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September 21, 2017

SVSU sees enrollment dip, but bright spots in student retention and graduate programs

Saginaw Valley State University saw its total enrollment decline for the 2017 fall semester, but the numbers also show encouraging trends in improved student retention and growth in the number of new graduate students.

“We are pleased to see our retention rate continue to improve; it is now at its highest level in at least 20 years,” said Deborah Huntley, SVSU provost and vice president for academic affairs. “Our faculty and staff are committed to helping all students succeed, and those collaborative efforts are proving to be effective.”

SVSU’s retention rate has risen for four consecutive years to 74.4 percent, up from 70 percent in 2014.                                                                  

Overall enrollment at SVSU dropped to 8,662 students taking classes for the 2017 fall semester, compared to 9,165 last year.

The number of new students seeking advanced degrees increased from 114 new graduate students last fall to 152 this term.

“We introduced new master’s degrees in social work, and computer science and information systems, and those offerings have been well-received,” Huntley said.

The total number of credit hours taken by graduate students increased by nearly 3 percent over a year ago.

SVSU also maintained its healthy enrollment of international students, as 630 international students, representing a record number of 54 different countries, are enrolled this year. 

Fall classes at SVSU began Monday, Aug. 28.

September 21, 2017

SVSU students to raise funds for Saginaw shelter during this year's Battle of the Valleys

Saginaw Valley State University's annual Battle of the Valleys fundraising competition will kick off Sunday, Sept. 24. For the 15th consecutive year, the students of SVSU and Grand Valley State University will go head-to-head to see who can raise the most money for their respective charity partners. The fundraiser concludes Saturday, Sept. 30, when the rival football teams face off at 7 p.m. at GVSU's Lubbers Stadium.

This year, the funds SVSU raises - through several activities and events scheduled throughout the week - will benefit the Saginaw-based Mustard Seed Shelter.

"We chose The Mustard Seed because they're a grass-roots organization that helps women and children in Saginaw who are dealing with homelessness," said Caitlin Coulter, a pre-medicine major from Clio and this year's Battle of the Valleys chair for SVSU.

"The money this year will be going towards an addition that will help them double the amount of women they can serve at their homeless shelter."

SVSU has already cultivated a strong relationship with the organization, particularly through the social work initiative where The Mustard Seed Shelter provides field placements for students in the program.

In addition to supporting a good cause, the two universities battle it out for at least one year's worth of bragging rights and the chance to take home the 3-foot-tall trophy known as "Victoria." The trophy has remained on SVSU's campus for nine consecutive years.

One of the big events scheduled for this year's Battle of the Valleys competition is the newly-added fire truck pull. This event will take place Tuesday, Sept. 26 at 4 p.m. on the campus' Collings Drive, between parking lots J2 and J3. The event is being organized by SVSU's Peer Health Education program.

Teams of 10 will compete to see who can pull a fully-loaded fire truck 40 feet in the fastest time. Cost to participate is $5 per person.

Other fundraising opportunities throughout the week will include the Kick-Off Cookout which will take place on Sunday, Sept. 24. In hopes of taking advantage of the warm weather, the kickoff party will be held in the campus courtyard this year.

"We'll be having pizza and there will be lots of yard games," Coulter said.

Buffalo Wild Wings and Stardust Lanes have also agreed to host fundraising events during Battle of the Valleys week. On Monday, Sept. 25, students and community members can bring in a Battle of the Valleys fundraising flyer to Buffalo Wild Wings. A portion of the meal cost will benefit The Mustard Seed Shelter. 

Stardust Lanes will host a bowling night Friday, Sept. 29 from 9 p.m. to midnight. The cost is $15 per ticket, which will include three hours of bowling and a shoe rental. The full $15 charge will benefit The Mustard Seed Shelter. The week's fundraising competition will close at midnight. 

Between SVSU and GVSU, the universities have raised a combined total of $552,150 since the competition started in 2003. SVSU has contributed $357,329 of that total, raising $26,000 for Hidden Harvest during last year's competition.

"What's great about SVSU is the community and how everyone comes together for a purpose," Coulter said. "This year's purpose is to help The Mustard Seed, so we're really excited about that."

The winner of the 2017 Battle of the Valleys contest will be announced during halftime of the football game between SVSU and GVSU.

For more information about Battle of the Valleys, visit

September 20, 2017

SVSU to host Visiting Scholars and Artists Series

SVSU to host Visiting Scholars and Artists SeriesSaginaw Valley State University will host several engaging guest speakers for the annual Visiting Scholars and Artists series. The series will bring guest lecturers to SVSU to speak on topics including neuroscience, political bipartisanship, and methods for motivating uninspired students. The speakers include a United States congressmen, an expert in immigration, and a philosophy professor exploring the science of free will. All events are free of charge and open to the public. 


Hispanic Heritage Month speaker: "Cuba and its Exile: Political Generations"

Silvia Pedraza

Thursday, Sept. 21

4 p.m.

Founders Hall 

Silvia Pedraza is a professor of sociology and American culture at the University of Michigan. Her research interests include the sociology of immigration, race, and ethnicity in America, as well as the sociology of Cuba's revolution and exodus. Her work includes "Political Disaffection in Cuba's Revolution and Exodus," published by the Cambridge University Press in 2007. 


Rush Lecturer: "Community Engagement through Student-Centered Geospatial Research"

Andrew J. Miller

Thursday, Sept. 28

4 p.m.

Founders Hall

With the help of his colleagues and several key internal and external partnerships, Miller has made geospatial techniques an integral part of the geography curriculum and community outreach at the university. Most notably, Miller and his students have undertaken community-engaged research projects supporting the Saginaw Crime Prevention Council, the City of Saginaw, and most recently, Mid-Michigan Health in Midland. 


Dow Visiting Scholar/Beutler Forum: "Free Will and Neuroscience"

Alfred Mele

Thursday, Oct. 5

7 p.m.

Ott Auditorium  

Mele is the William H. and Lucyle T. Werkmeister Professor of Philosophy at Florida State University. He is the author of 11 books and over 200 articles. He is past director of the Big Question in Free Will project and current director of the Philosophy and Science of Self-Control project, which provides incentives and opportunities for collaborative philosophical and scientific research on self-control.  


O'Neill Lecture: "Promoting Civil Discourse and Fostering Bipartisanship in Today's Politics"

U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee

Thursday, Oct. 19

7 p.m.

Malcolm Field Theatre for Performing Arts 

Born and raised in Flint, Kildee was elected to represent Michigan's 5th congressional district beginning in 2013. Kildee was instrumental in working to free Amir Hekmati —a U.S. Marine and Flint native — who was detained as a political prisoner for four years in Iran. The congressman also was at the forefront of supporting families affected by the Flint water crisis. 


Barstow Lecture: "The Invention and Legacy of the Amboyna Massacre"

Alison Games

Monday, Oct. 30

4:30 p.m.

Founders Hall 

Games is the Dorothy M. Brown Distinguished Professor of History at Georgetown University. Games teaches courses on a variety of topics including early America, the Atlantic world and European expansion, and global interaction. She has authored three books. She has also participated in fellowships with the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Huntington Library, and the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study.  


Dow Visiting Scholar: "The Motivation Breakthrough: Turning on the Tuned-Out Child"

Richard Lavoie

Saturday, Nov. 4

9 a.m.

Ott Auditorium 

Lavoie has served as a visiting lecturer at numerous universities and presented his message to over 500,000 parents and professionals throughout North America, Australia, New Zealand, and Hong Kong. Lavoie has delivered keynote addresses for all three of the major special needs advocacy associations in the United States including the Learning Disabilities Association, Council for Exceptional Children, and Children with Attention Deficit Disorder. 


Dow Visiting Scholar: "Literacy: The Full Story"

Anne Ruggles Gere

Wednesday, Nov. 8

7 p.m.

Gilbertson Hall, Room 202 

Chair of the joint Ph.D. program in English and Education, and director of the Sweetland Center for Writing at the University of Michigan, Gere regularly teaches courses on writing assessment, composition studies and literacy. Among her current projects, Gere is completing a longitudinal study of 160 student writers across their undergraduate degree. Gere has published a dozen books and over 100 articles.

September 19, 2017

Detroit author wins SVSU literature award

Saginaw Valley State University has awarded the 2017-18 Stuart D. and Vernice M. Gross Award for Literature to author Drew Philp for his book, "A $500 House in Detroit: Rebuilding an Abandoned Home and an American City. The award is part of SVSU’s community-minded commitment to recognize exceptional writing within Michigan.

The book describes the story of Philp moving to Detroit, with no friends, job, or home, with the hopes of making a difference in the run-down, almost abandoned city. There, he purchased a house for $500, tore out almost everything inside—leaving only the framework— and began remodeling.

Set in Detroit, this true story intimately portrays the current growth of this once-thriving American city. The book guides the reader through Detroit's rich history and addresses many of the city's current issues, including gentrification and the battles among the social classes.

Philp will visit SVSU in the early months of 2018, when he will accept this award as well as visit classes on campus to share his experiences with SVSU students.  The University of Michigan graduate also will receive a $1,000 prize.

Established by the late Stuart D. Gross and his wife, Vernice, the Gross Award for Literature is administered by SVSU. Winners are selected by a panel of judges from SVSU's staff and faculty. Judges this year were Ashley Blinstrub, research and assessment librarian; M. Patricia Cavanaugh, professor of English; Catherine Curtis, reference librarian; Jules Gehrke, associate professor of History; and Carlos Ramet, associate dean of the College of Arts & Behavioral Sciences.

Employed for many years as a journalist with The Saginaw News, Gross joined the SVSU staff in the school's early years and served in a variety of public affairs roles. He was recognized as a regional historian and published several books. Among his writings are, "Saginaw: A History of the Land and City," "When Timber was King," and "Where There is a Will." Following his retirement from SVSU, Gross wrote and produced a play, "Let's Have Lunch Sometime." He died in 1996; Mrs. Gross, in 2001.

September 18, 2017

SVSU Writing Center to open Bay Community Writing Center with open house Tuesday

Saginaw Valley State University's Writing Center will expand its community reach when it partners with the Alice and Jack Wirt Public Library in Bay City to open the Bay Community Writing Center on Tuesday, Sept. 19.


The Bay Community Writing Center will provide free individual writing tutoring sessions and writing-based workshops for members of the community on the first and third Tuesday of every month, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., on the second floor of the library, 500 Center Ave.


"We're incredibly excited," said Helen Raica-Klotz, director of the SVSU Writing Center. "The Bay community has been very responsive already to this initiative."


Tuesday's grand opening will include an open house and drawings for door prizes, with a NOOK mobile tablet reader as the grand prize. Along with writing and résumé tutorials from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., the Bay Community Writing Center will offer a workshop on completing college application forms from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.


Staffed by SVSU Writing Center tutors, the community center was funded by a $16,500 grant from the Community Initiative Fund and the Youth Advisory Endowment Fund at the Bay Area Community Foundation.


The funds cover two years of support for this community writing center.


The Bay Community Writing Center will mirror the SVSU Writing Center's Saginaw Community Writing Center, which opened in September 2015 at the Butman-Fish Library, 1716 Hancock in Saginaw.


"We are the only university in the state of Michigan to sponsor two on-site community writing centers, and we are very grateful to the Bay Area Community Foundation and the Wirt Library for their support," Raica-Klotz said.


For more information about the Bay Community Writing Center - including a list of the upcoming workshops and dates - contact the SVSU Writing Center at (989) 964-2829 or visit


September 14, 2017

SVSU hosting dedication ceremony to showcase renovations to Zahnow Library

Saginaw Valley State University will host a dedication ceremony in the Melvin J. Zahnow Library Thursday, Sept. 14 from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. The facility will be open for tours.

The interior of the library was remodeled extensively; the rooms and floors have been redesigned to showcase a more flexible design so that students can arrange furniture as they see fit for late night study session or group meetings. Along with the new furniture, the meeting rooms now offer new glass dry erase boards along one wall as well as the option to connect their devices to interactive screens that will display on another wall.

“The whole crux of this is that we want the space to be relevant to the students as they need it,” said Anita Dey, director of the Zahnow Library.

“If they need to meet with people for group projects, we want space for that. If they want to study with people but not necessarily work on a project, we want a space for that. When they really want a quiet environment so that they can concentrate, we wanted a space for that as well.”

Dey said that the library staff will be paying close attention to how students are making use of the new space.

“It’s really about asking ourselves what we can do for the students to create the environment that they need,” she said.

“If we see that we don’t have enough of a certain kind of space, we’ll see what we can do about making more like it. If we see a space that nobody is really attracted to, then maybe we try to do something else with it.”

The $9.5 million renovation began in summer 2016; the total project cost includes renovations to adjacent dining facilities. Community donors supplied much of the funding for the project; major donors included The Arnold and Gertrude Boutell Memorial Fund, The C.K. Eddy Family Memorial Fund, The Frank N. Andersen Foundation, The Harvey Randall Wickes Foundation, The Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation, and The William F. McNally Family Foundation.

“We appreciate the generosity of these committed donors to help ensure our students enjoy the best learning environment possible,” said SVSU President Don Bachand. “The community support we received has been instrumental in supplying the library with new resources that will help our students excel academically and keep them engaged in the outstanding education we offer outside of the classroom.”

Thursday’s dedication will include remarks from Bachand, Dey, and Deborah Huntley, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. Following the ceremony, During the dedication, there will be refreshments offered as well as tours of the newly-renovated space.

Along with the updates to the library facility, the Starbucks on campus has been renovated, as has the food court that will soon open a new Panda Express.

September 8, 2017

SVSU first in the nation to offer students Healthcare Financial Professional Certification

Saginaw Valley State University has become the first university in the nation to offer the Certified Healthcare Financial Professional credential when school leaders incorporate this certification into the curriculum this fall. The certification is available to those studying in SVSU's Master of Science in Health Administration and Leadership program.

The certification is made available in collaboration with the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA), a national membership organization for healthcare finance professionals.

HFMA President and CEO Joseph J. Fifer, FHFMA, CPA, said the certification program is geared toward healthcare professionals, including clinical and nonclinical leaders, who are seeking to understand the new financial realities of health care.

"In my previous position in a healthcare system, physicians often approached me with questions about financial issues," Fifer said. "I spoke with them one-on-one because there was no structure for this. There is a tremendous unmet need for education in this area for all types of clinicians, and this certification program addresses that."

Marilyn Skrocki, an SVSU professor of health sciences and coordinator of the university's Master of Science in Health Administration and Leadership Program, said the certification will differentiate graduates of the master's degree program and "provide them with the enhanced skills and confidence needed to work in today's dynamic healthcare environment."

The certification program reflects a broad range of business and financial skills. The certification designation is geared toward clinical and health plan leaders as well as finance professionals, including both experienced leaders and those who are new to the field. The program includes two online learning modules that highlight the shift from volume to value in care delivery. The program also features coursework on the intersection among financial data, clinical decision-making, and health plan activities. The certification exam is self-administered online through HFMA.

About SVSU

SVSU is a comprehensive university with more than 90 programs of study for its more than 9,000 students. Located on a suburban campus in Michigan's Great Lakes Bay Region, SVSU is committed to quality teaching in the classroom, field-based learning outside, NCAA Division II athletics and a broad range of academic and extracurricular opportunities for students to excel. For more information, visit

About HFMA

With more than 38,000 members, the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) is the nation's premier membership organization for healthcare finance leaders. HFMA builds and supports coalitions with other healthcare associations and industry groups to achieve consensus on solutions for the challenges the U.S. healthcare system faces today. Working with a broad cross-section of stakeholders, HFMA identifies gaps throughout the healthcare delivery system and bridges them through the establishment and sharing of knowledge and best practices. We help healthcare stakeholders achieve optimal results by creating and providing education, analysis, and practical tools and solutions. HFMA's mission is to lead the financial management of health care. 

September 6, 2017

SVSU 9/11 Heroes Run to benefit organization inspired by Midland man killed in Afghanistan in 2011

This year, the 9/11 Heroes Run hosted at Saginaw Valley State University will support a Midland-based nonprofit dedicated to sending morale-lifting care packages to military service members serving overseas.
"It was quite the honor that SVSU chose to help us," said Debi Bartley-Ullom, executive director of Aaron's Gifts From Home. "The postage for sending these care packages has skyrocketed, and any type of help we can get is a blessing."
Registration for the 5K race - which includes a 1K "fun run" for children as well as a 9/11 remembrance ceremony - is $30 for non-military participants. The event begins at 6 p.m. Monday, Sept. 11 in the parking lot of SVSU's Gilbertson Hall. The 5K race starts at 6:30 p.m.
Those interested in participating in the SVSU 5K run can register online at until Sept. 10 at midnight or sign up at the site of the race beginning at 5 p.m. Sept. 11.
Addressing the crowd before the race will be Bartley-Ullom, who founded the organization - along with her husband, Kevin Ullom - after their son was killed in Afghanistan. Aaron Ullom, a 2009 Midland High School graduate, was a U.S. Navy hospital corpsman when he was shot and killed by enemy fire in July 2011.
His mother said, in a way, Aaron's Gifts From Home was her son's idea. Bartley-Ullom frequently sent her son care packages featuring items - food, clothing, books, DVDs, etc. - to lift his spirits after he was deployed in February 2011.
"Sometimes, he would tell me, "Mom, a lot of people here aren't receiving much from home: Can you send a little extra?," Bartley-Ullom said. "It really bothered him when others wouldn't receive any packages from back home."
After he died, Ullom's parents decided to continue to honor their son's request by sending care packages to other military men and women serving overseas. What began as an operation out of her basement in June 2012 developed into a nonprofit organization about one year later.
With growing support from the Midland community, Aaron's Gifts From Home eventually moved to an office in Midland Towne Center. On the organization's Facebook page at, Bartley-Ullom documents the group's behind-the-scenes work as well as photos of the packages' recipients.
She estimates her nonprofit sent 12,000 care packages over its 5-year existence. These days, the organization sends an average of 200 packages monthly to destinations including Afghanistan and Iraq.
"He would be so proud of this," she said of her son. "I just know he's smiling down on us."
Bartley-Ullom said any help is appreciated - whether that assistance involves volunteers preparing care packages or good Samaritans donating money and supplies to the cause. Each package costs about $50 in contents and hefty overseas shipping prices.
"Community support is so important to us," she said.
SVSU's 9/11 Heroes Run also will support The Travis Manion Foundation, the national nonprofit that has organized the annual fundraiser at locations across the world since 2007. The foundation works to empower veterans and families of fallen heroes to develop character in future generations.

August 23, 2017

Another freshman class moves in to SVSU top-ranked residence halls

Saginaw Valley State University will welcome another freshman class Wednesday, Aug. 23 when students move into the “best dorms” in Michigan for the 2017-18 academic year. More than 70 percent of incoming freshmen again have chosen to reside on campus.

SVSU’s housing facilities were ranked No. 1 in Michigan and No. 19 nationally in 2017 by a website grading “Best Dorms” in the United States. The website, Niche, calculated the rankings using a weighted formula where 70 percent of a school's score came from students' satisfaction with their housing. The website surveyed 60,000 students from 903 colleges and universities. The rest of the formula was based upon housing costs, capacity and crime rates; each counted for 10 percent of the total score.

SVSU President Don Bachand (Buh-SHAHND) is expected to assist students moving in Wednesday morning, continuing a tradition of presidents making a friendly first impression with new students.

For the upcoming academic year, more than 2,300 students are expected to reside on campus. Students who will reside in M.J. Brandimore House and Living Center South will move into their residence halls Thursday, Aug. 24.


August 23, 2017

SVSU Board Approves New 3-Year Faculty Contract

The Saginaw Valley State University Board of Control approved a new three-year contract with the SVSU Faculty Association (MEA/NEA) during a special meeting of the Board Tuesday, Aug. 22.

Faculty members who are part of the bargaining unit will receive salary increases of 2 percent in 2017-18 and 1.9 percent in each of the two following years. The agreement also includes increases in the university’s contribution toward health care premiums. 

The association represents nearly 300 faculty. Its members ratified the contract Monday, July 31. 

The Board also approved a bonding resolution that will allow SVSU to realize interest savings and to prepare for construction of a building addition to become home to the College of Business and Management.

The Board authorized SVSU to refinance existing debt at lower interest rates. SVSU expects to realize more than $1.4 million in savings over the remaining life of the bonds, which were originally issued in 2010.

The Board also approved seeking up to $12 million in short-term interim financing to support construction of a 40,000 square foot facility connected to the existing Malcolm Field Theatre for Performing Arts that will host the College of Business and Management.

SVSU’s capital outlay request for $9.8 million in state funding received planning authorization approval in the 2018 fiscal year budget for the State of Michigan signed by Governor Snyder Friday, July 14. The SVSU Foundation hopes to generate up to $15 million in private donor support for the project. The interim financing will allow SVSU to begin work on the building as soon as the state grants construction authorization.

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