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December 16, 2020

Political commentator Van Jones set as virtual MLK event speaker for SVSU

Saginaw Valley State University in January will welcome Van Jones, a political commentator who regularly appears on nationally-televised TV programs, to deliver the keynote address for the 12th annual Great Lakes Bay Regional Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration. This year's event will be presented virtually. 
Jones will appear Monday, Jan. 18, at 7 p.m. in an SVSU-hosted live event, streamed free online. To view the event, participants must register at 
The Yale-educated attorney serves as president and founder of Dream Corps, a nonprofit focusing on social justice. He appears regularly on TV as a correspondent on CNN and a commentator on political talk shows such as NBC’s “Meet The Press.” 
Previously, he worked as the green jobs advisor for President Barack Obama in 2009. In that role, Jones helped coordinate $80 billion in green energy recovery spending. 
Jones led several social and environmental justice enterprises over the years, including The Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and Color of Change. 
He received recognition over the years from several organizations. Jones was the recipient of the World Economic Forum’s "Young Global Leader" designation, Rolling Stone’s “12 Leaders Who Get Things Done,” Fast Company's “12 Most Creative Minds On Earth,” a Webby Special Achievement Award, and Time’s “100 Most Influential People in the World.” 
The 2021 MLK Jr. Celebration theme is “Working Together.” 
Mamie T. Thorns, the event organizer, said a theme promoting unity is especially relevant considering the virtual event will happen two days prior to the scheduled U.S. presidential inauguration ceremony. 
“We’re hoping the speaker will energize and motivate us, as well as give us all points on how we can bridge the divides that separate us,” said Thorns, SVSU’s chief diversity officer. 
In addition to Jones’ keynote address, the Jan. 18 program will include the presentation of regional scholarship awards by the Bay Area, Midland Area and Saginaw community foundations to high school seniors who have embodied Martin Luther King Jr.'s ideals. 
Officials also will announce the winners of the Drum Major Awards, which recognizes people whose community involvement in the Great Lakes Bay Region serves to advance King's vision. 
Jones joins a prestigious list of keynote speakers featured during the Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Celebration at SVSU. In January 2020, Ruth D. Jones, a trailblazer at NASA, served as the guest. Previous speakers include Valerie Jarrett, former senior adviser to President Barack Obama, in 2019; Karen Carter, the chief inclusion officer for The Dow Chemical Company, in 2018; and former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in 2017. 

December 16, 2020

SVSU Braun Fellowship powers research projects for faculty

Empowered by grant funding, two Saginaw Valley State University educators will pursue research projects aimed at advancing technology that impacts both the teaching and transportation industries. 
Each year, two Saginaw Valley State University faculty members receive the SVSU Braun Fellowship to develop their research and support scholarly pursuits that benefit communities across the globe. This year, Aneesha Gogineni, assistant professor of mechanical engineering; and Sandun Kuruppu, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, received these grants to help further their respective research projects. 
Gogineni plans to explore using virtual reality (VR) to teach engineering while Kuruppu expects to develop a system that performs efficient diagnosis of electric machine-based energy conversion in machines such as electric vehicle engines and steering systems. 
The Braun Fellowship program awards $37,500 over three years in funding for a research project for each recipient; support that includes funding for research tools, expenses, equipment, and travel. 
Gogineni’s research will involve comparing the effectiveness of VR in the classroom to teach engineering with face-to-face instruction and online lectures. Using VR will allow students to feel like they are able to participate more hands-on while still learning online during the COVID-19 pandemic, she said. 
"My few years of online teaching experience, pedagogical research, and with the pandemic, I felt it is very important to take the online teaching in engineering to the next level,” Gogineni said. 
Educators will be able to utilize another resource to teach their students actively and keep them engaged online with new materials, a different perspective of experiments, and interactive animations. 
“I would like to use the Braun Fellowship fund to prepare lessons in virtual reality, implement these lessons in thermodynamics and heat transfer courses, assess student performance and compare them with traditional face-to-face lecture and online lectures,” Gogineni said. 
She received her Ph.D. in mechanical engineering at Wichita State University in 2015. 
She joined the SVSU faculty the following year in 2016, and since, has mentored seven students in engineering. Gogineni’s research has been accepted into several conferences and was published in the Journal of Biomedical Engineering and Medical Devices. 
Kuruppu’s research will be focused on creating a system that diagnoses energy conversion in electric machines, allowing users to identify inefficiencies and faults in the systems that power electric cars, electric airplanes and robots in a comprehensive manner. Kuruppu’s work will essentially result in a comprehensive fault monitoring system for electric motor drives, he said. 
“Based on my industry experience in the field, many aspects of our lives are becoming electric and autonomous,” he said. “But reliability of these systems needs to be improved through a more holistic means.” 
This will develop new knowledge in the field as well as help Kuruppu share it with students, local industry and global industry to make autonomous systems safe and reliable, he said. 
“Research in the field of motor drive fault diagnosis has been conducted for some time now. But the methods are quite disconnected and not robust because there are many different types of motors. Through the support of the Braun Fellowship, I plan to develop a unified fault detection strategy that can be adopted towards any motor drive system.” 
Kuruppu received his Ph.D. in electrical computer engineering and technology at Purdue University in 2013. 

December 11, 2020

SVSU's Battle of the Valleys rivalry back on as GVSU returns to fundraising competition

A longstanding Saginaw Valley State University fundraising tradition – which has raised $691,260 to support community-minded causes – will return to its competitive roots in 2021. 
The student governments of SVSU and Grand Valley State University recently voted to reinstate GVSU as a partner in the student-run Battle of the Valleys fundraising competition beginning next year. SVSU students continued the week-long event without the competitive element after GVSU withdrew two years ago. 
Student leaders say the renewed rivalry will energize the fundraiser, which typically is scheduled each fall during the week leading up to the universities’ football matchup. Olivia Nelson, the SVSU student who served as the Battle of the Valleys chairperson this year, said GVSU’s return will re-insert a critical ingredient to the event. 
“The dynamic of Battle of the Valleys with and without a competitor is an entirely different ballgame,” said Nelson, a psychology major from Highland. “While it is still so fun to give charitably without the presence of a competitor, the addition of some friendly competition is definitely an incentive to go the extra mile.” 
SVSU and GVSU founded the competition in 2003. Until GVSU exited the event, the two universities raised $652,385, with SVSU students responsible for $425,657 of that total. 
SVSU students collected $38,875 without the competitive element during the last two years, including $18,573 last month for Bay Area Women’s Shelter. 
When GVSU last participated in the competition in 2018, SVSU raised $36,210 for the Barb Smith Suicide Resource and Response Network while GVSU collected $14,915 for the university’s Replenish Student Food Pantry fund. 
“The reinstatement of Battle of the Valleys is overwhelmingly exciting because it will promote an enriched philanthropic spirit throughout both the Cardinal and Laker families,” said Nelson, referring to the SVSU and GVSU communities, respectively. 
“The re-introduction of the competitive component is a strong catalyst for more funds to be raised to benefit each of our communities.” 
For Battle of the Valleys, students at both universities select nonprofits from their respective regions to receive the collected funds. The money raised benefits both nonprofits regardless of which university raises the most money, although the top-earning campus community receives at least a year-long possession of a trophy affectionately named Victoria. Victoria has remained at SVSU since 2008. 

December 2, 2020

SVSU student actors, vocalists to perform in virtual holiday show

Saginaw Valley State University’s theatre department will adopt a fitting theme (“Stay At Home”) as part of a virtual performance of SVSU’s annual holiday variety show. 
The “Home For The Holidays: A Holiday Variety Show!” production can be viewed exclusively online at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, Dec. 2-5, and on Sunday, Dec. 6, at 3 p.m. 
The $10 tickets must be purchased online. A URL webpage link will be sent to the emails of ticket purchasers one hour prior to the showtimes. Audiences can listen to the audio play virtually using the URL link. 
With the theme of "Stay At Home," the production will feature a variety of scenes featuring students working together in a virtual group project as they discover the meaning of the holidays through Zoom calls and Internet searches. 
David Rzeszutek, an SVSU professor of theatre, will serve as the production’s director. 
All scenes were pre-recorded. Student-vocalists with the SVSU Concert Choir will contribute to the performance. 
The performers and crew followed SVSU’s COVID-19 health and safety guidelines during the filming of the production. 
For more information about the holiday performance as well as upcoming theatre productions at SVSU, visit

December 2, 2020

SVSU Board approves 3-year contract with Faculty Association

The Saginaw Valley State University Board of Control approved a three-year collective bargaining agreement with the SVSU Faculty Association (MEA/NEA) during a special meeting of the Board Monday, Nov. 30. 

Terms of the agreement call for SVSU faculty members to each receive a $1,500 lump sum payment for the current fiscal year, and wage increases of 2% for the second year of the contract and 1.9% for the third year of the contract. The agreement also includes modest increases to the university’s contribution for members’ health insurance coverage.

“The dedication of our faculty has been on full display during this most challenging year,” said Donald Bachand, SVSU president. “They have adapted to emphasize student learning in new and innovative ways. They have become more proficient in online teaching. We appreciate their resiliency.

"We went into negotiations with the goals of recognizing the contributions of our faculty and maintaining the university’s long-term financial health. This agreement achieves those goals. I would like to thank all those involved for the time and thought devoted to successfully reaching an agreement.”

The contract was ratified by the membership of the SVSU Faculty Association Thursday, Nov. 19. The association represents approximately 270 faculty members.

The new collective bargaining agreement is retroactive to July 1 of this year and extends through June 30, 2023.

November 25, 2020

SVSU faculty, professor, student honored with YWCA Women of Achievement Awards

Three members of the Saginaw Valley State University community were among 12 women the YWCA Great Lakes Bay Region honored for their leadership and contributions to social causes across the area. 
An academic college dean, a professor and a student were among the recipients of the annual YWCA Women of Achievement Awards in the region. The recipients were as follows: 
Judith Ruland, dean of SVSU’S College of Health & Human Services, earned the 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award for her outstanding contributions to her communities through volunteer and professional activities. She was among three women to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award from the YWCA Great Lakes Bay Region. After serving on the faculty at the University of Florida, Ruland arrived at SVSU in 2011, when her efforts led to the growth of programs within the College of Health & Human Services. She also has served as part of the Bay County Leadership Program and has participated in medical mission trips abroad in locations such as Mexico, Honduras, Bolivia, Guatemala, and the Dominican Republic. 
Dawn Hinton, an SVSU professor of sociology and faculty fellow in the Center for Community Engagement at SVSU, was recognized by the YWCA Great Lakes Bay Region as one of three 2020 Women of Achievement Award recipients. Her contributions as a community leader earned her other recognitions recently. In 2019, Hinton was presented the Larry T. Reynolds Award for Outstanding Teaching of Sociology by the Michigan Sociological Association at Wayne State University; a Heart of the City award by The Michigan Banner; and the 2019 Whitney M. Young Jr. Service Award by the Boy Scouts of America, Michigan Crossroads Council in Saginaw. 
Indigo Dudley, an SVSU student from Saginaw and a music major, was one of four recipients the YWCA Great Lakes Bay Region recognized with its 2020 Emerging Leader Award. Dudley has served in several leadership roles off and on campus, including in the SVSU Organization of Black Unity. In June, she was among the organizers of a Black Lives Matter protest, which was one of the largest protests in recent Saginaw history. At SVSU, she helped organize diversity-inspired events for the university’s Multicultural Student Affairs office. 
The YWCA Great Lakes Bay Region honored recipients of its 2020 awards during video presentations presented on its Facebook page
For more information on the YWCA Great Lakes Bay Region and its Women of Achievement Awards, please visit

November 20, 2020

SVSU alumnus directs audio play based on Welsh folktales

A Saginaw Valley State University alumnus’ Welsh folktales-inspired musical drama will be available for audiences this weekend. The pre-recorded audio play utilizes SVSU theatre talent. 
Tickets are $10 for the exclusively-audio play, which will be available to purchase online for virtual performances scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday, Nov. 20-21. A URL webpage link will be sent to the emails of ticket purchasers one hour prior to the 7:30 p.m. showtimes. Audiences can listen to the audio play virtually using the URL link. 
As director, composer, and playwright, SVSU alumnus Ryan Sequin said the process of creating the musical over the past five years was a love letter to storytelling. 
“Writing the play and the music came hand-in-hand. As I was writing the script, I was also writing the music,” said Sequin, a Bay City native who earned a bachelor’s degree in music from SVSU in May 2020. Today, he serves as events coordinator at Midland Center for the Arts. 
“Unraveling Magicians” originally was scheduled as an SVSU production earlier this year, but the pandemic delayed those plans. 
The musical's plot was inspired by “The Mabinogion,” a collection of medieval Welsh folktales from the 12th and 13th centuries. Sequin said he wove together stories from the book to create “Unraveling Magicians.” 
The plot description of the musical is as follows: 
“After discovering a book of spells, the royal family of Gwynedd dives headfirst into a world of magic. When they trigger a terrible curse, Gwydion, the family recluse, is forced home to spearhead the cleanup. To return to his beloved isolation, he must break the curse or risk permanent entanglement in his family’s magical mishaps.” 
The story will be told using dialogue, music, sound effects, and various audio recording techniques, Sequin said. 
For more information about “Unraveling Magicians,” visit the SVSU theatre webpage.

November 13, 2020

Statement Regarding Nov 12 Public Safety Emergency

Saginaw Valley State University (SVSU) Police were alerted to a report of an SVSU employee threatening self-harm on Thursday, November 12. University Police contacted the individual on campus just before 8 p.m. SVSU immediately alerted the campus community.

University Police sought aid from other law enforcement agencies, and police negotiators spoke with the individual throughout the night. Despite those efforts, the employee died by suicide in the Science West building around 6:30 a.m. No students were involved in the incident and no one else was injured.

“We grieve over this loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with the individual’s family,” said SVSU President Donald Bachand.

The Student Counseling Center is staffed to provide counseling services to students. Information is available here: Faculty and staff, as well as students, may receive counseling through SVSU’s Employee Assistance Program by calling 1-800-854-1446 or visiting

This remains an ongoing investigation. SVSU would like to thank the Michigan State Police, the Saginaw County Sheriff’s Office, Saginaw Police Department, Saginaw Township Police Department, and Carrollton Township Police Department for their assistance.

The SVSU campus is closed today (Friday, Nov. 13). We will provide additional information on campus operations later today.

November 9, 2020

SVSU’s Master of Social Work program receives national accreditation

With faculty, staff and resources dedicated to empowering students eager to engage and enrich communities, the Master of Social Work program at Saginaw Valley State University was fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), an accreditation agency.

 The organization’s Commission on Accreditation is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation as the sole accrediting agency for social work education in the U.S.

 The Council on Social Work Education administers a multistep accreditation process that involves program self-studies, site visits, and Commission on Accreditation reviews. This candidacy process for accreditation started in 2017 and lasted three years, which is typical for new programs. The program was approved for full initial accreditation in February 2020 for a period spanning four years.

 “This initial accreditation is an exciting time for the Master of Social Work program,” said Lucy Mercier, an SVSU professor of social work as well as the Master of Social Work program coordinator.

 "The faculty are looking forward to creating additional opportunities for community-engaged graduate education.”

 Since the program was a candidate for accreditation beginning in 2017, graduates have been able to apply for state social work licensure. With the program now accredited, graduates will be able to continue applying for state social work licensure for the accreditation period, increasing the number of Master of Social Work practitioners in the regional area. 

 “Our region has been under-resourced in terms of Master of Social Work practitioners,” Mercier said. “Our program is helping to fill that gap, and we anticipate a significant improvement in services in each of the areas served by our alumni — including health care, mental health, children's services, aging adult services, substance abuse, and the criminal justice system.”

 The Master of Social Work program is accepting applications for its 2021 cohort. 

 For more information, please contact Lucy Mercier by email at or by phone at (989) 964-4077.

November 6, 2020

Empowered by SVSU program, Meridian Public Schools leader named Superintendent of the Year in Michigan

For the second consecutive year, a member of a prestigious Saginaw Valley State University leadership development program that empowers K-12 education leaders was recognized as the top superintendent in Michigan.
Craig Carmoney, superintendent at Meridian Public Schools in Midland County’s Sanford, earned the 2021 Michigan Superintendent of the Year award from the Michigan Association of Superintendents and Administrators.
"This community and school district have been through a tremendous amount the last several months — with COVID and the flood — so I was incredibly honored and humbled to receive the award as there are so many others in this profession that deserve the same recognition," said Carmoney, also an SVSU alumnus.
He was nominated by staff, students, regional leaders and colleagues from across the state.
Carmoney is a candidate for the national Superintendent of the Year Award from the American Association of School Administrators, the parent organization of the Michigan chapter that presented him with the statewide honor. The national award recipient will be selected in February 2021.
Carmoney is a member of the Gerstacker Fellowship Program, an SVSU-operated leadership development initiative for professionals in K-12 education. The program was established in 2005 with a $1.5 million endowment from the Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation, which invested an additional $1 million to expand the initiative in 2011. Each year, a new group of K-12 educators is selected to participate in leadership development seminars as well as international travel experiences that involve meeting educational leaders across the globe.
Carmoney’s latest recognition reinforces the value of the Gerstacker Fellowship Program, say organizers of the SVSU initiative. After all, his recognition represents the second consecutive year a participant in the Gerstacker Fellowship Program received the Superintendent of the Year award from the Michigan Association of Superintendents and Administrators. Last year, Robert Shaner, superintendent at Rochester Community Schools in Macomb County, earned the award. He was selected as a participant in SVSU's Gerstacker Fellowship initiative in 2010.
Carmoney, who joined the SVSU program in 2014, said he holds “so many fond memories” of the Gerstacker Fellowship initiative.
“The program really provided with me some great tools and networking opportunities that I've utilized to a great extent over the last several years,” Carmoney said.
"In the program, you are led by the best mentors and surrounded by esteemed colleagues that push you to do your best; you are asked to leave your comfort zone in order to grow your skills as a leader; you clearly understand what it takes to be a servant leader for your students, staff and community; and you continually seek to provide opportunities that produce outcomes that matter for your students."
Shaner agreed, saying the program provides "a transformational leadership experience that exponentially expands the ability to maximize potential, creatively solve problems and implement meaningful change in our K-12 teaching and learning communities."
Shaner said his participation in the SVSU initiative also empowered him with many of the skills that earned him the state's top superintendent award in 2019.
"Through international travel opportunities, Gerstacker fellows can appreciate the cultural elements that frame educational systems from around the world," Shaner said. "My personal experience also provided me with life-long mentors and friends. I am forever grateful for this educational leadership experience."
Carmoney was familiar with SVSU before participating in the initiative. He earned a master’s degree in educational leadership from the university in 2000.
His other credentials in leadership development include his participation in the Michigan Leadership Institute SUPES (Superintendent Professional Preparation Series) Academy as well as the Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance Institute for Leaders initiative.
He also remains active in state and regional organizations including the Michigan High School Athletic Association, the New Tech Network District Leadership Council, the Midland County Long-Term Disaster Recovery Committee, Sanford Area Chamber of Commerce, the Midland Business Alliance, and the Midland County Career and College Access Network leadership team. He is a board of directors member for both the Greater Midland Community Center as well as Midland County Project DARE.

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