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August 21, 2018

SVSU earns grant funds to support addiction recovery services for seniors at community health clinic

Health professionals at Saginaw Valley State University are determined to secure resources to improve health for people living in the Great Lakes Bay Region.

SVSU recently received a 2-year, $352,574 grant from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund to establish an addiction recovery support team specializing in patients 60 and older at the Bay Community Health Clinic in downtown Bay City.

The SVSU-supported regional health clinic will bolster its staff and resources in an effort to save lives and treat a demographic left especially vulnerable to the nation's deadly opioid addiction crisis.

The health clinic was established in January 2015 through a partnership between the Bay County Health Department and SVSU, which provides much of the staff and resources for the clinic. The facility largely caters to clients less likely to seek treatment at more traditional medical facilities. Beginning in January 2019, the clinic will begin adding services for the growing number of senior citizens suffering from addictions to alcohol and drugs, including opioids.

“The older adult population is really under-recognized in this opioid epidemic,” said Kathleen Schachman, SVSU's Harvey Randall Wickes Endowed Chair in Nursing and a nurse practitioner at the clinic.

The medical and mental health needs of the older population are far more complex, and substance use disorders are often under-recognized, she said.

“Health care providers often attribute their symptoms to aging or to other co-occurring health conditions,” Schachman said. “Due to stigma or a lack of age-appropriate services, older adults fail to get the help they need. This calls for addictions care that is tailored to the unique needs of the older adult, and that's what we want to provide.”

The grant in part will fund additional staff for the clinic including health care-trained professionals from both Ferris State University and Recovery Pathways, an Essexville-based outpatient rehabilitation program for individuals suffering from drug and alcohol addiction.

The Bay Community Health Clinic is no stranger to helping those with substance use disorders, but the staff largely has been limited to treating those clients for mental health issues. To treat physical dependence relating to substance use, the clinic has referred individuals to other facilities. The Michigan Health Endowment Fund's support will change that.

By January, the clinic will staff a specially-trained nurse practitioner who will be certified to prescribe buprenorphine, one of three medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of opioid use disorder. Health care professionals equipped with that type of certification are rare in the region, Schachman said.

“And some of the rural areas we hope to impact – like Arenac and Oscoda counties – have zero prescribers of buprenorphine,” she said.

The grant will allow the clinic to add a nurse practitioner to prescribe medication-assisted treatment, a substance use counselor and a peer addictions recovery coach. The clinic utilizes an integrated approach – teaming professionals in nursing, occupational therapy, pharmacy and social work – to address physical and mental health issues on multiple fronts.

The funding also will support the clinic's educational component.

Since its founding, the clinic has been staffed by faculty members with experience as medical professionals. They have been supported by students – largely from SVSU but also Michigan State University and Wayne State University in previous years – who provide help while receiving hands-on training from the faculty. The new grant will allow SVSU and Ferris State to embed opioid addiction recovery material in the classroom curriculum.

“This isn't just about how we can help here and now,” Schachman said. “We're preparing the next generation of healthcare providers to more adequately deal with this crisis.”

As January approaches, clinic staff will prepare for the new resources and advertise the facility's expanded service – known as The GRACE (Gaining Recovery in Addiction for Community Elders) Project – to community members who one day could be saved by it.

The Bay Community Health Clinic is located within the Bay County Health Department building at 1200 Washington in Bay City. The clinic provides primary care medical services for patients of all ages. Those in need of such services can contact the facility at (989) 895-2035.

August 21, 2018

Newest SVSU fraternity makes a difference locally; student and advisor receive national award

A Saginaw Valley State University student and staff member were recently recognized as national leaders by Alpha Kappa Lambda (AKL) fraternity.

Gabe Kasper, a marketing major from Clare who served as the SVSU chapter's president until recently, won The Clarence E. Brehm Leadership Award at the fraternity's conference in the Bahamas August 1-4.

“When I received the Brehm Award, I was completely dumbfounded,” Kasper said. “As they were reading, I slowly put the pieces together that they were talking about me, and I was in complete shock that I - out of thousands of other AKL undergraduate members -  was the one the National Executive Council chose.

“To me, what I do in AKL isn't something extraordinary. The people who won that same award in the past have gone and done amazing things in their life, and I still cannot believe that my name will be in the same category.”

It has been a very busy year for the fraternity that was only recently chartered on SVSU's campus on March 16, marking the first time a fraternity had been chartered at SVSU in the past decade.

The chapter's advisor, Riley Hupfer, an SVSU alumnus and assistant director of SVSU's Center for Community Engagement, was awarded the Henry T. Moon Outstanding Chapter Advisor award for his outstanding work while advising the fraternity.

During the past school year, members of the SVSU chapter of Alpha Kappa Lambda promoted causes such as sexual assault prevention and alcohol safety education.

The fraternity collects pledges for These Hands Don't Hurt, a national philanthropic organization aimed at preventing domestic or sexual violence. In 2018, the SVSU chapter added a bike-a-thon to raise funds for to local women's shelters. For every $1 raised, members rode an exercise bike for 1 minute. In the past two years, they have raised over $500.

SVSU’s Alpha Kappa Lambda chapter also worked with others to introduce a Glo-Hard Paint and Foam Party in 2017 to provide alcohol safety education as part of Welcome Weekend, which marks the start of a new academic year. Partnering with SVSU’s offices of Student Life and Student Wellness Programs, among others, students who attend the party get party-safe and alcohol-safe tips from our trained students and professionals while foam cannons and luminescent paint cover attendees dancing to music from top local DJs. The first-year event attracted more than 750 people and resulted in donations of $250 to Hurricane Irma relief efforts; this year they hope to draw more than 1,000 students.

While the national awards were given to individuals, Kasper said the 22 fraternity members worked hard to accomplish the recognition received. He looks forward to watching the chapter continue to grow.

“The most rewarding thing was the realization that our leadership and dedication will now lead to a legacy of people to grow as men under the foundation we set,” Kasper said. “AKL really changed my idea of what a fraternity is. Fraternity is so much more than what the media portrays. Greek letters – especially at SVSU – do so much more for the campus and the community, and make a true impact.”

August 15, 2018

SVSU students develop solutions for local companies, see them at summer engineering symposium

Saginaw Valley State University engineering students will display their senior projects during the Summer Engineering Symposium Friday, Aug. 17. Over the past year, the students have worked with a variety of engineering industry partners to develop fully working prototypes.

All SVSU mechanical engineering majors are required to collaborate with outside clients or university organizations as part of their senior projects.

There will be 37 students – all mechanical engineering majors – presenting their projects for six different companies: Duro-Last, Huhtamaki, Kremin, the Millet Center (part of the Saginaw Intermediate School District), Motiv and Nexteer Automotive.

The eight teams of students' projects include a wheelchair basketball shooter, a bowling automated ball quality control check, a plastics cup stack dispenser, an auto electric home gym and a roofing automated pull tester.

From 10 a.m. to noon, the students will present posters on their projects and show live prototype demonstrations in Pioneer Hall. The symposium is free and open to the public.

For more information on SVSU's College of Science, Engineering and Technology, please visit www.svsu.edu/collegeofscienceengineeringtechnology/.

August 15, 2018

SVSU to host debate focused on environmental issues facing Saginaw

Students involved in a six-week-long summer program that involved cleaning up local parks will culminate their experience in a debate competition at Saginaw Valley State University that will focus on environmental issues affecting Saginaw.

A mix of high school and SVSU students will debate each other on topics including air pollution, water quality and climate change. The event - free and open to the public - is scheduled Wednesday, Aug. 15 at 6 p.m. in the Thompson Student Activities Room in SVSU's Doan Center building. Community leaders will judge the competition.

Professors from SVSU's sociology department mentored and guided students involved in this summer's park clean-up program, which was funded by a grant from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

“It's a part of our department's mission to engage with the community to create positive change,” said Rosina Hassoun, an SVSU associate professor of sociology who served as one of the program's mentors. “Through this program and these debates, we want to change lives and educate the community.”

Dawn Hinton, professor of sociology, also served as a mentor to the 25 students involved in the clean-up program.

While not all of the participants will engage in Wednesday's debate competition, all individuals involved in the clean-up effort will be honored for their work.

August 14, 2018

SVSU hosts program empowering middle and high school students as leaders in STEM studies

 

With demand expected to rise in STEM-related jobs across Michigan, Saginaw Valley State University and regional partners are continuing a collaboration aimed at developing and growing the next generation of leaders in the sciences.

 

This week, SVSU is hosting a program — now in its second year — that will train 66 Bay, Midland and Saginaw county middle and high school students as “chief science officers.”

 

Modeled after a similar program that has proven successful in Arizona, middle and high school students are elected by their peers to be a “chief science officer” and then are empowered at the workshops to influence a wide range of STEM opportunities in their schools and communities. The goal is to have students take an active role in increasing student interest in the STEM fields, ultimately creating a diverse pipeline of STEM leaders.

 

“It’s so impactful to have students become a voice for STEM in our region,” said Adrianne Cole, director of STEM at SVSU.

 

“When we gather people around the table to talk about how we are engaging students in STEM, too often there aren’t students at that table. We want to put them at that table.”

 

The two-day session — planned for Tuesday and Wednesday, Aug. 14-15 — will include workshops, team-building exercises and fun activities led by STEM industry professionals from SVSU, The Dow Chemical Company, Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance, Hemlock Semiconductor and MidMichigan Health.

 

The students will lead individual presentations based on their experience at the program from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 15, in SVSU’s Gilbertson Hall, rooms GS 221 and GS 222. The public is invited to the free and open session. The presentations will include demonstrations showcasing how the students plan to engage their peers in STEM-related activities.

 

Last year, 50 students participated in the program. Of the 66 involved in this year's initiative, 22 are returnees from that inaugural class.

 

SVSU received a $40,000 grant from The Dow Chemical Company Foundation to start the community-minded pilot program last year. The foundation donated another $40,000 to fund this year’s initiative.

 

August 9, 2018

SVSU welcomes business delegation from Ghana

A leader and educational expert from Ghana will grace the Great Lakes Bay Region, offering ambassadorial greetings focused on culture and economic partnership potential.

Nana Osim Kwatia II, a leader from Ghana, will attend a number of festivals and events while touring Michigan attractions next week. At SVSU, he will participate in a session aimed at identifying opportunities for Michigan businesses to invest in Ghana during a gathering with the region's economic leaders Friday, Aug. 10.

He will be accompanied by his economic adviser, Oheneba Mercy Akosua Yeboah.

"This is an important visit for a lot of reasons," said Amy Hendrickson, an SVSU associate professor of law and one of the officials coordinating the visit. "These guests have a lot to offer culturally and, given the fundamentals of their market, they have a lot to offer us as economic partners too."

Hendrickson said she expects both guests from Ghana will surprise local entrepreneurs with the business opportunities available in his region.

"If you look to see where a lot of the smart money is at globally – in terms of where the next opportunities will be – Ghana is in the middle of that," she said.

"They have so many things going for them: A young population, emerging middle class and an economy predicted to grow at a rate that rivals China. This visit represents a fantastic opportunity for businesses to think about what their next step will be."

The group from Ghana also hopes to learn from their trip, Hendrickson said. They are interested in developing Ghana's appeal as a tourist destination, and plan to discuss ways to create such an environment with community leaders here.

SVSU's Scott L. Carmona College of Business & Management is organizing part of the delegation's visit to the region. The guests' appearance is due in part to their familiarity with Joseph Ofori-Dankwa, SVSU's Harvey Randall Wickes Chair in International Studies and a native of Ghana.

Other community and business leaders plan to address Friday's meeting at SVSU. Friday's speakers include:

                     Victor Atiemo-Obeng, a retired Dow Fellow with Dow Chemical Co.

                     Ric Olson, co-founder and president of Gantec Inc., and Joseph Affholter, co-founder and chief innovation officer of Gantec Inc.

                     Jacob Schroeder, an international trade manager with Michigan Economic Development Corp.

                     John A. Tsaras, value delivery leader for Diamond Systems Analytics

The public also can meet the group from Ghana when they serve as guests of honor at the 50th annual Saginaw African Cultural Festival at 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 11, at the site of the former Morley Elementary School, 2533 Lapeer Ave. in Saginaw. They plan to discuss the importance of a community's elders.

The cultural festival also features an SVSU connection. Dawn Hinton, professor of sociology, serves as the event's chairperson.

During their week-long stay, the group from Ghana will receive a ceremonious key to the City of Saginaw and meet 1-on-1 with business leaders from across the state.

Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori Panin, the king of Akyem Abuakwa in Ghana, was scheduled to join the delegation but he canceled his plans to travel to the United States due to health issues.

August 6, 2018

SVSU history professor authors book on Cold War-era polygraph use

John Baesler, associate professor of history at Saginaw Valley State University, has written his first book, examining the topic of polygraph use during and after the Cold War.

The book, “Clearer Than Truth: The Polygraph and the American Cold War (Culture, Politics, and the Cold War),” is based on how the use of polygraph technology – often referred to as the lie detector – greatly increased after World War II and the ramifications of the increase in usage by the U.S. government.

“The book is a history of the polygraph and particularly the role that the polygraph has played in U.S. national security policies since the second World War,” Baesler said. “Polygraph technology had been around since the early 20th century, but it was really only after World War II that American government agencies began using it on a large scale to test the loyalty of applicants for federal jobs and employees in the federal government, as well as to establish the bona fides of sources working for U.S. intelligence services.”

The book is for sale at vendors including Amazon.com. It tracks the history of polygraph use, justifications for using it, as well as protests against it by citizens and civil liberties groups, from the Cold War to the present.

He said he wrote the book due to his interest in how the U.S. used the polygraph technology compared to other government systems.

“To me, the history of the polygraph exam was presented by its defenders as a scientific, objective and therefore fair procedure, while at the same time it was seen as hard-nosed – almost like torture – and therefore suitable to smoke out communist spies and so forth,” he said.

“In short, I chose to write about this topic because there is a fascinating, complicated history there that has a larger significance.”

A native of Germany, Baesler earned his undergraduate degree in history and philosophy from Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg in 2001 and earned his Ph.D. in U.S. history and cultural history at Indiana University-Bloomington in 2009.

He joined SVSU's history faculty in 2009, and was promoted to associate professor in 2014.

The process to write this book began as his dissertation project at Indiana University, but he continued to work and expanded the research to make the nonfiction book that is on sale today.

“It took me almost 14 years to research and write this book,” he said. “It's been a long journey, but I am very proud of the result.”

August 6, 2018

SVSU student with Down Syndrome to receive surprise visit, scholarship news

Jessica Day with her parents and Ruby, Tim, and Liz Platcha Jessica Day, a Saginaw Valley State University student, will receive a surprise visit - and scholarship news - Friday, Aug. 3 from the namesake of Ruby's Rainbow, an Austin, Texas-based nonprofit that supports adults with Down syndrome.

Day, a Midland native with Down syndrome, applied for a Ruby's Rainbow scholarship last spring. Her mother learned in July that Day earned the scholarship, and in coordination with Ruby's Rainbow and SVSU officials, they organized an event on campus where the 25-year-old will learn about the scholarship in a surprise setting.

The news will be delivered personally by Ruby Plachta, a 7-year-old girl with Down syndrome and the inspiration behind her mother's creation of Ruby's Rainbow. The Austin, Texas-based nonprofit presented $213,000 in scholarship funds to college-bound individuals with Down syndrome last year and $643,000 total since the organization's founding in 2010.

Day and her family – which pays completely out-of-pocket for Day's tuition and fees – will not know the amount of the scholarship until Friday's reveal.

“I don't know how she will react when she finds out, but this will be a big deal to her,” said her mother, Julie Day. “She submitted the scholarship application herself, so she really owns this accomplishment.”

The reveal will coincide with SVSU's Cardinal College Day event introducing high school students and transfers to SVSU. Jessica Day is a student worker in the university's Admissions office, where she is scheduled to work Friday. The Ruby's Rainbow scholarship reveal is scheduled to take place within the first 10 minutes of a Cardinal College Day program at 10 a.m. in SVSU's Curtiss Hall seminar room. Day will be present, at first under the impression she will be working.

Day is a third-year student expected to complete a certificate of attendance from SVSU in May 2019, thanks in part to her involvement in the university's ThinkCardinal program. The SVSU initiative – an offshoot of the national organization, Think College! – provides opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities to attend classes there as non-degree seeking students. Day is one of six students attending SVSU as part of ThinkCardinal.

Ted Lind, associate director of SVSU's Admissions, oversees ThinkCardinal and helped coordinate Friday's reveal event.

“I'm excited for Jessica,” Lind said. “She and a couple other students really helped us pioneer this effort to create a more inclusive environment through ThinkCardinal.”

Day's mother was grateful for the hard work put forth by officials such as Lind in helping her daughter pursue one of her life goals of attending college.

“Whenever we would drive by campus, for years Jessica would tell me, ‘I will go there one day and you will cry when you have to drop me off,’” her mother said.

“SVSU and Ted have been great in helping her succeed. Ted really has a compassion for her and worked hard to get her involved on campus.”

Day became involved in the cheer team in November 2016. During the 2018 winter semester, she lived on campus, marking her first time not living at home with her family.

“She loves life, people and school,” Day's mother said. “This has been a great experience for her.”

August 6, 2018

Craig Douglas retires as dean of SVSU College of Education; David Callejo Pérez named as interim dean

After more than four decades dedicated to education, Craig Douglas is retiring from work — but he has no plans to step away from his community.

Douglas retired this month as dean of Saginaw Valley State University’s College of Education, where he served since 2015. He joined SVSU in 2014 as director of the School and University Partnership office after spending the previous 38 years largely in K-12 education, including 18 years as superintendent of Carrollton Public Schools.

Associate Provost David Callejo Pérez, who joined SVSU in 2009, will serve as interim dean as the university searches for Douglas’ permanent replacement.

Deborah Huntley, SVSU provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, said Douglas’ leadership was critical to keeping the College of Education responsive to the changing demands of the state’s K-12 education industry. She was equally confident in his successor.

“Craig has been instrumental in recognizing challenges and answering with strategies that have strengthened our academic programs and community partnerships in the education field,” Huntley said.

“His work here will positively impact educators and students long after his retirement. David understands that legacy and possesses the energy, knowledge and work ethic to keep the College of Education moving forward.”

Douglas expressed gratitude to Huntley and SVSU President Don Bachand for supporting his work at the university. Douglas said he was proud of many accomplishments earned during his tenure as dean, attributing those victories to a team effort.

“I didn’t do any of it alone,” he said. “I’m most proud of the way so many people came together — staff, faculty, students, other deans, the region’s school leaders — to step up and help us exceed expectations. There was a lot of synergy there.”

Douglas said he will remain engaged in the community.

He plans to continue serving as a trustee on Carrollton’s Board of Trustees, and as a member of both the Saginaw Valley Rotary Club and Carrollton Lions Club. He also hopes to become involved in assisting Emmaus House of Saginaw, an organization that aids in the transition period for women returning to their communities after spending time in jail, prison or rehabilitation centers. His wife, Joan Douglas, is an active volunteer with the organization.

“I look forward to continuing to devote time and energy to the Great Lakes Bay Region,” he said. 

Douglas said he plans to stay in touch with his SVSU family and attend events there. He was quick to complement his interim successor.

“David is going to do a terrific job in transition,” Douglas said. “He has great ideas for ways to improve efficiencies, utilize technologies and continue to develop our accelerated degree program.”

Callejo Pérez joined SVSU in 2009 as the Carl A. Gerstacker Endowed Chair for the College of Education. In 2014, he was named associate provost at the university.

He received his Ed.D. from Florida International University in 2000, a master’s degree in history from the University of Mississippi in 1995, and a bachelor’s degree in history from Florida International University in 1993.

Previously, he served as an educator at West Virginia University, Barry University, and University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Callejo Pérez said he was looking forward to continuing to build SVSU’s reputation as a provider of talent for the education market.

“The challenges ahead involve shifting from a job market that was very tight to one that has a lot of demand for teachers,” he said.

“The College of Education will continue to help fill that void. Our impact can be beyond measure if we work together and commit our talents to be stewards of education in the region.”

July 31, 2018

Marilyn Wheaton, director of Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum at SVSU, set to step down after 12 years

For 12 years, Marilyn Wheaton has contributed to the growing legacy of Marshall M. Fredericks, the late sculptor (1908-1998) whose iconic works include The Spirit of Detroit as well as the Cleveland War Memorial Fountain of Eternal Life.

Now Wheaton is preparing to transfer that responsibility to the hands of her successor. In December, she will retire as director of the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum housed on Saginaw Valley State University’s campus. A national search for a new director will soon be underway.

“I have accomplished everything I wanted to accomplish here, and more,” Wheaton said. “There’s a big, wonderful world of art that I still want to be part of in some way, but I feel like I have done everything I can do here. It’s time for someone new to step in.”

Since her hiring as director in 2006, Wheaton has overseen a considerable expansion of the museum’s offerings, a substantial growth in attendance and a strategic outreach aimed at increasing community engagement with the facility. Her advocacy of Fredericks’s legacy has reached far beyond the walls of the museum bearing his name.

“Marilyn has worked tirelessly to promote both Marshall Fredericks’s museum and his life’s work,” said Don Bachand, SVSU’s president. “The museum is a cultural gem in our community and a wonder of art in the eyes of the visitors who travel here from all across the world to see it. Without Marilyn, Fredericks' work may not have the audience it deserves.”

Bachand was one of the officials who recruited and hired Wheaton a dozen years ago to lead the Marshall M. Frederick Sculpture Museum, which first opened on SVSU’s campus in May 1988. Wheaton was charged with developing the relatively-young gallery into a mature institution with a firm footing in the community arts scene. If attendance numbers are any indication, she succeeded in that goal. Before Wheaton was named director, about 10,000 people visited annually. Within a decade, the museum counted a record 18,000 visitors in a single year.

A number of factors contributed to the growth, Wheaton said, including the following:

  • Assembled a professional staff of experts in the visual arts, which enables the museum to provide a high level of service and education to their visitors. The museum archivist oversees the Marshall M. Fredericks Archive that is housed at the Museum, and the collections manager is tasked with data entering the more than 2,000 objects in the collection and ensuring that the sculptures in the Museum and sculpture garden are maintained.
  • Accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums in 2013. The stamp of approval lent a legitimacy to the Museum that allowed its operations to thrive among a supportive arts community, Wheaton said.
  • The opening in 2013 of the Jo Anne and Donald Petersen Sculpture Garden, which was the culmination of a 5-year, $800,000 fundraiser that included a $500,000 donation from the garden’s namesake. The garden — featuring some of Fredericks largest sculptures cast in bronze — acts as a majestic entrance to the museum and provides context to what the visitor will see once they enter the Museum, Wheaton said. Previously, the main entrance was within SVSU’s Arbury Hall, tucked among classrooms and the bustle of college life.

One of Wheaton’s proudest accomplishments at the museum now stands 12 feet tall in that garden, a symbolic representation of her dedication to preserving Fredericks’ legacy. Black Elk: Homage to the Great Spirit was the artist’s last sculpture, commissioned for installation at a bank in Southfield.  Fredericks died in 1998 before the sculpture came back to Michigan from the East Coast foundry and the owner had moved to California. Instead of being displayed publicly, Black Elk was mothballed in a warehouse.

Fifteen years later, though, Wheaton brought Fredericks’s last commissioned piece to life. She tracked down the owner and secured a loan agreement with him so that Black Elk could be installed as the crown jewel of the new Jo Anne and Donald Petersen Sculpture Garden.

Konnie Gill, chairperson for the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum Board of Advisors, said Wheaton’s dedication to the late sculptor’s works is unmatched.

“I’ve been a member of many boards over the years, and I’ve never met a director — of any type of nonprofit — who has given their life to their job in the way Marilyn has,” said Gill, the former director of McLaren Bay Medical Foundation who now owns a physician recruitment business.

“Marilyn is the most devoted person I have ever met. Her love for the Fredericks family, for Marshall’s work, for SVSU — she is the epitome of who anyone would want as a director … or an employee, for that matter.

Wheaton’s relationship with Fredericks extends beyond her familiarity with his sculptures. She knew the man. Before her arrival at SVSU, Wheaton was immersed in the Detroit arts scene where she met Fredericks in his Royal Oak studio.

A native of small-town Silex, Missouri, Wheaton first arrived in Michigan in the late 1960s in part because her devout Roman-Catholic parents urged her to attend a Catholic institution for college. She chose Madonna University in Livonia. Not long after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in history, she landed a job as a research assistant at the Detroit Institute of Arts in the Smithsonian Institution’s Archives of American Art.

Her exposure to the arts during her 11 years there inspired her to remain in the industry. Later, she spent eight years as director of the City of Detroit’s Cultural Affairs Department and 11 years leading Michigan’s first statewide arts advocacy organization, Concerned Citizens for the Arts in Michigan.

Her 12 years spent as director of the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum represents her longest tenure in any one role. Despite her work over that time, there is plenty of room for growth and development at the museum, she said, so long as her successor possesses both an artistic vision and a strong sense of community.

“You must be a people person who understands the importance of making connections with the people you serve and the people who can help you,” she said. “And you cannot successfully run a museum if you can’t see two years down the road. You can’t exist here without a strategic plan that provides that sort of long-term direction.”

Wheaton’s long-term plans reside outside of the Great Lakes Bay Region. She and her husband never sold their home in Detroit, where she plans to return full-time when she steps down as museum director at the end of December.

“I’m not leaving here to go to another job, but I’m confident there will be other opportunities that present themselves to me there,” she said. “I will be part of the Detroit arts community in some way. But I will miss my staff and all of the friends I’ve met here.”

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