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November 9, 2017

SVSU student paper wins first place at Michigan Sociological Association conference

A Saginaw Valley State University student’s determination in her study resulted in high praise for her academic paper. Kellie Rankey, a creative writing major and sociology minor from Saginaw, won the 2017 Student Paper Award from the Michigan Sociological Association.

Rankey presented her paper, “A Framework for Creating Positive Change: Solution for Slum Improvement through Local Empowerment,” at the association’s annual conference in Grand Rapids Saturday, Oct. 28.

Rankey's paper aimed to examine life in the Mumbai slums in order to identify common elements from successful slum redevelopment through community engagement.

“I looked at non-governmental organizations, I looked at statistics, and a history of how the slums developed and then methods that the government has been using and why those don't work," she said.

Rankey devoted many hours of research to the project, including the review of several different case studies that further examined the problem of wealth disparity and slum population increase.

“I found a few case studies of slum improvement processes that had actually worked,” she said. “They used frameworks that started from the bottom up, meaning that they involved the slum dwellers as partners in development.”

For members of the association, Rankey’s approach to addressing community improvement in Mumbai is what set her apart from other students during the conference. In focusing on the needs of the community and several examples of working solutions, Rankey's paper stood out to fellow scholars in her field.

November 9, 2017

SVSU Veterans Day Celebration set for Thursday

SVSU will host its Veterans Day Celebration on Thursday, Nov. 9, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in SVSU Curtiss Hall’s banquet rooms. Students, staff and faculty are welcomed to attend.

Douglas Szczepanski, a retired U.S. Army sergeant and 2011 SVSU alumnus, will serve as the event’s keynote speaker. The Purple Heart recipient was severely wounded by a suicide car bomb while on patrol in Baghdad in 2005. After a long recovery period, Szczepanski returned to school and founded his own nonprofit organization, Miracle Soldier Inc. Szczepanski now serves as a motivational speaker.

The Veterans Day Celebration also will feature the reading of the winning entry in a recent Veterans Day-themed essay contest as well as a performance by Encore, a registered student organization of singers, musicians and dancers.

For more information, contact SVSU’s Military Student Affairs at (989) 964-2462.

November 3, 2017

SVSU recital to spotlight vocalist’s talents

Madalyn McHugh, a music major at Saginaw Valley State University, will demonstrate her vocal talents during a recital performance Tuesday, Nov. 7, at 7:30 p.m. in SVSU's Rhea Miller Recital Hall.

While the Caro native has yet to earn her bachelor's degree — she graduates in December 2017 — her résumé already features a number of performances at impressive venues.

She and her sister, Mackenzie McHugh, were the opening act for another band featuring a sibling duo. At the Bay City State Theatre in June 2017, the McHugh sisters performed original and cover songs ahead of an appearance by The Bacon Brothers, featuring actor and musician Kevin Bacon.

The experience gained and connections made at SVSU were contributing factors for Madalyn McHugh when booking such high-profile performances. "SVSU has tremendously helped me to develop a name and reputation in the area," she said. 

Before attending the university, the soprano singer was accustomed to performing exclusively contemporary and original music. At the age of 18, she was the opening act for the popular Christian music artists, The Sidewalk Prophets. McHugh had recently released her own album in the same genre and spent much of the performance showcasing her original songs.

Now — five years later — McHugh said she feels equipped to perform any type of music.

"I came to SVSU only singing contemporary and original music,” she said. “I am graduating SVSU fully confident to perform classical music, opera, musical theater, contemporary and more. My voice coach has allowed me to be the versatile performer that I have always dreamed of being."

During her Nov. 7 performance, McHugh will be accompanied by Amanda Stamper on piano. SVSU Visiting Artist in Musical Theatre Kevin Cole also will join the soprano on stage. Her vocal performance will include pieces by composers such as Richard Strauss, Mozart and Erik Satie.

Admission for the event is free. For more information, please visit or call (989) 964-4159.

November 2, 2017

SVSU Cardinal Singers to perform 10th anniversary concert

The Cardinal Singers of Saginaw Valley State University will celebrate their tenth anniversary with a concert in the Rhea Miller Recital Hall Saturday, Nov. 11 at 7:30 p.m. The concert will consist of favorite pieces sung by the choir since its founding. Alumni have also been invited to join the current Cardinal Singers for the final song of the night, “The Awakening.”

The Cardinal Singers are the chamber vocal ensemble at SVSU. The vocalists come from all over the state of Michigan, and include both music majors as well as non-majors. They sing a wide array of literature, from Josquin to vocal jazz.

In addition to campus performances, the group has been invited to sing at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. and has sung with the Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra and Saginaw Choral Society. They have also been an invited choir at the state conference of the American Choral Directors Association.

Founded in 2007, they are directed by Kevin Simons, SVSU associate professor of music, and accompanied by Amanda Stamper.

Many Cardinal Singers have found success in the musical world after graduating from SVSU.

Aaron Aikens is the director of bands and choirs at Unionville-Sebewaing High School; Bradley Fergin is the director of choirs at Saginaw Arts and Sciences Academy; Donovan Tear is the director of bands at Bentley High School in Burton. Beyond working in K-12 schools, Jeremiah Kraniak is the artistic director of the Saginaw Choral Society, and Rachelle Austin is an instructor of voice at SVSU. Many other alumni are active across the country as teachers, conductors, players and singers.

The concert is free and open to the public.  For more information, contact the department of music at SVSU at 989-964-4159 or

November 1, 2017

More than 400 high school students coming to SVSU for Foreign Language Day

Saginaw Valley State University will welcome more than 400 high school students from eight regional high schools during the 42nd annual Foreign Language Day at SVSU Thursday, Nov. 2.

Hosted by SVSU’s Department of Modern Foreign Languages, the day will feature students performing in various categories such as song, dance, skit/musical in various languages. The event also includes a cultural awareness contest, highlighting the importance of foreign language study for 21st century learners.

Students from eight regional high schools will be attending: Caro, John Glenn, Pinconning, Oscoda, Roscommon, Saginaw Arts & Sciences Academy, Standish-Sterling, and Tawas. Teams will perform in the languages of Spanish, French and German.

The skit/musical contest is scheduled from 10 to 10:50 a.m. The song contest takes place from 10:50 to 11:40 a.m. The dance contest runs from 11:40 a.m. to 12:40 p.m. The cultural awareness contest takes place throughout the day. Contests will be held in the Malcolm Field Theatre for Performing Arts and other campus locations.

October 31, 2017

SVSU recognizes outstanding alumni during annual awards ceremony

Business leaders, doctors, a dentist and a military veteran are among the eight individuals whose professional exceptionalism and community engagement were recognized during Saginaw Valley State University's annual Alumni Celebration Friday, Oct. 27.

The SVSU Alumni Association selected five individuals to receive the Distinguished Alumni award - one for each of SVSU's five academic colleges. Three other honorees received the Veteran Alumni, Young Alumni and Future Alumni awards.

From SVSU's College of Science, Engineering and Technology, Jessica Bentoski earned the Distinguished Alumna Award. Bentoski received her bachelor's degree in biology in 2004. She later received a dentistry degree from the University of Michigan's School of Dentistry. Bentoski operates Saginaw Pediatric Dentistry. She is a past recipient of the Business of the Year - New Construction Award by Saginaw Township.

From the College of Business and Management, David Kowalski received the Distinguished Alumnus Award. Kowalski is the current president and owner of the family-owned Euclid Automotive Supply in Bay City. Through 15 years of work with the Cub Scouts, Kowalski received honors such as the District Award of Merit and the James E. West Fellow Award. He received his bachelor's degree from SVSU in 1979.

From the College of Arts and Behavioral Sciences, Dr. Michael Langworthy received the Distinguished Alumnus Award. Langworthy serves as the director of orthopedic surgery for Southcoast Health Systems in New Bedford, Massachusetts. A retired U.S. Navy captain, Langworthy served 30 years of active and reserve duty. He earned his bachelor's degree from the institution in 1984.

From the College of Education, Christopher Pryor received the Distinguished Alumnus award. The pastor of Victorious Believers Ministries Church of God in Christ in Buena Vista Township, Pryor has a passion for serving others. Prior to his pastoral work, he spent 13 years working at Pfizer Inc., a biopharmaceutical company with locations around the globe. Pryor graduated from SVSU with a bachelor's degree in management in 1995 and a master's degree in educational leadership in 2000.

From the College of Health and Human Services, Dr. Lynn Squanda-Murphy received the Distinguished Alumna Award. She is a physician for MedExpress in several Michigan locations. Squanda-Murphy graduated in 1981 from SVSU with a bachelor's degree in physical education with an emphasis in sports medicine. Those skills aided her during her time as a U.S. Army cardiac technician and medical assistant. She later attended Michigan State University's College of Osteopathic Medicine, graduating in 1997.

Gretchen Evans received the Veteran Alumni Award. A retired U.S. Army command sergeant major who first enlisted in 1979, Evans served as an intelligence analyst in Heidelberg, Germany. There, she was trained as a counterintelligence agent and military spy. After serving in the Army for 27 years, she decided to resume her education. Evans graduated from SVSU in 2013 with a bachelor's degree in sociology. She is set to publish her new book, "Lessons from the Front," in November.

Marlin Jenkins received the Young Alumnus award. Jenkins, who earned a bachelor's degree in creative writing, later attended the University of Michigan's Master of Fine Arts program. He graduated in 2017. He serves as an editor for the HEArt Online literary journal, a publication committed to the promotion of social justice and the fight against discrimination. Jenkins has been published in several literary journals including The Collagist, Four Way Review, The Journal and Bennington Review, among others.

Andrew Jarmon received the Future Alumnus award. Set to graduate in December 2017 with a bachelor's degree in professional accountancy, Jarmon serves as the business manager of The Valley Vanguard, SVSU's school newspaper; co-chair of the Great Lakes Affiliate of College and University Residence Halls; and a residence assistant for SVSU's student housing operations. A graduate of L’Anse Creuse North High School in Macomb County, Jarmon interned with the Drug Enforcement Administration as part of their financial investigating team as well as with Quicken Loans, where he worked in risk management.

October 31, 2017

SVSU Board congratulates students on ‘Battle of the Valleys’ victory

The Saginaw Valley State University Board of Control congratulated the SVSU Student Association for their leadership in winning the 2017 Battle of the Valleys fundraising competition against their counterparts from Grand Valley State University.

In one week, the SVSU community raised $32,115 for the Mustard Seed Shelter Saginaw, which helps women and families move from homelessness to self-sufficiency.

The Board passed a resolution of congratulations during its regular meeting Monday, Oct. 30.

In other action, the Board:

  • Passed a resolution in appreciation of Cathy Ferguson for her service on the SVSU Board of Control from 2009 to 2017.
  • Passed a resolution in appreciation of David Gamez for his service on the SVSU Board of Control from 2003 to 2017.
  • Received and accepted SVSU’s annual financial audit and federal awards audit for the 2016-17 fiscal year.
  • Approved SVSU’s capital outlay request to the Michigan Legislature.
  • Approved a university policy regarding minors on campus. The policy is designed for visitors to campus and does not apply to admitted or enrolled students.

October 30, 2017

SVSU receives $3 million federal grant to boost student success and retention

Saginaw Valley State University is poised to accelerate improvement in student retention and graduation rates after receiving a $3 million, five-year Title III grant from the U.S. Department of Education. Only seven universities in the nation were selected to receive funding.

“We were chosen through a highly competitive process,” said Donald Bachand, SVSU president. “I really appreciate the efforts of this dedicated team that developed our application. It is gratifying to see their hard work rewarded.

“Our students are the real winners here, because the increased services we will be able to provide them will have very real results. We will deliver improved resources for more students to meet their math requirements. We will increase the number of scholarships we are able to provide. We will implement a summer transition program to help arriving freshmen. All of this will support the academic success of our determined students and help them complete degrees more quickly.

“Having more students graduate in a timely fashion is good for them; it’s good for us; it’s good for the state, and it’s good for the employers that hire our graduates.”

SVSU’s retention rate has risen for seven consecutive years to 74.4 percent this fall, an increase from 68 percent in 2011. Higher retention rates generally result in higher graduation rates in future years.

Internal data shows that SVSU students who utilize available resources such as the tutoring services in the Center for Academic Achievement report higher grades and are more likely to remain enrolled. Grant funds will be used to strengthen existing programs and add new initiatives in targeted areas.

The five-year award will provide funding in five key areas:

                  Updating courses and offering supplemental instruction and embedded tutoring for students who need support to be successful in college-level math. This will promote effective teaching and learning designed to increase student retention.

                  Developing online educational materials to reduce textbook costs in general education courses. Funding will also support an instructional designer and internal grants to implement innovative curriculum in basic skills and general education.

                  Hiring a transition coordinator to serve incoming freshmen and hosting a four-day summer bridge program for cohorts of students to aid their transition to college. Such programs have been shown to improve student success.

                  Using technology to create a student analytics and business intelligence framework to improve student services and communication, including individualized targeted student notification to increase student retention and success rates for all students.

                  Expanding scholarship opportunities for students. The grant provides $600,000 that will be matched through private donations to the SVSU Foundation to establish a $1.2 million endowment to award scholarships to students as a retention tool to help offset their financial burden.

The funds come from the U.S. Department of Education’s Strengthening Institutions Program, which provides grants to eligible institutions to help them become self-sufficient and expand their capacity to serve low-income students by providing funds to improve and strengthen the institution's academic quality, institutional management, and fiscal stability.


October 27, 2017

SVSU music students to showcase their talent at senior recital

Saginaw Valley State University music education majors Katie Mueller and Shane Billingsley, who are both Saginaw natives, will perform the clarinet in the Rhea Miller Recital Hall on Thursday, Nov. 2 at 7:30 p.m. for their senior recital.

Mueller is in her fifth and final year at SVSU, where she has been awarded the Rhea Miller Scholarship for her exceptional clarinet performance abilities. Mueller has spent the last two summers as a counselor at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp. This semester, she is interning with the Saginaw Bay Youth Orchestra. In the past, this musician has won SVSU's first Concerto Competition. She will also play with SVSU's wind ensemble during the first movement of Weber's concerto this fall.

Billingsley is finishing up his music education degree at SVSU. In his five years attending the university, he has participated in the marching band, wind ensemble, and concert band.  In 2014, Billingsley was awarded the Distinctive Scholarship in Music, which is awarded to students who bring distinction to the music department by performing exceptionally onstage and in the classroom.

Their recital will include alternating solo performances from each student, as well as one duet to close the show. Mueller will feature works from famous composers Francis Poulenc, Wilson Osborne, and Carl Maria Von Weber. Billingsley will perform pieces from woodwind composer Camille Saint-Saëns and clarinetist Bêla Kovâc. The two students will perform a Mozart piece for their duet.

Admission for this recital is free of charge. For more information about this recital, please visit or call 989-964-4159.

October 27, 2017

During SVSU lecture, Georgetown historian to discuss legacy of 1623 'massacre' on Indonesian island

A 17th century "massacre" that impacted European relations and shaped global influences will be the focus of a lecture at Saginaw Valley State University Monday, Oct. 30, at 4:30 p.m. in Founders Hall.

As part of SVSU's Barstow Lecture as well as the Visiting Scholars and Artists series, Alison Games will deliver her address, titled "The Invention and Legacy of the Amboyna Massacre." The event is free and open to the public.

Games is the Dorothy M. Brown Distinguished Professor of History at Georgetown University. Games teaches courses on topics including early America, the Atlantic world and European expansion, and global interaction.

The title of her Monday address refers to the execution in 1623 of 20 men involved in the English East India Company by Dutch representatives on the island of Amboina, now known as Ambon Island in the Maluku Islands of Indonesia.

When merchants with the British East India Company became interested in Amboina's commerce, it escalated tensions between the traders and their rivals at the Dutch East India Company. On accusations of treason, a Dutch governor on the island ordered the torture and execution of the men associated with the British East India Company. Historians say the executions impacted where each nation concentrated its influence globally for generations.

Games authored three books, including texts that explore those centuries-old global influences. "The Web of Empire: English Cosmopolitans in an Age of Expansion, 1560-1660" was published in 2009. "Migration and the Origins of the English Atlantic World" was published in 2001.

Games also participated in fellowships with the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Huntington Library, and the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study. 

The Barstow Excellence in Teaching Humanities Seminar at SVSU was created to promote excellence in teaching and recognize scholarship in the humanities.  The seminar was established through a gift from The Barstow Foundation, which supports education, health and human services agencies and humanitarian causes with emphasis on the greater Midland area.

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