Skip to main content Skip to footer

All News/Archive: Recent News

All News/Archive - Newsroom

April 26, 2017

Optimistic Club spreads positivity at SVSU

By by Kayla Eisenlord

Stressful exams. Fast-approaching term paper deadlines. Exhausting classroom debates.

Along with the anxieties of the world outside of campus, stress can lead some college students to see the glass as half-empty. Members of SVSU’s Optimistic Club, however, hope to fill those metaphorical glasses to the top.

"Too often we see people walking around, looking like they are having a bad day,” said Paige Teregan, a special education major from Lake Orion who leads the student organization. "Our main goal is to make them smile."

Established in 2012, the registered student organization promotes happiness and positivity through little acts of kindness.

One of the programs includes members’ sticky notes campaigns, when they place Post-its on walls and windows across campus. Each note features encouraging messages meant to inspire. "Confidence is the first step to success," one note read. Another: "Keep going. You're almost there."

As project manager of the club, Jacob Jacopec, a business major from Holly, said the group tries to cheer up their peers especially near finals week, when stress levels are highest for many students.

Each month, the club focuses their attention on a different program. There was the time members super-sized the Post-it note initiative by writing cheerful messages on large billboards while standing in high-traffic hallways.

“I'd take your place in The Hunger Games,” one sign read. “Act like a proton and think positive,” “Always look on the bright side," and “beYOUtiful” were some of the other messages.

“I’d say it's a job well done when people are frowning as they walk past but look up to see the boards and end up laughing or saying, ‘aww,’” Jacopec said.

One of Teregan’s favorite initiatives is the “free hugs” program, which involves members offering hugs to students willing to accept the offer.

“It may be a little strange to some people, but others absolutely love it,” Teregan said. “Our hugs will make their day, and receiving so many hugs in one day makes me feel better, too.”

Such good will works for students such as Emma Eldred, a nursing major from Lake Isabella and the SVSU Student Association’s philanthropy chair.

“Throughout my years at SVSU, I have seen how the smallest acts of kindness can make an impact,” Eldred said.

“From the sticky notes at finals that encourage you, to getting a hug from a stranger, Optimistic Club has taken steps to change this campus for the better. They’ve definitely changed my experience for the better, too.”

This story appeared in the Spring 2017 edition of Reflections, SVSU's magazine, available to view online here:

April 24, 2017

SVSU professor wins national award for book on post-Civil War black print

Eric Garnder, professor of English at Saginaw Valley State University, has won his second Book Prize from the Research Society of American Periodicals. The prize awards the best scholarly book on American periodicals published in 2015 and 2016.

Gardner received the honor for his community-minded scholarly work “Black Print Unbound: The Christian Recorder, African American Literature, and Periodical Culture.”

“Black Print Unbound” chronicles the development of the African Methodist Episcopal Church’s newspaper, “The Christian Recorder,” during and just after the Civil War. The book was one of the first full-length studies of an early black newspaper.

As an exploration of a periodical created by African Americans for African Americans, Gardner’s book details the newspaper’s history, composition, publication, distribution, reception and place in American literary history. Gardner drafted the book with the support of a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship.

A panel of three scholars chosen by the Research Society judged the books eligible for the prize. The prize committee said “Black Print Unbound” offers “magisterial vision and imaginative force that will set new standards for periodical scholarship.”

Gardner received the same award in 2010 for “Unexpected Places: Relocating Nineteenth Century African American Literature.” He will formally receive this year’s award at a ceremony at the American Literature Association’s annual conference in May in Boston.

April 24, 2017

Consumers Energy deputy general counsel, SVSU alum, to address SVSU May graduates

The vice president of a Michigan energy company will deliver the keynote address to graduates during Commencement exercises next month at Saginaw Valley State University.

Shaun M. Johnson, an SVSU alumnus who is the deputy general counsel for CMS Energy and its principal subsidiary Consumers Energy, will speak at 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 5, and again at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 6, in O’Neill Arena.

Commencement exercises for graduates in the colleges of Business & Management and Health & Human Services will be held Friday evening. Students completing degrees in the colleges of Arts & Behavioral Sciences; Education; and Science, Engineering & Technology will take part in the ceremony scheduled for Saturday morning.

The graduating class consists of 1,146 students who are expected to complete degrees, including 1,022 individuals who have indicated they intend to don regalia and march in the ceremonies. The class includes 987 who will receive bachelor’s degrees and 159 who will receive master’s or education specialist degrees.

As is tradition, SVSU President Don Bachand will congratulate each graduate as he or she crosses the stage.

Johnson’s path to his position with CMS Energy began at SVSU, where he served as president of SVSU’s student government and was a member of Sigma Pi fraternity. Representing and advocating for his fellow students was an interest of Johnson’s since his teenage years, when he was the president of the student government at Sanford-Meridian High School for three years. With a goal of getting students more involved on SVSU’s campus, Johnson was the Campus Events chair for Student Association, the student government, before ascending to president.

An Edenville native, Johnson graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from SVSU in 2002 and then completed a law degree at Michigan State University, graduating with Summa Cum Laude honors. Johnson served on the SVSU Alumni Association Board of Directors from 2005 to 2008.

Johnson formerly was a partner for the law firm Dykema Gossett PLLC, serving as the director of the firm’s energy industry group and specializing in public utilities, energy, and taxation. In his director position, he served as an attorney and lobbyist for several public utility and energy clients throughout the United States, helping develop cost-effective business strategies and goals. Johnson also represented elected public officials, political action committees, and constitutional ballot question committees.

In his position with CMS Energy, Johnson oversees all litigation, general practice, and federal energy regulatory issues. He also provides legal oversight for business development activities, including mergers and acquisitions. A Dewitt resident, Johnson also serves as the chair of the Michigan Bar Association’s Administrative Law Section.

For information about Commencement exercises at SVSU, visit

April 21, 2017

Burton native's illustrative interpretation of SVSU art department on display at campus research showcase

Comic books have long been popular in the entertainment industry and are firmly entrenched in modern pop culture with on-screen adaptations of bookstore titles such as The Avengers, Batman, and The Walking Dead.

Saginaw Valley State University student Emely Williamson is working on a comic series of her own, starring her campus' art department. An art major and Burton native, Williamson's work is empowered by SVSU’s Undergraduate Research Program (UGRP). Through the initiative, she plans to publish a comic book revolving around life as a student in SVSU’s art programs.

Williamson is one of more than 100 students whose UGRP-supported projects will be featured during the University-Wide SVSU Student Showcase Friday, April 21, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. the Ott Auditorium inside SVSU's Gilbertson Hall. The event — free and open to the public — will spotlight projects from all five SVSU academic colleges.

When I first started looking at the UGRP application, I thought there would be no way the committee would see a molecular bonding project ... and then give money to a girl who wants to write a comic book,” Williamson said. "I’m very appreciative of the attention they gave my project and the opportunity they gave to me."

Her project is focused on examining the use of comics to convey information. Her comic illustrates how students should navigate their way through art classes and program requirements.

In order to better summarize the inner-workings of the art department, Williamson reached out to faculty to gather more everyday language to use in her work.

We’re trying to make it more enjoyable to learn more about this department,” she said. "We want to answer questions like, ‘What do you need to do to get through this program successfully,’ or, 'Which classes should you take first?'"

In need of a high-powered light box for tracing, ink pens and a digital drawing tablet, Williamson applied for and received a $1,200 grant through UGRP to cover her project expenses.

When I graduate, I really want to do illustrations for children’s books, so this sort of visual narrative is going to be a great portfolio piece and experience piece that I can apply to my field,” Williamson said.

Williamson also hopes one day to pursue work as a freelance illustrator professionally.

For more information regarding Williamson's project, visit  

For more information on SVSU's UGRP projects, visit

April 21, 2017

Brother's disease led to SVSU student's research project set for display during Friday showcase

Saginaw Valley State University exercise science major Geena Militello gained a unique perspective on life by growing up with a brother living with muscular dystrophy, a group of diseases that cause progressive weakness and loss of muscle mass. 

The Essexville native's experience with the sibling inspired her academic passion: researching health and the human body

Using a $5,000 grant awarded to her from SVSU’s Undergraduate Research Program (UGRP), Militello purchased 10 Hexoskins, which are shirts able to record the wearer’s physiological data such as heart rate, lung expansion and G-force exerted on the body. Now she plans to use the technology to measure the physiological responses of student-athletes on the SVSU women's volleyball team during off-season workouts.

Militello is one of more than 100 students whose UGRP-supported research will be featured during the University-Wide SVSU Student Showcase Friday, April 21, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Ott Auditorium inside SVSU's Gilbertson Hall. The event-free and open to the public — will spotlight projects from all five SVSU academic colleges. 

The students are advised in their research by faculty mentors. Working alongside Adam Coughlin, associate professor of kinesiology at SVSU, Militello's goal involves recording trends showing the different physiological responses experienced by the volleyball players during practices. She plans to compare and contrast the data from each athlete at different points in time. 
SVSU's men's basketball team already sports Hexoskins to measure their physiological responses as a way to measure athletic performance. Militello said she wanted to use the technology to perform academic research featuring one of the women's athletics teams.
“I started helping with the men’s basketball team, doing tests in the lab in the SVSU Health & Human Services building,” she said. Adam knew I was interested, so he suggested this project. We thought since the volleyball season was coming up, that would be a good sport to work with."

She plans to present some of her findings at an American College of Sports Medicine conference in the fall. 
With hopes of one day working in a hospital alongside patients with skeletal-muscular disease, Militello hopes to gain insight into the health field through this hands-on research opportunity. 

Militello, who plans to attend graduate school, said participating in the UGRP-funded research project offers valuable experiential learning and an impressive résumé item. 

"I think it’s important to realize that employers really do recognize these projects," Militello said.
For more information regarding the UGRP projects, please visit

April 21, 2017

Forty projects featured in SVSU Science and Engineering Symposium

Saginaw Valley State University on Friday, April 21, will host its winter 2017 Science and Engineering Symposium, where the public can view the work students performed on 40 projects. 


The projects include work from biology and chemistry students as well as those majoring in electrical and mechanical engineering. 

Some of the science projects include making water-soluble plastic from Gulf shrimp shells and analysis on lemongrass and lavender essential oils. The engineering projects include developing a “smart kennel” that aims to decrease the number of relinquished pets and determining the feasibility of an in-car ambulance detection system. 

Some of the projects also collaborated with regional organizations such as Dow Corning, Great Lakes Pet Emergencies, Nexteer Automotive and Duro-Last. 

On Friday morning beginning at 10 a.m., students will be discussing and displaying their posters for their projects on the first floor of Pioneer Hall. There will be posters for 14 chemistry projects, nine mechanical engineer projects, seven biology projects, and seven electrical engineering projects. There also is one poster each for a computer information systems project, a physics project, and a Saginaw Bay Environmental Science Institute project. 

Following lunch, oral presentations on some of those projects begin at 1 p.m. on the second floor of Pioneer Hall. There will be five mechanical engineering presentations in Pioneer 245, four mechanical engineering senior design presentations in Pioneer 247, four electrical engineering presentations in Pioneer 240 and two biology presentations in Pioneer 242. 

The keynote speaker for the symposium is Giselle Tamayo-Castillo, the president of the Costa Rica National Council for Science and Technology and a chemistry professor at the University of Costa Rica. Tamayo-Castillo is a globally recognized expert in rainforest ecosystem with research expertise in genotyping of rainforest organisms and discovering new pharmaceuticals using those plants. 

Tamayo-Castillo will speak at 9 a.m. in Science East 204 following opening remarks from Frank Hall, the dean of the College of Science, Engineering and Technology.

April 19, 2017

SVSU club dance team inspires to finish fifth in national competition

The Saginaw Valley State University club dance team traveled to Florida earlier this month for its first-ever national competition – 22 years after the team’s inception.

An inspired team performed with precision and passion, resulting in two fifth-place finishes at the National Dance Alliance's Collegiate Dance Championship in Daytona Beach, laying a strong foundation on which to build toward future success.

As a club, the team does not receive financial support from the university's Athletic Department and instead relies on sponsorships and fundraisers. Without a paid coach, the team, which was founded in 1995, can experience inconsistency from year to year.

Davison native Kirsten Moore joined the team as a freshman in 2013; it had 10 members, and that number fluctuated as team presidents quit and the team had no plans to participate in national camps or in the national competition, she said. But when Moore joined the team's executive board during her junior year, she and her fellow team members began planning their route to nationals.

"We pretty much made it happen," said Moore, a health science major who now is the team president.

The process began with participating in a camp in August at Lewis University in Romeoville, Illinois. The team won first place in both the "game day" and team routines, qualifying for the national competition in the process. The team also won the "Silver Bid," which helped offset some of the costs of traveling to nationals, and the "Spirit Stick" for showing school spirit and displaying a positive attitude.

The team paid a choreographer to create the jazz routine that it performed in August and would perform again at nationals and a hip-hop routine for nationals that team members learned in November.

"It was pretty much all up to us to clean them and prepare them for nationals," Moore said of the routines.

In the months leading up to nationals, the team performed routines during home football and basketball games, as it does each year, while also practicing the routines it would perform at nationals.

"Keeping (the game routines) separate was a big transition," Moore said. "The end of basketball season is when we really flipped the switch into nationals mode. We practiced four times a week in March."

The team drove down to Daytona Beach on Tuesday and Wednesday, April 4 and 5, and the competition began the next day. The women knew who they would be competing against, including SVSU rival Grand Valley State University.

"You have to be positive and make the routines compatible with your team and see what happens from there," Moore said.

The team was among 13 that competed in the jazz routine and five that competed in the hip-hop routine. The women knew their jazz performance was stronger, and the judges agreed, sending SVSU and six other teams to the jazz finals.

"Being able to make it to finals, we didn't really care what we placed," Moore said. "We were happy to make it to finals and perform again."

The team now has 18 members, and though Moore and a couple other seniors are leaving the team, it is in a much better place now than it was four years ago, Moore said. That includes having the financial stability to pay for a coach next year.

"We feel like we're leaving the team on a good note," she said. "With me, I currently have three jobs and am going to school full time, with 17 credits. Being able to just juggle it all and be successful with it was very rewarding."

The team has its spring tryouts scheduled for noon Sunday, April 23, in Dance Studio 249 inside the Ryder Center. There is a $15 audition fee.

April 19, 2017

Tickets remain for Grammy-winning jazz artist Bob James concert at SVSU

Saginaw Valley State University will welcome multiple Grammy Award-winning musician Bob James for a concert performance  Friday, April 28 in the Malcolm Field Theatre for Performing Arts. Doors will open at 7 p.m. and the jazz pianist will take the state at 8 p.m. Tickets remain on sale at $40 per person.

“One on One,” James’ first collaboration with Earl Klugh – who performed at SVSU in 2014 –  was awarded a Grammy in 1980 for Best Pop Instrumental Performance and has sold over a million copies. James’s 1986 collaboration with David Sanborn, “Double Vision,” won a Grammy for Best Jazz Fusion Performance.

James has been in the music industry for more than 50 years in the role of pianist, composer, arranger and producer, continually captivating audiences around the world. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degree in music from the University of Michigan. James was also the winner of the competition at Notre Dame Collegiate Jazz Festival in 1962.

James also produced all the music for the popular television show “Taxi,” including the theme song for the show, which aired in the 1970s and 1980s; it is among his most recognized works. His music continues to have contemporary appeal, as well. Recognized as a progenitor of smooth jazz, James appeals to fans of R&B, funk, and even hip-hop. In fact, three of his recordings are among the five most-sampled tracks in hip-hop.

In his career, James has recorded 58 albums while working as a solo artist; he also was a founding member of the band Fourplay and collaborates with other musicians.

In 2014, James was inducted into the University of Michigan School of Music Hall of Fame. His other honors include receiving a first-ever Traverse City Opera House Ambassador for the Arts Award in 2017, and a State of Michigan Guvvy Award for International Achievement in 2008.

James’ visit to SVSU is supported through the Dow Visiting Scholars and Artists series, a program at SVSU established through an endowment from The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation to enrich our region’s cultural and intellectual opportunities.

For more information, please visit or call (989) 964-4052.

April 18, 2017

SVSU hosting 10th annual ‘Pros vs. Joes’ charity basketball game in honor of fallen student

Faculty and staff from Saginaw Valley State University will hit the hardwood Tuesday, April 18, to help raise money in the name of a student who died tragically 10 years ago.

The 10th annual “Pros vs. Joes” charity basketball game is set for 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Hamilton Gymnasium inside SVSU’s Ryder Center. The game pits SVSU faculty and staff, or the “Joes,” against members of SVSU’s men’s and women’s basketball teams, or the “Pros.”

Money raised for the event supports the Abou Traore (ah-BOO tray-OHR-ay) Memorial Scholarships. Traore was a pre-med student at SVSU who died in a drowning accident in 2007. He had aspirations of returning to his home country of Senegal as a doctor.

The scholarship was endowed at $10,000 after five “Pros vs. Joes” events, and the game has raised another $5,000 since. The event is still going strong, even though some of those in attendance did not get the chance to meet Traore.

“Now we’re at a point where students weren’t impacted by him directly,” said Michele Gunkelman, the director of SVSU’s Residential Life office. “Most of the ‘Joes’ team is just participating because of the cause and to help out because they’re such giving people.”

This year’s “Joes” team might be the biggest yet, as 27 people have signed up for the game.

“Students are like, ‘Oh, my professor is playing in that? So they’re going to stop out to see that,” Gunkelman said.

Money is raised through donations but also from those in attendance paying money to free a player from the “penalty couch.” Players must wait there after committing a foul while cheerleaders raise money from the crowd to get them back in the game.

Two students receive $1,450 scholarships each year. This year, Nana Kofi Yevoah, a business administration and accounting major from Ghana, and Pratima Gurung, a nursing student from Nepal, were chosen from 175 applicants to receive the scholarships.

April 17, 2017

SVSU moot court students' strong performance in national tourney wraps up best year yet

Four Saginaw Valley State University students capped off a year of determined study and preparation with a strong showing at a national moot court tournament at the University of Chicago.

Two SVSU teams of two students each competed in the National Invitational Tournament on April 7 and 8. The tournament, which consisted of 18 teams, is designed for teams that did not qualify for the American Moot Court Association's national tournament, which was held in January.

The team of Danielle Musselman, a communications major from Mancelona, and Jacquob Littlejohn, a political science major from Auburn, delivered effective oral arguments and finished third overall, falling to a team from the host school.

Musselman also received a sixth place orator's award, making her the first student from SVSU's moot court program to win the award at the National Invitational Tournament. The honor marks the first time SVSU won an orator’s award at both the national and national invitational tournaments.

Meanwhile, the team of Alex Partridge, a history major from Vassar, and Hayley Tomich, a pre-law major from Chesterfield Township, advanced to finish in the top eight.

The four students' performances in the tournament were the culmination of the best year of competition that the SVSU moot court program has had. In addition to the orator award success, the program had six of its eight teams compete in the national tournament or national invitational tournament.

“That was by far the best finish we’ve had,” said Julie Keil, an assistant professor of political science and the advisor to SVSU's moot court program.

Each year, the American Moot Court Association organizers create a single fictional U.S. Supreme Court case - often based on actual cases heard in lower courts - that competitors must address when participating in the regional and national tournaments. The students make arguments to a panel of judges by drawing from constitutional law and Supreme Court cases. Judges then decide winners based on public speaking ability, knowledge of cases and of law, and the ability to answer questions.

This year's case study concerned voter rights. The AMCA will announce a new case study on May 1.

Keil said SVSU's moot court program, now in its sixth year of existence, continues to grow. There are now three assistant coaches who work with the students, whereas the program started with just Keil helping the students.

"Having a lot of one-on-one attention really helps," Keil said. "And we're getting some really good students."

Go to page: