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February 20, 2018

SVSU students rally to raise funds for cancer fighters, survivors, caregivers

The fight against cancer is personal for Jessica Hacker, and she is inspired to help others in their personal battles.

“I have had family members and close friends battle cancer,” Hacker said. “Some have won that battle; others have lost. This has been my motivation behind getting involved with Relay for Life.”

Saginaw Valley State University will host its annual Relay for Life to benefit the American Cancer Society Friday, Feb. 23 from 2 p.m. to midnight in SVSU's O'Neill Arena. Hacker, a Kawkawlin native who graduated in December with a degree in psychology, is among the chief organizers.

The event attracts hundreds of SVSU students, faculty and staff; as well as former and current cancer patients; their caregivers; and members of the community offering their support. Covenant HealthCare and Garber Automotive Group are among the businesses in the Great Lakes Bay Region sponsoring SVSU’s Relay for Life.

Hacker and her fellow SVSU student volunteers hope to raise at least $38,000.

“A lot of the money helps fund various programs aimed to help cancer patients and survivors, including programs that offer free hair and make-up services to those currently undergoing chemotherapy,” Hacker said. “It also goes towards Road for Recovery, which provides transportation to and from doctors and chemo appointments.”

Friday's events at SVSU start with an opening ceremony that honors everyone affected by cancer. Then, during the Survivor/Caregiver Walk, participants will circle the outer perimeter of the arena and cheer on the cancer survivors and caregivers for their courage and strength as they walk around the track.

The night will also include fund-raising performances and activities by various student organizations, as well as a silent auction. 

One of the most emotional aspects of the event will be the Luminaria Ceremony, a powerful demonstration that offers comfort and hope to everyone affected by this disease. During the ceremony, luminarias – candles that represent individuals touched by cancer – will be lit.

Relay for Life events nationwide are the main source of fundraising for the American Cancer Society.

For more information about the 2018 Relay for Life at SVSU, visit

February 16, 2018

A murderous comedy takes the stage at SVSU

Comedy and murder do not always go hand-in-hand, but for playwright Rob Urbinati, this unusual combination weaves the fabric of his play "Death by Design."  Audiences in the Great Lakes Bay Region will be able to see his play on stage at Saginaw Valley State University Wednesday, Feb. 21 through Sunday, Feb. 25.

Set in 1932, this comedy follows the lives of Edward Bennett, a playwright, and his wife Sorel Bennett, an actress. After a disastrous opening night in London, the couple flee to an English country manor in Cookham. However, unexpected guests start arriving at the manor, and one, mysteriously, ends up dead.

Abigail Burgess, a theatre major at SVSU from Commerce Township, will play Bridgit, the feisty Irish maid who sets out to find the murderer.

Even though the play is set around a murder, Burgess reassures attendees that the show will be anything but scary.

"Normally a topic such as murder would not be humorous, but the script lends itself so well to fun physical and vocal humor that I think the audience will get as much of a laugh out the ridiculousness of it as we have," Burgess said.

Burgess also said the set will transport the audience to England in 1932. From the backdrop to the furniture, she credited the scenic crew for nailing the ambiance of an old English mansion. 

"I am so excited to get to work with such a talented group people both on stage and off," Burgess said. "Be it the cast or the amazing directorial or tech crew, everyone has made this experience so fun and rewarding."

The show will run at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and at 3 p.m. Sunday in SVSU's Malcom Field Theatre for Performing Arts. Tickets cost $13 for the public and $10 for students and attendees over the age of 60. 

For more information, visit

February 16, 2018

Saxophonist Ebersole to perform at SVSU

Saxophonist Seth Ebersole will perform a recital at Saginaw Valley State University Thursday, Feb. 22, at 7:30 p.m. in the Rhea Miller Recital Hall. The performance is free and open to the public. 

All of the musical selections are from the 20th and 21st centuries. Two of the selections are composed by Ebersole, with the remaining selections composed by Horace Silver. Both musicians are American jazz composers.

Ebersole graduated from both Boyer College of Music and Dance at Temple University and Michigan State University's College of Music. He currently teaches music lessons, along with composing and performing.

Ebersole will be accompanied by trumpeter Walter Cano, pianist Franchesca Romere, bassist Kazuki Takemur, and percussionist Luther Allison.

For more information about the recital, please contact the SVSU Department of Music at or (989) 964-4159.

February 16, 2018

SVSU sponsors a community celebration of the arts, Saginaw, and A Pulitzer Prize-winning Poet

Poetry readings, musical performances, and prize ceremonies are just a taste of what is to come during the Theodore Roethke Poetry and Arts Festival, a triennial celebration of the late Pulitzer Prize-winning poet from Saginaw. Sponsored by Saginaw Valley State University, the festival venues will stretch across the Great Lakes Bay Region from March 23-28.

"We're very excited to offer a range of rich events to celebrate the arts in our area and to promote the work of Theodore Roethke, Saginaw's native son," said Helen Raica-Klotz, director of the Writing Center at SVSU and chair of the 2018 Festival.

All events listed below 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.

  • A poetry slam will take place Friday, March 23 from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Marshall Fredericks Sculpture Museum at SVSU. This event is open to all ages.  Guitar and violin duo, CaseyLane, will perform live. The poetry slam's top three winners will receive cash prizes. Light refreshments will be provided.
  • Tours of the Roethke House will be held Saturday, March 24 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Theodore Roethke Home Museum, 1805 Gratiot in Saginaw. This guided tour will take attendees through the childhood home of Theodore Roethke. Then, from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., the River Junction Poets will reader some of their original work and discuss the influence Roethke had on the region's longest standing poetry group.
  • The "Ted (Roethke) Talk and Tasting" will take place on Saturday, March 24 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Creative 306, 1517 Bayliss in Midland. Mike Kolleth, vice-president of Friends of Theodore Roethke, will offer a brief history of the late poet. Writer Jeff VandeZande will read from his novel, "American Poet," which features scenes from Saginaw and the Roethke home. Wine tasting will accompany both presentations.
  • SVSU's Cardinal Singers will perform "The Waking: Vocal Settings of Theodore Roethke" on Sunday, March 25 from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the St. Lorenz Evangelical Lutheran Church, 1030 Tuscola in Frankenmuth and again on Monday, March 26 from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Rhea Miller Recital Hall at SVSU. The choir will present the poems of Roethke set to music. Kevin Simons, associate professor of music at SVSU, will direct the choir.
  • The Theodore Roethke Memorial Poetry Prize will be awarded Tuesday, March 27 at 7 p.m. in SVSU’s Rhea Miller Recital Hall. This distinguished prize has been awarded since 1968. Recipient Douglas Kearney will read selections from the collection of poems, "Buck Studies," which won him this award, as well as sign books following the event. Kearney will also perform selections of his poetry on Monday, March 26 from 9:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. at Counter Culture, 620 Gratiot in Saginaw and again on Tuesday, March 27 from 1:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. at the Wirt Library, 500 Center in Bay City.
  • The Michigan Jazz Trail Big Band will perform jazz music from Roethke's time period - the mid-20th century - on Wednesday, March 28 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the State Theatre, 913 Washington Ave. in Bay City. The 19-piece jazz orchestra will be led by local jazz musician, Jeff Hall. Shorts Brewery of Bellaire, Michigan will be 'on tap' to serve a selection of their beers at this event.

Throughout the month of March, the Zahnow Library at SVSU will feature a Roethke Display in the Roberta Allen Reading Room, located on the fourth floor of the library. In addition, both the Saginaw Community Writing Center and the Bay Community Writing Center will hold a "Write Like Roethke" poetry contest inspired by lines from Roethke's poems during the month of March.

For more information about the Roethke Festival or any of the events listed here, visit, or contact Raica-Klotz at 989-964-6062.

February 15, 2018

Alumna, author and retired chief judge to speak at SVSU for Black History Month

Saginaw Valley State University will welcome one of its graduates to share her compelling personal story as part of Black History Month events. 

Marylin E. Atkins rose to become a respected judge, but not before battling adversity much of her life. She recently published her own autobiography, detailing various trials and triumphs that she encountered throughout her inspiring life journey.

Atkins will speak Monday, Feb. 26 at 7 p.m. in SVSU’s Rhea Miller Recital Hall. The event is free of charge and open to the public.

Raised in Saginaw, Atkins worked hard to overcome childhood challenges, including family turmoil and abuse, to graduate from St. Joseph's High School. She continued her education at SVSU, earning a bachelor's degree in psychology there in 1973.

Atkins then completed a law degree at the University of Detroit School of Law. After graduation, she became a lawyer and then was appointed the chief judge in Detroit's 36th District Court for 12 years until her retirement in 2012.

After retiring from the bench, Atkins wrote her autobiography “The Triumph of Rosemary: A Memoir,” which was published in 2017. The memoir – at times raw and in other passages heartwarming – addresses important topics of diversity and social change.

Born to an Italian teen and a married black man in Detroit in 1946, Atkins was adopted by a black couple in Saginaw. At age 19, she sparked a racial and religious scandal by marrying former Roman Catholic priest Thomas Lee Atkins, who was white and 25 years older than she.

The couple had two biracial daughters, Elizabeth Ann Atkins and Catherine Marie Atkins Greenspan, who look white. The parents worked full time, and in a reversal of traditional gender roles, Marylin Atkins attended law school at night while Tom took the high-achieving girls to lessons for swim, piano, and skiing. Both daughters ultimately completed graduate degrees.

Over time, family rifts resulting from the interracial marriage began to heal, fostering harmony and healing. The Atkins family's lifestyle includes friendships and associations with people of a cornucopia of race, religion, and culture.

Atkins currently resides Detroit. Her late husband died in 1990. Their daughters created a publishing company, Two Sisters Writing and Publishing, which published “The Triumph of Rosemary.”

For more information about the publishing company and the book, visit

February 14, 2018

In first year of DECA competition, all 6 SVSU students qualify for nationals

Saginaw Valley State University students rose to the challenge and delivered inspiring performances at the Michigan DECA conference in Grand Rapids.

All 6 SVSU students who competed qualified for the national contest in April, despite the fact that SVSU had never before sent students to the competition. DECA is an international association of high school and college students interested in marketing, management and entrepreneurship in business, finance, hospitality, and marketing sales and service.

Those earning an opportunity to compete in Washington, D.C. are:

  • Keegan Booms, an international business major from Almont, who was a finalist in the Sports and Entertainment Marketing and Banking and Financial Services categories.
  • Carly D'Alessandro, a marketing major from Midland, who was a finalist in the Retail Management category.
  • Jacob Humphries, an international business major from Attica, who was a finalist in the Restaurant and Food Service Management category.
  • Mackenzie Koski, a general business major from Carrollton, who finished second in the Professional Sales competition and was a finalist in the Human Resources Management category.
  • Jacob Saint Amour, a supply chain management major from Laingsburg, who was a finalist in the Entrepreneurship-Starting a Business and Retail Management categories.
  • Maggie Walker, a general business major from Laingsburg, who was a finalist in the Entrepreneurship-Starting a Business and Restaurant and Food Service Management categories.

There are about 15,000 collegiate DECA members representing about 275 colleges and universities nationwide. Other Michigan universities competing this year included Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Kettering, Lawrence Tech, Michigan State and Northwood.

“We have a terrific group of students this year who have really pushed to get our DECA chapter off the ground,” said Amy Hendrickson, SVSU assistant professor of law. “I am particularly impressed with the performance of our freshmen who have proven that you can make an impact in your first year.”

Booms and Humphries are each first-year students at SVSU. Hendrickson and Betsy Pierce, SVSU assistant professor of accounting, serve as team advisers.

SVSU's College of Business and Management is among the 5 percent of business schools worldwide who are accredited by AACSB International; this is widely considered to be the gold standard for business school accreditation.

For more information about the DECA chapter and other student opportunities in SVSU’s College of Business and Management, visit


February 13, 2018

Concert guitarist, local professor to perform recital

Brad DeRoche, an active concert guitarist, appearing as a soloist, chamber musician, and orchestral soloist across North and South America will strum his way onto the stage of the Rhea Miller Recital Hall at Saginaw Valley State University Thursday, Feb. 15 at 7:30 p.m.  

After receiving his Doctor of Musical Arts degree focusing on classical guitar performance from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, DeRoche became a music educator. He currently serves as an associate professor of music at Delta College, and teaches music courses at SVSU and  Central Michigan University.  

Outside of academia, DeRoche started a successful online retail business, Strings By Mail, that specializes in selling guitar strings. In 2015, he wrote a music appreciation textbook, “An Introduction to Art Music.”

For the recital, DeRoche will showcase classical and more modern works, ranging from the mid-19th century to the late 20th century.

The recital is open to the public and is free of charge. For more information and a detailed list of music department events and performances, please visit 

February 7, 2018

SVSU students showcased in flute recital

Four Saginaw Valley State University student flute musicians will take the stage in Founders Hall on Friday, Feb. 9 at 7:30 p.m. Under the direction of Townes Osborn Miller, an instructor of music at SVSU, they will showcase their talents through flute solos and duets.

Bethany Lutty, a music minor from Linden will kick off the recital by performing a flute solo with Wendy Chu, a piano accompanist at SVSU.

Holly Finch, a music education major from Brant, has been studying with Miller for three years. Although her instrument of study is the saxophone, Finch will demonstrate her abilities as a flutist at the recital in her solo with Amanda Stamper, a piano accompanist at SVSU.   

Josette Born, a music education major from Elkton, will showcase her flute talents in two solos and one duet at the recital. This marks Born's 11th year playing the flute and her second year working with Miller as her flute instructor. Born participates in the SVSU Flute Choir, Wind Ensemble, Concert Band, Marching Band, and Pep Band.

Kaitlyn Richard, a music education major from Center Line, will join Born on stage for a flute duet composed by Gary Shocker as well as performing a solo, accompanied by Chu, that will close out the night. Richard has worked with Miller for four years and has stayed active in SVSU's Concert Band, Flute Choir, and Wind Ensemble.

The recital is open to the public and is free of charge. For more information and a detailed list of music department events and performances, please visit     



February 2, 2018

Statistics, political science expert to examine '19 things' learned during 2016 U.S. election

One of the most talked about elections in modern American politics will be the subject of the next installment of Saginaw Valley State University's Visiting Scholars and Artists Series.

Andrew Gelman, director of the Applied Statistics Center at Columbia University, will present “19 Things We Learned About the 2016 Election” Thursday, Feb. 8 at 7 p.m. in Curtiss Hall's Seminar Room D. The event is free and open to the public.

Gelman, also a professor of statistics and political science at Columbia, will assess many of the standard assumptions about the 2016 while applying math and statistics to better understand the politics of that particular moment in history.

Gelman has extensive credentials in his fields of study. He received the Outstanding Statistical Application award from the American Statistical Association, an award for best article published in the American Political Science Review, and the Council of Presidents of Statistical Societies award for outstanding contributions by a person under the age of 40.

Reseach specialties for Gelman include exploring topics such as why it is rational to vote, why campaign polls are so variable when elections are so predictable, and why redistricting is good for democracy. He also has examined the probability that each citizen's vote will be decisive.

Gelman will visit SVSU as a Dow Visiting Scholar. An endowment established by The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation to enrich the region's cultural and intellectual opportunities supports the Dow Visiting Scholars program.

February 1, 2018

SVSU housing ranked No. 2 in the nation among public universities

Saginaw Valley State University has been nationally recognized for its welcoming, friendly and fun residential community. 

The website Niche has ranked SVSU’s residential facilities No. 2 in the U.S. among the 512 public universities included in their annual “Best Dorms” rankings.

“For me, SVSU's different housing options give students more independence on campus that make you feel at home,” said Lindsey Briolat, a health science major from Ubly.

SVSU rose one spot in the overall rankings to No. 18 nationally, out of the 1,411 four-year colleges and universities that were evaluated. Niche calculates their rankings using a weighted formula where 70 percent of a school's score comes from students' satisfaction with their housing, as well as data from the U.S. Department of Education.

Now a senior, Briolat has lived on campus since her freshman year. She said she has stayed on campus because of the inclusive atmosphere.  

“SVSU creates a family,” she said. “The way our university connects with its students just makes us feel at home."

For Hannah Waslusky, an accounting major from Breckenridge, living on SVSU's campus has brought her more than just friends; it gave her a community.

Waslusky said that the close-knit living quarters during her freshman year gave her ample opportunities to make friends. She knew that all it took to find someone to hang out with was a shout across the courtyard.   

“Some of the best friends I ever made started that way,” Waslusky said. 

Waslusky has lived on campus for the three years that she has attended SVSU. She came for the convenience of living on campus, but stayed for the quiet and personal environment SVSU's housing offers.

“My apartment is set right in the middle of nature,” she said. “I get to see deer and bunny rabbits hop by my apartment every day. I couldn't imagine a better place to live.”

More than 2,400 students currently live on SVSU’s campus. Four the past nine years, at least 70 percent of the freshman class has chosen to live in SVSU’s residence halls.

To view the “Best Dorms” list, go to

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