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April 2, 2019

SVSU student to compete among nation's top college actors, follows in brother’s footsteps

Jared Kaufman is no stranger to the limelight, but landing the leading role in a Saginaw Valley State University production during his freshman year still managed to rattle his nerves leading up to opening night.           

“It was a bit terrifying for a while there,” the Bay City native said of the Wednesday, Feb. 20 showing of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.” “I just wanted to get it right.”

It appears he did, at least by the high standards of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival representative in the audience that evening. Based on that first performance, Kaufman was invited to the festival's Region III conference January 2020 in Madison, Wisconsin. There, he will compete against the top college actors in the Midwest for the prestigious Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship.

He will be among familiar faces. One of his co-stars, Megan Mitchell, an art major from Saginaw, also will compete for the scholarship. And four crew members working the technical aspects of “Curious Incident” received individual certificates of merit from the festival representative. The honor means the students will be invited to participate in competitions and workshops at the conference along with the entire cast, which received a group certificate of merit.

“I'm so proud of the work and artistry of our students,” said Tommy Wedge, the SVSU assistant professor of theatre who directed” "Curious Incident.” “It's thrilling that we are being recognized by this national organization.”

Kaufman and Mitchell, who played multiple roles, initially will compete for the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship's regional award, worth up to $500. If one of them earns that distinction, the recipient will be invited to the festival's April 2020 national conference in Washington, D.C. to compete for the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship's top $5,000 scholarship.

Kaufman is familiar with the national conference. His brother, Jacob Kaufman, an SVSU alumnus who was a member of the technical crews in campus productions, earned a trip there in April 2017 after receiving the festival's first-ever Region III Arts Management Fellowship.

“Neither of us are in this for the awards - we love what we do - but he was proud of me,” Jared Kaufman said of his older brother, who received a bachelor's degree in theatre from SVSU last May.

The younger Kaufman's love for the stage began when he was a sixth grader at Handy Middle School in Bay City and blossomed during his time at Bay City Central High School. During those formative years, he participated both in technical aspects of stage production as well as acting.

During his first semester as a communication and theatre education major at SVSU, Kaufman saw the casting call for the February production of "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time." He gravitated toward the lead character, Christopher, a 15-year-old boy who is accused of killing a neighborhood dog and quickly goes on a quest to find the true culprit.

Kaufman, 19, was attracted to the challenge of the role. While it is never stated in the dialogue, the play's narrative suggests Christopher falls within the spectrum of autism. The obscurity of the character's disorder meant Kaufman would need to perform with a measure of subtlety when portraying the autistic behaviors. In other words, Kaufman would need to walk a thin line to make sure he did not over-act the part.

“I wanted to give an honest performance for the audience, to give them an idea of what it is like to see someone within the spectrum,” he said.

Kaufman said he felt his nerves heightening as opening night approached, but the support of his fellow cast and crew members helped him perform with grace. When the curtains closed and the cast curtsied, the audience applauded.

“I was really pleased to see how they appreciated my performance,” he said. “And we received a lot of kind reviews from critics. I've never been in a show where I had a review written about me before this. That was very nice.”

Learning later that a Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival representative praised his performance was the cherry on top, he said. Kaufman said he understands recognition from such an organization can be an indicator of promising days ahead in the performing arts industry. He has witnessed that effect, as he recently helped his Kennedy Center-honored brother move to Connecticut to begin work as production manager for The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center.

Jared Kaufman, meanwhile, already is preparing for his next role as the son of one of the main characters in SVSU's April musical about female empowerment, “9 to 5.” So far, he feels more confident his nerves won't affect him as much during this production.

“It's not as big of a role as Christopher, which is OK,” he said. “I'm more than happy to take it more easy this time.”

March 29, 2019

Local guitarist, professor to perform recital at SVSU

Brad DeRoche, an active concert guitarist, will perform in the Rhea Miller Recital Hall at Saginaw Valley State University Thursday, April 4 at 7:30 p.m. 

DeRoche has mastered a wide variety of musical styles ranging from classical pieces to art from current composers. For Thursday's performance, DeRoche will showcase classical and modern works, ranging from the 17th century to the late 20th century from musicians such as Francisco Tárrega and Matthias Dammann.

DeRoche became a music educator after receiving his Doctor of Musical Arts degree focusing on classical guitar performance from the Eastman School of Music. He also completed degrees at Central Michigan University and Eastern Michigan University. DeRoche currently serves as an associate professor of music at Delta College, and teaches music courses at SVSU and CMU. 

Outside of academia, DeRoche started a successful online retail business, Strings By Mail, that specializes in selling guitar strings. In 2015, he wrote a music appreciation textbook, "An Introduction to Art Music."

The recital is open to the public and is free of charge. For more information and a detailed list of music department events and performances, please visit

March 29, 2019

FIRST Robotics state championship expected to bring 8,000 people

For the third consecutive year, Saginaw Valley State University will host one of the state’s largest competitions featuring future generations of STEM professionals.


About 5,500 high school students are expected to participate in the FIRST Robotics state championship Wednesday through Saturday, April 10-13, at SVSU’s Ryder Center. The competition is expected to attract more than 8,000 visitors to the Great Lakes Bay Region, including parents, professional mentors and spectators.


Adrianne Cole, director of STEM at SVSU and one of the competition’s coordinators, said FIRST Robotics fits well with the university’s mission to stimulate interest in the sciences among the young.


"Through STEM at SVSU programs, students explore real-world problems through project-based learning and interact with STEM professionals," she said.


FIRST Robotics competitions follow that educational model, she said.


"STEM education fosters tenacity in students so that they can successfully face adversity in the future," Cole said.


The FIRST Robotics event at SVSU will feature 160 teams from high schools across Michigan that qualified for the state championship after performing exceptionally during earlier regional competitions. On average, 40 students participate on each team. Along with handling the robotics-related work, students throughout each season of FIRST Robotics competition are involved in several activities relating to strengthening their respective teams including fundraising and marketing.


Teams that qualified for the state championship will arrive April 10 for inspections. The qualifying rounds of competition are scheduled April 11-12. The playoff rounds are scheduled April 13. The champions will be crowned that afternoon.


Practice sessions and robot repairs will take place in SVSU’s Fieldhouse while the competition will be held in O’Neill Arena of the Ryder Center.


In each round of competition, three teams compete, using autonomous and remote-controlled robots piloted by students, battling to earn points during a two-minute round. The type of game played changes during each FIRST Robotics competitive season, which largely spans the length of the high school academic calendar.


Each year, an overarching theme — often relating to a STEM industry — is reflected in the rules and mechanics of the games played at the competition. The theme for the 2019 FIRST Robotics competition is “Destination: Deep Space," presented by The Boeing Company. "Destination: Deep Space" features two alliances of “deep space travelers” competing to place polycarbonate hatch covers and cargo on “rockets and cargo ships” before returning to “a safe habitat.”


Major sponsors for the state championships include DTE Energy, Consumers Energy, The Dow Chemical Company and Ford Motor Company.


For more information on FIRST Robotics, visit


The following is a video demonstration of the 2019 FIRST Robotics game, "Destination: Deep Space."

March 28, 2019

SVSU exhibition organizers seek to shift blame away from sexual assault survivors

There are few crimes, Shawn Schutt points out, where the victim bears some burden of blame from the public. Survivors of sexual assault too often are blamed for the crime committed against them, he says.

“They will sometimes be asked, ‘How much did you have to drink,’ or, ‘What were you wearing when it happened,’” says Schutt, a prevention education coordinator at Underground Railroad Inc.

“But it isn’t the victim’s fault.”

Raising awareness and shifting that burden of blame away from sexual assault survivors is the objective behind a Saginaw Valley State University-hosted exhibition next week, titled “What Were You Wearing?”

The exhibition, which will display clothing worn by survivors of sexual assault when those crimes happened, will open with an event featuring Schutt as a guest speaker Monday, April 1, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in SVSU’s Alumni Lounge in Curtiss Hall. Later, the exhibition will be moved to the hallway outside SVSU’s Student Counseling Center in Curtiss Hall, room C112, from Tuesday to Friday, April 2-5, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day.

Staff and student interns in the Student Counseling Center are collaborating on the project with Underground Railroad Inc., a Saginaw-based nonprofit that services victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking and human slavery. Underground Railroad Inc. donated the clothing that will appear in the exhibition.

Among the items that will be displayed are children’s pajamas, casual attire and swimwear.

The idea was inspired by a similar exhibition at University of Arkansas.

“We really want to debunk the myth that what they were wearing is the reason a survivor was sexually assaulted,” says Ashley Corwin, a student intern at SVSU’s Student Counseling Center.

Corwin hopes attendees will better empathize with survivors when seeing the variety and common types of clothing worn during those crimes.

“The installation, we hope, will allow the viewers to see themselves reflected in the outfits,” says Corwin, who received a bachelor’s degree in social work from SVSU in 2018 and is pursuing a master’s degree in social work there now.

Schutt, who earned a bachelor’s degree in health science from SVSU in 2016, said he hopes “What Were You Wearing?” connects with attendees.

“By asking victims those types of questions — like ‘What were you wearing?’ or ‘How much did you have to drink?’ — we’re making it easier for perpetrators to get away with these crimes,” he says. “It’s important to raise awareness about this.”

The initiative also will serve as an educational tool for student interns in the SVSU Student Counseling Center, says Dana Carley Kaczynski, an assistant director with the office helping to supervise the effort.

“The exhibit gives the interns an opportunity to participate in an outreach project that involves collaborating with a community agency, and see it from beginning to end,” she says.

“Ultimately, the message of this particular project is something that hits home for us as counselors as we work with survivors of sexual assault here at our Student Counseling Center every day. It is very important to each of us to share this message with the campus community.”

The opening event and week-long exhibition are free and open to the public.

March 26, 2019

SVSU program empowers math teachers in region's middle schools

Education advocates say a Saginaw Valley State University-based leadership education initiative for teachers will bolster math studies and achievement in the Great Lakes Bay Region.

Based at SVSU's Regional Mathematics and Science Center, the Great Lakes Bay Region Mathematics Specialist program provides leadership training to local middle school teachers — grades 5 to 8 — specializing in math. The initiative graduated its first class of 13 teachers in August 2018. The second class has already met and organizers are still accepting applicants.

The initiative is vital for bolstering student achievement in math across the region, advocates say. The goal is to prepare the program's trainees to return to their schools to support colleagues and administrators in math-related assessment, curriculum and instruction strategies.

The program works, said Amy Kolb, a member of the math specialist program group that graduated in August.

“In my 20 years of teaching, the math specialist program at SVSU is the most valuable professional development tool that I have ever participated in,” said Kolb, who teaches math at E.F. Rittmueller Middle School in Frankenmuth.

“I have developed a deeper understanding of mathematics, and I am better prepared to support my students - especially students who struggle with math. My experiences in the program have also taught me how to develop and lead professional development for other math teachers.”

A $65,637 grant from the Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance is funding the training for the second group of participants. The cohort earlier this month met for the first of nine training sessions scheduled throughout the winter, spring and summer seasons.

Teachers interested in applying for the remaining eight sessions of the program can contact Tamara Barrientos, director of the SVSU Regional Mathematics and Science Center, at or (989) 964-4636. There is no cost to participate.

March 26, 2019

SVSU Concert Choir joins Saginaw symphony, choral society for 'massive' concert

With a strong communal spirit, Saginaw Valley State University's Concert Choir will join forces this week with The Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra and Saginaw Choral Society for a concert event presented at a grand scale.

“It's pretty massive,” said Kevin Simons, director of the SVSU Concert Choir and an SVSU associate professor of music. “This is probably the biggest choir I've ever worked with.”

The concert, titled “Music & Voices: Saginaw Rising,” is scheduled Saturday, March 30, at 8 p.m. in the Temple Theatre in downtown Saginaw. Tickets remain available online by clicking here.

Fouad Fakhouri, the music director for The Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra, said he's never worked with so many musicians during a single concert.

“These types of performances don't happen often,” he said. “I'm tremendously excited for this collaboration.”

There are 50 students involved in SVSU's choir and about the same number of Saginaw Choral Society musicians, Simons said. He also will perform as one of seven soloists.

Their vocals will join forces with the 70-piece Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra for an evening featuring classical pieces created by historically-celebrated musicians such as 18th century German composer Beethoven, 19th century Austrian composer Anton Bruckner and 20th century English composer Vaughan Williams.

Simons said his choir and its community companions recently began rehearsals, and the early chemistry between the groups has him excited for Saturday's event.

“The music was thrilling,” said Simons.

Organizers of the event say they have hoped for such a collaboration for years.

“I've always wanted to do this,” said Fakhouri, who joined The Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra in 2016. “I know Kevin quite well, and I know the choirs will be ready for this level of performance.”

The concert will be an experiential thrill for students with the SVSU Concert Choir, Simons said. While the group has worked with the Saginaw Choral Society before, this will mark their first teaming with a symphony.

“I remember the first time I sang with an orchestra like that,” Simons said. “It was memorable. You never forget it.”

What will add to the experience is the prestige of the venue, he said. The Temple Theatre represents one of the region's most historic performing arts centers. The 1,750-seat theatre — which first opened in 1927 — features an intricate, neo-classic design reinforced by large-scale restoration work over the years.

“This is going to be a great opportunity for our students to play in the Temple and perform with people in the community,” Simons said. “It will be a great day for SVSU singing, and it shows what a leader we are in the culture of this region.”

March 26, 2019

SVSU student to direct campus production of Tony Award-winning play


A Saginaw Valley State University initiative designed to give students more experience producing plays soon will place one theatre major in the director's chair for a production of a Tony Award-winning and Pulitzer Prize finalist black comedy.


Joseph Green, a theatre major from Shelby Township, will direct "The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?" from celebrated American playwright Edward Albee. The play will be a 2-night affair — Friday and Saturday, March 29-30, at 7:30 p.m. — in SVSU's Black Box Studio, located in Curtiss 180 in Curtiss Hall.


Tickets are $13 for the public and $10 for students or seniors 60 and older. Because of strong language and adult situations, it is recommended only for audiences 17 or older.


The production is part of the SVSU theatre department's Studio X.P. Program, in which students propose a production of their choice, then cast and direct the play. Green both suggested the play and will direct it under the supervision of Tommy Wedge, assistant professor of theatre.


“SVSU theatre puts their name on the play, but essentially, the department doesn't really touch the show,” Green said of his opportunity. “They are trusting the students to put on a quality production. Having full agency over your own show as a student is very rare, especially for a university of our size.”


Wedge said Green's vision for “The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?” is a strong interpretation of its source material written by the playwright known for modern theatrical classics such as “Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”


“It's about society's shifting views on love and sex, and how those ideas mix with what is acceptable within culture and society,” Wedge said.


The black comedy follows a white-picket family with a marriage that falls apart when a man in that family falls in love with a goat.


“There's quite a bit of profanity in the show,” Wedge warned, “but there's quite a bit of profanity in life too. It's a really well-written play.”


Aubree Harrell, a communication and theatre major from Essexville who plays the wife of the man who falls in love with the goat, said the bizarre situations that unfold in the play hold a deeper meaning.


“We all can relate to this story in some way,” she said. “It may seem like an outrageous scenario, but if we take out maybe one element, we can see ourselves in this play.”


Tickets can be purchased online or at the SVSU Box Office.

March 21, 2019

YWCA Women of Achievement Awards to honor SVSU staff, students, alumni

Seven members of the Saginaw Valley State University community are among 17 women the YWCA Great Lakes Bay Region will honor today for their leadership and contributions to social causes across the area.

The 2019 YWCA Women of Achievement Awards ceremony is scheduled Wednesday, March 20, at 5 p.m. at Horizons Conference Center in Saginaw Township.

Three members of SVSU’s staff and one student are among those who will be honored. They include the following:

  • Linda Sims, executive director of communications and external affairs, will also be recognized as a 2019 Women of Achievement Award recipient for her contributions as a community leader. Prior to beginning in her current position at SVSU in 2015, Sims worked in a variety of public relations roles at Consumers Energy for 30 years. Her history with SVSU goes back just as far. She served on the SVSU Board of Control from 1998-2005, including a term as chairperson. She received the SVSU Distinguished Service Award in 2006. She and her husband, Larry Sims, in 1989 established the SVSU Sims Public Speaking Contest.
  • Helen Raica-Klotz, director of the SVSU Writing Center, will be recognized as one of 10 recipients of the 2019 Women of Achievement Award for her contributions to education. Along her work with the Writing Center on campus, Raica-Klotz helped establish community writing centers in both Bay and Saginaw counties in recent years to help residents there seeking writing-based support. Raica-Klotz joined SVSU as a lecturer of English in 1998 and became Writing Center director in 2013.
  • Joni Boye-Beaman, special assistant to the provost, will be one of the three recipients of the 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award. Boye-Beaman — who arrived at SVSU in 2000 as a member of its sociology faculty — possesses over 25 years of experience collaborating with colleagues, students and community partners on a wide variety of research and service learning projects. She was the recipient of a 2018 Community Relations Citation from the Saginaw Police Department for her work with students focused on developing policies to better respond to victims of violent crimes.
  • Emma Kirsch, a student at SVSU, will be recognized as one of four recipients of the 2019 Emerging Leader Award. Kirsch is an early childhood and elementary education double major from Saginaw. At SVSU in 2018, she was selected as one of 10 participants in the highly-competitive Roberts Fellowship Program, a year-long leadership development initiative. Kirsch this year was named a recipient of the East Central Writing Association annual tutor award for her work as a tutor with SVSU’s Writing Center. 

Three other 2019 YWCA Women of Achievement Awards recipients are part of SVSU’s community, including one former Board of Control member and two alumna. They include the following:

  • Leola Wilson, a member of SVSU’s Board of Control from 2005-13, will receive a 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award. Along with her service to the university, Wilson’s involvement in the community includes her work as president of Saginaw’s chapter of the NAACP from 1998 until her retirement this year.
  • Lisa Coney, a social worker with the Saginaw Intermediate School District, will receive a 2019 Women of Achievement Award for her efforts in social justice. Coney earned a bachelor’s degree in social work from SVSU in 1992 and serves on the university’s Alumni Association Board of Directors.
  • Alice Stricker, who retired in 2012 as a Spanish instructor with the Frankenmuth School District after more than 20 years in K-12, will receive a 2019 Women of Achievement Award for her work in education. Stricker earned a master’s degree in teaching from SVSU in 1997 and a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the university in 1988.

For more information on the YWCA Great Lakes Bay Region and its Women of Achievement Awards, please visit

March 20, 2019

SVSU to honor Great Lakes Bay Region business leaders, faculty members during awards ceremony

During its sixth annual Best In Business awards ceremony Friday, March 22, Saginaw Valley State University will recognize businesses and entrepreneurs as well as SVSU faculty, students and alumni dedicated to supporting the Great Lakes Bay Region business community.

Business and alumni awards were chosen by an advisory board featuring leaders from SVSU’s Scott L. Carmona College of Business & Management. Faculty honorees were selected by SVSU students.

Regional businesses honored will include the following:

  • Spence Brothers will receive the Outstanding Family Business Award, given to a family-owned company that demonstrates a commitment to community-minded business practices. Spence Brothers — based in the Great Lakes Bay Region since 1893 — was chosen for its support of important regional development projects in recent years.
  • Tri-Star Trust Bank will receive the Outstanding Business Award, presented to a company with a record of steady employment and strong corporate citizenship. Tri-Star Trust Bank — with offices in East Lansing, Frankenmuth, Midland and Saginaw — is a wealth management institution that handles over $1.3 billion in assets for its clients.

Business leaders honored will be as follows:

  • JoAnn Crary, a member of SVSU’s Board of Control and president of Saginaw Future Inc., a non-profit economic development organization, will receive the Outstanding Business Leader award. Among her recent accomplishments, Crary served as the 2015 board chair of the International Economic Development Council, where she focused on inclusive economic development. She was appointed in 2016 by Gov. Rick Snyder to serve on the 21st Century Economic Commission.
  • Daniel Kehres, owner of Kehres Health & Chiropractic, will receive the Outstanding Entrepreneur Award. Kehres opened his first chiropractic practice in Saginaw in 2010, and later expanded to five offices in the region. Kehres also volunteered hundreds of hours teaching free health classes and attended community health-focused events.

SVSU faculty members honored at the ceremony will include the following:

  • Lawrence Kickham, professor of accounting, will receive the Excellence in Service Award. Kickham has chaired the accounting department at SVSU for over 20 years. Kickham served as treasurer and board member for the Saginaw Choral Society for 14 years and on the Audit Committee for St. Mary’s Medical Center for over 16 years.
  • Kellie Konsor, assistant professor of economics, will receive the Excellence in Research Award. Konsor joined SVSU in 2016 and completed her Ph.D. in economics from Purdue University in 2017. Her research interests involve industrial organization and media economics.
  • Kevin Meyer, assistant professor of economics, will receive the Excellence in Teaching: Full-time Faculty Award. Originally from California, Meyer began teaching at SVSU after receiving his Ph.D. from Iowa State University.
  • Gerald Nelson will receive the Excellence in Teaching: Adjunct Faculty Award. Nelson began as an adjunct faculty member in SVSU’s Department of Accounting in 2015. He also is a three-time SVSU alumnus, receiving a master's degree in business administration in 2015, a bachelor's degree in professional accountancy in 2013, and a bachelor's degree in business administration in 1998.

SVSU’s Best In Business awards ceremony will recognize graduate students, undergraduate students and alumni at the ceremony.

SVSU's Scott L. Carmona College of Business & Management is among the 5 percent of business schools worldwide accredited by AACSB International, widely considered a gold standard for business school accreditation.

For more information, visit

March 19, 2019

SVSU to host employment fair this month

More than 125 employers and agencies next week plan to participate in Saginaw Valley State University’s annual Spring University-wide Employment and Networking Fair.


Free and open to the public, the event is scheduled Friday, March 29, from noon to 3 p.m. in the banquet and seminar rooms at SVSU’s Curtiss Hall.


The employment fair will provide attendees with the opportunity to meet and network with representatives from regional, national and global organizations.


Among the employers and agencies signed up to attend are Aflac, Bankers Life, Chemical Bank, Consumers Energy, Dow Chemical Company, Hemlock Semiconductor, Independence Bank, MidMichigan Health, and Morley Companies as well as the U.S. Army and Navy.


Auburn-based Dynamic Focus Photography will be available at the event to provide free professional photography portraits for attendees.


For more information about the SVSU Spring University-wide Employment and Networking Fair — including an updated list of employers and agencies planning to attend — click here. More representatives are expected to sign up to attend as the event date approaches.


The Spring University-wide Employment and Networking Fair is among eight employment fairs organized annually by SVSU's Career Services office.

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