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April 15, 2021

A Peek Into Social Constructs: SVSU’s reimagined “A Doll House” explores timeless themes in 1950s setting

Love and marriage. Immorality. Gender. Individual vs. society.  

Henrik Ibsen’s landmark drama “A Doll House” stirred significant controversy when it was introduced in 1879. SVSU’s adaptation of Ibsen’s classic offers a look into enduring social constructs through the lens of a 1950s television show, complete with commercials.   

SVSU’s adaptation of the three-act play explores the marital and social dynamics through the relationship between Torvald Helmer and his wife, Nora. As the couple prepare to celebrate Torvald’s promotion, a pair of visitors, Christine Linde and Nils Krogstad, force Nora to face her past, re-examine her present, and take action to escape her black-and-white world and unlock her future.  

The play will be livestreamed today through Saturday, April 14-17, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, April 18 at 3:00 p.m. Tickets are $10 and must be purchased online. One hour before the performance, ticketholders will be emailed a link where they can watch the performance.  

The play is directed by Tommy Wedge, assistant professor of theatre. Peggy Mead-Finizio, assistant professor of theatre, serves as production manager. 

Wedge said he was inspired to transport “A Doll House” to a 1950s television set by Marvel Studios’ “WandaVision.”  

“The first episode was a pastiche of 1950s black-and-white television,” Wedge said. “At the end of the second episode, Wanda’s vision of her world is challenged, and her eyes open to TechniColor. Wanda realizes she has the power to shape her own reality. Society and her role within it are what she chooses to make of it. Everything suddenly clicked.” 

To adapt Ibsen’s play to fit this concept, Wedge cut a third of the play, leaving only the four major characters on stage/screen. The three most prominent supporting characters take center stage in the “commercials” shown between acts. 

Because the production will be live streamed to audiences, the set had to be created a little differently. In a virtual tour posted to Facebook, theatre student Jared Kaufman, who portrays Nils Krogstad in the play, takes us through the set, which recreates a 1950s home, complete with magazines from the period. The set was designed by Jerry Dennis, technical director. 

“It’s a little bit different from our sets that we usually have at SVSU because even though this is a play, we consider this a film set.” 

Each performance will be live streamed through three different cameras using NewTek TriCaster® 860 video equipment. A fourth camera is positioned in the commercial set. 

“'A Doll House’ has remained relevant since this play came out in the late 1800s,” said Megan Meyer, who plays Nora Helmer. “The way we’re doing it as a 1950s sitcom is completely truthful to the way women were still being repressed.” 

“Although we’ve taken many liberties in this adaptation, they are done with love and a profound respect of the original,” Wedge said. “We’re only able to do this because Ibsen’s seminal play is so durable, profound, and universal.” 

For more information on SVSU’s theatre presentation, visit  


March 18, 2021

SVSU set to host in-person, outdoor commencement ceremonies for May 2021 graduates

Saginaw Valley State University will provide an opportunity for its May 2021 graduates to participate in commencement exercises and celebrate their achievements in three outdoor ceremonies planned for Friday, May 7, in the university’s Wickes Memorial Stadium.
Emily Siemens is among those pleased to enjoy the moment of crossing the graduation stage. She will finally get her outdoors graduation ceremony, and her parents will be there to celebrate the accomplishment.
“I was hoping for an in-person graduation, but I really didn’t want to get my hopes up because I know what happened last year,” said Siemens, who expects to earn a bachelor’s degree in professional and technical writing. “I was so happy to hear I would be able to celebrate with my family.”
The 21-year-old Gibraltar, Michigan native will be among just over 1,000 total graduates expected to complete degrees this May. Siemens and each graduate will be able to invite up to two guests each. With the students’ celebration spread across three ceremonies, the university will host ceremonies that follow the campus health and safety guidelines relating to social distancing.
In 2020, SVSU was among the nation’s many universities to host virtual celebrations for graduates online.
SVSU traditionally hosts its ceremonies indoors at its Ryder Center facilities. Relocating the event to the stadium will provide a safer venue and allow more people to participate.
The in-person commencement plans were announced by SVSU President Donald Bachand during his annual State of the University address Tuesday, March 16.
“This is very important to our graduates,” Bachand said. “I am pleased we will be able to celebrate in-person with them, with safety in mind.”
The relocation works in Siemens’ favor in a unique way. The first-generation college student and 2017 Carlson High School graduate was looking forward to earning her diploma in the high school’s football stadium four years ago, but a rain delay forced the event indoors.
“I was disappointed,” she said. “I had been looking forward to being outside for that occasion. Now, it turns out, I will get that outdoor setting to celebrate with my friends; I just had to wait to do that with my college classmates.”
If inclement weather prevents a safe gathering on Friday, May 7, SVSU plans to host the ceremonies outdoors in the stadium the following day instead.

March 13, 2021

SVSU Recognizes Women’s History Month

March is Women’s History Month, a time designated to celebrate women’s contributions to history, culture and society. It has been observed annually in the United States since 1987.

At Saginaw Valley State University, we value the contributions of women, not only on our campus but throughout the broader community and around the world. In observance of Women’s History Month, several SVSU faculty and staff members have shared their experiences as women, what Women’s History Month means to them, and what advice they would share with young women. See their Profiles in Leadership.

March 12, 2021

SVSU Designated a “Voter Friendly Campus”

Saginaw Valley State University has been designated a “Voter Friendly Campus” in a program led by national nonpartisan organizations Fair Elections Center’s Campus Voter Project and NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education. SVSU is one of more than 200 campuses in 37 states and the District of Columbia to be granted this designation, which is valid through December 2022. 

To earn the designation, SVSU planned and implemented practices that encouraged their students to register and vote in 2020 elections and will continue to encourage participation in future elections. 

“At SVSU, we understand the importance of participating in the democratic process,” said Riley Hupfer, director of SVSU’s Center for Community Engagement. “We feel it is incumbent on us to offer nonpartisan programming that supports our students’ deep interest in exercising their democratic rights and being a part of the voting process. They represent the civic leaders of tomorrow, and we are proud of their commitment to our communities.” 

SVSU’s voter-friendly activities include:

  • The Cardinals Vote program, established in 2018, a nonpartisan program centered around connecting SVSU students with opportunities to engage in the democratic system through voter registration, candidate and ballot information, and ultimately turning out to the polls to ensure student voices are heard in the electoral process.
  • Programming to support SVSU students who are interested in civic and democratic engagement, including mock polling, voter registration efforts and election day programs.
  • Participation in the National Study of Learning, Voting and Engagement, which provides key data and insight into our student voting numbers. 
  • “Voting Processes in the 2020 Election” program created in partnership with SVSU’s Political Science Department.

The mission of the Voter Friendly Campus designation is to bolster nonpartisan efforts that help students overcome barriers to participating in the political process. SVSU was evaluated based on a campus plan designed to register, educate and turn out student voters in 2020; how SVSU facilitated voter engagement efforts on campus; and a final analysis of all related efforts.

For more information on SVSU’s Cardinals Vote program, visit

March 9, 2021

SVSU to Offer Free Tuition to Qualifying Students in Michigan

Saginaw Valley State University is expanding its longstanding dedication to making a first-class college education accessible to Michigan families by offering free tuition to qualified students throughout Michigan. A new initiative known as the SVSU Cardinal Commitment will remove barriers to higher education for many students, starting with the fall 2021 semester.

“We are proud of our role in welcoming students from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds and providing them with a high-quality education that prepares them for meaningful careers,” said Donald Bachand, SVSU President. “We have maintained the lowest tuition in the state for many years, but the sticker price still causes many families to think an SVSU degree is out of reach.

“We want those hard-working students to fully understand they can complete an SVSU degree and that we are putting resources into this program to support them every step of the way. I hear from employers every day who are counting on us to grow the talent pipeline, and we are committed to doing our part by breaking down barriers.” 

The SVSU Cardinal Commitment financial aid package provides free eligible tuition and mandatory fees to qualifying first-time undergraduate students with student and family adjusted gross income of $50,000 or less. Full criteria are available at

SVSU has partnered with community organizations for many years to improve college access. The leaders of three regional community foundations applauded this latest initiative.

Diane Fong, president and CEO of the Bay Area Community Foundation:

  • “The Bay Area Community Foundation applauds SVSU's efforts to make college accessible to all. Only 11% of young adults from low-income families earn a degree by age 24 compared to 58% from high-income families. One's ability to achieve an education should not be dependent on their family's income. The SVSU Cardinal Commitment is an important step to removing that barrier.”
  • “Midland Area Community Foundation is excited to learn of the Cardinal Commitment. We recognize the critical importance of post-secondary education to help build a community and region where all can thrive.  With Michigan's goal of 60% of residents with a post-secondary degree or credential by 2030, we appreciate Saginaw Valley State University's commitment to assist students with the cost of higher education.”

Renee Johnston, president and CEO of the Saginaw Area Community Foundation:

  • “The Saginaw Community Foundation is extremely proud of Saginaw Valley State University for their ongoing ‘Commitment’ to equity and access to higher education for all. And, with the recent announcement of the ‘Cardinal Commitment,’ they have recognized the need for long-term support for many students in need of assistance to complete college degrees.  The Saginaw Community Foundation is also excited to have the opportunity to leverage our scholarships with the Cardinal Commitment to further assist these students with other academic needs. Thank you SVSU for being an amazing community partner!”

Sharon Mortensen, president and CEO of the Midland Area Community Foundation:

Questions regarding the SVSU Commitment can be made by calling the SVSU Information Line at 989-964-2110 or e-mailing the SVSU Campus Financial Services Center at

February 23, 2021

SVSU Honored with Military Friendly Designation for Commitment to Student Veteran Support

Saginaw Valley State University was honored as a 2020-2021 Military Friendly School for its dedication to military student support services. SVSU was awarded with a Military Friendly Silver Designation by the company VIQTORY, which only a select group of institutions earn this prestigious honor.  

Military Friendly Schools is the longest-running, most comprehensive review of college and university investments in serving military and veteran students. It is one of the most stringent surveys on the market, and its 2020-2021 Military Friendly Schools list is more exclusive than ever.  

This is SVSU’s 10th year receiving this designation for providing excellent service to military-connected students. The university has received numerous recognitions at both the state and national level for being a military and veteran friendly institution for its procedures and policies that benefit military-connected students. One of SVSU’s greatest resources to its military-affiliated students is the Military Student Affairs Office.  

The Military Student Affairs Office at SVSU is dedicated to the needs and concerns of all military-affiliated students and is staffed by a full-time director, the school certifying official, and Veterans Affairs student liaisons, who have all served in the military. 

One student veteran in particular, Jake Kokowicz, has particularly benefited from the Military Student Affairs Office. Kokowicz served in the United States Marine Corps for over five years until he medically retired into 2018 and enrolled at SVSU, where he is pursuing a social work major and a minor in psychology. He expects to complete his bachelor's degree in May 2022. 

The atmosphere from the Military Student Affairs Office was one of the main reasons why he chose SVSU. 

“Everyone there was friendly and just wanted to help me be successful,” said the Vassar native. 

The supportive atmosphere he experienced within the Military Students Affairs Office continued into every aspect of his campus experience.   

“The students around me are extremely grateful for my service and are not afraid to tell me that.  I get thank-you’s all the time for my service, which is nice, but they do not need to thank me,” said the social work major. 

“I have a prosthetic left arm and the other students do not stare at me or make me feel uncomfortable.  Instead, they ask me what happened and if there is anything they can do to help.” 

His greatest on-campus support has been from Bethany Alford, the director of Military Student Affairs. Her dedication to his success empowered him to attend college. 

“If it wasn't for Bethany Alford and the Military Student Affairs Office, I wouldn't be in school,” Kokowicz said. “The thought of going to school, registering for classes, paying for books, learning where everything is and how to do everything seemed extremely overwhelming. 

“The military office had students in there who helped me with all those issues and helped ease the load on my shoulders. That office is an amazing resource for military-connected students attending SVSU.” 

Kokowicz was so inspired by the support he received that he has become a student liaison to help other students like him.  

“I now work in the Military Student Affairs Office so I can be there for other military-connected students — just like they were there for me. We never leave a service member behind. Semper Fi!”  

February 23, 2021

The SVSU Theatre department presents Joan: The Girl of Arc.

SVSU Theatre Play - Joan the Girl of ArcIt has been nearly a year since the COVID-19 pandemic caused the closure of theaters throughout the country; yet, for SVSU students, the show goes on.

Students will showcase their talents during a five-performance run of “Joan: The Girl of Arc” by Darrah Cloud. The play is directed by Peggy Mead-Finizio, assistant professor of theatre, in her SVSU directing debut.

With a cast of 14, supported by 14 crew members, the play tells the story of Joan D’Arc, a shepherd in Domrémy, France, in the late 1420s. While tending sheep one day, Joan hears voices, claiming to be saints, who ask her to go to war for France. Ultimately, the prince of France turns over leadership of his army to Joan, who leads the soldiers to victory over the British in the Hundred Years’ War. Despite her victory, Joan is sentenced to death when she refuses to deny the voices she heard.

The play will be delivered virtually at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 24 through Saturday, Feb. 27, and at 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 28. Tickets are $10 and must be purchased online. One hour before the performance, ticketholders will be emailed a link where they can watch the performance.

Each show is performed and live streamed using NewTek TriCaster® 860 video equipment. “Joan” is the first SVSU Theatre performance being live streamed to audiences. The department’s most recent performance, “No. 6,” was pre-recorded.

“Directing this show for live streaming has been a little different,” said Mead-Finizio, who recently was recognized nationally for innovation in teaching by the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. “So has design. Everyone is working from what people see on a monitor versus on the stage. I’ve had to adjust blocking [positioning of actors on the stage] to accommodate camera angles; shifting an actor even two inches can make a huge difference on camera.

“Our students are really happy to be performing and trying new things,” said Mead-Finizio. “Not all schools are doing productions.”

Teaching and rehearsing during the pandemic have required some adaptation in observance of health and safety protocols. Mead-Finizio said the capacity inside the Malcolm Field Theatre for Performing Arts has been reduced to 50, with no more than 20 people allowed on stage at one time, and physical distancing of 6 feet is being enforced. Further, moveable props and set pieces have dedicated handlers, and the sets are wiped down following each scene.

To deliver the most expressive performance possible, cast members wear masks made of clear plastic with a soft foam frame that can be tinted to match the actors’ skin tones. Mead-Finizio said the PPE (personal protective equipment) presented a challenge for the student sound designer, Lucas Inman, a junior theatre major from Saginaw, who solved the issue by taping microphones to the actors’ foreheads.

Students and faculty alike have risen to the challenges during the pandemic to maintain a regular schedule of classes and performances.

“Last spring, when we transitioned on online instruction, I felt like I was swimming upstream,” Mead-Finizio said. “SVSU’s Center for Academic Innovation gave us so many tools to help us that we were able to continue instruction pretty seamlessly.”

The department was even able to deliver a performance of “Macbeth” last spring via Zoom, with all of the actors joining the performance from their homes.

Even though in-person instruction resumed in the fall, some of Mead-Finizio’s classes are large enough to require a flex classroom, with half the class in person and half the class virtual.

“That has made our classroom engagement dynamics a little different,” she said. “We’ve had to try different things to get people engaged. One thing I really appreciate about SVSU’s Theatre Department is that everyone has a slightly different skill set, and we’re sharing what we know and learn with one another.”

For more information on SVSU’s theatre presentation, visit


February 17, 2021

SVSU establishes, hires director for new on-campus mental health & wellness center

Saginaw Valley State University is responding to the growing demand for mental health services by building a new model to serve its campus community.

The incidence and prevalence of mental illness, substance use and emotional distress on college campuses have been trending up for years, and COVID-19 — with its health and economic consequences — is compounding the problem. The American Council on Education reported 68% of higher education presidents listed student mental health as among the most pressing issues in academia.

SVSU students, faculty and staff who need professional support on mental health matters will soon have a new on-campus resource to turn to.

SVSU is establishing a new Campus Mental Health & Wellness Center, and have hired the center’s first director, Margaret (Margie) Bach.

James G. Muladore, SVSU executive vice president for Administration & Business Affairs, noted caring employers need to give more attention to the mental health and well-being of students, faculty and staff.

“Our first steps were to establish a mental health and wellness strategy and define the role it will play in developing relevant outreach activities and programs, building relationships with internal and external stakeholders, and ensuring compliance with all appropriate counseling protocols,” Muladore said.

A survey by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering & Medicine reported 40% of students experienced a significant mental health challenge. In 2018-19, their survey found:

  • major depression affected 18% of students compared to 8% in 2007;
  • severe anxiety affected 14%, compared to 6%;
  • 2% made a suicide attempt compared to 0.6% in 2007.

The new model is expected to strategically respond to a wide range of mental health concerns for students, faculty and staff to provide a range of short-term solutions and/or referral, as appropriate. Education and training will be made available for faculty, staff and students on topics such as alcohol and other drugs, substance abuse and suicide prevention.

Staff in the center will develop and maintain relationships with local and regional mental health and medical professionals. SVSU staff also will identify and establish a network of services accessible to students who have no insurance or limited resources.

In hiring Bach, Muladore added “she will play an instrumental role in the development of our Campus Mental Health and Wellness Center.

“Margie Bach is a proven and experienced professional in the mental health field who is well positioned to lead our new model,” he said. “Margie's career experiences provide her the ability to communicate with and seek input from multiple university constituencies necessary for this initiative to be successful.”

Prior to accepting her new assignment at SVSU, Bach had served since 2007 as president and chief executive officer for Child & Family Services in Saginaw. She was responsible for all program activities for the organization’s counseling center, employee wellness center and sexual assault center. Before advancing to her senior administrative position, Bach was the director of program and operations from 2002-2007, and the sexual assault center director from 1999-2002.

Bach earned a Master of Social Work degree from Western Michigan University. She is a licensed clinical social worker through the State of Michigan Board of Social Work.

“I am eager to bring my experience in program development, relationship building, strategic planning and building counseling programs to Saginaw Valley State University,” Bach said. “I believe mental health plays a central role in everyone’s health, including students, faculty and staff. 

“As the CEO of an organization that offers counseling, employee wellness and sexual assault crisis services to the region, I believe I can bring my experience to the campus and in turn learn from the campus community,” she said. “I look forward to developing new initiatives that will support the entire culture of Saginaw Valley State University.”

Bach will assume her new SVSU duties on Monday, April 5.

January 29, 2021

Passionate SVSU Professor Receives National Board Appointment

Dedicated professor of teacher education at Saginaw Valley State University, Anne Tapp, was recently elected to the Board of Directors of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE).

The AACTE is a national organization that serves as one of the leading voices on educator preparation. It represents over 800 postsecondary institutions with educator programs dedicated to high-quality, evidence-based preparation that ensures educators are empowered to effectively teach all learners.  

Tapp earns this honor for her commitment to teacher education and passion for advancement in the field of education.  

“Dr. Tapp’s election to the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education Board of Directors is a testament to her vast expertise and impressive record in teacher education,” said James Tarr, dean of SVSU’s College of Education.  

Tapp will also serve as chair of the Advisory Council of State Representatives (ACSR) Executive Committee. She will oversee the four United States regional representatives who represent the presidents of chapters from 48 states. For the past year she has served as the Midwest Region Representative, the designated liaison for the presidents of 12 states in the region.   

Her leadership will have the power to influence and improve the future of education at a national level.  

“As a member of the Board, Dr. Tapp will have her finger on the pulse of education policy and leverage changes to improve the preparation of future classroom teachers, at SVSU and beyond,” said Tarr.  

Tapp receives these appointments after previously serving as the president of the Michigan Association of Colleges and Teacher Education (MACTE).   

Her extensive experience in the classroom and distinguished engagement with education policy reflect the positive impact that SVSU educators have on a local and national stage.      

“She is an award-winning teacher educator with almost 20 years of service to SVSU’s College of Education,” said Tarr.  

“Her election to the Board enhances SVSU’s storied tradition of excellence in teacher education and brings visibility to SVSU’s programs at the national level.”  

January 21, 2021

SVSU sponsors 2021 First Ward Leadership Fellowship Program

Eleven Saginaw County residents between the ages of 18 and 30 have been selected as 2021 First Ward Leadership Fellows and will participate in a 14-week leadership training program hosted by Saginaw Valley State University. 

First Ward Leadership Fellows will join SVSU students who are in the 2020-2021 Vitito Global Leadership Institute in the Scott L. Carmona College of Business. The focus of the training is to highlight opportunities to become community leaders through board memberships. Workshops led by local civic and community leaders will emphasize the importance of service on boards. 

“We welcome the opportunity to further the partnership between SVSU and First Ward Community Center with the creation of this fellowship program,” said Dawn Hinton, director of SVSU’s Center for Academic Innovation & Online Learning. “This program is designed to assist young community members in developing the leadership skills that will allow them to make significant contributions to their community.” 

Hinton said students in SVSU’s Vitito Global Leadership Program each year are required to select a community engagement project; this year, the choice is a peer-to-peer leadership mentoring program with First Ward Community Center. The weekly training sessions will be held online from January through March, 2021. 

The following individuals, all from Saginaw, have been selected to participate in the First Ward Leadership Fellowship Program: 

  • Amaya Bradley, an SVSU marketing major 
  • Daeveon Clemons, an SVSU biology major 
  • Indigo Dudley, an SVSU general studies major 
  • Bria Gregory, a self-employed financial professional 
  • Airiana Hamilton, an SVSU health science major 
  • Jalen Latimore, a staff member at Francis Reh Academy 
  • Tess Martin, an SVSU social work major 
  • Jesse Sanchez, a mechanic serving in the military 
  • Alissiana Scott, a Kroger employee 
  • Demetria Simmons, a Federal Express employee 
  • Simone Vaughn, an SVSU communication major 

The goal of the program is to fill a gap that exists within the Saginaw County community and address the large number of vacancies on boards and commissions. Those who are selected to participate must submit to an application process that outlines their previous participation in First Ward programming. The SVSU Foundation is providing funding support for the fellowship. 

“This project will culminate in a ‘Signing Day’ event, where the First Ward Leadership Fellows will publicly announce the board on which they want to serve and sign their completed application for board consideration,” Hinton said. 

Hinton will provide guidance for First Ward Leadership Fellows and Joseph Ofori-Dankwa, SVSU’s Harvey Randall Wickes Endowed Professor, and Dominic Monastiere, Boutell Executive-In-Residence, are responsible for developing the leadership skills training. Michael Mosher, SVSU professor of art, will introduce the First Ward Leadership Fellows to students enrolled in his Art 390 course to develop an illustrated comic book that will creatively tell the stories of each of the fellows. 

For more information on the First Ward Leadership Fellowship Program, contact Hinton at (989) 906-1400, or For more information on the Vitito Global Leadership Program, contact Ofori-Dankwa at (989) 284-0684, or

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