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February 27, 2019

SVSU alumna's book aims to inspire interest in science among children

When her daughter was two, Jennifer Douglas read an article that encouraged parents to "make up science stories for your children" in order to inspire their interest in the subject.

"So, at bedtime, I would refer to one of her favorite books and add a science spin on it," Douglas said. "She grasped the concepts quite quickly, but when I tried to buy books to aid me in my quest, I found they didn't readily exist."

So the Saginaw Valley State University alumna took matters into her own hands. She authored the recently-published "Itsy-Bitsy's Science Adventure," a 28-page children's book aimed at encouraging interest in science, technology, engineering and math — known as STEM, for short — among children.

"I wanted to be an inspiration to my children and show them you can do anything you put your mind to, while addressing — what I saw as — a need," Douglas said. "Understanding the world around you from a child's perspective can help foster not only a scientific foundation in young minds, but will also encourage environmental responsibility."

"Itsy-Bitsy's Science Adventure" — published by FriesenPress in late 2018 — explores the day in a life of a spider who meets various creatures along his journey while learning about their biology, such as the differences between an arachnid, an amphibian and an insect. The book is available at outlets including online stores such as iTunes and Amazon.

The story isn't finished, Douglas said. The book is labeled as the first of the "Itsy-Bitsy Science Series," and Douglas already has plans for follow-up titles that continue to explore the spider's adventures in learning about science.

Douglas knows a thing or two about science. She works as an environmental health and safety project manager for Ontario-based Golder Associates, a global company that provides consulting, design and construction services.

Douglas said her interest in a STEM-based career began when she was an undergraduate at SVSU more than a decade ago.

"I have always been interested in science, though I was not planning to study science or pursue science as a career," said the Lexington, Michigan native whose maiden name is Jennifer Watson.

In 2003, she enrolled in a course taught by Richard Trdan, a longtime SVSU biology professor who retired a year before his death in 2018.

"He got me excited about science, and we — with our colleagues and classmates — ended up working together on various research projects for five years," Douglas said. "That eventually led me to a career in science."

Among her undergraduate projects at SVSU was research examining potential genetic weaknesses in zebra mussels that could aid in bioremediation efforts.

One year after graduating with a bachelor's degree in biology in 2007, she began her job at Golder Associates.

In 2010, she married SVSU alumnus Matt Douglas, who earned a bachelor's degree in marketing in 2007. They now reside in Ontario, where they are raising two children.

Jennifer Douglas, meanwhile, hopes her writing helps other parents raise their children to love science. Less than three months after its publication, "Itsy-Bitsy's Science Adventure" has sold about 400 copies, she said.

"My children — ages six and three — have heard the stories for years, so to have the book in hand has been very exciting for them," Douglas said. "They know the book was inspired by them, which they love."

February 26, 2019

Pianist MiJung Trepanier returns for SVSU recital March 15

Pianist MiJung Trepanier will perform a solo recital Friday, March 15 at 7:30 p.m. in Saginaw Valley State University's Rhea Miller Recital Hall.

The performance — titled "A Conversation with God: Series 1, Franz Schubert (1797-1828)" — is free and open to the public.

Franz Schubert was a 19th century Austrian composer whose body of work included symphonies, operas and vocal works. During his relatively short career — he died at the age of 31 — his work was admired by a small circle of followers in Vienna. His music was rediscovered years after his death, and its popularity reached across the globe.

Trepanier is familiar with musical tastes from across the globe. She has performed at venues in Bolivia, Puerto Rico and South Korea. She also is familiar with local tastes in music. The Midland resident has performed with the Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra. Trepanier, an adjunct faculty member at SVSU, also has headlined piano recitals at the university for more than a decade. Most recently, she performed at SVSU in September 2018.

She received a Doctor of Musical Arts in Performance degree from Michigan State University. She also graduated as valedictorian from Kyungwon University in Seongnam, South Korea, where she completed her bachelor's degree in music.

For more information about Trepanier, visit her website at

For more information on SVSU's music department and upcoming musical performances, visit

February 25, 2019

SVSU hires Chubb as dean of College of Science, Engineering & Technology

Saginaw Valley State University has hired Andrew Chubb to serve as dean of the College of Science, Engineering & Technology.


Chubb, who joined SVSU’s faculty in 2002 and twice served as interim dean of the academic college, will help lead the university’s efforts to advance STEM studies on campus as well as in the Great Lakes Bay Region.


“I am honored to serve the College of Science, Engineering & Technology as its dean,” he said. “We have top-notch faculty and staff, outstanding programs, and excellent students who are the STEM workforce of the future. I look forward to building upon this foundation as the College of Science, Engineering & Technology continues to establish its role as a leader for STEM education in the Great Lakes Bay Region and beyond.”


Chubb served as a faculty member with SVSU’s Department of Chemistry from 2002-12. Along with his classroom duties, he designed and implemented a new organic chemistry lab curriculum, managed an undergraduate research laboratory, and served as the university’s Pre-Health Professions adviser. He was the 2011 recipient of the Franc A. Landee Award for Teaching Excellence, the most prestigious honor given to members of SVSU’s faculty.


He first served as interim dean in the College of Science, Engineering and Technology from 2014-15 and then again beginning in 2018 until the interim status was removed with his current hiring. He fills the role occupied by Frank Hall before his retirement last year. Chubb served as associate dean during Hall’s time with the university.


While serving in the dean’s office since 2012, Chubb's responsibilities have included managing expanding resources dedicated to STEM education. With a growing market for STEM industry jobs in the region, SVSU in recent years has received major gifts from the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation, The Dow Chemical Company Foundation, and the Dow Corning Foundation — among other organizations — to improve students’ performance in STEM disciplines at the middle school, high school and university levels.


Deborah Huntley, SVSU’s provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, said Chubb’s success in his many roles at the institution demonstrated his “outstanding commitment to the mission and vision of our university.”


“His focus on students and their success has been apparent from the start, as evidenced in his outstanding teaching, advising and administrative work,” Huntley said. “He is actively engaged with external constituencies including our industry partners, community organizations and STEM educators. I believe that, under his leadership, our STEM programs will flourish and expand their impact on the Great Lakes Bay Region and the state of Michigan.”


In addition to his work at SVSU, Chubb is an active member of the Great Lakes Bay Region community. He was selected as a member of the 2011 class of RUBY Award recipients, an honor given annually to top professionals in the Great Lakes Bay Region under the age of 40. That same year, Chubb became a graduate of Leadership Midland, a community leadership development initiative. He remains active with the program today.


Chubb was born in Great Falls, Montana. He received a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Iowa State University in 2003 after earning a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Washington University in 1995. Before joining SVSU, he served as a chemistry instructor at Iowa State University beginning in 1998.


He is married to Jennifer Chubb, a math lecturer at SVSU. They live in Midland with their children, Ajay, 7; and Alison, 3.

February 25, 2019

SVSU-produced literary-arts journal spotlights creative spirits of Bay, Saginaw county residents

The creative spirits behind a Saginaw Valley State University-produced magazine featuring poetry and art from Saginaw and Bay county residents will host a publication party for the public this week.

Still Life, produced by the SVSU’s Writing Center and the SVSU Center for Community Writing, will unveil the second issue during an event scheduled Thursday, Feb. 28 at 7 p.m. at Counter Culture Arts Collective, 620 Gratiot in Saginaw.

The literary-arts journal features submissions from residents across Bay and Saginaw counties. The publication was created by SVSU’s Writing Center in part to celebrate the writing-focused office’s outreach efforts extended to the neighboring communities in recent years. SVSU’s Writing Center opened the Saginaw Community Writing Center in 2015 and the Bay Community Writing Center in 2017.

“I think there are so many people who have stories to tell, whether they're real or fictionalized,” said Christopher Giroux, an SVSU associate professor of English and the publication's faculty editor. “They are things that are important to them, and Still Life provides that venue for them to share that in a very public setting that they may not have otherwise.”

Along with community submissions, Still Life includes photography selected from submissions by SVSU art students.

The latest issue contains 35 pieces of poetry and prose, two of which were the winning submissions at community-wide contests organized by the SVSU Center for Community Writing. The issue contained the winners of the March 2018 “Write Like Roethke” poetry contest and the summer 2018 “Get to Work” flash fiction contest. Still Life editors also provided cash prizes for the best submissions in several categories.

The release party at Counter Culture will include an open mic poetry jam — open to all — with cash prizes for the winners. The event is free and open to the public.

Copies of Still Life will be available at the publication party as well as the community writing center locations at Butman-Fish Branch Library, 1716 Hancock in Saginaw, as well as Alice and Jack Wirt Public Library, 500 Center in Bay City.

The inaugural issue of Still Life was released in January 2018 and grant-funded by SVSU’s Center for Academic Innovation. Still Life is now funded by Saginaw neurologist and author Debasish Mridha.

The editors of Still Life accept submissions year-round. Information can be found at

February 22, 2019

Pianist Wendy Chu to perform at SVSU

Musician Wendy Chu will perform a piano recital Thursday, Feb. 28 at 7:30 p.m. in Saginaw Valley State University's Rhea Miller Recital Hall.


The performance is free and open to the public.


The recital, titled "Debussy and Ravel," will feature pieces composed by Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel, two of the most influential French composers of the 20th century. They have been considered "impressionist" composers due to the use of harmony and texture throughout their music.


Chu has performed across the world in nations such as her native Taiwan, Austria and Canada. She now teaches piano lessons and serves as a piano accompanist at SVSU.


Chu earned her Master of Music in Piano Performance and Music Education degree from Central Michigan University. She then received a Doctor of Musical Arts in Piano Performance degree from Michigan State University.


Please contact SVSU at (989) 964-4159 or for more information.

February 21, 2019

SVSU forensics team places second in state contest

The Saginaw Valley State University forensics team continued its record of success during a strong showing at the Michigan Intercollegiate Speech League (MISL) Novice State Championship hosted by Northwood University on Saturday, Feb. 16.

With six other universities in attendance, SVSU's team earned second place in the Team Sweeps category, where the competition is ranked by adding the total combined points earned by each team in the contest's individual categories.

Because of their outstanding performances in those individual categories, four SVSU students qualified for the league's national tournament later this year. Those qualifying students include the following:

  • The team of Amber Hadley, a communication major from Marine City; and her partner, Ari Whisman, a special education major from Bay City, placed first in the Duo category.
  • Dan Visnovsky, a political science major from Sparta, placed second in the Informative category.
  • Jessica Carpenter, an English major, placed fifth in the Poetry category.

The four qualified to compete in the 2019 National Forensics Association National Championships Tournament, scheduled April 18-22, in Santa Ana, California.

The group isn't the first from SVSU to qualify for this year's national tournament. During an October 2018 contest hosted at SVSU, six students qualified. Then, in December 2018, nine more SVSU students earned the same distinction during a competition at Eastern Michigan University.

The next forensics tournament for SVSU is the MISL State Tournament, scheduled Saturday, March 2, at Eastern Michigan University.

The SVSU forensics team is coached by Amy Pierce, associate professor of communication, and Ryan Rigda, lecturer of communication.

February 20, 2019

SVSU receives $99K grant to train elementary school teachers in engaging STEM education strategies

The Regional Mathematics and Science Center at Saginaw Valley State University has been awarded a grant from the Michigan Department of Education’s MiSTEM Advisory Council to help elementary teachers foster a love of science and math in students, starting at an early age.

The $99,672 grant will enable SVSU to provide professional development training to teachers in grades 1 to 5 throughout the East Central MiSTEM region, which includes Bay, Clare, Gladwin, Gratiot, Isabella, Midland and Saginaw counties. The program is called “Engineering is Elementary.”

Tamara Barrientos — director of the SVSU Regional Mathematics and Science Center — said the professional development program is valuable because it gives elementary school teachers an integrated approach to implementing science and math standards.

“And it gives students an engaging, team-based approach to learning by solving real-world problems,” Barrientos said. “This professional development has the potential to positively impact thousands of students throughout our region.”

MiSTEM is an effort by the state of Michigan to create a system that will produce more science, technology, engineering and math-equipped students and educators by empowering them through professional training and development. In pursuing those goals, MiSTEM also integrates businesses and educational institutions.

The MiSTEM advisory council earlier this month awarded over $3 million to 21 STEM-related projects at both higher education institutions as well as K-12 schools.

“Engineering is Elementary” is an award-winning program created by the Museum of Science, Boston, designed to inspire problem solving and critical thinking for all students.

The first phase of the training is scheduled Friday to Sunday, March 5-7, at SVSU. The workshop will be facilitated by professional development trainers from the Museum of Science, Boston.

Attendees will be certified to conduct “Engineering is Elementary” professional development training during the second phase of the project.

Educators interested in applying for the workshops can contact Barrientos at (989) 964-4115 or The deadline to apply for the training is Friday, Feb. 22.

February 19, 2019

SVSU student’s entrepreneurial spirit shines in statewide competition

The childhood lemonade stands were just a warmup for Maggie Walker, a Saginaw Valley State University student whose entrepreneurial ambitions led her to start a retailing business as a college junior and win a first-place statewide award for it recently.

The SVSU accounting major from Laingsburg received the first-place nod in the entrepreneurship category of the Michigan Collegiate DECA competition hosted in Dearborn Feb. 1-3. She and five of her SVSU classmates at the contest qualified for Collegiate DECA’s national competition scheduled for April in Orlando.

“It was pretty surprising to win,” Walker said. “It was great hearing someone tell you that your idea could be successful.”

Collegiate DECA is an international association of high school and college students interested in marketing, management and entrepreneurship in business, finance, hospitality, and marketing sales and service. The organization hosts competitions judged by panelists, including mock investors.

The business plan Walker pitched to a mock investor in the entrepreneurship category, though, was no mock setup. She presented her own real-life start-up, Everyday Adult, which she founded in August 2018 to help young business professionals purchase professional clothing at affordable prices. Already, she has sold clothing to 60 customers and built an online following of 10,000 people.

Walker said Everyday Adult sprouted from her own shopping habits.

“I buy a lot of clothing for myself, and some of the prices are so high for a college student like me, so I like to find the best prices,” she said.

She decided to apply those bargain-hunting skills to a business plan by finding new or barely-used clothing and offering those items to customers largely through Poshmark, a retailing website. Her customers are primarily 25 or younger. Her Poshmark account can be found at

While the business transactions occur online, Walker said she hopes to expand Everyday Adult’s presence.

“My end goal is to purchase a trailer and sell at pop-up boutiques,” she said.

Walker said she applied many of the business practices learned while studying at SVSU. The result is a company with a promising start, she said.

“This is pretty much my first real business if you don’t count the lemonade stands I had when I was a kid,” she said. “It’s been great.”

Along with Walker, the following SVSU students competed at the Michigan Collegiate DECA contest earlier this month:

  • Keegan Booms, an international business major from Almont, finished in third place in the business ethics category with his partner, Jacob Saint Amour, a supply chain management major from Laingsburg. Amour also was a finalist in the retail management category.
  • Carly D'Alessandro, a management and marketing double major from Midland, finished in second place in the event planning category with partner Brady Wieland, a mechanical engineering major from Essexville. D'Alessandro also was a finalist in the professional sales category.
  • Madisyn Nicol, a management and marketing double major from Chesaning, was a finalist in both the advertising campaign and sales management meeting categories

There are about 15,000 Collegiate DECA members representing about 250 colleges and universities nationwide. SVSU's DECA chapter is led by Amy Hendrickson, associate professor of law, and Betsy Pierce, associate professor of accounting.

February 19, 2019

SVSU Board approves improvements to Pine Grove apartments

The Saginaw Valley State University Board of Control approved spending up to $1.8 million to make improvements and renovations to Pine Grove apartments during the Board’s regular meeting Tuesday, Feb. 18. The on-campus apartments were originally constructed in 1986 and will be modernized as a result of the project.

In addition, the Board approved spending up to $1.1 million for maintenance of campus infrastructure, including parking lots, roads and sidewalks.

The funds for the two projects will come from reserves allocated for capital projects and the university’s auxiliary system, which includes self-supporting operations such as University Housing.                                                               

The Board also granted tenure to 10 faculty members, effective July 1. They are:

  • Teresa Beadlescomb, assistant professor of social work
  • George Corser, assistant professor of computer science and information systems
  • Sylvia Fromherz Sharp, assistant professor of biology
  • Tammy Hill, assistant professor of nursing
  • Maureen Muchimba, assistant professor of health sciences
  • Travis Pashak, assistant professor of psychology
  • David Peruski, associate professor of nursing
  • Tami Pobocik, associate professor of nursing
  • Izabela Szymanska, assistant professor of management and marketing
  • Norman Wika, assistant professor of music

In other action, the Board:

  • Established the Board’s meeting schedule for 2019-20
  • Appointed a nominating committee for the Board’s officer elections.

February 15, 2019

A ‘Curious’ mystery — and an inclusive performance — part of SVSU's latest theatre production

Saginaw Valley State University's theatre department will stage its production of Simon Stephens' play, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” from Wednesday to Sunday, Feb. 20-24, in SVSU's Malcolm Field Theatre for Performing Arts.

Based on Mark Haddon’s best-selling 2003 novel of the same name, the play follows 15-year-old Christopher Boone (played by freshman Jared Kaufman, a communication and theatre education double major from Bay City), who has been accused of killing the neighbor’s dog. Throughout the production, Christopher overcomes his fears and embarks on an unforgettable journey to solve the mystery of the real killer. The adventure changes his life forever.

Tommy Wedge, the play's director and an SVSU assistant professor of theatre, says "Curious Incident" will be unlike any other production audiences have witnessed at SVSU

“Not only is this a very technically-challenging play — with 400-plus light cues, rear projection, a raked stage, and student-created soundtrack — but, for the first time in our department, we are offering a sensory-friendly performance,” Wedge says.

That sensory-friendly version of the play — slated for the Sunday, Feb. 24 performance at 3 p.m. — will dampen the intensity of the sound and lighting elements for the sake of audience members sensitive to such elements, including individuals with autism. This more inclusive version will feature warnings for jarring lighting and sound effects, make the main floor open to audience members who want to move around (the balcony level will be reserved for attendees seeking a more traditional theatre experience), and open an "activity room" near the theatre. The activity room — open before, during and after the production — will feature staff and activities for attendees who want to take a break from watching the production while it's underway.

Wedge, the father of two children on the autism spectrum, says handling the subject of autism has been a rewarding challenge for the student-actors.

“The spectrum is so wide, and its manifestations so varied, that it has made this process a very educational one, especially for our actors," he says. "I think what they’ve developed is thoughtful and truthful, and I’m proud of what they’ve built.”

Hannah Ducolon, an elementary education major who plays the role of Judy – Christopher’s mother — says the unique presentation of the play makes "Curious Incident" an important production.

“This play shows that those who may be 'atypical' are just as capable as any other human being,” the Bay City native says. “They just process things differently, which is displayed in every aspect of this production.”

“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. performances Wednesday through Saturday, Feb. 20-23, and a 3 p.m. performance Sunday, Feb. 24. The production is recommended for audiences 13 and older due to mild adult themes and language.

Tickets are $13 for general admission, and $10 for senior citizens and students. Tickets can be purchased online now.

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

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