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November 15, 2017

National physics group honors SVSU’s Reed

The American Association of Physics Teachers has recognized Laurie Reed, lecturer of physics at Saginaw Valley State University, for her exceptional commitment to undergraduate teaching.

A long-time member of the association, Reed has been named an AAPT Fellow for 2018. Criteria for selection includes "exceptional contribution to AAPT's mission, to enhance the understanding and appreciation of physics through teaching." She will formally accept the fellowship at the group's 2018 winter meeting in San Diego in January.

Reed takes pride in being honored for teaching a discipline that did not always come easily for her.

"For me in my quest to become an astronomer, physics was a very difficult subject," she said. "During my undergraduate years I had qualified faculty, but they did not always explain the material in ways I could best understand. It was when I was in graduate school for astronomy and I began teaching physics for myself that many of the concepts truly became clearer to me and I realized that I really enjoyed the process of teaching physics to others."

"You can help a student learn a tough concept and to then have that person say, 'I understand that,' is very satisfying to me."

Rarely does Reed have a physics major in her classes. Most of her students are pursuing careers in the health professions and over the years, many have thanked Reed for helping to prepare them to tackle the physics portions of the entrance exams for medical and veterinary schools.

"In my teaching, I try to do a lot of examples and demonstrations that have direct application to everyday life and to the human body," Reed explained. "In class recently I described how the elbow joint rotates and how the bones and muscles respond. I want students to understand that physics affects their lives."

"That's why I'm in this business," Reed said. "I love to teach and my simple goal is to help the students learn physics."

Reed started teaching at SVSU in 1992 and has been a full-time lecturer since 1996. She said SVSU has consistently provided resources and many types of support to help her grow professionally.

The American Association of Physics Teachers has around 8,000 members including university and college faculty and high school teachers, and typically chooses about ten Fellows per year.

"To be named a Fellow of the AAPT is a rare distinction,” Reed said.  “I am immensely grateful to my SVSU physics colleagues for nominating me. It's a feather in my cap and a feather in the cap of the university, too. My award is national-level acknowledgement that SVSU has good, dedicated faculty who teach with the best interests of students as the top priority.

November 13, 2017

SVSU selects K-12 educators for Gerstacker leadership program

A new group of K-12 education leaders committed to professional growth will join the Saginaw Valley State University Gerstacker Fellowship program in 2018.

As part of the initiative, 12 teachers, principals, and program administrators from across Michigan will receive concentrated leadership training over a 1-year period. The experience concludes with a capstone international trip to China in June.

Previous overseas trips have included Finland, China, South Korea and Taiwan. Last year's group traveled to Japan.

These trips send participants to educational institutions, where they learn about international educational systems and corporate settings, and they discover how leadership plays out in different cultural and economic settings. Last year's group visited Tokushima, Nara, Kyoto, and Dow Japan & Korea Headquarters in Tokyo.

The program was established in 2005 with a $1.5 million endowment from the Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation of Midland as part of SVSU’s community-minded commitment to support K-12 educators. Participants are known as Gerstacker Fellows. They meet monthly on weekends.

SVSU faculty from various disciplines instruct the group on subjects such as organizational leadership, ethics, finances, communication, human resources, entrepreneurship and education with a global perspective.

The Michigan educators selected to participate in the program in 2018 are:

  • Lisa M. Butts, career and technical education administrator and work-based learning coordinator for Oxford Community Schools
  • Kimberly Cairy, a visual arts and design educator in Saginaw Township Community Schools
  • Christopher Collins, an elementary school principal for Port Huron Schools
  • Nancy Mahoney, an administrator of curriculum instruction and professional learning for  Clarkston Community Schools
  • Scott Sawyer, director of human resources for the Saginaw Intermediate School District
  • Kurtis Pake, an elementary school principal for Bangor Township Schools
  • Jennifer Servoss, the IB Primary Years Programme and STEM Coordinator for Midland Public Schools
  • Jennifer Todd, an elementary teacher in the Swan Valley School District
  • Jill Verburg, a middle school mathematics teacher in the North Branch School District
  • Laura Walsh, assistant director of special education for Rochester Community Schools
  • Jill Wrzesinski, an assistant high school principal and director of college prep for Bay City Public Schools
  • Zak Zuzula, a middle school teacher for Carrollton Public Schools

The Fellows were nominated by their schools and selected on the basis of their past academic and service accomplishments, and the recommendations of others as to their potential for true excellence in leadership.

November 10, 2017

Pop culture, Dungeons & Dragons serve as backdrop to SVSU play exploring sisterly bond

A play deeply rooted in fantasy, 1990s pop culture references, and sarcasm will test the acting talents of Saginaw Valley State University students Nov. 15-19 in the Malcolm Field Theatre for Performing Arts.

"She Kills Monsters" follows the life of Agnes Evans, a young teacher whose parents and sister, Tilly, die tragically in a car accident. While packing up Tilly's belongings, Agnes, played by Amber Hadley, an SVSU communication and theatre major from Marine City, stumbles across a notebook filled with the late teen's Dungeons & Dragons homemade quest. Knowing nothing about this fantasy role-playing game, Agnes reaches out to a local comic book store owner for help in completing her sister's quest. Little does Agnes know that she will be thrust into a world full of goblins, ogres, and evil elves.

The production constantly jumps back and forth between Agnes's real life in 1995 and the fantasy D&D world where Tilly is "reincarnated" through the words in her journal. However, Dave Rzeszutek, SVSU associate professor of theatre and director of the show, promises that audience members do not need to be familiar with role-playing games to follow the story line.

"Even if someone is not familiar with, or has never heard of Dungeons & Dragons before, they will understand the show. The D&D game is a backdrop for the main character to learn about her estranged sister," he said.

The set is designed to reflect when Agnes is experiencing her real life and when she is in the game to help the audience better understand the more unfamiliar aspects of the show.

The show involves many combat scenes between Agnes and the other characters in the game.

Hadley explained that learning stage combat has been the hardest but most rewarding part of preparing for the show.

"It's like really, really intense choreography, and when you get it right, it all just flows so perfectly," she said.

Because these violent scenes are coupled with mature language and adult themes, the show is recommended for patrons age 16 and older.

Watch Hadley and the rest of the cast bring this imaginary world to life Wednesday to Saturday, Nov. 15-18 at 7:30 p.m., and on Sunday, Nov. 19 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $13 for the general public and $10 for students or attendees 60 and older

November 9, 2017

SVSU faculty awards recognize outstanding educators

The Faculty Association at Saginaw Valley State University recognized outstanding faculty members during the 32nd annual SVSUFA Faculty Awards. The awards are presented to those faculty members who have shown initiative in teaching and research as well as providing a supportive environment for their students and colleagues.

Bill Williamson, professor of professional and technical writing, received the Outstanding Mentoring Award for his efforts in assisting his fellow faculty members within the Professional and Technical Writing Department. Colleagues expressed that Williamson's support and willingness to collaborate made him someone they can rely on within the department. He remains engaged in departmental development as well as national discussions on rhetoric and communication by serving as the director of the SVSU Center for Usability Studies and Universal Design, and co-coordinator of the Usability Research Team. He also presents at several regional and national conferences.

The Outstanding Scholarship Award was granted to Jennifer Stinson, an associate professor of history. This award is given to a faculty member who has demonstrated diligence, proficiency and depth in scholarship. Stinson has invested much of her time and efforts into furthering the discussion on race, class and gender in 19thcentury America. Her unique perspective is evident in her approach to these topics, colleagues say. Stinson continues to examine the meaning of slavery and race in specific regions of the U.S. while pursuing the publication of her first book. She continues to present her ideas at conferences around the world. Two of her peer-reviewed articles have already been published in academic journals in her field.  

The Outstanding Service Award went to Blake Johnson, professor of art, for his work both on the campus of SVSU and in the surrounding community. Johnson is the founding member of SVSU's internationally acknowledged Cardinal Solutions, an organization dedicated to solving problems for local organizations. The team has quickly established a name for itself in the community, inspiring a 2-year waiting list for its services. Alongside his work with Cardinal Solutions, Johnson is an active participant in all recruiting activities associated with the Art Department at SVSU. He also volunteers his services in the community by putting on art and design workshops for local schools.

The selected faculty members were presented with their awards at the Faculty Association Banquet on Friday, Oct. 13.

A handful of high-achieving SVSU students were also awarded scholarships at the banquet.

Carmen Randall, a nursing major from Bay City; and Kristi Root, a social work major from Standish, were awarded the Chrysalis Scholarship.

Rebecca Carson, an athletic training major from Roseville; Kaylyn Schiemann, a Petoskey native in the pre-physical therapy program; and Ashley Teets, an athletic training major from Newport, were awarded the Faculty Association Endowed Scholarship.

November 9, 2017

SVSU to host Veterans Day Celebration - Thursday, Nov. 9, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in Curtiss Hall Banquet Rooms at SVSU

Saginaw Valley State University 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. All SVSU students, staff and faculty members are invited to the event.

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 9, 2017

SVSU students display speaking skills during Sims Public Speaking Competition

Six Saginaw Valley State University students demonstrated their proficiency in public speaking on Friday, Nov. 3 during SVSU's 28th annual Sims Public Speaking Competition. The competition allows students to hone their oral communication skills while presenting on topics of their choosing.  

First place was awarded to Zac Peterson, a first-year marketing major from Midland, for his presentation titled "Male Body Standards." The distinction earned him a $400 cash prize. 

Five other students earned accolades for their presentations during the competition:

  • Allison Milke, a communication major from Macomb, was awarded the second place $250 cash prize.
  • Jill Castle, a communication major from Standish, was awarded the third place $150 cash prize.
  • Abbey Leach, a communication major from Frankenmuth, was awarded the fourth place $100 cash prize.
  • Shafayat Alam, a management major from Bangladesh, was a finalist in the competition, earning a $75 cash prize.
  • Tiler Jewell, a creative writing major from Essexville, was also a finalist, earning a $75 cash prize.

The competition is endowed by Larry and Linda Sims, long-time supporters of SVSU. Linda currently serves as senior executive assistant to the president/executive director for communications and external affairs at SVSU; she also previously served as chair of SVSU’s Board of Control.

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

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