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March 28, 2018

SVSU hosts renowned scholar of Islamic studies for Akbar Lecture

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information, visit

March 27, 2018

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

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

March 21, 2018

SVSU lifelong learning program receives Outstanding Humanities Organization Award

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

March 21, 2018

SVSU seeking nominations for ‘Heroes in Education’

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

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

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

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

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

The previous Heroes in Education recipients are:

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

•                     Sally Burkey, assistant cook at Freeland High School

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

•                     Kelly Frank, teacher at Tawas Middle School

•                     Scott Garcia, custodian at Genesee STEM Academy

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

•                     Gary Karney, teacher at List Elementary School in Frankenmuth

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

•                     Joseph Peet, teacher at Kingston Elementary School

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

•                     Todd Switala, coach and volunteer at Sterling Elementary School

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

March 20, 2018

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

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

March 16, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 14, 2018

SVSU forensics team captures multiple awards at state tournament

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 14, 2018

SVSU seeks to inspire future teachers in “Heart of Teaching” event

Saginaw Valley State University will welcome leading educators from the Great Lakes Bay Region to provide insight and motivation for students and others seeking education careers during “The Heart of Teaching” forum Friday, March 16 at 1:30 p.m. in Gilbertson Hall.

“Now is a great time to become a teacher, in terms of job prospects. There is a shortage of candidates reported all over Michigan,” said Craig Douglas, dean of SVSU’s College of Education. “We hope hearing from current educators will inspire and motivate individuals considering a teaching career.”

The event will feature a panel discussion in Ott Auditorium designed to share the motivation and challenges behind becoming a teacher. The following educators are scheduled to appear:

  • Adele Martin, superintendent of Frankenmuth Public Schools
  • Will McDonald, an elementary teacher at Frances Reh Academy in Saginaw
  • Rebecca Meredith, a special education resident teacher in Saginaw Public Schools
  • Mike Newman, a principal for Saginaw Township Community Schools
  • Jesse Place, a high school teacher for Saginaw Township Community Schools
  • Matt Schmidt, superintendent of Bangor Township Schools

Prior to the panel discussion, SVSU will present the 2018 Harold W. Peterson Award for Excellence in Teaching to Jenna Perez, a second grade teacher at Loomis Math, Science and Technology Academy in the Saginaw Public School District.

March 14, 2018

Theatre group re-imagines Shakespeare classic for SVSU stage

A Chicago-based theater troupe will visit Saginaw Valley State University to perform a hip-hop musical adaptation of a Shakespearean dark comedy.

The Q Brothers, which has performed its unique style of theater in venues from New York City to London, will treat SVSU audiences to a reimagined production of "The Two Gentlemen of Verona" Thursday, March 22 at 7 p.m. in the Malcolm Field Theatre for Performing Arts. The event is free and open to the public.

The play, titled "Q Gents," put a modern-day spin on the William Shakespeare classic. The characters of Valentine and Proteus are star players on the Verona College Prep football team. Their popular status in the school, though, is threatened when Proteus becomes smitten with the dark and artsy Julia.

The play's 20-plus characters all are played by two actors who are brothers, and whose theatrical and physical performances are aimed at keeping audiences on the edges of their seats.

Beginning in 2012, The Q Brothers gained international acclaim for their “add-RAP-tation” of another Shakespeare classic. "Othello: The Remix" has been performed in nations such as Australia, Germany, Scotland and South Korea. In the United States, the group frequents cities such as Chicago and New York City.

The Q Brothers visit to SVSU is supported through the Dow Visiting Scholars and Artists series, a program at SVSU established through an endowment from The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation to enrich our region's cultural and intellectual opportunities.

March 7, 2018

SVSU art gallery to display works of high school artists

Talented high school art students will display their works for the community to view during a special exhibition in the University Art Gallery at Saginaw Valley State University.

SVSU's art department is hosting the High School Invitational Exhibition Monday, March 19 through Friday, April 13. A reception for the artists featured in the exhibition will be held Thursday, March 22 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

“The art department at SVSU strongly supports this stage of creative development by high school students,” said Tisch Lewis, coordinator for the University Art Gallery. “This exhibition honors and celebrates the great creative work being done through the efforts of local high school teachers and their students.”

Students representing several high schools in the Great Lakes Bay Region will have art on display. Those schools include: Freeland High School, Hemlock High School, Heritage High School, H.H. Dow High School, Midland High School, Nouvel Catholic Central High School, Swan Valley High School and the Tuscola Technology Center.

There will be a variety of creative works displayed during the exhibition. The pieces include ceramics, paintings, photography, drawings and mixed media.

The exhibition and reception are free and open to the public.

The University Art Gallery is located in the Arbury Fine Arts Center at SVSU. The gallery is open Mondays through Fridays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, the gallery re-opens from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. On Saturdays, the gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

For more information about the exhibition, contact the SVSU University Art Gallery at or (989) 964-2291.

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