Skip to main content Skip to footer

March 22, 2024

SVSU honors community supporters, outstanding faculty and staff

Portrait of Charles Curtiss

Saginaw Valley State University honored a founding board member as well as outstanding faculty and staff during the university’s 32nd All-University Awards Banquet Friday, March 15.

The Distinguished Service Medallion, SVSU’s most prestigious award for a community member, was awarded to Charles Curtiss before some 300 faculty, staff and honorees.

Curtiss was instrumental in the formation of Saginaw Valley State University and dedicated 40 years of continuous volunteer service to the university. In 1962, Curtiss served as chair of the local citizens’ committee to explore the feasibility of establishing an institution of higher education. The following year, he was tapped to serve on the board of the newly established private college, Saginaw Valley College. In 1965, SVC became state assisted, and Curtiss was one of six original members appointed to the governing board. He was appointed or reappointed by governors of both parties to four successive eight-year terms, serving an unprecedented 32 years on the SVSU Board of Control. He chaired the board from 1973-1982.

Curtiss served on four capital fundraising campaigns for the university, including the initial drive to raise $4 million to purchase the land for the campus. He was a member of the SVSU Foundation Board of Directors from 1977 to 2003. In 2013, SVSU conferred on Curtiss an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.

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

Dan Gates, professor of English, was the winner of the 2024 Franc A. Landee Teaching Excellence Award. The Landee Award, which was established in 1971, 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.

Gates joined SVSU’s faculty in 2008. He specializes in 19th century British literature, and his research focuses primarily on Victorian novels. Gates also serves as an assistant editor for the journal Victorian Literature and Culture. He holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of California.

Rhett Mohler, professor of geography, received 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 2012, Mohler has been very active in his research, which focuses on improving the methods used to identify invasive species from satellite and drone imagery at the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge and Crow Island State Game Area. He has been awarded been awarded 13 research grants as the principal investigator or co-PI, including external grants from the Bay Area Community Foundation and the Ruth and Ted Braun Fellowship. Mohler has published several peer-reviewed papers in scholarly journals and has been cited over 200 times by others in his field. Through his research, he has supported nearly 20 students in paid research roles, and most were able to present their work at conferences, such as the American Association of Geographers and the Michigan Academy of Sciences.

Mohler holds a Ph.D. in geography from Kansas State University.

Julie Keil, a professor of political science at SVSU and chair of the political science department, 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.

A practicing attorney for 30 years, Keil joined SVSU in 2007. Keil’s students recognize her as an educator who genuinely wants every student to succeed. In addition to teaching classes, Keil serves as the pre-law advisor, helping students prepare for the law school admission test. She also acts as the moot court advisor, providing practical coaching to help students build the skills to practice law. In recognition of her commitment to student engagement, Keil was awarded the Terry Ishihara Award for Outstanding Co-curricular Involvement in 2013.  

Keil earned her juris doctor degree from the University of Oregon.  

Jesse Donahue, professor of political science, 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 presented in 1993.

The Roosevelt Ruffin Diversity Award was presented to Jennifer Pahl, executive director of admissions. The award was established 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.

Kathleen Schachman, H.R. Wickes Endowed Professor, was 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.

David Nichols, associate professor of philosophy, 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. Trisha Charbonneau-Ivey, project manager in the department of nursing, was the administrative/professional recipient. Jaime Frank, a student loan clerk, was the support staff honoree.

The Terry Ishihara Award for Outstanding Co-curricular Involvement was presented to Stacie Krupp, professor of accounting, and Heidi Lang, pre-health professions advisor. 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.

Melvin McDowell, assistant 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 Kellie Konsor, associate professor of economics. 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.

Michael Crawford, an adjunct instructor in the department of art, received 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