Office of Student Life. Named in honor of Dr. Ishihara, professor emeritus of mechanical engineering and technology (1980-1994, the award recognizes one SVSU faculty member and one staff member for contributions to student life and the university through co-curricular activities.

Catherine Macomber, associate professor of social work, was recognized with the Award for Empowering Learning in Community Engagement. This award recognizes a full-time faculty member, staff member or team of SVSU employees for their innovation and leadership through community engagement.

The Excellence in Online Teaching Award was presented to Ranjana Dutta, professor of psychology. The award was established in 2020 to recognize a faculty member who has demonstrated excellence in online/hybrid teaching by creatively and effectively using appropriate technologies and best practices to design and teach online and/or hybrid courses at SVSU.

Bethany Eicher, a testing proctor for the Office of Adjunct Faculty & Academic Support Programs, was recognized with the Mary H. Anderson Adjunct Faculty Award. This honor is presented to an adjunct faculty member who shares both academic expertise and professional experience with students. The award is named for Mary H. Anderson, herself a dedicated SVSU adjunct faculty member.

For more information on the All-University Awards, including past recipients, visit