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January 29, 2021

Passionate SVSU Professor Receives National Board Appointment

Dedicated professor of teacher education at Saginaw Valley State University, Anne Tapp, was recently elected to the Board of Directors of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE).

The AACTE is a national organization that serves as one of the leading voices on educator preparation. It represents over 800 postsecondary institutions with educator programs dedicated to high-quality, evidence-based preparation that ensures educators are empowered to effectively teach all learners.  

Tapp earns this honor for her commitment to teacher education and passion for advancement in the field of education.  

“Dr. Tapp’s election to the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education Board of Directors is a testament to her vast expertise and impressive record in teacher education,” said James Tarr, dean of SVSU’s College of Education.  

Tapp will also serve as chair of the Advisory Council of State Representatives (ACSR) Executive Committee. She will oversee the four United States regional representatives who represent the presidents of chapters from 48 states. For the past year she has served as the Midwest Region Representative, the designated liaison for the presidents of 12 states in the region.   

Her leadership will have the power to influence and improve the future of education at a national level.  

“As a member of the Board, Dr. Tapp will have her finger on the pulse of education policy and leverage changes to improve the preparation of future classroom teachers, at SVSU and beyond,” said Tarr.  

Tapp receives these appointments after previously serving as the president of the Michigan Association of Colleges and Teacher Education (MACTE).   

Her extensive experience in the classroom and distinguished engagement with education policy reflect the positive impact that SVSU educators have on a local and national stage.      

“She is an award-winning teacher educator with almost 20 years of service to SVSU’s College of Education,” said Tarr.  

“Her election to the Board enhances SVSU’s storied tradition of excellence in teacher education and brings visibility to SVSU’s programs at the national level.”  

January 21, 2021

SVSU sponsors 2021 First Ward Leadership Fellowship Program

Eleven Saginaw County residents between the ages of 18 and 30 have been selected as 2021 First Ward Leadership Fellows and will participate in a 14-week leadership training program hosted by Saginaw Valley State University. 

First Ward Leadership Fellows will join SVSU students who are in the 2020-2021 Vitito Global Leadership Institute in the Scott L. Carmona College of Business. The focus of the training is to highlight opportunities to become community leaders through board memberships. Workshops led by local civic and community leaders will emphasize the importance of service on boards. 

“We welcome the opportunity to further the partnership between SVSU and First Ward Community Center with the creation of this fellowship program,” said Dawn Hinton, director of SVSU’s Center for Academic Innovation & Online Learning. “This program is designed to assist young community members in developing the leadership skills that will allow them to make significant contributions to their community.” 

Hinton said students in SVSU’s Vitito Global Leadership Program each year are required to select a community engagement project; this year, the choice is a peer-to-peer leadership mentoring program with First Ward Community Center. The weekly training sessions will be held online from January through March, 2021. 

The following individuals, all from Saginaw, have been selected to participate in the First Ward Leadership Fellowship Program: 

  • Amaya Bradley, an SVSU marketing major 
  • Daeveon Clemons, an SVSU biology major 
  • Indigo Dudley, an SVSU general studies major 
  • Bria Gregory, a self-employed financial professional 
  • Airiana Hamilton, an SVSU health science major 
  • Jalen Latimore, a staff member at Francis Reh Academy 
  • Tess Martin, an SVSU social work major 
  • Jesse Sanchez, a mechanic serving in the military 
  • Alissiana Scott, a Kroger employee 
  • Demetria Simmons, a Federal Express employee 
  • Simone Vaughn, an SVSU communication major 

The goal of the program is to fill a gap that exists within the Saginaw County community and address the large number of vacancies on boards and commissions. Those who are selected to participate must submit to an application process that outlines their previous participation in First Ward programming. The SVSU Foundation is providing funding support for the fellowship. 

“This project will culminate in a ‘Signing Day’ event, where the First Ward Leadership Fellows will publicly announce the board on which they want to serve and sign their completed application for board consideration,” Hinton said. 

Hinton will provide guidance for First Ward Leadership Fellows and Joseph Ofori-Dankwa, SVSU’s Harvey Randall Wickes Endowed Professor, and Dominic Monastiere, Boutell Executive-In-Residence, are responsible for developing the leadership skills training. Michael Mosher, SVSU professor of art, will introduce the First Ward Leadership Fellows to students enrolled in his Art 390 course to develop an illustrated comic book that will creatively tell the stories of each of the fellows. 

For more information on the First Ward Leadership Fellowship Program, contact Hinton at (989) 906-1400, or hinton@svsu.edu. For more information on the Vitito Global Leadership Program, contact Ofori-Dankwa at (989) 284-0684, or oforidan@svsu.edu

January 15, 2021

Regional leaders to be honored as Drum Major Award recipients at MLK Celebration

A former mayor/state legislator, a public servant and an educator will be honored by Saginaw Valley State University this month for community work that exemplifies the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision.

Charles Brunner (Bay County), Diane Brown Wilhelm (Midland County) and Frances Elnora Carter (Saginaw County) have been named recipients of the 2021 Martin Luther King Jr. Drum Major Awards, given annually to leaders in the Great Lakes Bay Region. These honorees will receive recognition during the Great Lakes Bay Regional Martin Luther King Jr. Virtual Celebration at 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 18. CNN political contributor Van Jones is the event’s keynote speaker.  

The three recipients are receiving a $1,000 award for a charitable organization of their choice. 

The honoree from Bay County is Charles M. Brunner, who served from 2011 through 2016 in the Michigan House of Representatives from the 96th District. He is a former mayor of Bay City (2007-2010) and was a member of the Bay City Commission from 2001-2007. Prior to his time in elected office, Brunner was a teacher for 30 years. As mayor, he was a founding member of what was once known as the Mayors’ Automotive Coalition, now the Manufacturing Alliance of Communities, and started several other city initiatives including a community clean-up and an adopt-a-park program. For years, Brunner has been active in his community, including in initiatives such as the Annual Bay City 4th of July Fireworks festival, Annual Bay City Festival of Lights (co-chair), Annual Kawkawlin River Clean-up, Annual clean-up of both veteran’s memorials (Project Freedom Walk and Viet Nam Memorial), and clean-up/dedication of the Michael Cathcart Park. Formerly a musician, Brunner played with the rock group Question Mark and the Mysterians. 

The Martin Luther King Jr. Drum Major Award honoree from Midland County is Diane Brown Wilhelm, who has been a tireless public servant, sitting on the Midland City Council and the Planning Commission for more than 10 combined years. She currently serves as the Midland City Council’s Legislative Director, representing the city on the Michigan Municipal League. In addition, she holds leadership roles in several community service organizations, including Midland’s Shelterhouse. Whether serving in city government or volunteer capacities, or while mentoring younger employees as a part of her employment with Accenture, Brown Wilhelm recognizes the importance of listening to people. She thinks strategically, enjoys tackling new challenges and values hard work. A hallmark of personal success is her ability to connect with people, coupled with her passion to be an advocate for people in need. 

Frances Elnora Carter is a posthumous honoree of the Martin Luther King Jr. Drum Major Award from Saginaw County. A Saginaw native, Carter earned her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Education Administration degrees from the University of Michigan. She returned to her hometown in 1951 to become a teacher for the Saginaw Public Schools System, where in 1973, Carter was named the first Black principal in the district’s history (Potter Elementary School). After nearly 40 years as an educator, she retired in 1991. She also is a recipient of the NAACP Pioneer Plaque and received a longevity plaque for 50-plus years as a member of Bethel A.M.E. Church in Saginaw. Carter was one of 12 women who chartered a Saginaw chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.; she held various offices in the chapter, which earned her a Senior Pearl Award. In addition, she was one of the founders and served as acting treasurer of the Ruben Daniels Education Foundation. Carter was an NAACP life member, Friend of Claytor Public Library and member of the Castle Museum. She was one of the charter members of Top Ladies of Distinction in Saginaw and served as its president, historian and chair of the senior citizen committee. 

For more information about the Great Lakes Bay Regional Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration hosted at SVSU, click svsu.edu/mlk, or contact the SVSU Office of Diversity Programs at (989) 964-4068. 

January 11, 2021

Dedicated SVSU Theatre Professor Earns Prestigious National Honor for Teaching

Peggy Mead-Finizio, assistant professor of theatre at Saginaw Valley State University, is this year's recipient of the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) Innovative Teacher award.

Mead-Finizio is one of only eight recipients in the nation to receive this remarkable honor for the 2020-21 academic year.

Each KCACTF region recognizes an individual or organization with this award to celebrate extraordinary contributions to the teaching and producing of theatre. The recipient must demonstrate excellence in educational theatre and a significant dedication of their time, artistry and enthusiasm to the values and goals of the KCACTF.

Mead-Finizio has exemplified these qualities through her inspiring passion and dedication to her students. David Rzeszutek, department chair and professor of theatre at SVSU, noted Mead-Finizio serves as an integral part of the growth and success of SVSU's theatre program.

“Since Peggy started at SVSU, she has created an upward trajectory for our program. Each year, our technical program grows stronger and our student's successes are a credit to her guidance,” Rzeszutek said. "She has been an invaluable professor within the theatre department, always going above and beyond to support and empower her students.

“Peggy wears many hats: Teacher, Mentor, Technical Coordinator, Lighting Designer, Master Electrician, Choreographer, Sound Designer and more,” Rzeszutek said.

“Peggy is an invaluable colleague to the faculty and an outstanding teacher and mentor to her students. She is a voracious researcher and designer, adaptable to change, positive and honest.”

Her devotion to her students and enthusiasm for theatre education were amplified as she navigated teaching during a pandemic. Mead-Finizio's determination and ability to adapt meant that her students were still able to successfully present fall theatre productions.

“As we transitioned into our theatrical season in a pandemic, Peggy led our department and students by learning and implementing a three-camera set up on a soundstage built in our scene shop while creating and powering a lighting rig from scratch,” said Rzeszutek.

“At the same time, in our proscenium theatre, she led the technology of a single-camera green screen studio that was built on the other side of the scene shop wall for our other fall production.”

Her leadership and perseverance allowed her students to have a positive learning experience, despite tremendous obstacles.

“Even more remarkably, both shows rehearsed and filmed simultaneously to beat the holiday break when students would not be able to return to campus,” said Rzeszutek.

“She guided both productions through the editing process and coordinated the students in group efforts to also learn how to edit; a herculean feat indeed.”

Not only is Mead-Finizio being awarded for her outstanding achievements, but several of her students are being recognized by the KCACTF for their accomplishments as well. Two of her students recently reached the Region III final round for design at the KCACTF for their prowess in lighting and sound design, in part due to Mead-Finizio's mentorship.

Mead-Finizio will receive her award Saturday, Jan. 9 via a virtual ceremony during the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival Region III conference. 

January 9, 2021

Dedicated SVSU Theatre Professor Earns Prestigious National Honor for Teaching

Peggy Mead-Finizio, assistant professor of theatre at Saginaw Valley State University, is this year's recipient of the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) Innovative Teacher award. Mead-Finizio is one of only eight recipients in the nation to receive this remarkable honor for the 2020-21 academic year.

Each KCACTF region recognizes an individual or organization with this award to celebrate extraordinary contributions to the teaching and producing of theatre. The recipient must demonstrate excellence in educational theatre and a significant dedication of their time, artistry and enthusiasm to the values and goals of the KCACTF.

Mead-Finizio has exemplified these qualities through her inspiring passion and dedication to her students. David Rzeszutek, department chair and professor of theatre at SVSU, noted Mead-Finizio serves as an integral part of the growth and success of SVSU's theatre program.

“Since Peggy started at SVSU, she has created an upward trajectory for our program. Each year, our technical program grows stronger and our student's successes are a credit to her guidance,” Rzeszutek said. "She has been an invaluable professor within the theatre department, always going above and beyond to support and empower her students.

“Peggy wears many hats: Teacher, Mentor, Technical Coordinator, Lighting Designer, Master Electrician, Choreographer, Sound Designer and more,” Rzeszutek said.

“Peggy is an invaluable colleague to the faculty and an outstanding teacher and mentor to her students. She is a voracious researcher and designer, adaptable to change, positive and honest.”

Her devotion to her students and enthusiasm for theatre education were amplified as she navigated teaching during a pandemic. Mead-Finizio's determination and ability to adapt meant that her students were still able to successfully present fall theatre productions.

“As we transitioned into our theatrical season in a pandemic, Peggy led our department and students by learning and implementing a three-camera set up on a soundstage built in our scene shop while creating and powering a lighting rig from scratch,” said Rzeszutek.

“At the same time, in our proscenium theatre, she led the technology of a single-camera green screen studio that was built on the other side of the scene shop wall for our other fall production.”

Her leadership and perseverance allowed her students to have a positive learning experience, despite tremendous obstacles.

“Even more remarkably, both shows rehearsed and filmed simultaneously to beat the holiday break when students would not be able to return to campus,” said Rzeszutek.

“She guided both productions through the editing process and coordinated the students in group efforts to also learn how to edit; a herculean feat indeed.”

Not only is Mead-Finizio being awarded for her outstanding achievements, but several of her students are being recognized by the KCACTF for their accomplishments as well. Two of her students recently reached the Region III final round for design at the KCACTF for their prowess in lighting and sound design, in part due to Mead-Finizio's mentorship.

Mead-Finizio will receive her award Saturday, Jan. 9 via a virtual ceremony during the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival Region III conference. 


January 4, 2021

SVSU Board grants degrees to 550 students who persevered to complete their studies

The Saginaw Valley State University Board of Control granted graduate and undergraduate degrees during the Board’s regular meeting Friday, Dec. 18. Around 550 students have completed degree requirements despite disruptions arising from the coronavirus pandemic.

 

SVSU is holding a series of virtual Commencement ceremonies Friday, Dec. 18.

 

“We are immensely proud of these graduates,” said Donald Bachand, SVSU president. “They have shown remarkable determination to complete degree requirements, which are demanding even under normal circumstances.”

 

In other action, the Board:

•                     Confirmed board members for previously authorized public school academies

•                     Approved faculty sabbaticals for four faculty members: Sara Keough, geography; Natalia Knoblock, English; Erik Trump, political science; and Matthew Vannette, physics.

•                     Granted emeritus status to George Eastland, who retired after 51 years teaching chemistry.

•                     Granted emeritus status to Jane Girdham, who retired after 25 years teaching music.

•                     Granted emeritus status to Wayne Mackie, who retired after 42 years teaching finance.

•                     Granted emeritus status to James Sullivan, who retired after 33 years teaching English.

•                     Granted emeritus status to Laurie Reed, who retired after 26 years teaching physics.

•                     Granted emeritus status to Joe Vogl, who retired after 42 years of service to SVSU, including 35 years as head golf coach.

•                     Reappointed Andrews Hooper Pavlik PLC as SVSU auditors for the 2020-21 fiscal year.

•                     Passed a resolution to restore President Bachand’s salary for 2021; he had taken a 10% salary reduction in 2020 in response to the pandemic.

December 18, 2020

SVSU Board grants degrees to 550 students who persevered to complete their studies

The Saginaw Valley State University Board of Control granted graduate and undergraduate degrees during the Board’s regular meeting Friday, Dec. 18. Around 550 students have completed degree requirements despite disruptions arising from the coronavirus pandemic.

SVSU is holding a series of virtual Commencement ceremonies Friday, Dec. 18.

“We are immensely proud of these graduates,” said Donald Bachand, SVSU president. “They have shown remarkable determination to complete degree requirements, which are demanding even under normal circumstances.”

In other action, the Board:

• Confirmed board members for previously authorized public school academies

• Approved faculty sabbaticals for four faculty members: Sara Keough, geography; Natalia Knoblock, English; Erik Trump, political science; and Matthew Vannette, physics.

• Granted emeritus status to George Eastland, who retired after 51 years teaching chemistry.

• Granted emeritus status to Jane Girdham, who retired after 25 years teaching music.

• Granted emeritus status to Wayne Mackie, who retired after 42 years teaching finance.

• Granted emeritus status to James Sullivan, who retired after 33 years teaching English.

• Granted emeritus status to Laurie Reed, who retired after 26 years teaching physics.

• Granted emeritus status to Joe Vogl, who retired after 42 years of service to SVSU, including 35 years as head golf coach.

• Reappointed Andrews Hooper Pavlik PLC as SVSU auditors for the 2020-21 fiscal year.

• Passed a resolution to restore President Bachand’s salary for 2021; he had taken a 10% salary reduction in 2020 in response to the pandemic.

December 18, 2020

Four SVSU students qualify for moot court nationals in January

Members of Saginaw Valley State University’s nationally-ranked moot court program continued to demonstrate their commitment to hard work as four students recently qualified to advance to a national tournament in January. 
 
Two SVSU teams featuring two students each – Erik Byron and Collin Willette as well as Justin Weller (pictured) and Caroline Sawatzki – will compete in the American Moot Court Association national tournament, which will be hosted virtually from Jan. 22-24. 
 
The students earned their place in the 200-student competition based on their performance this year in virtual regional tournaments. They faced some of the top moot court programs in the U.S., including Duke University, Cornell University, University of Chicago, Patrick Henry College, as well as William & Mary university. 
 
SVSU’s moot court team is ranked No. 16 in the nation. Julie Keil, the SVSU associate professor of political science who serves as the team’s co-adviser, said this year’s competition was especially challenging considering the pandemic-related obstacles. 
 
“This has been the most difficult year, with the pandemic, a virtual class and tournaments, and the various stresses on the students and (team co-adviser) Amy Hendrickson and myself,” Keil said. 
 
“The fact we were able to qualify two teams during this year is a testament to the strength of the program and the hard work and dedication of the students.” 
 
Two of the qualifying students are familiar with the national tournament. Weller, a political science major from Bay City, qualified twice before. He won a fourth-place brief writing award during the 2020 nationals. He submitted another brief with Byron this year; the results of that competition will be revealed during the January nationals. 
 
Byron, a political science major from Birch Run, qualified once before for the national tournament. 
 
Sawatzki is an electrical engineering major from Saginaw. Willette is a political science major from Bay City. 
 
Acting as teams of two attorneys, students competing in moot court tournaments are tasked with arguing both sides of hypothetical legal cases based on real-life courtroom battles. The competition is judged based on the clarity of the students' argument, their public speaking skills, their ability to answer questions, and how well they know the law and the case. 
 
For more information about the American Moot Court Association, go to amcamootcourt.org

December 18, 2020

SVSU forensics team performance in state tourney sends students to nationals in April

The Saginaw Valley State University forensics team won third place in the Team Sweepstakes category at the fall Michigan Intercollegiate Speech League Tournament on Saturday, Dec. 5. 
 
Six students earned individual awards in various categories at the tournament, which was hosted in an online setting. 
 
The students and their awards are as follows:
  • Jessica Carpenter, a communication major from Saginaw, won third place in the Rhetorical Criticism category 
  • Evangeline Cruz, a communication major from Detroit, won second place in the Persuasion category 
  • Jessica Davis, an elementary education major from Saginaw, won third place in the Persuasion category 
  • Claire Harris, a communication major from Delton, won second place in the Informative category 
  • Isaiah Powell, a theatre major from Freeland, won fifth place in the Impromptu category 
  • Austin Teeple, a communication major from Bay Mills, won fourth place in the Impromptu category 
Based on their performances in the competition, Cruz, Davis, Harris and Teeple qualified for the speech league’s national tournament in April. They will join Powell, who qualified for the nationals based on his performance in an earlier competition. 
 
Other SVSU students who qualified for the nationals based on competition earlier in the year are Mikayla Rigda, a communication major from Birch Run; Adam Stepanski, a graphic design major from West Bloomfield; and Brandon Stockwell, a biology major from Marine City. 
 
The National Forensic Association national tournament will be hosted virtually from April 16-20.

December 18, 2020

With Broadway training, SVSU alumna performs in holiday production while pursuing pop music success

From small town Michigan to the Big Apple, Saginaw Valley State University alumna Madalyn McHugh's determination and hard work helped her pursue her dreams of becoming a Broadway-trained performer. After fine-tuning her talents in New York City, that dream has since grown even larger.

“It’s about the people I meet along the way, while constantly growing to become the best performer and human along the way,” she said of her journey as a stage talent lately.

That personal and performative growth included her selection to a prestigious New York City-based development program for aspiring Broadway performers, her participation in a virtual holiday musical event captivating audiences in the region this month, and the development of a pop music album.

Before graduating from SVSU in December 2017 with a bachelor's degree in music, McHugh was highly engaged as a performer during her undergraduate years. She participated in the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. And she was a member of two SVSU vocal ensembles, the Cardinal Singers as well as the Concert Choir, where she was a section leader. 

“SVSU was the first gamechanger for me,” the Caro native said.  

Her professors were extremely helpful and receptive to new ideas, she said. McHugh said she was always asked, “What are your dreams and goals?,” and she felt supported when they offered guidance toward those goals. 

“You can try things, you can fail, and you have people here at SVSU to help you and pick you up again,” she said. 

After graduation, McHugh in 2018 was selected to participate in the Open Jar Institute residency. The two-month-long training process provides learning opportunities for aspiring actors from Broadway directors, actors, singers, dancers, and choreographers. At the institute, she participated in workshops and auditioned for Broadway productions, national tours, regional theatres and more. 

“Open Jar was a big gamechanger, where I went from not understanding the theatre realm in New York very well to knowing all about the ins and outs of Broadway ... and living in New York,” McHugh said. 

Perseverance and determination helped keep McHugh’s hopes high as she attended audition after audition. After audition No. 80, she felt a new wave of determination as she dedicated herself to her craft despite not yet being cast in a production. As she hit her lucky number – audition No. 81 – she decided to take a chance and approach the director.  

“I decided to do something different,” she said, even though she typically defines herself as a “rule follower.”   

While approaching the director did not lead to her being cast in that production, the experience and strengthened network of professional peers led to her next audition. And she received that next role, for “Outlaws and Angels,” produced by Florida Studio Theatre in Sarasota, Florida.  

She temporarily moved to Florida for six months beginning in October 2019, performing in 150 shows before the COVID-19 pandemic suspended the production earlier this year.  

Since then, McHugh has traveled back and forth between New York City and Michigan, working to develop a pop music duo. The group, McHugh Girl, features McHugh and her songwriting sister, Mackenzie. The siblings are recording a debut album. The first released single, titled “Ex Boyfriend,” is available to stream on most music platforms.  

Residents in the Great Lakes Bay Region also may recognize McHugh’s voice from her performance this month in “NOEL: Experience Christmas,” a holiday-themed virtual musical production organized by a nonprofit organization by the same name. The organization – which features a leadership team with many SVSU ties, including two alumni – pre-recorded performances at the Temple Theatre in downtown Saginaw. The group began posting the production as a series of performances on social media earlier this month. The installments will continue until Christmas Day, when the work will be consolidated into one video.

McHugh’s contribution to “NOEL: Experience Christmas” included a performance of “O’ Holy Night.”  

To follow McHugh on Instagram, search for @maddie_mcq. For more updates on “McHugh Girl,” follow the Instagram account @mchughgirlmusic.  

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