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April 12, 2019

SVSU supports professors’ innovation with Dow Teaching Awards

Four Saginaw Valley State University educators will receive funding for their ideas to improve student learning after being selected to receive 2019-20 Dow Professor Teaching Awards from SVSU's Center for Academic Innovation.


The awards come paired with cash grants to help support the work of individual faculty and faculty teams.


Aneesha Gogineni, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, received $5,500 for materials needed to redesign a course on active learning in thermodynamics. Funds will be used to purchase and assemble hands-on materials, as well as for an app, which will be integrated into the class to increase student responses to questions, analyze their understanding level, and engage them in the subject. Data collected from the redesigned course will be presented at a conference.


Brandon Haskett, assistant professor of music, received $5,500 for upgrades to SVSU's music technology lab.


“This project would result in our students' increased exposure to digital music creation and collaboration, allow them to use their previous knowledge of popular music genres to create something new and give students real-world experiences with hardware, software and their related processes, which will prepare them more fully for the professional world,” Haskett wrote in his award proposal.


Scott Kowalewski, associate professor of rhetoric and professional writing, and Bill Williamson, professor of rhetoric and professional writing, jointly received $4,223.88 for upgrades to their department's recording studio and usability lab, where students create and assess websites and other digital documents. The upgrades will focus on digital video production.


“This project extends our students' professional development and career preparedness, meeting the demands of contemporary communicators,” the professors stated in their award proposal.


The awards are supported by the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Academic Fund at SVSU.

April 11, 2019

SVSU's Concert Band performs spring concert featuring original song composed by SVSU student

A Saginaw Valley State University student inspired to compose a musical theme for a superhero movie will see his work played by the SVSU concert band next week.

Nathan Grocholski's work, titled “Dark Fire,” will be one of several musical pieces performed at the band's spring concert Wednesday, April 17, at 7:30 p.m. in SVSU's Malcolm Field Theatre for Performing Arts. The event is free and open to the public.

Grocholski, a music major from Grand Rapids who also plays clarinet in the band, said he began creating “Dark Fire” for a musical composition class and later updated it when there was an opportunity to include it in the spring concert.

“I was watching movies without scores to them, and the first one that I came across was the 2012 found-footage superhero film ‘Chronicle,’” Grocholski said. “This piece is based off of common superhero themes like in ‘Avengers,’ and I was trying to capture a darker superhero theme that was in contrast to more light-hearted movies and their motifs.”

Although some of his original works have been performed in smaller ensembles before, this is his first large ensemble piece to be performed during a public performance.

“This is probably the most monumental moment in my career,” Grocholski said. “It has truly been an honor to work with such talented musicians here at SVSU. I feel strongly that my fellow band mates and instructors have put much care into my work and are always willing to share constructive feedback with me.”

Led by conductor and assistant professor of music Norman Wika, the band will be performing selections from the 20th and 21st centuries.

Selections being performed also include “Undertow,” by John Mackey, “Summoning Fire,” by Stephanie Berg and “New Wade'N Water,” by Adolphus Hailstork.

For more information on SVSU's Department of Music, visit

April 10, 2019

Essayist to read from award-winning writings at SVSU event

Award-winning essayist Aisha Sabatini Sloan will read passages from her writing at Saginaw Valley State University on Wednesday, April 17, at 4 p.m. in Founders Hall at SVSU.


Sabatini Sloan's writing often touches on topics relating to current events and race while also offering analysis of art, film and pop culture. She authored books such as "The Fluency of Light” and “Dreaming of Ramadi in Detroit." The latter work was nominated for the University of Iowa's Essay Prize and won the Community of Literary Magazines and Presses’ Firecracker Award for nonfiction. 


Sabatini Sloan’s essays are included in the anthologies “Trespass: Ecotone Essayists Beyond the Boundaries of Place, Identity, and Feminism,” “Truth to Power,” “How We Speak to One Another” and “The Sonoran Desert: A Literary Field Guide.” Her work has been nominated for multiple Pushcart Prizes. She was a finalist for both the inaugural Write-A-House contest in Detroit and the 2015 Disquiet Literary Prize.


The Los Angeles-born author also serves as the Helen Zell Visiting Professor of Creative Nonfiction at the University of Michigan. For more information about Sabatini Sloan, visit her website at

Her appearance at SVSU is sponsored by the university's Department of English as part of the Voices in the Valley Reading Series. Admission is free and open to the public.

For more information about the event, contact Arra Ross, SVSU associate professor of English, at or (989) 964-4032.

April 10, 2019

SVSU Occupational Therapy program to host ‘Skills for the Job of Living’ camp for stroke survivors

Saginaw Valley State University faculty, staff and students in the Master of Science in Occupational Therapy program will lead a stroke camp on campus Monday, July 22 through Friday, August 2.

Therapy will be aimed toward the “Skills for the Job of Living,” to include physical rehabilitation and psychological/social support, activities of daily living, leisure/play and socialization throughout each of the six hours daily.  Those of any age, who are at least six months after experiencing a stroke, are welcome to participate. 

Designed to serve neighbors in the Great Lakes Bay Region, the camp will run Monday - Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in SVSU’s Health and Human Services Building.

Participation in the program requires a full daily commitment of attendance for the two weeks.  In return, there is no participation fee.  The only other criteria is such that the participant must be able to independently care for one's daily personal needs throughout the six hour day.  A physician's written consent to participate is required.

Therapy will be skilled and individualized, so the program is limited to 20 participants. 

Those interested in participating should contact Donald Earley, SVSU professor of occupational therapy, at (989) 964-4689 or

April 9, 2019

SVSU alum helps build robotics team at Bullock Creek

Jamie Forbes has helped forge a robotics dynasty during her time as a biology and algebra teacher at Bullock Creek High School in Midland.

The Saginaw Valley State University alumna has acted as a lead mentor to Bullock Creek's robotics team, Blitzcreek 3770, since its creation nine years ago.

In robotics, lead mentors mostly focus on team communication, often dealing with student relationships, ensuring conflict resolution and handling basic logistics like making sure the team members get fed during competitions.

Forbes said she does deal with the mechanical side of things, but prefers to take a backseat to the students to ensure good learning outcomes for them.

“I ask a lot of questions because I try not to be overly-involved,” Forbes said. “I want this to be their project.”

The approach has paid off, judging by the team's record of success. The Blitzcreek 3770 team has made both state and world championships in the FIRST Robotics competition the past four years, and they have again qualified to compete in the FIRST in Michigan state competition held at SVSU Thursday, April 11 through Saturday, April 13.

Originally from Yale, Michigan, Forbes earned her bachelor's degree in biology from SVSU in 2007 and started teaching at Bullock Creek later that year.

“I coached softball here initially, then jumped on the robotics and really ran with that,” Forbes said. “I love how this program really celebrates what makes our kids unique and what makes them strong.”

Community service is another important aspect of the team, and each student is required to complete volunteer hours each season. Team members take part in all kinds of volunteer activities, including helping set up competition spaces and community events.

“Some of it is directly robotics-related, but a lot of it is just making sure we're good stewards of our community,” Forbes said. “These folks are investing in our team, so we also need to invest in them as well.”

When it comes to the students themselves, robotics gives them the opportunity to develop many different skills. One of the advantages to competing in robotics, Forbes said, is the many different areas that students can focus on. Some students on the team have little interest in the robot itself but love the public relations or business side of it, for example.

“We fundraise upwards of $50,000 to $60,000 a year to run our program here, and some of our students are absolutely integral in communicating with our sponsors,” Forbes said. “Some of our students love the competition aspect of it, or the mechanical challenge, or the programming.”

Forbes looks at robotics as a field that anyone can be a superstar in. She sees her work with the robotics team as a way to help build the future and prepare her students for their careers.

“The kids that are working in this lab and working on that robot are going to go out and be the business people, they're going to be the innovators and the ones really driving us forward in the future,” Forbes said.

For more information about the FIRST Robotics state championship at SVSU, visit

April 9, 2019

Shakespeare-inspired concert to showcase 49 SVSU student-musicians

Saginaw Valley State University students next week plan to transform William Shakespeare's texts into music during a concert event on campus.


An ensemble featuring 49 performers from both SVSU's Concert Choir and Cardinal Singers will present the concert — titled "The Food of Love" — Monday, April 15, at 7:30 p.m. in the university's Rhea Miller Recital Hall. The event is free and open to the public.


"The Food of Love" largely will feature music with lyrics taken from Shakespeare works such as "As You Like It," "The Merchant of Venice," "A Midsummer Night's Dream," "The Tempest" and "Twelfth Night." The program also will include performances of “The Red, Blue and White” by musician Scott Tuttle as well as “Beatus Vir" by 16th-century Italian composer Claudio Monteverdi.


The concert's vocalists will be directed by Kevin Simons, SVSU associate professor of music.


Amanda Stamper will serve as a piano and harpsichord accompanist while Susan Mercy of the Midland Symphony Orchestra and Emily Kinnicutt will play violin.


For more information about the event, contact the SVSU Department of Music at 989-964-4159 or visit

April 9, 2019

Bestselling novelist Devin Murphy to visit SVSU

Saginaw Valley State University will present a reading by bestselling novelist Devin Murphy on Monday, April 15, at 7 p.m. in Founders Hall at SVSU.

Murphy is the author of fiction novels such as “The Boat Runner,” published by HarperCollins in 2017. His writing has appeared in more than 60 literary journals and anthologies, including “The Missouri Review,” “Glimmer Train” and “Confrontation.”

His most recent novel, “Tiny Americans” — released in March — follows a family over the decades and across the world as they struggle to grapple with issues such as alcoholism, abandonment and loneliness. "Tiny Americans" is available for sale at various online outlets including the website for publishing company HarperCollins.

Outside of his writing, Murphy has worked various jobs in national parks around the country and once had a three-year stint at sea that led him to over 50 countries on all seven continents. He now works as an associate professor of creative writing at Bradley University and lives in Chicago with his wife and children.

For more information about Murphy, visit his website at

His appearance at SVSU is sponsored by the university's Department of English as part of the campus' Voices in the Valley Reading Series. Admission is free and open to the public.

For more information about the event, contact Arra Ross, SVSU associate professor of English, at or (989) 964-4032.

April 8, 2019

SVSU students workin’ ‘9 to 5: The Musical’

Saginaw Valley State University student-actors plan to put a modern — and musical — spin on a beloved 1980 film following three working-class women getting even with their boss.

The curtains open for "9 to 5: The Musical" from Wednesday to Sunday, April 10-14, at SVSU's Malcolm Field Theatre for Performing Arts.

Based in part on the movie featuring Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, "9 to 5: The Musical" features music written by Parton, who also sang the catchy 1980 radio hit of the same name.

The three female leads for SVSU's production are Abby Burgess, a Commerce Township theatre major cast in the role originally played by Parton; Brianne Dolney, a Bay City resident portraying Fonda's old character; and Jessica Hurley, an Essexville native in the part once occupied by Tomlin.

Dolney, a theatre and political science major, said the musical offers hearty roles for the three leads. The plot places the co-workers in a challenging office environment in 1970s New York City.

“Each is facing her own unique struggles in her own way, but they all come together to overcome them," Dolney said. "It’s about friendship, sisterhood, and women fighting back against hypocritical bigots."

Ric Roberts, the play's director and an SVSU professor of theatre, said the timing was right for the university to produce a story about female empowerment.

“SVSU has the luxury of looking at the school’s acting pool and deciding our next production based on the talent," he said. "This year, we are very female-heavy in talent."

Roberts said, even though the script is from 1979, the topic is relevant to today's social struggles reflected in the #MeToo movement and the fight for equal pay.

“Women have put up with so much for so long," Dolney said. "This story is about a group of women who decided enough was enough."

Hurley, a theatre major, said she can relate to her character of Violet Newstead.

"I also share my character's dream of wanting to become a female CEO in a business world that is mainly dominated by men,” she said. “The message of this story is that you can do anything if you set your mind to it, regardless of your gender or any other external factor.”

Hurley anticipated audience members of all ages will enjoy the musical, first performed on Broadway and Los Angeles stages more than a decade ago.

“This story is one that you will find yourself laughing, crying and everything in between,” said the theatre major.

“9 to 5: The Musical” is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. performances Wednesday through Saturday, April 10-13, and a 3 p.m. performance Sunday, April 14.

Tickets are $16 for general admission, $14 for senior citizens aged 60 and older, and $12 for students. Tickets can be purchased online now.

For more information, please contact the SVSU Box Office at (989) 964-4261.

April 5, 2019

SVSU student supports Kingston high school FIRST robotics team

As Saginaw Valley State University prepares to host the FIRST in Michigan state championship April 10-13, one SVSU student is doing all he can to help his former high school team qualify to visit his current campus.


Daniel Schwarck isn't quite ready to give up his time with the FIRST Robotics competition, where high school teams assemble and pilot robots in competition spaces that change yearly.


After competing four years with the robotics team at Kingston High School in Michigan’s Thumb, the Robo-Cards, he now helps mentor the team as a first-year electrical engineering major at SVSU.


Schwarck's interest in robotics comes out of a lifelong interest in science fiction, where robots are everywhere. Kingston High School educators set up a robotics team the year before he started attending, and participating was a no-brainer for him.


“I checked it out the first year and kind of did odd jobs with it to see if I wanted to do the mechanical side, the electrical or coding,” Schwarck said. “I started out trying to figure out the coding, and decided it was not for me, so I switched to electrical and enjoyed that.”


Schwarck worked on the electrical side of the team for the next few years, until the team expanded and needed participants to cover compressed air systems.


The Robo-Cards made it to the state competitions twice while Schwarck was on the team, most recently during FIRST Robotics' second appearance at SVSU in 2018, during his senior year.


Schwarck noted that the academic and practical benefits of participating in FIRST Robotics should not be understated.


“You have to keep up good grades,” Schwarck said. “You use your knowledge to compete. You're using math while you're building your robot. You're really thinking about it and planning it out. It helped boost my math ability because I got used to it in a situation where I had to apply it. It wasn't just theory.”


That practical application of engineering knowledge is important to Schwarck, who now sees a path at SVSU toward a career he's passionate about.


“I figured, I already have an idea of this electrical stuff – I enjoy it – so if I can get a job where I can basically do the same thing I was doing as a hobby, my life is going to be great,” Schwarck said.


Scholarships and networking opportunities are some additional benefits of Schwarck's time competing in FIRST Robotics. He has seen opportunities in mechanical and electrical engineering open up as a result.


For Schwarck, competing in FIRST Robotics isn't so much about beating the other teams as it is about showcasing excellence in robotics.


“When you go to the competitions, it's so different from any other sport,” Schwarck said. “People are singing and dancing. People are a lot closer. It's competitive, but it's not like you're trying to beat other teams. You're trying to be the top team.”


When asked whether the Kingston Robo-Cards will place at FIRST Robotics' state championship at SVSU this year, Schwarck is optimistic.


“I think we have a solid shot,” Schwarck said. “We have a pretty solid team.”

April 4, 2019

SVSU student-organized bowling fundraiser at Stardust Lanes to support assisted living facility

When Lindsey Mead in high school began volunteering at Community Village, an assisted living facility for senior citizens in Saginaw Township, she became fast friends with its residents. 

“I’ve kind of adopted them,” said Mead, a student at Saginaw Valley State University these days. “They’re near and dear to my heart."

Those relationships endured through the years and recently extended to a group of her SVSU classmates now hoping to better the lives of those residents. The students' goal: help pay for renovations at the assisted living facility by inviting people to participate in a bowling tournament organized to raise funds for the cause.

The bowling competition is scheduled Saturday, April 13, from noon to 3 p.m. at Stardust Lanes, 3750 Bay in Saginaw Township. Participation involves signing up teams of four people for $100 total to bowl in a three-round competition. The winning team will earn $200 while all other proceeds will help pay for renovations to Community Village bathrooms and showers as well as upgrades to its air conditioning system. Organizers also will host a silent auction at the fundraiser.

To sign up for the fundraising tournament, contact Taylor Stockton at or (810) 701-0405.

Community Village, operated by Rescue Ministries of Mid-Michigan, houses about 60 people who are ages 60 and older. Dan Streeter, chief executive officer of Rescue Ministries of Mid-Michigan, was impressed with the spirit of generosity driving Mead and her SVSU classmates to support the residents of Community Village.

"It's really amazing to see young adults — who care about our community — take the time out of their busy school schedules to invest in our neighbors in need," Streeter said. "This is a great example for how we should all care for each other."

Streeter said a fundraising bowling tournament was a smart way to generate interest from community members while also offering an entertaining afternoon.

"People can have some fun, and at the same time, know that their fun is helping people," he said.

Mead, an English literature major from Saginaw, began helping the people of Community Village — and having fun with them — while volunteering there as a student at Swan Valley High School. Since then, she maintained strong friendships with residents there, visiting them at least once monthly and often taking them on trips across the region. She and some of her friends at the facility are regular moviegoers at local theaters, for instance.

Mead in 2018 was selected as one of 10 students to participate in SVSU’s Roberts Fellowship Program, a year-long leadership development initiative that features students with a strong interest in community engagement. Knowing Mead’s affinity for Community Village, Mead and four of her Roberts Fellowship classmates searched for ways to support Community Village.

“I was just looking for any way to help,” Mead said. “My Roberts Fellows group members searched the Community Village website and discovered they were in need of help with renovations. Roberts Fellows is all about teamwork. My group members really are working so hard on this event.”

That group includes Mead and Stockton, a management major from Hale; as well as Kellie Rankey, a creative writing major from Saginaw; Miles Shane, a health science major from Southgate; and Andrew Vivian, an electrical engineering major from Richmond Township.

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