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March 30, 2018

SVSU student supports her peers and wins award as top writing tutor in Midwest

A Saginaw Valley State University student has been honored for the care and concern she shows for her fellow students in helping them learn to write more effectively.

Sara Houser, an elementary education major from Carrollton and a tutor in SVSU’s Writing Center, received the Outstanding Tutor of the Year award from the East Central Writing Centers Association.

The association represents 100 writing centers - where students mentor their peers on writing assignments - across five states in the Midwest and selects one outstanding tutor each year.

“Sara has the ability to be warm, engaging, and genuine while asking probing questions, offering counterarguments and providing insights that make the writers re-think, re-focus and even re-imagine their original work,” said Helen Raica-Klotz, director of the SVSU Writing Center.

Raica-Klotz has seen Houser’s strong work ethic firsthand, saying Houser has tutored hundreds of writers between her work at SVSU and in community writing centers in Bay City and Saginaw that serve the public. Beyond tutoring, Houser edits and writes for the publication Writing@SVSU, which displays a variety of writing pieces from SVSU students.

For Houser, tutoring is much more than helping a student achieve a higher grade.

“Just to get someone an ‘A’ on a paper is not good enough, you have to be willing to go the extra mile,” she said.

In addition to her degree, Houser is working to achieve an endorsement to teach English as a second language.

Houser received her award during the 40th annual East Central Writing Centers Association conference at Ohio State University March 23-25.

For more information on SVSU's Writing Center please visit,

March 28, 2018

SVSU to celebrate Holi Festival of Colors in April

The South Asian Student Association at Saginaw Valley State University next month will host the traditional Holi Festival of Colors — an annual Hindu holiday celebrating the beginning of spring and the “victory of good over evil.” The tradition involves encouraging participants to throw colorful powder at each other.
Food, music, a dance competition and many other activities also will be included in the celebration.
Holi Festival of Colors at SVSU is set for Saturday, April 21, from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Hamilton Gymnasium.
Tickets are $15 for the general public and $10 for students. Guests can pay $5 to participate only in the color throw. Children 6 and under can participate for free.
Along with tickets for the event, t-shirts are also being sold for $5 each.
For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit To contact the South Asian Student Association, please email

March 28, 2018

SVSU powers up to host another FIRST Robotics state championship

Saginaw Valley State University will be filled with about 5,500 high school students seeking a state championship Wednesday, April 11 through Saturday, April 14 as SVSU hosts the statewide FIRST Robotics competition for the second consecutive year.

In total, more than 8,000 people will visit the Great Lakes Bay Region for the competition, including professional mentors, family members and others.

Michigan employers report high demand for employees with scientific and technical expertise who can work in a team. As an organization, FIRST in Michigan seeks to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders and innovators.

Adrianne Cole, director of STEM at SVSU, said the event fits well with SVSU’s many outreach activities in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math).

“We are partnering with many schools throughout the Great Lakes Bay Region and beyond on a daily basis to boost student performance in math and science, and to provide teachers with tools and resources to be more effective in the classroom,” she said.

Many SVSU faculty and staff volunteer their time to support local schools and education programs, and more than 300 individuals – faculty, staff, students and alumni – volunteered during the 2017 state championships.

In addition to the learning that takes place, the event also is a boon to local businesses. The Great Lakes Bay Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau estimated the economic impact of last year’s event to be at least $1 million.

“We couldn't be more proud to welcome back the FIRST in Michigan Robotics Competition to Go Great Lakes Bay in 2018,” said Sonja Wood, Manager of Go Great Meetings for Go Great Lakes Bay. “We're absolutely thrilled to have these bright and talented students explore and experience Pure Michigan's Great Lakes Bay with their families and friends again this year, enjoying the incredible amenities and hospitality of SVSU and our entire region.”

The FIRST Robotics field will include 160 teams from across the state.

Practice sessions and robot repairs will take place in SVSU’s field house, while competition events will be held in O’Neill Arena of the Ryder Center. Both facilities are part of SVSU’s athletic complex.

FIRST Robotics teams that qualify for the state finals will arrive Wednesday, April 11 for inspection. The qualifying rounds of competition will take place throughout the day Thursday, April 13 and Friday, April 14. The playoff rounds will be Saturday, April 15 with the champion crowned that afternoon.

In each round, three teams compete using autonomous and remote-controlled robots piloted by students, battling to earn points during a two-minute round.

The theme for the 2018 FIRST Robotics competition is “Power Up.” It features two alliances of video game characters and their human operators who are trapped in a 1980s-style arcade game. Both alliances are working to defeat the boss in order to escape.

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

For more information, visit

About FIRST in Michigan: The FIRST Robotics Competition combines the excitement of a varsity sport with hands-on training in science and technology to help high school students discover how rewarding a career in engineering or technology can be. Remote-controlled robots, piloted by students and cheered on by thousands of screaming fans, go head-to-head in short games on the floor of a sports arena, battling it out to earn points during a two-minute round.

March 28, 2018

SVSU hosts renowned scholar of Islamic studies for Akbar Lecture

Saginaw Valley State University will host one of the leading scholars of contemporary Islamic thought and Islamic spirituality for a public lecture. Omid Safi, director of the Duke Islamic Studies Center, will speak Wednesday, March 28 at 6:30 p.m. in Curtiss Hall Banquet Room A.

A leading Muslim public intellectual, Safi has been among the most frequently sought speakers on Islam in popular media, appearing frequently in the New York Times, Newsweek, Washington Post, and on PBS, NPR, NBC, BBC, CNN, and international media.

A professor of Islamic Studies at Duke University, where he completed his Ph.D., Safi has served on the board of the Pluralism project at Harvard University and is the co-chair of the steering committee for the Study of Islam and the Islamic Mysticism Group at the American Academy of Religion, the largest international organization devoted to the academic study of religion. Committed to the intersection of love and justice, he was recently invited by the family of Martin Luther King to speak from Ebenezer Church in Atlanta during the 49th annual commemoration for Dr. King.

At SVSU, Safi’s lecture is titled, “Teachings of Rumi for Today's World.” The great 13th century Sufi mystic Rumi has become a best-selling poet in the English language, and people in his native Persia, as well as in Turkey, South Asia, and now Europe and America turn to him for inspiration and spiritual guidance.

Safi's talk will offer an in-depth dive into the ocean of divine love that animates Rumi, his poetry and teachings. The presentation will explore his astonishing love poetry, his unforgettable life stories and the legacies that are connected to him with an eye toward what these teachings have to say to us today. At a time that so many people are running ragged and find themselves overwhelmed, what do the love mystics of this tradition have to offer today, here and now? 

The lecture is open to the public. Admission is free of charge. A reception and book signing will follow the lecture.

Safi’s visit to SVSU is supported through the Dr. Raana Akbar Memorial Lecture Series in partnership with SVSU’s  Edwards Lecture Series and the Dow Visiting Scholars Lecture Series.

The Raana Akbar Memorial Lecture on Islam and Culture was established in 2011 by Dr. Waheed Akbar in memory of his wife Raana, a former member of the SVSU Board of Control, physician and community leader.

The William and Julia Edwards Lecture in Philosophy and Religion is a forum where recognized scholars in religion and philosophy are invited to share their work with the campus community.

The Dow Visiting Scholars and Artists program was established through an endowment from The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation to enrich our regional cultural and intellectual opportunities

For more information, visit

March 27, 2018

SVSU welcomes scholar on academic performance of boys and men of color

Saginaw Valley State University will host a public talk by a leading scholar on the academic performance of boys and men of color. J. Luke Wood, the Dean's Distinguished Professor of Education in the College of Education at San Diego State University, will speak in SVSU’s Curtiss Hall banquet rooms Tuesday, April 3 at 5 p.m.
Wood serves as the director of the joint Ph.D. program in education between San Diego State and Claremont Graduate University. He also serves as director of the Ed.D. program in community college leadership. In addition, Wood is co-director of the Community College Equity Assessment Lab, a national research and practice center.
Wood’s research focuses on factors affecting the success of boys and men of color in education. He has been featured by the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans, New York Times, Chronicle of Higher Education, Huffington Post, Fortune Magazine, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, San Francisco Chronicle and C-SPAN.
SVSU has incorporated Wood’s work into its student retention initiatives. Earlier in the academic year, SVSU’s Office of Multicultural Student Affairs hosted a free public course offered through San Diego State University titled “Black Minds Matter.” The 8-session series is designed to encourage dialog and understanding regarding the issues facing black boys and men in education. SVSU students, faculty and staff attended the sessions.
As a scholar, Wood has authored and edited 14 books. His most recent books include “Supporting Men of Color in the Community College” and “Teaching Boys and Young Men of Color.” Wood also has authored over 120 publications, including more than 60 peer-reviewed journal articles.
Wood completed a Ph.D. in educational leadership and policy studies, and a  master's degree at Arizona State University. He also completed bachelor’s and master’s degrees at California State University, Sacramento.
The lecture at SVSU is free and open to the public. It is supported through SVSU’s Dow Visiting Scholars program, an endowment established by The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation to enrich our regional cultural and intellectual opportunities by featuring the insights and perspectives of highly distinguished guest presenters. Wood’s talk is co-sponsored by the SVSU’s offices of Multicultural Student Affairs, Student Affairs, and School/University Partnerships.
For more information, visit

March 21, 2018

SVSU lifelong learning program receives Outstanding Humanities Organization Award

Saginaw Valley State University's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) - an enrichment program geared toward individuals age 50 and older - has received the Outstanding Humanities Organization Award from the Delta College Humanities Learning Center in recognition of its humanities-based classes and trips.
"This award illustrates just how important OLLI is to the humanities in this region," said Katherine Ellison, the director of OLLI. "Our members truly enjoy learning about the humanities, and we deliver that for them.”
Ellison accepted the award during a ceremony Sunday, March 18 at Andersen Enrichment Center
in Saginaw.
"It was an honor to be recognized in this way by another institution," she said. "It shows that we impact the entire community."
OLLI serves about 2,000 members. Yearly, the SVSU institute facilitates about 250 classes including humanities-based topics such as history, philosophy, film, literature, religion, and music.
OLLI also organizes trips to regional landmarks as well as historic sites on the other side of the world. In the fall, a group traveled to view historic Charleston, South Carolina and Savannah, Georgia. In February, another group explored the wonders of Australia. In May, a trip to Mount Rushmore is planned; then Iceland in July.
"My biggest joy is seeing our members so engaged and involved in our programs," Ellison said. "They want to learn about these subjects sometimes just because they love to learn; other times, because they've lived through a time that they want to understand better."
For more information about OLLI and its offerings, call 989-964-4475 or visit

March 21, 2018

SVSU seeking nominations for ‘Heroes in Education’

Saginaw Valley State University is seeking nominations for its third annual Heroes in Education awards.

“Think for a moment about your child's most influential teacher,” said Craig Douglas, dean of SVSU’s College of Education.  “That may be a person who should be nominated, but teachers aren’t the only heroes in schools. It could be the custodian who went out of her way to open a locker, or the secretary who helped bandage a scraped knee. All of these individuals are candidates for Heroes in Education recognition. We are looking for those educators who go above and beyond the call of duty."

Six educators will be selected for recognition from those nominated; nominations may be submitted by anyone. Students, parents, colleagues, and community volunteers have submitted nominations in the past.

Nomination forms are available online at Nominations must be received by 5 p.m. Thursday, March 29.

The 2018 recipients will be honored during a ceremony at SVSU Thursday, April 19 at 7 p.m.

The previous Heroes in Education recipients are:

•                     Charles Arnett, band and orchestra teacher at Chandler Park Academy

•                     Sally Burkey, assistant cook at Freeland High School

•                     Jerry Carmien, service worker at Kolb Elementary School in Bay City

•                     Kelly Frank, teacher at Tawas Middle School

•                     Scott Garcia, custodian at Genesee STEM Academy

•                     Katie Jenkins, teacher at Carrie Knause Early Childhood Learning Center in St. Louis

•                     Gary Karney, teacher at List Elementary School in Frankenmuth

•                     Kathryn (Kathy)Layer, teacher at Great Beginnings Childcare in Saginaw

•                     Joseph Peet, teacher at Kingston Elementary School

•                     Lawanda Purches-Waller, parent liaison at Genesee STEM Academy in Flint

•                     Todd Switala, coach and volunteer at Sterling Elementary School

•                     Everton Williams, director of operations at Pontiac Academy for Excellence

March 20, 2018

SVSU choir to perform world premiere of Roethke poems set to music

Saginaw Valley State University’s vocal ensemble Cardinal Singers will perform into history when they sing a musical composition of “The Voice,” a poem written by the late Pulitzer Prize-winning Saginaw native Theodore Roethke.
Scott Hyslop, director of parish music at St. Lorenz Lutheran Church in Frankenmuth, composed original music to accompany the poem, which will be debut to a live audience Sunday, March 25 at 4 p.m. at St. Lorenz during a concert by SVSU’s Cardinal Singers. The group also will perform in concert Monday, March 26 at 7:30 p.m. in SVSU’s Rhea Miller Recital Hall.
Both performances are part of the 2018 Roethke Poetry and Arts Festival hosted by SVSU at locations throughout Michigan’s Great Lakes Bay Region.
Kevin Simons, associate professor of music at SVSU, will direct the choir.
“These pieces are different than other songs we have done before,” said Simons. “They’re difficult and weird. They're all 21st century, so this show has more modern music than our past performances.”
The music selected for this concert is unpredictable and interesting to listen to. Even those who are not familiar with Roethke's work will enjoy this show immensely, Simons said.
To prepare for their big debut, the SVSU student vocalists were given a crash course on Roethke and his poetry.
“This really gave us an opportunity to focus on the text,” said Claire Barckholtz, a music education major from Hemlock.
The ensemble also will sing Roethke’s poem “The Shy Man,” using a composition by professional composer Paul Carey, who plans to travel from Chicago to attend the concert.
Simons is proud of the Cardinal Singers for the hours of determined study that have gone into preparing for the concerts.
“The students have really risen to the occasion,” Simons said. “They've been able to sing these pieces really well, and I am extremely proud of all of them.”
Sponsored by SVSU, the Theodore Roethke Poetry and Arts Festival, a triennial celebration of the late Pulitzer Prize-winning poet from Saginaw, will take place in venues across the Great Lakes Bay Region from March 23-28. All events are free and open to the public, funded in part by a grant from the Michigan Humanities Council, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
For a full schedule of activities, visit

March 16, 2018

SVSU 'Human Library' event to turn compelling people into open books for visitors

For a few hours next week, visitors of Saginaw Valley State University's library will have access to an additional medium of information: people.

For the second year, SVSU's Melvin J. Zahnow Library will host a “Human Library” event, where community members will volunteer to share their stories, experiences and life choices to attendees. The gathering is Tuesday, March 20, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on the library's first floor.

"The Human Library will give people the opportunity to engage in conversations that challenge stereotypes and prejudices," said Ashley Blinstrub, an SVSU research and assessment librarian helping to coordinate the gathering.

"The event will create a space for participants to take part in meaningful conversation with people that have different life experiences, histories and perspectives."

Every Human Library's "books" vary, depending on community needs and specific volunteers. Tuesday's event will feature people who tell stories about their experience about being a veteran with three deployments under her belt, being a survivor of a kidney and pancreas transplant, and being a person coping with mental illness. Other volunteers will discuss their experiences living with Celiac's disease, single-parenting an autistic child, and dealing with poverty and prejudice.

Last year, Sherrin Frances, SVSU associate professor of English, helped transplant the concept to SVSU from Denmark, where the Human Library Organization conceived the idea more than a decade ago.

The event is free and open to the public.  For more information on Human Libraries, visit

March 14, 2018

SVSU forensics team captures multiple awards at state tournament

The Saginaw Valley State University forensic team continued to reap the rewards of its hard work, winning several honors at the Michigan Intercollegiate Speech League State Tournament at Eastern Michigan University Saturday, March 10.

SVSU students claimed four of the 11 top novice awards, given to the student who places highest in an event and has participated in fewer than six competitions. SVSU was one of eight Michigan colleges and universities who competed at the event.

Darious Henry, a communication major from Chesterfield Township, earned second place in prose speaking, along with being the top novice in that event.

Jrew Brickel, a criminal justice major from Midland, finished in sixth place and took home the top novice honor in the extemporaneous speaking event.

Jayla Gaskins, a communication major from Detroit, earned sixth place in dramatic interpretation along and was named top novice for the competition.

Jill Castle, a communication major from Standish, earned the top novice award in the after
dinner speaking event.

Gina Kearly, a communication major from Midland, earned seventh place award in the poetry category.

In all, eight SVSU students have qualified during the 2017-18 season for the National Forensic Association National Championship tournament at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh that will be held April 19-23. They are: Brickel; Jenna Brown, a secondary education major from Saginaw; Castle, Andrea Garner, a communication major from Westland; Gaskins, Kelley Gray, a communication major from Sandusky; Henry, and Tiler Jewell, a creative writing major from Essexville

Amy Pierce, SVSU associate professor of communication, serves as the team’s faculty adviser.

For more information regarding the Michigan Intercollegiate Speech League State Forensics Tournament, please visit

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