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April 15, 2016

SVSU students to team up with AmeriCorps for service project in Midland

Students in Saginaw Valley State University’s Roberts Fellowship are devoting a Saturday to improving a community facility.

As part of the 2016 Global Youth Service Day Saturday, April, 16, the SVSU students are partnering with the AmeriCorps program in Saginaw to use a $350 mini-grant toward the renovation of Shelterhouse, a Midland shelter for victims of domestic and sexual abuse as well as human trafficking.

The project will focus on education through sustainable environmental change, such as cleaning up the grounds and building garden beds for long term-use at Shelterhouse. The grant funding was provide by the Michigan Community Service Commission, Michigan Nonprofit Association and Mentor Michigan.

The students won't be alone in their renovation attempt. Volunteers also have signed up to help.

Roberts Fellow Susie Balcom, a social work major from Millington, said the group chose the Midland Shelterhouse because it was “close to their heart.”

She added that much of the service project relates to what she and her group has learned during their time in the Roberts Fellowship program.

“It has helped us recognize the power we have as students and leaders of our student body,” Balcom said. “When we first began, we didn't feel like we were leaders. But then as we learned about it, we learned that leadership is more than just having a ton of success and connections in your back pocket. It's about using that for the good of your community.”

Balcom is joined by four other Roberts Fellows students on the project. They are:
•    Allison Bargard, an English major from Frankenmuth
•    Alyssa Cozad, a visual arts education major from Bay City
•    Billie Deshone a history major from Saginaw
•    Daphne Hamburg, a social work major from Alma

Global Youth Service Day is April 16. It's a day dedicated to having youths 25 years old and younger design, plan and execute a service project in their community that focuses on education, health, clean energy or environmental stewardship, economic opportunity or disaster preparedness.

Established in 1999, the Roberts Fellowship program at SVSU is named in honor of Donna Roberts of Midland, who has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to SVSU through her personal generosity and prior service on the Board of Control and the Board of Fellows. A respected attorney, business leader and philanthropist, Roberts retired from The Dow Chemical Company, where she was Secretary and Assistant General Counsel. She is an honorary director of the SVSU Foundation Board.

The Roberts Fellowship supports a select group of students who have demonstrated both scholarship and leadership potential. These students are supported through a two-semester program of both academic course work and extracurricular activities that is designed to further develop their potential as future political, economic and civic leaders. The program culminates in a trip to Asia to provide the Fellows with an international perspective on leadership.

April 15, 2016

SVSU to show new PBS film searching for 'The Head of Joaquin Murrieta'

Saginaw Valley State University will show filmmaker John J. Valadez' new PBS documentary, "The Head of Joaquin Murrieta," Friday, April 22, at 6:30 p.m. in Wickes 115.


The event is free and open to the public. A panel discussion featuring the filmmaker will follow the screening.


The film follows Valadez' quest to find the remains of Joaquin Murrieta, a legendary Mexican outlaw. In the summer of 1853, Murrieta was killed by bounty hunters who put his head in a jar and displayed it across California, charging spectators $1.


The film embarks on a cross-country road trip through history, memory and myth to bury the head of Murrieta and finally lay to rest a dark and troubled past — one that has chilling parallels with the filmmaker’s own family story.


"The Head of Joaquin Murrieta" is an entertaining and often disturbing tale that tears open a painful and long-ignored history: the lynching of Mexican-Americans in the southwest.


Valadez has produced and directed award-winning films and documentaries for both PBS and CNN for 14 years. Other films he has directed include "Passin' it On," "The Last Conquistador" and "High Stakes Testing."


Valadez will participate in the event’s panel discussion. He will be joined by Joseph Guzman interim director of Chicano/Latino Studies at Michigan State University; Elsa Olvera, program director for SVSU’s Gear Up; and Rosa Morales, Region 6 director of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.


Daniel Soza, president of the Saginaw chapter of Latino Leaders for the Enhancement of Advocacy & Development (LLEAD), will moderate the discussion.

SVSU partnered with LLEAD to bring the film to the campus. The project was funded by the Gerald R. Beckwith Constitutional Liberties Fund.


For additional information, please contact SVSU’s Office of Diversity Programs (989) 964-4068 or Soza at (989) 708-2263.

April 14, 2016

Haitian composer Sydney Guillaume to lead SVSU, Mott Community College musicians in concert

An internationally-recognized composer from Port-au-Prince, Haiti will lead student musicians from both Saginaw Valley State University and Mott Community College in an SVSU concert Monday, April 18.


"The Music of Haiti," featuring special guest composer Sydney Guillaume, is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. in the Rhea Miller Recital Hall. The event is free and open to the public.


The performance will feature SVSU’s Cardinal Singers and Concert Choir, along with the Mott Community College Concert Choir.


Praised by The Miami Herald for their “impressive maturity and striking melodic distinction,” Guillaume’s compositions are considered intricate, challenging and highly spirited. Many of his choral works foster an awareness of the beautiful Haitian culture. His compositions have been featured at numerous conferences and international festivals. His recent engagements include an all-Guillaume concert in New York City’s Lincoln Center and a concert with the Imbroglio Sextet at Carnegie Hall.


Nearly all of his choral music have been commissioned works. He has written for renowned choirs such as the Grammy-nominated Seraphic Fire, the Westminster Chorus, University of Miami Frost Chorale, the Nathaniel Dett Chorale, Illinois Wesleyan University Collegiate Choir, the Saint Louis Chamber Singers and the Miami Children’s Chorus.


Along with Guillaume’s work, the SVSU concert also will feature selections from 19th century American composer Robert Lowry and 16th century Renaissance composer Pierre Certon.


The SVSU Concert Choir features 36 student musicians; Cardinal Singers, 15; and Mott Community College Concert Choir, 21.


The concert will be directed by Kevin Simons, SVSU assistant professor of music, and feature piano accompanist Amanda Lewis. Guillaume will conduct selected songs.


For more information on the concert, visit SVSU's Department of Music online at or Guillaume’s website at


April 12, 2016

SVSU students receive statewide honors for community service

Saginaw Valley State University students Mallory Rivard and Natalie Schneider were honored for their community-minded actions during the Michigan Campus Compact Awards Gala in East Lansing Thursday, April 7‌. Each received a Commitment to Service award for her extensive community involvement.

Rivard also received the prestigious and highly competitive Outstanding Community Impact Award, which honors up to five undergraduate students in Michigan who have made service an integral part of their college experience by their significant contribution to community resources. There are 37 colleges and universities who are members of Michigan Campus Compact.

An elementary education and early childhood major from Bay City, Rivard has been involved with several service projects and community engagement activities. She has spearheaded initiatives with a number of local agencies including Special Olympics, food pantries, and local schools.  

Within SVSU, Rivard is a founding member of the university's chapter of Lions Club, a service club; she also is a Kantzler Fellow, part of a select group of Bay County students that participate in community engagement initiatives to improve the Bay Area. Rivard is an inducted member of the National Society of Leadership and Success, a member of Alpha Sigma Alpha sorority, and a host of other organizations.

Rivard also has volunteered for multiple Alternative Breaks trips, performing community service in places such as Grand Rapids and Nashville, Tennessee. Active in scholarship pageants, she was crowned Miss Bay County in 2015 and is the current Miss Saginaw County.

Schneider, a business management major from Saginaw Township, has a passion for improving her campus and community. She coordinated SVSU's Battle of the Valleys fundraising competition in 2015, collecting more than $24,500 in one week for Get Outside For A Healthy Inside, an affiliate of the Saginaw Community Foundation dedicated to increase physical activity in Saginaw, focusing specifically on building parks and maintaining trails.

SVSU received an Innovations in Community Impact award from Michigan Campus Compact for Battle of the Valleys at the same ceremony. This is the first year for the award.

Schneider serves as the philanthropy chair for SVSU’s student government and is a Wolohan Fellow, part of a select group of Saginaw County students working to improve the image and quality of life for their hometown.

April 12, 2016

SVSU honors service and dedication at awards banquet

Saginaw Valley State University honored one of Saginaw’s leading community servants, as well as faculty and staff who display extraordinary enthusiasm and dedication, during SVSU's All -University Awards Banquet Friday, April 8‌.

The Distinguished Service Award, SVSU's most prestigious award for a community member, was given to Leola Wilson. Counted among Saginaw’s most committed public servants, she is perhaps most recognized for serving as president of Saginaw’s chapter of the NAACP since 1998, where she represents nearly 1,500 members.

Wilson also  has served continuously on the board of the Saginaw Intermediate School District since 1975 and is believed to be the longest-serving member in its history. She also provided dedicated service to SVSU as a member of the Board of Control from 2005 to 2013, including a term as secretary. After completing her term on the Board, Wilson served as a member of the presidential search advisory committee during 2013 and 2014.

Several SVSU faculty and staff members also received recognition for outstanding achievement and dedicated service during the 27th annual ceremony.

Erik Trump, professor of political science, received the prestigious Franc A. Landee Teaching Excellence Award. He draws praise from students for his approachable demeanor and a teaching style that inspires students to perform. A student wrote: (Trump) “takes great pride and joy in teaching...  we are rigorously challenged to find real world connections between the class material and what is happening in the world.”

Scott Youngstedt, professor of sociology, received the Earl Warrick Award for Excellence in Research. He has demonstrated remarkable persistence to support his research agenda and the people of West Africa, conducting on-the-ground research, primarily in the nation of Niger, one of the hottest and poorest countries in the world. Youngstedt has authored 22 peer-reviewed publications since joining the SVSU faculty in 1996, including the book “Surviving With Dignity: Hausa Communities of Niamey, Niger.”

The House Family Award for Teacher Impact was presented to Dave Rzeszutek, associate professor of theatre; he is widely regarded to be passionate about the art of theatre and the growth opportunities it provides students. A student nominator – a computer information systems major – wrote: “Of all the professors who have pushed me, none had a greater impact than Professor Rzeszutek. His belief in me was a driving force in my accomplishments at SVSU.”

Walt Reynolds received the Mary H. Anderson Adjunct Faculty Award for his part-time teaching role in the criminal justice department. A retired FBI agent, he is praised by students for sharing his practical experience and knowledge regarding careers in law enforcement and using his professional network to bring guest experts to speak in his classes.

New in 2016, SVSU introduced the Thomson Award for Empowering Learning in Community Engagement, which recognizes innovation and leadership in advancing student learning through community engagement that fosters reciprocal community partnerships and enhances SVSU's contributions to the local, regional, state, national, or global community. The inaugural recipient was Jason Schoenmeyer, associate director of Student Life. Through his leadership of Cardinal Volunteers, he has connected students at 72 non-profit agencies in the Great Lakes Bay Region, and partnered with 29 agencies to offer volunteer opportunities that have resulted in more than 1,600 hours of community service completed thus far in 2015-16.

The Bank of America Ruben Daniels Community Service Award was presented to Joseph Ofori-Dankwa, the Harvey Randall Wickes Chair in International Studies. He has collaborated on interdisciplinary projects and service activities, encouraging students and colleagues to do the same; he also plays an important role in the development of international programs at SVSU and in the community.

Two recipients were given the Terry Ishihara Award for Outstanding Co-Curricular Involvement: Adam Coughlin, associate professor of kinesiology, and Jaime Leyrer, special assistant to the dean for the College of Business and Management.

Coughlin currently serves as the faculty adviser for four student organizations: the Student Exercise Science Association; Phi Kappa Tau fraternity; Music ‘n Motion, a west coast swing dancing group; and the Adventure Club, which seeks to expose students to outdoor recreation.

Leyrer advises more than 1,000 business students on curriculum, appropriate class sequencing, and other academic issues, while empowering students and student organizations and forging effective community-minded relationships in the Great Lakes Bay Region.

Vanessa Brooks Herd, dedicates considerable time and resources to expose her students to diversity in all its forms. She is on sabbatical this semester, conducting field research on the study of inter-generational parenting in the African nation of Uganda. Brooks Herd also is passionate about providing support for young people who leave the foster care system at age 18, and received a $310,000 grant from the State of Michigan to establish the Youth in Transition program at SVSU.

The Outstanding Performance Award was shared by Denise Berry, director of military student affairs, and Debbie Fegan, senior programmer/analyst.

Berry played a leading role in creating and establishing SVSU’s award-winning programs and services for military-affiliated students. “Military Times” named SVSU as the No. 1 university in Michigan and No. 38 in the nation in its “Best for Vets: Colleges 2016.”

Fegan is recognized within SVSU and within higher education circles for exceptional work preparing computer systems for changes resulting from the Affordable Care Act. She also works to develop and implement project plans for new technology.‌

April 12, 2016

SVSU English professor to discuss 19th century black literature at Massachusetts event

A Saginaw Valley State University English professor will grace a stage that has spotlighted scholars prominent in literary studies and history such as David S. Reynolds, Carla Peterson and Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Add Eric Gardner of SVSU to the list of accomplished scholars invited to deliver the American Antiquarian Society’s James Russell Wiggins Lecture.

He will share how studying the lives of black Americans in the 19th century should reshape consideration of black writers, editors, and readers then and now.

Gardner plans to discuss diverse print material produced by and for the African Methodist Episcopal Church between 1840 and 1870. In his talk, titled “Re-envisioning Black ‘Book History’: The Case of AME Church Print,” Gardner will reference a similar pool of research that provided the basis for his Black History Month lecture hosted by SVSU in February.

Gardner’s American Antiquarian Society appearance is scheduled Thursday, April 14, at 7 p.m. at Antiquarian Hall in Worcester, Massachusetts.

The American Antiquarian Society is the preeminent independent research library focusing on American history, literature and culture through 1876. The annual Wiggins Lecture is named for the late James Russell Wiggins, former editor of The Washington Post and a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in 1968.

Gardner, who received his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, joined SVSU’s faculty in 1996. He served as chair of the Department of English from 2006 to 2010 and as associate dean of the College of Arts and Behavioral Sciences from 2013 to 2015. Gardner returned to the faculty in 2015.

His academic interests include black literature and culture, American literature and culture, and methods of literary study. His first monograph, “Unexpected Places: Relocating Nineteenth-Century African American Literature,”won the 2010 Research Society for American Periodicals Book Prize and was named a Choice “Outstanding Academic Title.” His second monograph, Black Print Unbound: The Christian Recorder, African American Literature and Periodical Culture,” was published by Oxford University Press in 2015.

April 8, 2016

SVSU Concert Band to perform in one of director’s final appearances

The Saginaw Valley State University Concert Band will perform in concert Wednesday, April 13 at 7:30 p.m. in SVSU’s Malcolm Field Theatre for Performing Arts. This event is free and open to the public.


The SVSU Concert Band is an ensemble consisting of 47 students under the direction of Bill Wollner, SVSU associate professor of music. Featured instruments include the clarinet, trumpet, euphonium and trombone, among others. 


The band will perform various music pieces including “Villages” by composer Michael Sweeney, and "Always United, Forever Young" by composer Brian Balmages. 


Bill Wollner, SVSU associate professor of music, is retiring this spring after 34 years as band director. Wednesday's performance will be among his final appearances leading the Concert Band.


For more information on this concert or the many other events hosted by SVSU's music department, visit


April 6, 2016

Historian to talk race, gender, ghosts during SVSU seminar

An award-winning author and historian will discuss her study of race and gender in southern ghost tours during a Saginaw Valley State University event.

Tiya Miles will serve as the guest speaker during SVSU’s Barstow Humanities Seminar Tuesday, April 12‌, at 5:30 p.m. in the university’s Curtiss Hall Banquet Room B. The event is free and open to the public. Her talk originally had been scheduled for Tuesday, March 1‌ but was postponed due to inclement weather.
The event is titled “Ghost Tourism and the Specter of Slavery in New Orleans.”

Miles is a professor at the University of Michigan in the Department of American Culture, Department of Afro-American and African Studies, Department of History, Department of Women Studies, and Native American Studies Program.

She is the author of several history books including “Tales from the Haunted South: Dark Tourism and Memories of Slavery from the Civil War Era” in 2015. Her other work includes “Ties That Bind: The Story of an Afro-Cherokee Family in Slavery and Freedom” from 2005 and “The House on Diamond Hill: A Cherokee Plantation Story” from 2010.

Miles also writes fiction, academic articles on indigenous women’s history, and feminist essays.

Her debut fictional novel, “The Cherokee Rose,” was set on a haunted plantation in the Cherokee territory of modern-day Georgia. Publishers Weekly selected the novel as the Pick Of The Week in 2015.

For more information on the event, contact SVSU at (989) 964-2103 or email‌.

April 6, 2016

Islamic scholar to speak at SVSU for Akbar Lecture

Saginaw Valley State University will host speaker Ingrid Mattson for a presentation, “Qur'an: Text, Context, and Tradition” Thursday, April 14‌ at 6:30 p.m. in the Rhea Miller Recital Hall. She is visiting for SVSU’s Dr. Raana Akbar Memorial Lecture series; the talk is free and open to the public.

A scholar of Islamic studies, Mattson is an expert in interfaith relations and a Muslim religious leader. Since 2012, she has held the London and Windsor Community Chair in Islamic Studies at Huron University College in London, Ontario.

Mattson's writings focus on Qur'anic studies, theological ethics, and interfaith engagement. Her book, “The Story of the Qur'an,” is an academic bestseller and was chosen by the U.S. National Endowment for the Humanities for national distribution.

Mattson was elected as vice-president, then as president, of the Islamic Society of North America, and is a senior fellow of the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought in Amman, Jordan. She has served on many boards, including the Interfaith Taskforce of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, the Council of Global Leaders of the C-100 of the World Economic Forum, and the Leadership Group of the U.S.-Muslim Engagement Project.

Educated in Canada and the U.S., Mattson completed a bachelor’s degree at the University of Waterloo and a Ph.D. at the University of Chicago.

The Dr. Raana Akbar Memorial Lecture Series on Islam and Culture at SVSU was established by Dr. Waheed Akbar, a Saginaw-based orthopedic surgeon, and the couple's children, Akbar, Zainab, and Ahmed, in memory of their wife and mother, who passed away in 2009.  Raana served on the SVSU Board of Control; Waheed currently serves on SVSU's Board of Fellows, a community advisory board.

March 31, 2016

SVSU sees growing interest from employers for employment fair

Saginaw Valley State University will host more than 150 employers during its spring university-wide employment fair Friday, April 1‌. The number of participating employers looking to hire SVSU students and alumni continues to rise; this year’s total eclipses last year’s fair, which drew around 130 companies and organizations and had been the highest participation since 2005.

The event, which will run from noon to 3 p.m., will be in the Curtiss Hall banquet and seminar Rooms.

Students who attend employment fairs can often find good opportunities, said Tom Barnikow, SVSU assistant director of Career Services.  

“The employment fair is a medium in which employers can meet with a large number of potential employees and gauge if the applicant is going to be a good fit for their company culture,” he said. “A good interview at an employment fair will usually lead to an in-person interview at the company's headquarters.”

Barnikow added that employment fairs serve as a great place for individuals to demonstrate that they have all the qualities employers are looking for.

“Employment fairs are the top way that companies and organizations are now hiring new employees because they want to evaluate how comfortable students are with oral communication,” he said. “As a student or soon-to-be-graduate attending an employment fair, you want to show the hiring manager that you have the ability to hold a conversation while also selling your problem solving, critical thinking and collaborative skills.”

In addition to there being employment opportunities, a professional photographer will be on-site to take portrait photos free of charge.

Last year, 83.7 percent of organizations reported follow-up with candidates they met at employment fairs, and 57 percent reported that they hired someone met through an employment fair.

Participating employers in SVSU's career fair include Covenant HealthCare, Independent Bank, Morley Companies, Nexteer Automotive and Saginaw Bay Underwriters.  A complete list is available online through the SVSU Career Services website,
Professional attire must be worn by all job seekers. The event is open to the public. Advanced registration for SVSU students is available on Cardinal Career Network.

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