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September 9, 2019

SVSU kicks off Rhea Miller Concert Series with jazz saxophonist Clark Gibson

Saginaw Valley State University will host jazz saxophonist Clark Gibson for a concert Saturday, Sept. 28, at 7 p.m. in the Rhea Miller Recital Hall as part of SVSU’s Rhea Miller Concert Series.


The concert, “Bird with Strings: Music of Charlie Parker,” will feature arrangements composed for Charlie Parker, a famous American jazz saxophonist. Local musicians will accompany Gibson for the performance.


Gibson is a composer and director of jazz studies as well as an assistant professor of saxophone at Northeastern State University in Oklahoma.


While being an in-demand adjudicator and clinician, Gibson has also taught students privately and performed with The Temptations, The Four Tops, The Jim Knapp Orchestra, and more.


Gibson recorded original compositions for his albums "lapetus" in 2010, "Old Style Sextet" in 2014 and "Bird with String: The Lost Arrangements" in 2016. Gibson's latest album, "Tri-Colored Eyes," was released Sept. 3.


"Old Style Sextet" came in second place at the International Cotai Jazz and Blues Festival Competition in Macau, China. "The Lost Arrangements" received positive reviews from radio and print publications, including DownBeat magazine


In his SVSU concert, Gibson will perform various selections including arrangements from “Bird with Strings.”


The Rhea Miller Concert Series is made possible by a generous gift from Rhea E. Miller, a longtime friend of SVSU. Her gift, administered by the Miller Trust for Music Education, has provided the university with the opportunity to offer outstanding performances by nationally and internationally acclaimed musical artists at no cost to the audience since 1993.


For more information, call SVSU's Department of Music at (989) 964-4159 or email

September 9, 2019

SVSU to host 9/11 Heroes Run to benefit national foundation

UPDATE: Due to the threat of severe weather, the Heroes Run will be postponed this evening, including the remembrance ceremony. The event is reschedule for this Saturday at 10 a.m.  Follow updates at


Saginaw Valley State University is hosting its annual 9/11 Heroes Run on Wednesday, Sept. 11, to benefit The Travis Manion Foundation.


The event will consist of a 5K run/walk and a 400-meter "fun run" for children. The 5K run/walk will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the parking lot of SVSU's Gilbertson Hall. The course will continue along the paved campus running trail.


Registration for the 5K is $30 if registering before Monday, Sept. 9, or $35 between then and the day of the event. Participants who are active in the military or members of a first responder agency can register for $27 before Monday's deadline or $30 between then and the day of the event. Family package deals also are available.


Participants can also register for the GORUCK division of the race. Rucking is when the participants wear a weighted bag on their back during the 5K.


The Travis Manion Foundation works to empower veterans and families of fallen heroes to develop character in future generations. The national nonprofit has organized the annual fundraiser at locations across the world since 2007. Wednesday's event will mark the sixth year SVSU has hosted a 9/11 Heroes Run.


Several SVSU offices were involved in organizing this year's annual run including Military Student Affairs, Campus Recreation, Advanced Studies & International Student Services, and University Communications.


The Kochville and Saginaw Township fire departments are both supporting the run this year.


Those interested in participating in the SVSU-hosted 9/11 Heroes Run can register online at, or sign up at the site of the race beginning at 5 p.m. on Wednesday.

September 9, 2019

SVSU Accounting and Finance Employment Fair to feature 30 organizations seeking talent

Job-seekers in accounting and finance industries will have the opportunity to connect with about 30 employers expected to attend an employment fair at Saginaw Valley State University this month.


The Accounting and Finance Employment Fair is scheduled Tuesday, Sept. 10, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the banquet halls and seminar rooms on the second floor of SVSU's Curtiss Hall.


The gathering is one of seven employment fairs that SVSU will host this academic year. These events are free and open to the public.


Tuesday’s fair will offer opportunities for attendees to meet with representatives from companies and agencies headquartered both in the region as well as across the nation.


The event is sponsored by Bankers Life, Chemical Bank, and Rehmann, which will feature representation there. Other representatives expected to attend include those from Dow, Frankenmuth Insurance, Independent Bank, Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans, Saginaw Bay Underwriters, and the state Department of Treasury, among others.


Thomas Barnikow, interim associate director of the SVSU Career Services office that coordinates the employment fairs, recommended attendees prepare by researching employers they hope to approach at the fair.


"Have your 30-second pitch ready to go," he said. "You want to be as informed as possible for the event."


Professional attire is required for all attendees.


For more information about the 2019 SVSU Accounting and Finance Employment Fair as well as future SVSU Career Services-organized events, visit

September 5, 2019

SVSU alumna with small town roots makes the case in one of world's largest law firms

In a few short years, Samantha Jackson went from living in a rural town of 3,000 people and questioning her future to moving to a bustling city with nearly 3 million residents and working at one of the most prestigious law firms in the world.

Jackson, a native of Goodells and a first-generation college student, is no stranger to broadening her horizons. During her undergraduate experience at Saginaw Valley State University, the determined 2015 political science grad was a driven member of moot court and traveled across the country multiple times to compete in the national championships, even placing in the top 6 percent nationally.

Jackson continued to expand her worldview as a hard-working member of the university's forensics team and Model United Nations group, as well as by serving as a dedicated global resident assistant in SVSU's Pine Grove apartments. She capped off her global experience at SVSU with a leadership development trip to Asia as part of her involvement with the prestigious Roberts Fellowship.

Jackson graduated with the confidence to begin her law career and further her global journey, but she didn’t always have this tenacity. When she started at SVSU, she was unsure of her future and place in the world, but the support and mentorship she received from pre-law advisor, Lee Trepanier, professor of political science, changed everything.

"From my freshman year to my senior year at SVSU, Dr. Trepanier provided invaluable guidance," Jackson said.

"His classes were challenging and thought-provoking, his feedback was constructive and pushed me to be a better thinker and writer, and he gave me candid advice as I chose my major, debated about my post-graduate plans, and as I crafted my law school applications."

With the help of all the opportunities she had at SVSU and the empowering professors she encountered, Jackson was prepared for her next big step: law school at the University of Michigan.

She continued to thrive at one of the top 10 law schools in the country while furthering her advancement in moot court, serving as a graduate student instructor, and working as a student attorney at both a human trafficking clinic and an unemployment insurance clinic.

Jackson also ensured that she didn’t limit herself to the Ann Arbor area, as she worked as a constitutional litigation intern in Washington, D.C. and as a summer associate with Latham & Watkins in New York City.

Jackson graduated from U of M with honors in 2018 and took her biggest leap of all: moving to the Chicago offices of Latham & Watkins, the second-highest grossing law firm in the world. After interning with the firm for several months, she accepted a full-time position as an associate at Latham & Watkins, establishing herself at a firm with a global platform spanning 14 countries. Jackson currently dedicates much of her time to the firm's pro bono efforts, as well as acts as the legal liaison for the Chicago Domestic Violence Legal Clinic.

Even as she has traveled the globe and achieved incredible success, Jackson still sticks true to her roots and stays connected to the people from her alma mater who have guided her along the way.

"Dr. Trepanier helped me make the most of my time at SVSU and prepared me for the rigor of law school, and I've continued to ask for his advice as I make career decisions," Jackson said. "SVSU is lucky to have such an incredible adviser!"

No matter what opportunities come her way or where life takes her next, one thing is for certain: this small town girl is going places.    

September 4, 2019

SVSU nursing student’s bone marrow donation could save leukemia patient’s life

When Haley Ludviksen helped her student organization bring a bone marrow donor drive to Saginaw Valley State University six years ago, the nursing major never expected she might be the one to give a potentially lifesaving gift to a person in need.

The unexpected happened this summer.

Ludviksen's journey as a bone marrow donor began her freshman year at SVSU in 2013. That’s when the Cadillac native helped found SVSU’s chapter of the Lions Club. The organization soon contacted Gift of Life, a nonprofit that coordinates bone marrow screenings and provides support as well as transportation to donors. A donor registration drive organized that academic year by Ludviksen and the Lions Club involved a simple cheek swab to collect DNA, which then was analyzed and paired with potential matches.

“It’s pretty rare, honestly, to be a match for someone, because all of the tiny little elements of your blood have to match perfectly,” Ludviksen said. “So, I was really surprised to get the call.”

“The call” came last year, when Ludviksen was informed she was matched with a patient who would need a bone marrow transplant in 2019. Fast forward to this year when, in June, Gift of Life arranged a flight for Ludviksen to travel to the organization’s collection center in Fairfax, Virginia.

After a physical and routine blood work to confirm Ludviksen was healthy enough for the donation, she received an injection every day for four days that promoted white blood cell growth in her bone marrow.

“Since I was a nursing student, they let me do the injections myself, so that was cool,” she said.

On June 10, Ludviksen underwent a peripheral stem cell donation. The donation involves medical staff using a dialysis machine to filter specific types of cells out of her blood over the course of several hours. The procedure is less invasive than other types of marrow donations, which might involve drilling into the donor’s bones to extract the material, she said.

While the privacy of bone marrow donation candidates is protected, Ludviksen does know that her match is a 54-year-old man who suffers from leukemia. If the remaining donation process goes well, patients and donors have the option to contact each other one year after the donation.

“Being able to see what I will get to see as a nurse — as well as being a really integral part of the process of helping someone get better — was a really special experience,” said Ludviksen, who plans to graduate from SVSU in December.

“Everyone should sign up to be a donor.”

August 29, 2019

SVSU alumnus named Saginaw police Officer of the Year

Terrance Moore, a 2015 graduate of Saginaw Valley State University’s criminal justice program, received the Saginaw Police Department’s 2019 Officer of the Year Award.

Moore, who also graduated from SVSU with his master’s degree in public administration, received this award in recognition of his dedication to improved police and youth relations in the Saginaw community.

Since starting with the Saginaw Police Department, Moore has established a career exploration academy for area middle and high school students interested in law enforcement.

He also coordinated a department open house for all community members to visit with the Saginaw officers and canines while touring the Saginaw Police Department.

August 20, 2019

SVSU hires Midland law enforcement leader as new University Police chief

Saginaw Valley State University has hired Cliff Block to serve as the school’s next police chief, bringing aboard a highly-respected law enforcement leader to help maintain the campus’ secure and friendly atmosphere. With more than a quarter-century of law enforcement experience — ranging from neighborhood patrol duties to statewide leadership positions — Block plans to strengthen the university’s status as a safe campus with a close-knit community feel.

“It will be an honor to serve the students, administration, faculty, staff and officers as we work to provide a safe, secure and friendly environment, where the focus can be on higher learning,” said Block, an SVSU alumnus.

Block since 2012 served as police chief in Midland, where he first joined the force as a patrol officer in 1993. As the city’s police chief, he oversaw a $9 million-per-year, 52-member law enforcement agency tasked with keeping Midland a safe community.

There, he worked to create a culture of professionalism and customer service excellence in policing through training, education and partnerships. Block implemented specialized groups within the police department including K-9, Honor Guard, Traffic Team as well as Sex Offender units. Block encouraged the implementation of community engagement and assistance programs including Hope Not Handcuffs, Handle with Care, Coffee with a Cop, and Cone with a Cop, among others.

He also oversaw the creation and development of programs focused on supporting victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. While developing these initiatives, he remained an active member of the Midland community, engaging with various associations, committees and events. 

Block plans to bring a similar approach to SVSU, where he wants to work closely with the university’s small-community environment to continue fortifying the campus’ safe atmosphere.

“I am looking forward to working in a campus policing environment and bringing with me a highly interactive community policing and outreach philosophy,” he said. “I look forward to working with the SVSU community, stakeholders and partners as we solve the future challenges and celebrate the future successes in store for us at SVSU.”

He also served in leadership positions for law enforcement organizations dedicated to safety across the state. Police chiefs from across the state 2017-18 selected Block as president of the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police. Earlier, he served as president of the Central Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police from 2013-16.

Law enforcement is in Block’s DNA. His father served as a police officer and then dispatcher for the Fenton Police Department for more than 30 years.

Block earned a master’s degree in leadership in public administration from SVSU in 2003. The Lake Fenton High School graduate received a bachelor’s degree in computer science from University of Michigan-Flint in 1991.

His education as a law enforcement leader is extensive and full of merit. Block earned his Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards certification in 1992 from Oakland Police Academy, where he was elected president of his class. In 1995, he received an associate’s degree in criminal justice from Delta College, where he was the recipient of the Midland Bar Association Law Enforcement Outstanding Graduate Award. He was ranked No. 1 academically in his class while participating in the Eastern Michigan School of Police Staff and Command from 2000-01.

Block succeeds Leo Mioduszewski, who retired in July. He served as SVSU’s police chief since 2016.

August 20, 2019

SVSU rises toward the top nationally for ‘Best College Dorms’ ranking

A warm and welcoming environment — along with first-rate residential facilities — helped Saginaw Valley State University continue to climb the rankings for a website grading the nation’s “best dorms” and campuses.


SVSU placed No. 4 overall in the nation and No. 1 among all U.S. public universities in the website Niche’s “2020 Best College Dorms” ranking, which uses a weighted formula where 70 percent of a school’s score comes from student satisfaction surveys.


This marks the second consecutive year SVSU’s score bested all other public universities. Its No. 4 overall ranking — which includes private institutions — represents a jump from No. 8 last year, SVSU’s previous best showing in the category. The university is the only higher education institution in the state to appear in the ranking’s top 60 this year. In total, 1,384 colleges and universities were included on the list.


Renee McKinnie, a rehabilitation medicine major at SVSU, said her tour of the campus’ housing facilities three years ago played a role in helping her decide to choose the university and move there from her hometown of Detroit.


“It felt like you were at home,” she said of that first impression. “Looking back, coming here was the best decision because I’ve had the best experience living on campus.”


McKinnie now works as a student resident assistant, putting her in a leadership role with her peers and neighbors living with her on campus. She said residing on SVSU’s campus provides an education outside of the classroom.


“We’re a small community but there’s so much diversity,” McKinnie said. “When you live here, you get to know people from different backgrounds and cultures. It’s a blessing to be around so many different types of people.”


The on-campus activities — including movie screenings, game nights, icebreaker events, and concerts, among other types of gatherings — provide opportunities for residents from different corners of the university’s housing complexes to gather for fun, she said.


“You become close to people in your building, but there are so many ways to bridge out and meet other people living here,” she said.


Michele Gunkelman, SVSU’s director of residential life and an alumna who once lived on campus, said both SVSU’s beautiful housing structures and its welcoming, tight-knit community atmosphere help the university’s residential life stand out at a national level.


“Living on campus is more than a place to hang your hat; it's a place to connect, be successful, make an impact, and develop your passion,” Gunkelman said. “We pride ourselves on creating a safe and secure living and learning environment for our students.”


Credit for that environment goes beyond the staff members who supervise the housing facilities and provide leadership, she said. Students also play a large role in creating a campus environment where they can thrive academically and socially.


“Students make SVSU a great place to live, especially the student leaders,” Gunkelman said. “From the desk staff who welcome residents, to the councils that plan events, to the student residential assistants who aid in students finding their place at SVSU: everyone is working together to create this community.”


That community will begin to gather and build for the next academic year this week. While some students already have moved into the residential housing for the 2019-20 academic year, the bulk of the on-campus population — freshmen — begin moving into their new homes Wednesday at 10 a.m. SVSU is expected to reach its housing capacity at 2,435 total students; of those, 1,050 will be freshmen.


To access the Niche “2020 Best College Dorms” rankings, go to

August 19, 2019

SVSU professor’s examination of lie detector test’s history published by Smithsonian Institution

A Saginaw Valley State University educator’s historical examination of polygraph tests recently was published on the online magazine for the Smithsonian Institution.


John Baesler, SVSU professor of history, wrote the paper entitled “Why Lie Detector Tests Can’t Be Trusted,” which explores how federal agencies since the 1950s have utilized the technology to reassure the public it could unmask spies.


The article was not Baesler’s first deep dive into the topic. He authored the book, “Clearer Than Truth: The Polygraph and the American Cold War,” released in 2018 by University of Massachusetts Press.


His recently-published essay — which he wrote originally for the website Zocalo Public Square before it was picked up by the Washington, D.C.-based Smithsonian Institution’s online magazine — examines the history of polygraphs primarily through the lens of Francis Gary Powers. The American U-2 spy plane pilot was shot down over the USSR and captured by Soviet forces in May 1960. This story was dramatized in the 2015 film, "Bridge of Spies," directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Hanks.


After being exchanged for an imprisoned Soviet KGB colonel and returned to the U.S., Powers faced criticism and suspicion for his role in the plane crash, Baesler wrote. Powers was compelled to take a polygraph test as part of his Congressional testimony on the matter, as the tests were considered an important investigative tool at the time.


Polygraph tests work by measuring changes in blood pressure, breathing depth and how well the skin conducts electricity. Baesler writes that the method has been controversial since it was developed by psychologists in the early 1900s, as it is possible to be trained to beat the test and false positives are common.


“Bureaucratic usefulness, rather than any scientific validity, goes a long way toward explaining why the polygraph became a standard instrument of the American national security state,” Baesler wrote.


Baesler concludes his essay by writing about the dubious nature of using polygraph results in court, the coercive ways it was used and by noting that no major communist spy was ever caught by polygraph during the Cold War.


To read the article in full, go to


A native of Germany, Baesler earned his undergraduate degree in history and philosophy from Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg in 2001 and earned his Ph.D. in U.S. history and cultural history at Indiana University-Bloomington in 2009.

August 8, 2019

SVSU students engineer equipment for NASA’s consideration

A strong community partnership and a passion for creation soon could send a Saginaw Valley State University student-engineered creation where no SVSU student-engineered creation has gone before.


In collaboration with Saginaw-based Teamtech Motorsports, a group of mechanical engineering majors built a release buckle that one day could be utilized by NASA astronauts. The device would allow astronauts to unhook from the technology strapped to their inside-the-spacecraft suits — including various monitors and communications equipment — by rotating a single lever. Today, astronauts must unfasten from most devices on a piece-by-piece basis.


“This is another project that shows all the great opportunities SVSU offers students pursuing dream jobs,” said Brooks Byam, an SVSU professor of mechanical engineering and the students’ adviser.


The group’s project will be one of eight on display during the university’s Summer Engineering Symposium Friday, Aug. 9. The public is invited to meet the students and discuss those projects from 10 a.m. to noon in the first-floor hallways of SVSU’s Pioneer Hall. The students will present their projects in a classroom setting from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. in rooms P245 and P247 in Pioneer Hall.


Byam said Curt Tucker, founder and president of Teamtech Motorsports, for years has utilized SVSU mechanical engineering students in building equipment. Teamtech Motorsports specializes in providing safety equipment for motorsports.


When NASA approached Tucker about creating a device that would release spacesuit-based equipment more simplistically, Tucker created a design concept and asked SVSU students to take his idea to the next step, Byam said.


“He wanted us to help him refine his concept,” Byam said.


He said Tucker next plans to present the equipment to NASA for consideration.


Four students were involved in the project: Jacob Avery, of Brighton; Braeden Perzanowski, of Gagetown; Jeremy Porzondek, of Ubly; Chase Walther, of West Chicago, Illinois; and John Wojewoda, of Saginaw. In total, 38 students are presenting during Friday’s symposium.


All SVSU mechanical engineering majors are required to collaborate with outside clients or university organizations as part of their senior projects.

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