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July 27, 2018

SVSU's National Society of Collegiate Scholars chapter members find joy in serving community

For Dan Kennihan, membership to Saginaw Valley State University's National Society of Collegiate Scholars (NSCS) chapter means an experience sure to expand the mind and enrich the community.

Kennihan is the latest president of the SVSU student organization with a membership that prides itself on participating in community-minded service projects. The biology major from Mason said the experience is humbling.

"You hand out food to people in need on a Saturday, but then you get to go home to your house, with your warmth or your air conditioning," he said. "For me, it puts it in perspective how easy it is to make a difference."

Kennihan and his fellow members recently were recognized for the difference they members make in the the lives of others across the Great Lakes Bay Region.

The SVSU group received the Gold Star Chapter award from the NCSC’s national office. The status is a distinction earned by some of the 320 chapters nationwide that best demonstrate excellence in engaging, student-centered community service projects.

SVSU’s chapter in recent months participated in initiatives benefiting organizations such as Relay for Life, the Saginaw Children's Zoo, and The Jared Box Project.

Hali Motley, the previous chapter president for SVSU’s group, said the community engagement provides an enriching experience. She was particularly moved by her work with The Jared Box Project, a nonprofit that provides boxes of toys to children admitted to hospitals.

“Jared Box Project is important to us as a chapter because we — as college students — know how important it is to work hard and play even harder,” said Motley, a Birch Run native who received a bachelor's degree in international business in May.

“We wanted a chance to give back to the kids in our community — who are stuck in the hospital during the holiday season — to give them more chances to play while they were working hard on getting better.”

Kennihan said his involvement in the SVSU chapter’s work continues to provide him with a sense of community with his fellow members.

“We are all working toward the same goal of giving back to the community,” Kennihan said.

July 26, 2018

SVSU's community writing centers to host family history research workshops in Bay City, Saginaw

Community members eager to dive deep into records revealing their family history — and anxious to record those findings for future generations — are in luck.

Saginaw Valley State University's community writing centers in Bay City and Saginaw next month will host free workshops to guide participants through extensive genealogical research of their family lineages. The sessions also will involve advising attendees on how best to document those discoveries.

The Bay Community Writing Center will kick off the "Writing Your Family History" workshop series Tuesday, Aug. 7, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., at the Alice and Jack Wirt Public Library, 500 Center Ave. in Bay City.

The Saginaw Community Writing Center will host the second workshop the following week. That session is scheduled Tuesday, Aug. 14, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Butman-Fish Branch Library, 1716 Hancock in Saginaw.

Both sessions are open to the public.

The workshops will be led by tutors from SVSU’s Writing Center — a writing assistance service housed at the university — as well as staff from the participating libraries.

The Bay and Saginaw community writing centers are operated in part by SVSU's Writing Center staff members, who help residents during scheduled sessions at local libraries. The community writing centers were established through partnerships with the Bay Area Community Foundation as well as the Saginaw Community Foundation. 

For more information about the "Writing Your Family History" workshops or the community writing centers' regularly scheduled sessions, visit

July 19, 2018

SVSU summer camp empowers girls interested in computer, Internet technology

Madison Crawford can see seventh grade approaching quickly, but thanks to a science-based camp for girls at Saginaw Valley State University, the Bullock Creek youth may have glimpsed even further into her future this summer.

In June, Crawford was one of 25 middle school-aged girls who participated in SVSU's Camp Infinity, a week-long outing featuring hands-on activities and college professors teaching and mentoring female youths interested in careers relating to computer and Internet technology.

The second-year camp represents a collaboration between The Dow Chemical Company, the Michigan Council of Women in Technology Foundation, IBM, Microsoft and SVSU, the camp's host. The first two gatherings proved enough of a hit with participants that organizers decided to offer an additional camp for high school-aged girls, scheduled from Monday to Friday, July 23-27.

Crawford, a self-proclaimed prospective computer science student despite only recently completing the sixth grade at Bullock Creek Middle School, said June's camp was an empowering experience that was punctuated by the participation of female professors and scientists who serve as role models.

“On the first day of camp, the teachers told us why they were interested in science, and it made me feel close to them,” she said.

“It's also easier to express yourself at Camp Infinity, because you are with other girls with some of the same interests as you. They're pursuing things I want to pursue.”

Those involved in June's camp developed smartphone apps in SVSU's computer labs; and built and programmed robots capable of responding to voice commands. The week culminated in a “dance party” with the student-built robots.

Betsy Diegel, SVSU's STEM mobile lab support specialist and Camp Infinity's director, said she was not surprised by the positive response from participants.

“I wish I would have had a program like this when I was a girl,” Diegel said. “I would have loved this.”

While Diegel went on to pursue a career in the sciences, she said programs such as Camp Infinity increase the likelihood other young girls will pursue their passion for STEM.

“We see females are so underrepresented in our region's STEM workforce,” she said. “Getting girls excited and exposed to this kind of education early on is crucial to changing that underrepresentation.”

A video showcasing Camp Infinity - and Crawford - is available at the following link: 

July 19, 2018

Three for three: SVSU again named a ‘Great College to Work For’

Saginaw Valley State University’s supportive environment for faculty and staff has resulted in the school being selected as a “Great College to Work For” for the third consecutive year by The Chronicle of Higher Education, a top trade publication for colleges and universities.

SVSU was the only public university in Michigan to receive the coveted designation in 2018.

The distinction was announced earlier this week when The Chronicle published its 11th annual report on The Academic Workplace. SVSU was among 84 higher education institutions — out of 253 institutions that applied — to achieve the honor this year. SVSU has earned the distinction each of the three times the university has applied.

SVSU President Donald Bachand said to be selected for the honor three years in a row speaks to how the university community is deeply dedicated to serving students.

“We have longstanding commitment to empowering faculty and staff to pursue initiatives that improve teaching, learning and service opportunities for students,” Bachand said.

“We have worked to build and sustain a strong culture of growth and opportunity, even in the face of challenges. I am proud of our collective efforts to not settle for mediocrity, but to instead push to be better and to do better for our students and for the communities we serve.”

SVSU was honored in the same four categories for the second consecutive year: compensation and benefits; facilities, workspace and security; teaching environment; and tenure clarity and process.

The survey featured components including a questionnaire about institutional characteristics and a faculty/staff questionnaire about individuals’ evaluations of their institutions. The selection process also included an analysis of demographic data and workplace policies at each institution.

The questionnaires were administered online in March and April across SVSU, which employs more than 750 full-time faculty and staff members.

To administer the survey and analyze the results, The Chronicle worked with ModernThink LLC, a strategic human capital consulting firm that has conducted numerous “Best Places to Work” programs, surveying hundreds of thousands of employees nationwide.

Great Colleges to Work For is one of the largest and most respected workplace-recognition programs in the nation. For more information and to view all the results of the survey, visit The Chronicle’s website at

July 13, 2018

Author to speak in Midland about improving children's writing skills

Renowned author and educator Colleen Cruz will give a public talk on how to improve childhood literacy Monday, July 23, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Central Middle School in Midland.
The event is hosted by the Alden and Vada Dow Creativity Foundation, in conjunction with the Saginaw Bay Writing Project. It is free and open to the public.
A staff developer at the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, Cruz currently works as a literary consultant with students and teachers throughout the U.S.
“We are pleased to have such a well-known expert visit our region and talk with parents and educators on the best ways to help our children become better writers, readers and thinkers,” said Helen Raica-Klotz, director of Saginaw Valley State University's Writing Center and the Saginaw Bay Writing Project.
Cruz is the author of the young adult novel “Border Crossing,” a Tomas Rivera Mexican American Children's Book Award Finalist. She also writes books for teachers including “The Unstoppable Writing Teacher,” “Independent Writing,” and “A Quick Guide to Reaching Struggling Writers.”
The talk is part of the 2018 Vada B. Dow Writer's Workshop for Area Teachers, funded by the Alden and Vada Dow Creativity Foundation, to support the professional growth of writing teachers in the Great Lakes Bay Region.
The Saginaw Bay Writing Project is an SVSU organization that supports teachers throughout Mid-Michigan through professional development and workshops.

July 11, 2018

Four well-known Michigan authors come to Midland to share their work

The Alden and Vada Dow Creativity Foundation, in conjunction with the Saginaw Bay Writing Project, is hosting the Michigan Authors' Series.

Four well-known Michigan authors will read their work Tuesday, July 24 and Wednesday, July 25 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at The Saints and Sinners Lounge at the Midland Center for the Arts. The series is free and open to the public.

“These four authors represent some of the best writers in the state of Michigan today, and their work – which includes poetry, memoir and fiction – is worth reading and hearing,” said Helen Raica-Klotz, director of Saginaw Valley State University's Writing Center and the director of the Saginaw Bay Writing Project.

Tuesday night, authors Linda Nemec Foster and Anne-Marie Oomen will read from their co-authored book, “The Lake Michigan Mermaid.”

Nemec Foster has authored 11 collections of poetry and is the first Poet Laureate of Grand Rapids. She also received a Lifetime Achievement Award for her work from the Dyer-Ives Foundation.

Oomen has authored several books of memoir and poetry, including “Uncoded Woman” and “Pulling Down the Barn.” She currently teaches at conferences around the country as well as The Solstice MFA at Pine Manor College in Massachusetts and Interlochen's College of Creative Arts.

Authors Zilka Joseph and John Mauk will read from their work on Wednesday night.

Joseph has published two chapbooks, and her first book of poems, “Sharp Blue Search of Flame,” was a Foreword Indie Prize Finalist.

Mauk currently teaches at Miami University and co-directs the Ohio Writing Project. He has written four college textbooks and is the author of a collection of short fiction, “Field Notes for the Earthbound.”

“We are very fortunate to have Oomen, Mauk, Joseph and Nemec Foster as part of our Authors' Series this year, thanks to the generous support of the Alden and Vada Dow Creativity Foundation,” Raica-Klotz said.

The Michigan Author's Series is part of the 2018 Vada B. Dow Writer's Workshop for Area Teachers, funded by the Alden and Vada Dow Creativity Foundation, to support the professional growth of writing teachers in the Great Lakes Bay Region.

The Saginaw Bay Writing Project is an SVSU organization that supports teachers throughout Mid-Michigan through professional development and workshops.

June 26, 2018

SVSU art gallery to display former Saginaw Art Museum director's work

Saginaw Valley State University will display the works of a 20th century Saginaw artist whose legacy resonates with her creative successors in the University Art Gallery this summer.

The exhibition featuring the work of Julia Roecker will be shown from July 2 to Aug. 10.

Art pieces shown in the exhibition will include traditional work in the area of linocut and woodblock prints, as well as silkscreen and impressionist pastel drawings. In addition to these pieces, there will be examples of her sketchbooks displayed.

Roecker shared her skills of art and teaching with the people she inspired during her lifetime.

Born in Saginaw in 1887, she received her art training at the Arts Institute of Chicago. After receiving her education, she returned to her hometown – with her husband Henry – to teach art classes at Saginaw High School.

Roecker then continued to instruct others at Alma College as a professor of art. After retiring from Alma, she finished her career in Saginaw as the director of the Saginaw Art Museum, a title she held for 10 years until her retirement.

The couple's accomplished life is detailed in the book “A Century on Canvas: The Lives and Work of Julia Roberts and Henry Leon Roecker” by Jean Beach.

Julia Roecker was a dynamic artist, as SVSU's studio art technician Sara Clark described.

“There wasn't much in art that she wasn't in charge of at Alma College, so she was constantly working in different media and taking different approaches to her favorite subject matter which consisted largely of flora and fauna,” she said.

Even after her death at the age of 101 in 1988, Clark said that her legacy remains in the region through others.

“She was quite prolific as an artist, and this passion and discipline surely rubbed off on her students and admirers.”

The exhibition is free and open to the public. The art gallery is open daily Monday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information on SVSU's University Art Gallery, visit

June 25, 2018

SVSU students design new mobile app for Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum

The Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum has launched a new app designed to allow visitors to tour the galleries and sculpture garden on their smartphones. The free app is available on both iOS and Android via the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. It can be downloaded in advance of a visit or in the gallery on the museum’s free Wi-Fi.
The impetus for the project stems from the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum’s current strategic plan which sets forth the goal to “Strengthen the use of technology in program.” To accomplish this aim, one of the strategies is to “offer memorable experiences – both on-site and online – through the best use of technology.”
Museum Director Marilyn Wheaton pointed out that museums across the country are developing apps as a means of giving every visitor the maximum benefit in looking at the collection and exhibitions.
“With an app, you can learn so much more about a work of art than if you rely on label text,” she said.
The app provides visitors with self-guided audio tours and more in-depth information about the museum, its collections, and temporary exhibitions in a fun, easy, and efficient manner. Upon opening the app, users are given four easy-to-navigate options – About, Tours, Support and Social – each of which helps users discover works of art, media and resources that best meet their interests. It can be found by searching for “MFSM.”
One of the highlights of the app is the ability to access detailed information, gleaned from the museum’s archives, for over 35 sculptures, opening visitors’ eyes to the museum’s collection like never before.
The new app was produced by the Museum in collaboration with Saginaw Valley State University’s art and computer science departments. Ka Vang, who recently graduated with a degree in graphic design, designed the app; she worked with Blake Johnson, SVSU professor of art and graphic design. Adam Pero, who recently graduated with a degree in computer science, completed all the coding. He worked with George Corser, SVSU assistant professor of computer science.
“The primary purpose of the project was to provide a real world educational experience for students, with collaboration between multiple departments within the university, to produce a real software product,” Corser said. “The overall project was a successful collaboration between SVSU's Art and Computer Science departments, the Museum, Information Technology Services, and University Communications.”
Vang, the student designer, learned a great deal through the project.
“It made me challenge the way I think, because I have to think like the user and how they might navigate through the app,” she said. “There was a lot of trial and error, a lot of testing, a lot of sketching. I learned a lot of tips and tricks. It’s a very competitive field and it really helps me to be able to say ‘I designed this.’ I can show it to people in an interview.”
That’s exactly what Pero, the computer science student, experienced.
“When I started working on the app, I didn’t have a job and I was struggling to get interviews. Afterward, I was able to show pieces of code during my interviews. That definitely helped me get my current job.  It was a lot like being in class, but instead of being instructed, you figure it out on your own.”
Pero currently works as a software developer at Dice, a software and telecommunications company in Bay City. He also is a graduate student in SVSU’s master’s degree program in computer science and information systems.
Corser and Johnson are advisers for Cardinal Solutions, an interdisciplinary faculty/student team that works directly with local businesses and non-profits to develop marketing solutions.
“SVSU is such an amazing resource — skills, talent, and expertise,” Johnson said. “When we choose to work together across disciplines and solve problems for the community, not only do we serve, but we create opportunities for our students to learn far more than they would in a standard classroom.”
Visitors without a mobile device may check-out a tablet at the museum’s front desk (valid photo identification required) to explore the new app.
The Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum is dedicated to celebrating the artistic legacy of Marshall M. Fredericks through collecting, preserving, presenting, and interpreting his life’s work. It is located on the campus of Saginaw Valley State University, 7400 Bay Road.  Museum hours are Monday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m.  Admission is free.  For more information, call (989) 964-7125 or visit the museum’s website at

June 21, 2018

SVSU student receives scholarship for marketing success in the Great Lakes Bay Region

Saginaw Valley State University student Valerie Klein's passion for marketing and her creative spirit paid off recently when she received a scholarship from the Midland Area Chamber of Commerce.

A marketing major from New Lothrop, Klein is one of three students in the region to receive the $1,500 scholarship. High school and college students were eligible. She currently works as the marketing and events coordinator for the Associated Builders and Contractors Inc. Greater Michigan Chapter and the Greater Michigan Construction Academy, where she is implementing her marketing skills learned at SVSU.

Although she was not sure what her future career plans were when arriving at SVSU for the first time, Klein soon found her career path.

“As a freshman, I wasn't sure what I wanted to study, but I learned of marketing and fell in love. It really is the creative side to the business world where I can showcase the interesting ideas that pop in my head,” Klein said.

Bill Stec, assistant director of SVSU Career Services, has served as a mentor to Klein. He said her success is a result of her committed efforts in both the classroom and on the job.

“Valerie is such a dedicated marketing student that thinks critically, is open to ideas and perspectives, and is proactive. And it shows, as she has completed three internships with Tri-City Motor Speedway as the operations and marketing intern, Nexteer Automotive as the global supply management resource group co-op and Vector Tech Group as a marketing co-op,” he said. “It has been a joy advising her.”

Klein credits her family, mentors and SVSU for shaping and preparing her for life after her planned graduation in 2019.

“After graduation, I plan to get a full-time job in marketing and stay within the Great Lakes Bay Region. I have really grown within this region and plan to better my skills and help companies and individuals along the way.”

For more information on internship opportunities at SVSU, visit

June 19, 2018

SVSU student invited to Oxford to present her research on autonomous vehicles

Saginaw Valley State University's Danielle Slonac continued her accomplished undergraduate career by presenting her research on the geography of innovation in the autonomous vehicle industry at Oxford University in England during The Institute for Global Business Research conference in May.

Growing up only 60 miles from the Motor City of Detroit in St. Clair, Michigan, she said her interest in the auto industry led to researching how the industry will continue to evolve.

“The research I conducted looks at national competitiveness and intellectual property in the autonomous vehicles industry,” Slonac said. “I focused on how various factors influence autonomous vehicle patents by nation and how this impacts which nations will likely become the leaders in this emerging market as it continues to develop.”

George Puia, the Dow Chemical Company Chair in Global Business at SVSU, served as Slonac’s research adviser and traveled with her to Oxford.

“When I found out that I would get to present my research at Oxford University I was incredibly humbled, honored and excited,” Slonac said. “Oxford is such a prestigious and influential university, and to be able to present my research there was an incredible opportunity. I was really grateful for everyone who helped me get there and proud of the hard work it took to make it happen.”

Slonac, a triple major in management, finance and supply chain management, recently completed her four-year career on the SVSU women’s tennis team. Throughout all of these responsibilities, she has maintained a 4.0 grade point average.

Slonac expects to graduate in December; she plans to attend graduate school to pursue a Ph.D. in order to become a business professor.

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