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December 11, 2018

SVSU students gain valuable corporate experience through Botz Liberal Arts Fellowship

Four Saginaw Valley State University students have been selected for a fellowship that will provide them with opportunities to apply their liberal arts education in a business setting.


SVSU annually selects several students in the College of Arts & Behavioral Sciences for the Botz Liberal Arts Fellowship, which provides support for the participants to gain a challenging internship in a business setting. The program connects regional employers with selected junior and senior liberal arts students for a semester-long, fellowship-funded internship. Through events, workshops and scholarship support, the initiative introduces liberal arts students to opportunities in business.


This year's class was selected due to their academic success, along with their current interest and potential for success and leadership in a business environment. The students will interview with employers during the 2019 winter semester to find an appropriate internship experience.


The students selected as Botz Fellows for the 2018-19 academic year are:


                     Vincent Frank, a music major from Greenville

                     Melanie Frasca, a theatre and English double major from Waterford

                     Shelby Hagle, a psychology major from Port Austin

                     Shelby Townsend, a graphic design major from Davison



To qualify, students must have completed at least 45 credit hours with a minimum grade point average of 3.0 and pass a rigorous selection process. The students are mentored by Joni Boye-Beaman, professor of sociology; Ranjana Dutta, professor of psychology; and Bill Stec, interim director of Career Services.


The fellowship was established in 2013 by SVSU alumna Janet Botz. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in both sociology and English in 1974. While a student at SVSU, she was a reporter and later editor of The Valley Vanguard, the university's student-run newspaper. Botz enjoyed a 30-year career with the Dow Corning Corporation, retiring as  chief communications officer. She then served as vice president of Public Affairs and Communications at the University of Notre Dame.


Currently, Botz serves on the university's Foundation Board of Directors and is a past member of the Alumni Board and the Board of Fellows. For her accomplishments, she received the university's Distinguished Alumni Award in 1998.

December 6, 2018

At SVSU, high school students to wrap gifts collected for Bay City, Midland, Saginaw shelters

Local high school students involved in Saginaw Valley State University’s Great Lakes Bay Regional Youth Leadership Institute are showing their support for the community by collecting gifts for three regional nonprofits that provide shelter for those in need of help.

The project will conclude Friday, Dec. 7, when representatives from the nonprofits pick up the gifts from SVSU.

For several weeks, students have been collecting gifts from their local high schools and communities. They plan to donate those gifts to Bay Area Women’s Shelter in Bay City, Shelterhouse in Midland, and Underground Railroad in Saginaw.

“One of the pillars of the Great Lakes Bay Regional Youth Leadership Institute is teaching the students to be leaders in the community and giving back to families that are less fortunate,” said Mamie T. Thorns, SVSU’s special assistant to the president for Diversity Programs and the leadership institute’s longtime coordinator.

The Great Lakes Bay Regional Youth Leadership Institute welcomed its new class of participants — featuring more than 80 students from 32 high schools across the region — earlier this year. The institute is a year-long program involving several activities promoting team and leadership-building skills.

The Great Lakes Bay Regional Youth Leadership Institute is overseen by SVSU’s Office of Diversity Programs.

For more information about this year’s gift collection drive, call SVSU's Office of Diversity Programs at (989) 964-4068.

December 6, 2018

Valerie Jarrett, former senior adviser to President Obama, to keynote regional MLK event at SVSU

Saginaw Valley State University will welcome Valerie Jarrett, a former senior adviser to President Barack Obama, to deliver the keynote address during the 10th annual Great Lakes Bay Regional Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration at SVSU.

Jarrett will deliver her address Wednesday, Jan. 23, at 7 p.m. in the Malcolm Field Theatre for Performing Arts. The event is free and open to the public.

Jarrett served as Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement from 2009-2017. She first entered the White House with a diverse and unique background, having served in the private and public sector. Jarrett received her bachelor’s degree from Stanford University in 1978 and her law degree from the University of Michigan in 1981. She then went on to serve as the chief executive officer of The Habitat Company in Chicago, chairman of the Chicago Transit Board, commissioner of Planning and Development, and deputy chief of staff for Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley.

Throughout her time at the White House, Jarrett worked tirelessly to assemble elected officials, business and community leaders, and diverse groups of advocates behind efforts to strengthen and improve the lives of the American people.

Jarrett helped President Obama develop a broad coalition of partners to execute a vigorous agenda that campaigned to end sexual assault and to empower working families and promote early childhood education. She currently serves as a distinguished senior fellow at the University of Chicago Law School.

Jarrett joins a prestigious list of keynote speakers featured during the Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Celebration at SVSU. Most recently, Karen Carter, the chief inclusion officer for The Dow Chemical Company, spoke in 2018. Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder was the 2017 keynote speaker.

In addition to Jarrett's keynote address, the program will include the presentation of regional scholarship awards by the Bay Area, Midland Area and Saginaw community foundations to high school seniors who have embodied Martin Luther King's ideals.

Officials also will announce the winners of the Drum Major Award at the event, which recognizes people whose community involvement in the Great Lakes Bay Region serves to advance King's vision.

The event is sponsored in part by the Bay Area, Midland Area and Saginaw community foundations; Dow; Garber Automotive; Nexteer Automotive; UAW Region 1-D; local chapters of the NAACP; Delta College; SVSU and many others. A full list of sponsors is available online at

Admission to the event is free of charge, but tickets are required. Tickets are available online at

For more information about the event, please contact SVSU's Office of Diversity Programs at (989) 964-4068.

November 29, 2018

Braun Fellowship to boost SVSU faculty research into economics, environment

Two Saginaw Valley State University professors will expand their research through support received from SVSU’s Braun Fellowship. One research project will examine the efficiency of free market societies, while another will map invasive species at a national wildlife refuge.

Kaustav Misra, associate professor of economics, and Rhett Mohler, associate professor of geography, each will receive research support grants totaling up to $37,500 over the next three years to further their scholarly and professional activities. Funds may be used for research expenses, equipment, travel and/or other related support.

SVSU empowers students through research opportunities, and both projects will involve SVSU students serving as research assistants.

Misra's research will test existing studies and theories concluding that free market societies are more efficient than their non-free market counterparts. His project will involve researching the markets in India and Vietnam.

“The results will help institutional theorists and policy makers who are associated with policy designs, and increase the knowledge base of the field,” Misra said.                                                                             

Misra received his Ph.D. in applied economics from Mississippi State University in 2010. He joined the SVSU faculty in 2011 and now serves as the chair of both SVSU's Department of Economics; the Research and Publications Committee; and the Vitito Global Leadership Institute, a student leadership development program for students in SVSU's Scott L. Carmona College of Business & Management. His previous economics-based research has appeared in over 20 peer-reviewed journals.

Mohler's research will involve mapping two invasive plants – buckthorn and common reed – in the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge, south of Saginaw. Using drone technology, he plans to continue monitoring the plants' presence as treatment is applied in the coming years. The results, he said, will inform wildlife management communities about the treatment's effectiveness.

“Research like this helps me to teach informed classes by being on the leading edge of what is being done in my research field,” Mohler said.

Mohler earned his Ph.D. in geography from Kansas State University in 2011 and joined the SVSU faculty the following year. His earlier research – dealing in part with remote sensing and geospatial analysis – has been published in peer-reviewed journals 12 times over the years.

Mohler's studies have connected him with a number of environmental groups in the region. He is a member of both the Friends of the Bay City State Recreation Area as well as the Saginaw Bay Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area.

Both Misra and Mohler plan to present their findings through articles submitted in peer-reviewed academic journals as well as presentations at conferences across the globe.

Both projects will benefit communities - both local and global - all while providing hands-on experience for the student research assistants helping the educators analyze data and manage drone technology.

Established in 2005, the Braun Fellowship program was created through a $1.5 million endowment from the Saginaw-based Harvey Randall Wickes Foundation. Administered by the Saginaw Community Foundation, the program's purpose is to recognize the exceptional accomplishments and potential of select SVSU faculty and staff. It is named in honor of Ruth and Ted Braun of Saginaw.

November 29, 2018

SVSU students shine at Model United Nations Conference

Saginaw Valley State University students’ enthusiasm for international understanding helped them stand out from their collegiate peers during the eleventh American Model United Nations Conference in Chicago November 17-20.

The Saginaw Valley Model United Nations club captured two team honors and one individual award.

Model United Nations is an organization for students with an active interest in international affairs, policy and diplomacy. Through participation in simulations and regional/national conferences members gain valuable skills in research, communication, and conflict resolution.

The SVSU club won as a group for the quality of writing on its pre-conference papers relating to the nations of Ghana and Kazakhstan.

As an individual, Josh Cianek, a political science major from Auburn, won an award for exceptional justice for his role on the International Court of Justice. He also was elected by his peers to act as the president of the International Court of Justice.

In Model United Nations, justices are responsible for reading the briefs and hearing arguments on each of the three assigned cases. Justices will then deliberate to analyze and discuss the cases and arguments in order to determine the appropriate applications of international law in each case. Justices are also responsible for writing opinions for each case.

Stewart French, SVSU associate professor of political science and team adviser, said the Saginaw Valley U.N. club has cumulatively won over 40 awards in 11 years at national and international conferences.

At the most recent conference, SVSU students competed against their peers from schools including the University of Chicago, University of Minnesota, University of Notre Dame and University of Wisconsin, among others.

The SVSU team will travel to Toronto in February to compete at the North American Model United Nations Conference.

November 28, 2018

SVSU to host 100 fourth grade students for Hour of Code event

Saginaw Valley State University is inspiring young minds through it participation in a national initiative to increase diversity in computer science.

SVSU will host four local elementary classrooms be on campus Friday, Nov. 30 from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. for the Hour of Code program, designed to introduce computer coding to students at a young age.

Around 100 elementary students will participate in an hour of coding, the process of writing a computer program using a programming language. George Corser, SVSU assistant professor of computer science and information systems, and SVSU computer science students will provide instruction to the elementary students.

The participating students attend Arrowwood Elementary from Saginaw Township Community Schools, Auburn Elementary from Bay City Public Schools and Lincoln Elementary from Bangor Township Schools.

In addition to writing computer code, students from those schools will tour the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum at SVSU to introduce them to learning in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics).

The Hour of Code event is an educational program embraced by institutions in over 180 countries. SVSU has hosted this program in previous years.

November 27, 2018

SVSU holiday production a throwback to Christmas TV specials from ’60s, ‘70s

Saginaw Valley State University student dancers, actors, and vocalists next week will perform together on stage to celebrate the holiday season in “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year! A Christmas Variety Show!”


The SVSU Department of Theatre's 10th annual holiday-themed production is scheduled at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, Nov. 28-29, in SVSU’s Malcolm Field Theatre for Performing Arts.  


The production will take audiences back in time to the Christmas TV specials of the 1960s and ‘70s. Viewers will be surrounded by the holiday spirit courtesy of a dazzling theatre set featuring twinkling lights, brilliant colors, and other sights and sounds of the season.


Ric Roberts, professor of theatre, will direct the production along with Peggy Mead-Finizio, assistant professor of theatre.


“It will be an exciting night of holiday fun for the whole family,” Mead-Finizio said.


Tickets are $13 for the public and $10 for SVSU students or attendees age 60 or older.


For more information or to order tickets, contact the SVSU Box Office at (989) 964-4261 or purchase tickets online at

November 20, 2018

SVSU professor receives grant for book on intersection of science and religion

Jeffrey Koperski, professor of philosophy at Saginaw Valley State University, has received nearly $90,000 from the John Templeton Foundation to fund his book project focused on science and religion.

Koperski describes the forthcoming book, “Laws, Determinism, and Divine Action,” as a way to discuss issues from both science and religion.

“A lot of what I do is at the intersection of science and religion,” he said. “Theologians and philosophers of religion sometimes appeal to science, especially physics, but that is not their training.”

Other times, there are scientists interested in matters of religion, but they don't have training in religion or theology, Koperski explained.

“A lot of the fights that you see in the context of science and religion are actually matters of philosophy and the philosophy of science, which neither scientists nor theologians have expertise in,” he said.

“I am trying to straighten out what I think are misperceptions and misapplications of matters of science and physics as they apply to certain matters of religion.”

His expertise in two very different disciplines aided his interest in the research. Koperski has a Ph.D. in philosophy from Ohio State University, as well as a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from the University of Dayton.

“Philosophy is a big field. My area of specialization is a philosophy of science, so I've been able to use my engineering degree to understand issues in science that some philosophers might be intimidated by,” Koperski said.

“I would not be able to do philosophy of science as well, especially philosophy of physics, if I didn't know about differential equations that I learned as an engineer.”

The John Templeton Foundation typically funds projects on matters of science and religion. They awarded Koperski a $89,787 grant.

“They're not dictating any particular conclusion. They will support grants that don't necessarily agree with what their board thinks, and they do support a lot of proposals, but usually not books. Mine is kind of unusual in that they would give a grant to one person and the main project is a book,” Koperski said.

“I feel very fortunate that they chose this one.”

Koperski joined the SVSU philosophy faculty in 1997. He has previously authored or co-authored at least 15 scholarly articles that have appeared in academic journals or books.

November 20, 2018

Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation executive director Velasquez to deliver SVSU commencement address

The executive director of the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation will deliver the keynote address to graduates during commencement exercises at Saginaw Valley State University.

Jenée Velasquez, who also serves as chair of SVSU's Board of Control, will speak at both ceremonies: Friday, Dec. 14 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 15 at 11 a.m. in O'Neill Arena of the Ryder Center.

The graduating class totals 623 individuals expected to complete degree requirements, including 553 graduating students who plan to don regalia and march in their respective ceremonies.

Commencement exercises for graduates in the colleges of Business & Management, and Health & Human Services will be held Friday evening. Students completing degrees in the colleges of Arts & Behavioral Sciences; Education; and Science, Engineering & Technology will take part in the ceremony scheduled for Saturday morning.

As is tradition, SVSU President Don Bachand will congratulate each graduate as he or she crosses the stage.

Velasquez has served as executive director for the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation since 2005. Prior that appointment, she served Midland County's economic development corporation in two capacities: first as manager of economic development services and then as its chief executive officer.

Velasquez has maintained strong ties to the community. Beyond her board service at SVSU, she served as campaign co-chair for SVSU’s Talent. Opportunity. Promise. private fundraising campaign, which raised $28 million, including a $5 million gift from the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation to create the STEM Scholars Network, which provides funding to support SVSU student and faculty research, as well as outreach efforts.

In addition, Velasquez serves as a board member of Michigan Non-Profit Association, MidMichigan Health, Michigan Municipal League Foundation, Chemical Bank Advisory, and many others.

Numerous organizations have recognized Velasquez for her service to the community. In 2018, she was inducted into Junior Achievement of North Central Michigan's Hall of Fame. In 2016, she was named by Crain's Business Detroit to its 100 Most Influential Women in Michigan. In 2013, she received the YWCA Women of Achievement Award for Community Leadership, and in 2012, she received the Great Women of the Great Lakes Bay Region Award and Margaret Ann “Ranny” Riecker Meritorious Service Award.

Velasquez completed a bachelor's degree in business administration from Kansas State University and a master's degree in business administration from Michigan State University. She also completed an executive education course at Harvard University's John. F. Kennedy School of Government.

November 19, 2018

SVSU hosts networking event to connect Great Lakes Bay graduates and alumni with top employers


Discover Great Lakes Bay is hosting a business-casual networking experience that will offer an opportunity for talented professionals to connect with world-class employers from across the Great Lakes Bay Region. The “Coming Home” event will take place Wednesday, Nov. 21 from 3-5 p.m. in the Curtiss Hall banquet rooms at Saginaw Valley State University.


The event was scheduled for the day prior to Thanksgiving when many college students and young professionals will be returning to the region for the holiday.


“We wanted to provide a casual environment for future college graduates and alumni from the region who are interested in potentially moving home, so that they can network with employers to learn about career opportunities,” said Riley Hupfer, program coordinator for Discover Great Lakes Bay and one of the organizers of the event.


More than 20 leading employers will be in attendance, including Covenant Healthcare, The Dow Chemical Company, Frankenmuth Insurance, Garber Automotive Group, Nexteer Automotive, and Rehmann.


Retaining and attracting talent is the number one issue for both existing companies and those considering a location in the Great Lakes Bay Region, prompting Saginaw Future Inc. to spearhead the talent attraction and retention initiative.


The project is supported by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the Regional Prosperity Initiative 2018 Mini-Grant Program, administered by East Michigan Council of Governments, a federally designated development district for the 14 counties of East Central Michigan.


Alumni of Alma College, Central Michigan University, Davenport University, Delta College, Mid Michigan College, Northwood University, and Saginaw Valley State University have all been invited to attend the Coming Home event.


Attendees will receive complimentary appetizers and drink tickets for craft beers from Mountain Town Brewing Co. in Mt. Pleasant, as well as other beer and wine options.  


“Ultimately this a celebration of the Great Lakes Bay Region being a wonderful place to live, work and play,” Hupfer said. “We hope that those coming home to the region will make it a stop as a part of their Wednesday evening.”


More than 130 individuals already have registered to attend, and more are welcome to join.


For a detailed list of featured employers and available positions, to RSVP, or to join the event as a hiring company,  please visit or call Hupfer at (989)-964-4231.


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