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September 21, 2021

Veterans agency recognizes SVSU

University earns veteran-friendly designation for 7th consecutive year

For the seventh consecutive year, the Michigan Veteran Affairs Agency (MVAA) has recognized Saginaw Valley State University as a Veteran-Friendly School for the 2021-2022 academic year.   

“We take pride in meeting the seven criteria set forth by MVAA and we are committed to supporting our military-connected students through their entire educational pursuit,” said Bethany Alford, SVSU director of Military Student Affairs, special assistant to the provost and dean of students. “I always appreciate this designation a little more because it is specific to Michigan, and we consistently rank at the Gold level.”   

The Veteran-Friendly Schools (VFS) program recognizes postsecondary institutions for their commitment to supporting the needs of veterans and military-connected students. Schools are granted Gold-, Silver- or Bronze-level status based on seven criteria:  

  • Established process for identifying student veterans  
  • Veteran-specific website  
  • Active student-operated veterans club or association  
  • Veteran-specific career services, resources, advising and/or outcome monitoring  
  • On-campus veteran's coordinator and/or designated staff point of contact  
  • System to evaluate and award credit based on military training and experience  
  • Monitoring and evaluation system for student veteran academic retention, transfer and graduation rates.  

Gold-level status is granted to institutions meeting six or seven of the criteria. Institutions meeting four of the criteria earn Silver-level status, and those meeting three of the criteria are granted Bronze-level status.  

SVSU is one of 37 institutions to earn Gold-level status this year, according to an announcement from the MVAA. Since the program was created in 2013, there has been a steady increase in the number of schools dedicated to enrolling student veterans.  

“Since its inception, the Veteran-Friendly Schools program has recognized those institutions that have the drive and passion for serving those that have served in the military,” said Chris Taylor, MVAA education analyst. “I'm excited to see the number of schools who continue to innovate in their programming grow, particularly after a pandemic changed the face of education at all levels, including our post-secondary institutions.”  

Alford noted that SVSU continues to improve service for veterans and military-connected students.     

“One area that we continue to review and expand is our system to evaluate and award credit based on military training and experience,” she said. “Our faculty has been supportive, our registrar’s office innovative, and the administration encouraging as our military credit committee works to create new direct equivalencies. This expedites the path for our military-connected students to complete their degrees and begin their careers.” 

SVSU’s Military Student Affairs office is dedicated to the needs and concerns of all military-affiliated students. The office provides a number of services designed to help both active and veteran military students navigate the university landscape to successfully complete their degree and transition into graduate school or the workforce. Three percent of SVSU’s student body is affiliated with the military.   

Alford added that the office space is being renovated and will include more computer space, a private study room, a comfortable resource area, a private conference room, and a small kitchen area for refreshments.   

This year, SVSU also has been recognized with a Military Times Best for Vets: Colleges ranking and with the Military Friendly Silver Designation by the company VIQTORY.  

September 17, 2021

SVSU named Great College to Work For, 6th consecutive year for workplace recognition

Through a collective commitment to supporting one another and overcoming challenging circumstances, Saginaw Valley State University earned designation as one of the 2021 Great Colleges to Work For®. It is the sixth consecutive year the university has received this recognition.

SVSU was the only public university in Michigan named to the Great Colleges list this year. In all, 70 higher education institutions across the United States were recognized with the honor.

“Our shared commitment to our university community makes SVSU a great place to work and a great place to learn,” said SVSU President Donald Bachand. “We showed this yet again through our response to the pandemic. We emphasized health and safety as we opened our classrooms and opened our residence halls in a safe way. When vaccines became available, we drew upon existing relationships to expedite vaccinations in our region. Nearly 50,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered on our campus.

“When it mattered most, we showed we truly care about the health and welfare of our faculty, staff, students and community.”

Institutions that have been recognized as 2021 Great Colleges to Work For will be officially announced in "The Chronicle of Higher Education" on Sept. 17. They also will be included in a special section of the Great Colleges Program website,

The Great Colleges to Work For program was co-founded in 2008 as a partnership between The Chronicle of Higher Education and ModernThink, a strategic human capital consulting firm. The program was funded this year by ModernThink, which shared the results in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

SVSU – which employs more than 700 people full time – has made the list each of the six years it applied.

Each institution on the list is recognized in specific categories. SVSU was honored in two categories: compensation and benefits for the fifth consecutive year and collaborative governance for the second consecutive year.

The list was determined based on a survey of 196 higher education institutions as well as analysis of demographic data and workplace policy. The survey distributed earlier this year to staff and faculty members online examines individuals' evaluations of their respective institution.

“Leadership in crisis is both art and science,” said Richard K. Boyer, principal and managing partner at ModernThink. “The leaders at this year's recognized institutions guided their institutions through unprecedented challenges with vision and transparency, all while modeling a spirit of partnership and genuine care for their fellow colleagues.”

The Great Colleges to Work For® program is one of the largest and most respected workplace recognition programs in the country. Now in its fourteenth year, it recognizes the colleges that get top ratings from their employees regarding workplace practices and policies. For more information visit

September 10, 2021

SVSU “Post(al) Pandemic” art exhibition delivers glimpses into life under the shadow of COVID-19

Artists from across the nation and around the world are displaying their works at Saginaw Valley State University’s Art Department Gallery as part of the “POST(AL) PANDEMIC” mail art exhibition on display through Wednesday, Sept. 15. A reception will be held Thursday, Sept. 9 from 4-6 p.m. in the gallery, which is located in the Arbury Fine Arts Center. The university’s health and safety protocols will be observed, and face coverings are required.

The exhibition explores the questions: Is there life—or an artistic vision of it—after gloomy 2020 and 2021? Is the infection demon (Covid-19 & variants) now defeated, battling us, or simply lying in wait to spring again?  

Sara Clark, studio art technician in SVSU’s department of art, said the mail-in art exhibition was conceived as a means to welcome students to campus. Calls to send artwork were issued through groups that engage in mail art, an artistic movement dedicated to sending small-scale works through the postal service.

The University Art Department Gallery has received submissions from students, alumni, faculty, staff and artists in nine states and eight countries outside of the United States.

Submitted works represent artists’ reflections of disease and melancholy, lifestyle, hope and optimism, as well as expressing appreciation for the world’s postal systems that have helped keep people connected while socially isolated.

The term “mail art” was coined in the 1960s to identify a form of artistic practice in which an international network of participants uses the mail to make art and share it with others. Also called “postal art” or “correspondence art,” mail art has been used by artists as an alternative means of producing, distributing and receiving art. With letters, postcards, and packages—as well as material that tests the limits of what can be posted—mail artists circumvent traditional elite modes of display and distribution (such as museums and commercial galleries) in favor of the more accessible spaces of the modern post.

SVSU is pleased to share the works of artists from around the world through an exhibition that creatively sidesteps the art market and political censors to gauge the pulse of society.

All gallery exhibitions, lectures and receptions are free and open to the public. Click the following link for open gallery hours or call (989) 964-2291. The University Art Gallery is in the Arbury Fine Arts Center on the campus of Saginaw Valley State University,

September 8, 2021

SVSU cheer team on top at NCA camp competition

One of Saginaw Valley State University’s club sports teams has something to cheer about. The university’s Cheer team recently won two of the three competition events at the National Cheerleaders Association (NCA) College Camp in Louisville. In the intermediate small coed division, SVSU’s Cheer team won the Rally Routine Championship and the Game Day Championship. The team also earned a silver bid to attend the NCA College Nationals Championship in April 2022. The silver bid gives the team priority registration for the championship competition and will result in significant cost savings.   

"The hard work and dedication that was displayed by each athlete resulted in huge team success,” said Frances Mills, head coach of the Cheer team. “I am so proud of everything this team has accomplished so far this year.”

The SVSU Cheer team attended the three-day camp at the University of Louisville from July 31 to August 2. The camp was one of nine NCA overnight and resort camps held this summer. The SVSU Cheer team participated in a variety of skill- and team-building classes leading up to evaluations and competitions.

All 25 athletes on the Cheer team attended the camp. They are:

  • Mercy Baldwin, an early college program student from Birch Run
  • James Bigard of Shepherd, an early childhood education major
  • Sarah Bilinski of Yale, a criminal justice major
  • Kaylee Campbell, a general studies major from St. Louis
  • Kylie Cook of Flint, a rehabilitation medicine major
  • Haleigh Cox, an early childhood education major from Birch Run
  • Mikayla Crum of Macomb, a teacher education major
  • Jacob Franz of Bay City, a neuroscience major
  • Aralyn Hantla of Bay City, a general business major
  • Taylor Harrington, a pre-nursing major from Montrose
  • Emily Henderson, a pre-nursing major from South Lyon
  • Cayla Hinkle of Muskegon, a criminal justice major
  • Jenna Hughes of Davisburg, a nursing major
  • Taylor Kekel, a teacher education major from Bay City
  • Autumn Kwierant of Almont, a medical laboratory science major
  • Haley Marsiglio, a teacher education major from St. Clair Shores
  • Amanda Martin of Essexville, a psychology major
  • Brooke Masters, a psychology major from Flint
  • Hannah McIntyre, a nursing major from St. Clair Shores
  • Cassidy McNamara of Flushing, an international business major
  • Lauren Rankin, a criminal justice major from St. Charles
  • Molly Schloegl, a psychology major from Laingsburg
  • Deshawnda Sparks of Clinton Township, a psychology major
  • Navia Thomas of Kalamazoo
  • Kiana Troyer, a pre-nursing major from Edwardsburg

Crum, Franz and Marsiglio are team captains.

Mills said 15 cheerleading teams attended the camp. SVSU was one of three teams in the intermediate small coed division, which also included DePaul University and Bellarmine University. In addition to the Rally Routine and Game Day competitions, SVSU competed in the Game Day Runoff.    

Cheer is one of 21 club sports at Saginaw Valley State University.  Club sports allow students to continue to compete in their sport of choice at a collegiate level, improve their athletic skill set, and gain opportunities for personal growth and development of leadership skills.

SVSU’s fall term will begin Monday, August 30, and the club sports are preparing for a full fall semester.

“I am excited for the future of this very talented group of athletes,” Mills said.

September 7, 2021

SVSU to host 9/11 Heroes Run to benefit national foundation

Saginaw Valley State University is hosting its annual 9/11 Heroes Run on Saturday, Sept. 11, to benefit the Travis Manion Foundation

The event will consist of a 5K run/walk and a one-mile “fun run.” The 5K run/walk will begin at 4:00 p.m. in the parking lot of SVSU’s Gilbertson Hall preceded by a remembrance ceremony beginning at 3:30 p.m. The closed, out-and-back course will continue along the paved campus running trail.  

Registration for the 5K is $35 if registering by Tuesday, Sept. 7, or $40 the day of the event as part of walk-up registration. Participants who are active in the military, members of a first responder agency or current SVSU students receive discounted registration. Family package deals also are available. 

Participants can also register for the GORUCK division of the race. Rucking is when the participants wear a weighted bag on their back during the 5K. 

The Travis Manion Foundation works to empower veterans and families of fallen heroes to develop character in future generations. The national nonprofit has organized the annual fundraiser at locations across the world since 2007. Saturday’s event will mark the eighth year SVSU has hosted a 9/11 Heroes Run. 

Several SVSU offices were involved in organizing this year's annual run including Military Student Affairs, Campus Recreation, Advanced Studies & International Student Services, Alumni Relations and University Communications. 

The Kochville and Saginaw Township fire departments and Michigan State Police will again support the run this year. 

Those interested in participating in the SVSU-hosted 9/11 Heroes Run can register online at through 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 7 or sign up at the site of the race beginning at 2 p.m. on Saturday.  

September 3, 2021

Scholar to discuss Muslim ways of understanding women during Akbar Lecture

SVSU to host virtual presentation by Kecia Ali, Ph.D.

Saginaw Valley State University will host a virtual presentation by a scholar of religion, gender and ethics. Kecia Ali, Ph.D., will present “Women and Islam: Unity and Diversity in a Global Tradition”  on Wednesday, September 15 at 6:30 p.m. Ali is the featured speaker for the Dr. Raana Akbar Memorial Lecture on Islam and Culture.

During her presentation, Ali will discuss Muslim ways of understanding women and their social identities, as well as the diversity of Muslim perspectives about that topic.

Waheed Akbar, M.D., who established the lecture in memory of his wife Raana, said, “Dr. Ali is a great authority and representative on women and Islam, a topic we have covered quite often under this lecture series. This is also what Raana would have loved to do, to host a female academic who can discuss and explain Islam and its relationship to women in our society at this juncture in history.

“No one is more qualified to speak with us about this theme,” Akbar added. “Dr. Ali has done extensive research on the topic and has published several books relating to Islam.”

The Akbar lecture will be delivered virtually. To register, visit Following registration, a link to the lecture webinar will be provided.

Ali is a renowned academic and serves as a professor of religion and chair of the religion department at Boston University. Her research ranges from Islam’s formative period to the present and focuses on Islamic law, gender and sexuality, as well as religious biography. More information about Ali and her work can be found at

Ali’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


August 26, 2021

SVSU earns "best dorms" ranking again

No. 1 in the nation among public universities

Saginaw Valley State University has once again earned the title of “best dorms” in the nation among public universities. SVSU has earned this recognition each of the past three years from Niche, a higher education website that uses data analytics and student satisfaction surveys to determine its rankings.

In the 2022 rankings, SVSU’s residential facilities rank fourth overall among colleges and universities in the U.S., including both private and public institutions.

Courtney Vanest, an occupational therapy major at SVSU, is one of the many students who has enjoyed the benefits of SVSU’s award-winning dorms and campus. She has lived on campus for four years and is going into her second year of supporting other students as a resident assistant.

Even though her hometown of Reese is close to campus, she chose to join the other 70% of first-year students who live on campus at SVSU.

“I chose to live on campus because I wanted to get connected with a wider array of students and wanted the ease of accessing campus resources,” Vanest said. “My home is only 20 minutes away from campus, but I know that I would not be as involved or have made as many connections had I not been an on-campus resident.”

Vanest feels at home at SVSU and loves all the amenities she is able to enjoy as a residential student. The welcoming environment and community atmosphere made her feel comfortable as she transitioned to being a college student.

“SVSU dorms are truly top-notch quality,” she said. “All dorms are air-conditioned; provide free amenities such as microwaves, full refrigerators, desks, storage space, and tables and chairs for comfort; and offer secure and safe access through requiring student ID in the living centers and personal keys in the townhomes.

“I often forget that I am living on a college campus because of how homey and comfortable the dorms are — it really is like a miniature village.”

“My favorite part about living on campus has been the convenience of involvement. There are always activities happening on campus, and living in the residence halls makes it so easy to become involved and find my place in my new home,” Vanest said. “Similarly, the more that I am able to get involved through on-campus programs, the more I am able to build meaningful relationships with other students and staff.”

Living on-campus has been one of the best parts of Vanest’s college experience, and the opportunities she has gained have helped her develop personally and professionally.

“It is from living on campus that I met my best friends, joined clubs that I am truly interested in, found the mark I wanted to make at college, and grew as a student and future professional. I am so grateful for the relationships I built and opportunities SVSU offers that make residential living amazing.”

SVSU earned several other high rankings from Niche as well, most notably the No. 1 best college campus in the state of Michigan.

August 20, 2021

Students’ work contributes to success of Roethke House

A research project by three Saginaw Valley State University students is helping bring to light the history of Theodore Roethke, a Saginaw native and one of the greatest American poets of the 20th century. Their work contributed to the success of a series of open houses at the Roethke House and Stone House Thursday, August 12 – Saturday, August 14.

Ethan Alt, a creative writing major from Chesterfield Township; Madeline Bruessow, an English major from Kawkawlin; and Amber Campbell, a history major from St. Louis; conducted the research projects under the supervision of Sherrin Frances, SVSU professor of English and a member of the Friends of Roethke Foundation board of directors.

Frances teaches a class in the English department that introduces students to archival work and small museums. She said the students spent the winter semester cataloging the Theodore Roethke Museum’s collection. In the spring, they developed a new museum tour and trained local high school students as tour guides.

“The work was funded by two generous grants awarded by SVSU’s Undergraduate Research Program,” Frances said, “one to catalog the collection in specialized museum software and another for interpretive planning, which let the students put their deep catalog knowledge into practice creating exhibits and writing the tour narrative.”

Additionally, six students in SVSU’s College of Education created literacy activities inspired by Roethke’s poetry, which they shared with children during the open house on Saturday. Five of the students are elementary education majors: Alyssa Crawford and Caitlynn Hancock, each of Midland, Anna Plotkowski of Clinton Township, Kimble Darbee of Bay City, and Alexis Dropps of White Lake. Jonathan Livermore, an English education major from Bay City, also worked on the literacy activities.

SVSU students, faculty and staff joined with others for a community open house in Saginaw at the Roethke House

SVSU students Alyssa Crawford, (left) a special education major from Midland, and Lexie Dropps (right), an elementary education major form Waterford, teach an arts and crafts project with Gwen, age 3 (left); James, age 5; and Eleanor, age 7; during the open house at the Roethke House Open House event in Saginaw Saturday, Aug. 14.

“The Roethke House and Stone House are an important part of Saginaw’s story, and they provide a place where visitors can feel inspired by the power of poetry and the power of writing,” said Frances. “Local access to the small home museum for a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet offers tremendous opportunities for SVSU students who want to be writers, historians, archivists, curators, teachers, or so many other professions within the humanities.”

Alyssa Crawford and Lexie Dropps teach an arts and crafts project

SVSU students, faculty and staff joined with others for a community open house in Saginaw at the Roethke House, at 1805 Gratiot Ave., and the Stone House, adjacent to the Roethke House at 1759 Gratiot Saturday, Aug. 14.

The open houses were hosted by the Friends of Theodore Roethke Foundation, a nonprofit organization committed to promoting, preserving and protecting the literary legacy of Theodore Roethke by restoring his family residences for cultural and educational opportunities. The Roethke House, at 1805 Gratiot Ave. in Saginaw, was Roethke’s childhood home. The Stone House, adjacent to the Roethke House at 1759 Gratiot, was owned by Roethke’s uncle. “We are fortunate to have such a resource in our area,” Frances said. “We are even more fortunate that the Houses are supported by our community and that SVSU facilitates and funds formal research projects and internships.”

August 9, 2021

SVSU offers incentives for students vaccinated against COVID-19

“Your Shot to Win Big” includes drawings for prizes, scholarships

Saginaw Valley State University students who submit their proof of vaccination against COVID-19 can win $1,000 scholarships and other incentives. The university today launched “Your Shot to Win Big,” an incentive campaign for students who are vaccinated against the virus. 

“The most effective action you can take to protect yourself and our campus community against COVID-19 is to get vaccinated,” said Donald Bachand, SVSU president. “Even with the emergence of the Delta variant, the data shows that vaccines continue to be highly effective, particularly in protecting against serious illness, hospitalization and death.”

Survey data shows that more than 70% of SVSU students are vaccinated. Students who have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine could win one of five grand prizes of a $1,000 scholarship during the sweepstakes, which will run from August 9 to September 5. There will also be weekly drawings for $100 gift cards for SVSU’s Barnes and Noble bookstore, on-campus dining, and gift cards to local attractions and businesses in the Great Lakes Bay Region.    

To enter the sweepstakes, students should register online at between August 9 and September 5. They must provide proof that they have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. 

SVSU has partnered with Meijer Pharmacy to vaccinate nearly 25,000 individuals since January, including students, faculty, staff and community members. Meijer Pharmacy will hold a back-to-school vaccination event at the Meijer Pharmacy, 3360 Tittabawassee Rd., Saginaw on Sunday, Aug. 29.  

In the fall 2021 semester, 80 percent of SVSU’s undergraduate classes are expected to be taught face-to-face. Face masks are required to be worn in classrooms through September 15.

“Safeguarding the health and well-being of the campus community is and always will be our top priority,” Bachand said. “We will continue to monitor health conditions and public health guidance and adjust our expectations accordingly.”

July 30, 2021

SVSU hires new dean of College of Health & Human Services

Saginaw Valley State University has hired a leader with experience as an epidemiologist, researcher and community health specialist to serve as the new dean of the institution’s Crystal M. Lange College of Health & Human Services.

Marcia Mastracci Ditmyer comes to SVSU after serving as the associate dean for education and professor in residence with Emeritus at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), School of Dental Medicine where she provided leadership and assumed oversight for all educational programs and learning environments within the school. Her appointment begins August 1. 

“I am very excited and look forward to working side-by-side with the outstanding students, faculty and staff at SVSU,” Ditmyer said.

Ditmyer’s experience and expertise are wide-ranging, from risk mitigation to leading complex change initiatives to building partnerships across a variety of stakeholders, including K-12 institutions, businesses and government agencies. At UNLV, she facilitated the establishment of an interprofessional academic health center and most recently spearheaded the COVID-19 Response Team, using evidence-based best practices to maintain the continuity of education, while ensuring a safe and healthy environment for faculty, staff, students, and patients. 

Deborah Huntley, SVSU provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, said Ditmyer’s strong record of professional service, leadership, research and teaching made her the right choice for the position.

“Dr. Ditmyer has a strong commitment to interprofessional education and an impressive portfolio of successful leadership experiences” Huntley said. “She is an outstanding choice to lead SVSU’s exceptional programs in SVSU’s College of Health & Human Services.”

A Michigan native, Ditmyer received an MBA from Central Michigan University, a Master of Science from California College for Health Sciences, and a PhD from the University of Toledo. She also holds the Master Certified Health Education Specialist credential from National Commission for Health Education Credentialing. Her formal training has allowed Ditmyer to work as an epidemiologist, researcher, and community health specialist.

Early in her career, Ditmyer worked in the automotive sector. In her 19 years at UNLV, she gained interprofessional experience working within a variety of health science professions, including medicine, dental, nursing, community/public health, occupational therapy, physical therapy, kinesiology and nutrition sciences, social work, and mental health counseling. She also is a senior consultant for the Academy for Advancing Leadership. 

Ditmyer is a health and fitness enthusiast and believes in a holistic approach to wellness, centered on the principles of inclusion, empowerment, and personal wellbeing.

SVSU’s Crystal M. Lange College of Health & Human Services provides a knowledge- and skills-based education, combining theoretical courses with clinical or fieldwork experience components to equip students for careers across the health care field. For more information about SVSU’s College of Health & Human Services, visit

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