Saginaw Valley State University will host a panel of educators and students examining the Confederate flag's history and society's ongoing conversation about its symbolism in modern America.
The event – sponsored by SVSU, the Saginaw Community Foundation and the Saginaw Intermediate School District – is scheduled from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 25, in the Malcolm Field Theatre for Performing Arts.
Joni Boye-Beaman, an SVSU professor of sociology and the panel moderator, said the discussion is necessary in part because of an incident earlier this year. In April, Confederate flag-bearing vehicles parked outside Bay City Western High School for several days, leading administrators to cancel classes for one day.
“The purpose of the panel discussion is to try to be proactive in terms of having a conversation about what the flag symbolizes to different groups, and why it is important to understand the different meanings attached to it,” Boye-Beaman said.
“We want to talk about how you balance free speech with potentially-intimidating speech and how to start those kinds of conversations with high school students. The goal is to help frame a discussion so that we don't have incidents like what happened at the school again.”
Kenneth Jolly, SVSU professor of history, will open the discussion with a brief presentation about the history of the Confederate flag. Paul Teed, SVSU professor of history, will be among the panelists. SVSU student Grace Kendziorski, a political science major from Auburn, will join the panel along with Raymond Barber, a political science major from University of Detroit Mercy. Other panelists include Ericka Taylor, director of early education at the Saginaw Intermediate School District, and Carolyn Wierda, interim superintendent for Saginaw Township Community Schools.
The panel discussion is the first of four planned events aimed at developing the skills and knowledge necessary to foster successful and effective dialogue that leads to social justice and equity in communities.
For more information on the event, contact the SVSU Office of Diversity Programs at (989) 964-4068.
Saginaw Valley State University is hosting a lecture by a professor of sociology at SVSU on how communities thrive when people participate in civic engagement.
Joni Boye-Beaman will speak Thursday, Oct. 4 at 4 p.m. in SVSU’s Founder's Hall on “Experiential Learning: Building Community and Competence through Civic Engagement.”
The lecture, free and open to the public, is part of the SVSU 2018-19 Dow Visiting Scholars and Artists Series.
Boye-Beaman completed a master's degree and a Ph.D. at the State University of New York at Buffalo. She joined the SVSU sociology faculty in 2000; her lecture is the 21st annual Thomas and Hilda Rush Distinguished Lecture at SVSU.
Boye-Beaman has over 25 years of experience collaborating with colleagues, students and community partners on a wide variety of research and service learning projects. Her work has benefitted over 100 community organizations and agencies, as well as the people they serve.
Currently, Boye-Beaman is working with James Bowers, SVSU associate professor of criminal justice, and student research assistants as evaluators for a project with the Saginaw Police Department. The project focuses on developing and implementing policies and practices to better respond to victims of violent crimes.
Along with working with the Saginaw Police Department, she is also involved with several initiatives for the SVSU campus community.
For her community work, Boye-Beaman is the recipient of the 2015 Bay Area Women's Center Alice and Jack Wirt Spirit of Giving Award. In addition, she and her research team received a 2018 Community Relations Citation from the Saginaw Police Department.
With her commitment to community service and willingness to help others, the late Bobby Ann Robinson made a lasting positive impression on colleagues who worked alongside the educator at Saginaw Valley State University.
Her family and SVSU honored that legacy Monday, Sept. 17 by naming a space on campus after the Saginaw native and onetime SVSU educator with the dedication of The Dr. Bobby Ann Robinson Presentation Hall, located in SVSU's Groening Commons.
“She would never refuse a call to serve,” said Donald Bachand, SVSU's president. “I knew I could always count on her because she never gave a second thought to helping others. She had a passion for her students and her university.”
Robinson, an adjunct faculty member in SVSU's Department of English from 1998-2010, was remembered fondly by friends and family during a dedication ceremony outside the presentation hall now featuring her name emblazoned in silver lettering above the entrance. The naming recognition was part of a gift commitment from her sister, Ruby Robinson, an SVSU alumna.
“SVSU is like a family to us,” Robinson said. “I wanted to honor Bobby's memory here.”
The gift from Ruby Robinson will support the SVSU First For Business campaign, which was recently initiated to support construction of a 38,500-square-foot expansion to house the university's Scott L. Carmona College of Business & Management.
“We are grateful to Ruby for her generous support of SVSU and deeply appreciate that she has chosen SVSU to honor her sister's legacy” said Andrew J. Bethune, executive director of the SVSU Foundation.
Bobby Ann Robinson's influence on the community reached beyond her work at SVSU. She also worked for the former Buena Vista School District in Saginaw County as a teacher and administrator. She served as executive director of the Saginaw-Bay Substance Abuse Services Commission. Robinson also was a member of the NAACP as well as Zonta International, a global organization empowering women through service and advocacy.
Robinson, who visited dozens of nations in her lifetime, shared her love for traveling as the owner and operator of Robinson's Family Travel until her death in 2015 at the age of 75.
She was a lover of poetry "who thought everyone should be a writer," her sister said.
Family and friends at Monday's ceremony recalled Robinson's inspiring mantra for her students: “Go for it. Take a chance. Keep on flying.”
A national publication again has recognized Saginaw Valley State University for its commitment to diversity and inclusion.
INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education, selected SVSU as a recipient of the 2018 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award.
SVSU will be among the 95 institutions featured in the November 2018 issue focusing on HEED Award recipients. SVSU first earned the distinction from INSIGHT Into Diversity in 2016.
Lenore Pearlstein, publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, said SVSU was chosen for “showing an exceptional commitment to recruiting and retaining students and employees through their unique programming and initiatives.”
“Their strategic plan includes recognizing their many goals as they move forward over the next several years, and we hope being the recipient of such a prestigious national award will help the campus to be impactful and intentional in their efforts,” she said.
Donald Bachand, SVSU president, said he was pleased to learn SVSU was being recognized with the HEED Award.
“SVSU prides itself on creating an environment that empowers the diverse population of our campus, as well as our surrounding communities,” he said.
Mamie T. Thorns, SVSU's special assistant to the president for Diversity Programs, said one of the university's top priorities involves fostering inclusive dialogues that make room for every voice to be heard.
“Every race, every nationality, every gender, every sexual orientation, every religion, and everybody has a place on our campus,” she said. “This would not be possible without our students, faculty, staff and administration, who work so hard so that we can meet our standards for diversity and inclusion.”
SVSU offers a variety of academic programs and community-minded initiatives that support diversity and inclusion in the Great Lakes Bay Region. To name a few examples, the university for years has served as a sponsor of the Great Lakes Bay Region's MLK Celebration; The Pride Center at SVSU provides resources for individuals in the LGBTQI community; the university established the Great Lakes Bay Regional Youth Leadership Institute; and the campus regularly hosts guest speakers to address topics that affect under-represented populations.
Among the new initiatives SVSU pursued recently included an expansion of the university's diverse scholarship and financial aid offerings. The initiative – supported in part financially by private donors, alumni and community partners – paved the way for more students than ever qualifying for aid at SVSU.
Pearlstein said selecting HEED Award recipients involved a comprehensive and rigorous application process that included questions relating to the recruitment and retention of students and employees - and best practices for both - continued leadership support for diversity, and other aspects of campus diversity and inclusion.
“We take a detailed approach to reviewing each application in deciding who will be named a HEED Award recipient,” she said. “Our standards are high, and we look for institutions where diversity and inclusion are woven into the work being accomplished every day across their campus.”
Saginaw Valley State University saw a dramatic increase in the size of its freshman class for the 2018-19 academic year, as the number of first-time students rose by 28 percent over the previous year.
“We enjoyed a very successful recruiting season because of a lot of hard work from many people in different offices across campus,” said Deborah Huntley, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. “We are very pleased by the overall growth of the freshman class, especially when you consider the declining number of high school graduates in Michigan.”
SVSU enrolled 1,576 freshmen for the 2018 fall semester, compared to 1,229 last year. The current cohort is SVSU’s largest entering class since 2013.
“We have expanded our outreach efforts, and that has contributed to a growing awareness of the high quality of our academic programs,” Huntley said.
SVSU-sponsored scholarships and financial aid also played a role in attracting new students, as 88 percent of the freshman class received financial assistance other than loans.
“We recognize even our relatively low costs can present a barrier for students and families, so we have taken steps to help students meet their financial commitments,” Huntley said. “By expanding and restructuring our scholarship offerings and financial aid, we are able to support our students and provide access to a college degree, which is an important part of our mission as a public university.”
The academic preparedness of the 2018 freshman class mirrors last year’s class with an average high school GPA of 3.4.
SVSU also has seen a sharp rise in its student retention rate, which has improved to 77.4 percent, up from 74.4 percent last year. The rate has risen for five consecutive years, up from 70 percent in 2014.
“We are making great strides in student retention, as we continue to offer outstanding opportunities focused on student success,” Huntley said.
Overall enrollment at SVSU dipped slightly with 8,535 students taking classes for the current term, compared to 8,662 in 2017. SVSU has seen large graduating classes in recent years, which is a main reason for the decline.
Fall classes at SVSU began Monday, Aug. 27.
Saginaw Valley State University is hosting a lecture by an award-winning poet who will explore how poetry is influenced by the current political climate.
Carmen Bugan will speak Monday, Oct. 8 at 7 p.m. in the Rhea Miller Recital Hall at SVSU. The event is free and open to the public.
Her lecture, “Poetry in a Time of Politics,” will investigate what occurs when poetry and politics meet, and the rift between a poet's private and public identity. She will explore how the poet begins to search for an adequate language to create and celebrate freedom.
Born in Romania, Bugan has lived in England, Ireland, France and the U.S. She is the author of three collections of poetry: “Crossing the Carpathians,” “The House of Straw” and “Releasing the Porcelain Birds.” Bugan also authored the memoir, “Burying the Typewriter: Childhood Under the Eye of the Secret Police.”
Among her many awards and honors, Bugan was a Creative Arts Fellow in Literature at Oxford University, where she earned her Ph.D.; a George Orwell Prize Fellow; and a recipient of the Bread Loaf Nonfiction Prize. She also is the 2018 Helen DeRoy Professor in Honors at the University of Michigan, where she completed her bachelor’s degree.
Bugan’s lecture is part of SVSU's 2018-19 Dow Visiting Scholars and Artists Series, a program at SVSU established through an endowment from The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation to enrich our region’s cultural and intellectual opportunities.
Saginaw Valley State University will host a lecture examining how stress effects health – and how people can overcome it. Lauren O'Connell will speak Wednesday, Sept. 26 at 6:30 p.m. in the Alan W. Ott Auditorium at SVSU's Gilbertson Hall as part of the Your Health Lecture Series.
Dr. O'Connell is a developmental behavioral pediatrician at Hurley Children's Center in Flint. She is also a pediatric health services researcher and an assistant professor at Michigan State University's College of Human Medicine.
O’Connell’s lecture, “Toxic Stress and Resilience: Shifting the Balance toward Wellness,” explores how toxic stress can affect the body and how to build resilience against this stress for both children and adults.
For the ninth year, SVSU, MSU's College of Human Medicine and MidMichigan Health are hosting the Your Health Lecture Series. The series features medical professionals who speak on a wide variety of health-related topics. Talks are free and open to the public.
For more information on the lecture series or to RSVP, visit MSUYourHealthLecture.com or call 616-234-2694.
Saginaw Valley State University has appointed John Decker to serve as director of Athletics in a permanent capacity. Decker had been serving as the interim director since January when Mike Watson retired.
"I appreciate John's willingness to accept the challenge of leading our athletic department," said Donald Bachand, SVSU president. "His career has been outside of intercollegiate athletics, and over the past several months while he has been serving in an interim capacity, I have found value in the fresh perspective he has brought to the job, and the opportunities for growth he has identified."
"As a former student-athlete himself, John is passionate about providing our student-athletes with the best possible experience both educationally and competitively, and I know that will be his top priority every day."
Decker joined SVSU in 2014 as associate vice president and general counsel. Prior to that, he worked for 34 years for the Saginaw-based law firm Braun Kendrick, including 12 years as managing partner.
"I am excited for this opportunity to lead the SVSU Cardinal athletics program," Decker said. "We have a rich athletic tradition, combined with a good balance of academic performance, which is what the NCAA Division II athletic experience should be."
A Saginaw native, Decker played college football at the University of Nebraska, where he completed a bachelor's degree. He earned a law degree at Duke University.
Decker will hold an appointment as associate vice president for legal affairs at SVSU, though his primary responsibilities will lie in Athletics. His wife Sally is a professor of nursing at SVSU; they have two adult children.
Saginaw Valley State University has earned the 2019 “best dorms” ranking, thanks to students’ praise for the welcoming environment and outstanding facilities.
SVSU is like home for Ty'Shawn Short. The scent of chicken and shrimp alfredo that often permeates his on-campus residence is one of the many reminders of that fact. Much to his delight, that same aroma often filled his nostrils back at his family's house in Detroit.
“I love to cook,” he said, “and they give you a big stove and oven when you move here. There's so much room. You can't beat it.”
Not many higher institutions can compete with SVSU's residential student environment, according to a website ranking the best on-campus housing environments in the nation. In its Best College Dorms in America ranking, Niche placed SVSU No. 1 among public universities and No. 8 overall in the nation.
SVSU has consistently rated among the national leaders in both categories since 2015.
Niche calculates its rankings using a weighted formula where 70 percent of a school's score comes from students' satisfaction with their housing, as well as data from the U.S. Department of Education. Niche evaluated the residential environment of 1,370 colleges and universities nationwide in its 2019 rankings.
“The facts don't lie,” said Short, a criminal justice major and residential assistant, about SVSU's high rating. “You have everything you need if you're living here.”
For students such as Short, that type of welcoming, friendly environment is invaluable. With a comfortable setting that includes first-rate facilities and an active campus life environment, the junior said he has less reason to return often to Detroit when in need of his creature comforts. Many of those comforts are available inside his residence hall room or within walking distance of the residence.
“I can play basketball or football intramural games or study late at the library on campus, and just walk back to my place when I'm done,” he said.
Michele Gunkelman, SVSU's director of residential life, said SVSU's housing facilities possesses another secret ingredient: a residential student population empowered to create a supportive and fun campus community for itself.
“This is what makes the SVSU residential experience stand out from other institutions in our state and beyond,” she said.
Jocelynn Fair, a double major in psychology and political science from Au Gres, is enjoying her second year residing on campus. She now works as a residential assistant, supporting other on-campus students.
“I tell people all the time, 'Campus life at SVSU has changed my life,'” she said. “Being so close to all the students and all the student activities made me feel like SVSU had a place for me.”
The relatively modest size of SVSU's campus means she is never far from friends or classrooms. The on-campus presence of popular eateries such as Starbucks, Panda Express and Subway mean students have less reason to venture far from home. Free screenings of recently-released movies are a hit with many students, she said. And more than 200 registered student organizations cater to a variety of interests. Fair is a vice president of one of those groups and a member of another.
“And the laundry here is free,” she said. “That always helps.”
For the 2018-19 academic year, SVSU's residence halls are filled to capacity, housing 2,450 students.
Saginaw Valley State University's Henry Marsh Institute for Public Policy is facilitating the Midland Political Leadership Academy for residents of Midland County.
The political leadership program teaches interested individuals about how to run for office or learn about appointed positions available in Midland County. The session will be held Saturday, Sept. 15 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Midland Chamber of Commerce, located at 300 Rodd Street in downtown Midland.
Interested individuals can register by emailing email@example.com.
Acceptance is based on a first-come, first-serve basis. The academy is free to all participants, and lunch will be provided.
The program will feature lectures on the topics of appointed positions in Midland County, how to run for a political office, and examine effective campaign strategies.
The Henry Marsh Institute for Public Policy – founded in 2011 – is a 10-month program at SVSU that educates citizens in the Great Lakes Bay Region on various political and leadership topics.
The program is named after the late Henry Marsh, who served as mayor of Saginaw beginning in 1967 and later served on SVSU's Board of Fellows. He received an honorary degree from SVSU in 1970.
The Henry Marsh Institute for Public Policy is funded by the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation. For more information, please visit www.svsu.edu/henrymarsh/.