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November 25, 2015

SVSU hosts fourth grade students for Hour of Code event

Saginaw Valley State University will host students from two local elementary classrooms Thursday, Dec. 3 for an Hour of Code program. The event is part of a national initiative to increase diversity in computer science as well as to introduce coding to students at a young age.

The program consists of students participating in an hour of coding, the process of writing a computer program using a programming language. George Corser, SVSU assistant professor of computer science and information systems, and SVSU computer science students will provide instruction to the elementary students.

“Coding is a new kind of literacy,” Corser said. “The reason it's important to get it in early is because these younger people are going to be affected (more than other generations) by the digital world. We're living in a digital world with computers; we need to learn how they think and how they speak, and coding is their language.”

The two classrooms chosen were Amy Rankey's fourth grade class at Washington Elementary School in Bay City, and Carolynn Collard's fourth grade class at Chesaning Elementary School.

Students from those classes will come to SVSU, write code for an hour, and then tour the Marshall Fredericks Sculpture Museum. They also will participate in a new STEM-geared activity session at the museum, where students will work with wax and water while also learning how wax and water interact with each other.

The Hour of Code event is a global movement that reaches students in over 180 countries.

November 25, 2015

Michigan college students converge on SVSU to compete for $1,000 prize for new business ideas

Saginaw Valley State University will host its inaugural student elevator pitch competition Tuesday, Dec. 1 from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Curtiss Hall banquet rooms.

Students from multiple universities across the state, including SVSU, Grand Valley State University, the University of Michigan, and Michigan State University have signed up to pitch their new business ideas to a panel of judges in front of a live audience for a chance to win $1,000.  

“We are excited to be hosting an event that is engaging students from such a variety of universities,” said Rama Yelkur, dean of SVSU’s College of Business and Management. “SVSU is always looking for new ways to engage students in experiences that help them develop real-life skills, and this is one of our latest efforts.”

The Dow Entrepreneurship Institute, part of SVSU’s College of Business & Management, is organizing the event, as part of a series of opportunities for students to engage in the business start-up experience.  

Students will have 120 seconds to present their business idea to a panel of judges from the state's entrepreneurial ecosystem.  First place is $1,000 towards the winner's business idea. Prizes are also available for second and third place, as well as an audience choice.  

“As an entrepreneur, one of the biggest challenges you face is how to secure funding to bring your idea to life,” said Tom Sesti, director of the Dow Entrepreneurship Institute at SVSU.

“Entrepreneurs across the globe are regularly engaged in pitch competitions as part of their efforts to raise money.  As part of our mission to stimulate the creation of new business ventures, we felt it was critical to not only offer student entrepreneurs the ability to develop their pitch skills, but to also provide real financial opportunities to fund their ideas as part of that pitch experience.”

Students seeking to register, or anyone who would like to attend the competition should contact Sesti at 989-964-6073 or

The Dow Entrepreneurship Institute at SVSU's College of Business & Management was funded by the Herbert H. & Grace A. Dow Foundation. The institute stimulates creation of new business ventures, serves as a resource for research activities aimed at business innovation, and provides internship opportunities with area businesses for student entrepreneurs.

November 25, 2015

SVSU student receives Hazel Jones Wright Award of Community Service

A Saginaw Valley State University student has been honored by the Women's Progressive Club of Saginaw with the Hazel Jones Wright Award for Community Service. Terry Blake, a business management major from Flint, received the award in November for his service activities on campus and in the community.

A senior at SVSU, Blake said his time in college has allowed him to perform community service not only through the organizations he is part of but also out of his love for the community.

“I realized at a very young age that everyone is only a mistake away from needing these services and I choose to give my all with no regrets in every community service project I am able to do,” he said.

Blake is heavily involved on SVSU’s campus, particularly in positions that assist other students navigate college successfully. He is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, the business fraternity Delta Sigma Pi, and the Organization of Black Unity. Blake also serves as a campus ambassador, and he is a founding member of God’s Children of Integrity and the founder and current coordinator of the student ambassadors program in SVSU’s Office of Multicultural Services.

The Women's Progressive Club of Saginaw's objective is to uplift the moral standard, economic, ecology, religion, intellectual and cultural enrichment, education and social welfare of women. The club has been a chapter of the Michigan State Association of Colored Women's Clubs, an affiliate of the National Association of Colored Women's Clubs for more than 50 years.

November 25, 2015

SVSU Concert Choir to perform Mozart, Dolly Parton music

Saginaw Valley State University's Concert Choir will perform in concert at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 2 in the Rhea Miller Recital Hall. The event is free and open to the public.

Kevin Simons, assistant professor of music, will direct the choir, which includes SVSU students. Emerald Joiner, a music education major from Saginaw, will serve as the concert’s assistant director. Amanda Lewis, who graduated from SVSU as a music major in 2013, will serve as the pianist and organist alongside 47 SVSU vocalists and four instrumentalists.

The concert will feature classic selections from composers Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Thomas Morley, as well as contemporary selections from musicians such as Dolly Parton.

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

November 23, 2015

Duo’s research project to boost healthy lifestyles and student opportunities

 If you ask assistant professors Meghan Baruth and Becca Schlaff which they like best — teaching or research — they will each answer “both” and say their ability to do both at SVSU is a big reason they are happy to be at the university. 

And perhaps what they enjoy most is the active engagement of students in research. This opportunity, they argue, is experiential learning at its best, gives SVSU students a competitive edge for grad school acceptance, and enhances students’ confidence, communication and critical learning skills.

 “Focus on Faculty” spoke to Baruth, assistant professor of health sciences, and Schlaff, assistant professor of kinesiology, about a recent research project they oversaw. 

What prompted this research project?

MB: We have similar interests in looking at physical activity and healthy eating, so it was easy for us to get together and decide on a project that was evidence-, intervention- and community-based.

BS: Ultimately, we want to develop our own behavioral intervention program through original research. That will happen next thanks to a grant from the Allen Foundation Student/Faculty Research Grant, where we will look at developing a behavioral intervention program for pregnant women that addresses both diet and activity.

Describe the intent of the current project, “Improving Health Behaviors Among Older Adults.”

MB: We worked with inactive adults over age 50 to develop strategies that addressed eating better and exercising more.

BS: Much of the time with our participants was discussion-centered, talking about goal setting, self-monitoring and also creating an environment for social support.

How did the SVSU students benefit?

MB: Three students actually led the research. They coordinated finding participants, led measurement and education sessions, worked one-on-one with participants and entered data.   

BS: I love the fact that one of the things they learned is that research isn’t perfect and there is value in failure. Our students get to be engaged and do work at the undergraduate level that is often seen at the graduate level.

We asked the three students involved with the SVSU project to discuss their experience. All noted it was Baruth and Schlaff’s passion and mentoring that gave them confidence and clarity. This put them on a well-planned path to graduate school.

Nathan Peters, 2015, B.S., is enrolled in a Ph.D. program in exercise science at the University of South Carolina. Ultimately, he hopes to perform research and teach at the college level. This is what he had to say:

Dr. Schlaff helped me see that I could do research and teaching rather than either/or, as I love them both. Dr. Baruth talked in class about her own research at University of South Carolina and it was just what I wanted. My advisor at USC said that most applications just offer basic GRE and ACT scores but my vitae read like someone with a master’s degree.

Tatum Goldufsky, 2015, B.S., is enrolled in Michigan State University’s Master of Human Nutrition with a full graduate assistantship. Goldufsky also plans to become a registered dietitian, pursue a Ph.D., perform research and teach at the college level. This is what Goldufsky had to say:

I talked a lot to Dr. Baruth, who helped me see I could marry my passions for community-based health, nutrition, physical activity and teaching. Dr. Schlaff sparked my interest in MSU. Both faculty members knew I was very shy and pushed and challenged me. I am where I am because of them.

Valerie Adams, 2015, B.S., is enrolled in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at Duke University. Ultimately, she plans to open a physical therapy clinic and specialize in women’s health. This is what Adams had to say:

Dr. Schlaff gave me the courage to approach her because she made it clear in class that she cared about us as people. So, after class, I introduced myself and learned we had a mutual interest in nutrition. She encouraged me in my research efforts and became my honors thesis advisor. The skills I gained from research ranged from learning to look at the big picture to communications, developing an inquisitive view, confidence, working with all members of a team and taking things in stride. For sure, these experiences helped my acceptance into Duke.

November 23, 2015

Marcia Shannon, assistant professor of nursing Crystal M. Lange College of Health & Human Services

There’s a framed photo in Marcia Shannon’s office showing the assistant professor of nursing flanked by friends, the crests of Mount Everest looming in the background.

She points out that the location of the picture is exactly where, years later, someone filmed a video — viewed worldwide — of an avalanche that followed a massive earthquake in Nepal.

“That was scary to watch,” she said.

While Shannon was safe at SVSU during the spring 2015 earthquake, the disaster struck her on a personal level. She has visited the South Asian nation six times, including twice while leading a group of SVSU students on study-abroad trips.

“Nepal is very near and dear to my heart,” Shannon said. “I’ve been going there for 15 years, and I’ve developed a lot of good friendships.”

Seeing the devastation from home, Shannon decided to spearhead a fundraising campaign on campus to support disaster relief and rebuilding. In June, Shannon presented $4,875 in Nepal disaster relief funds to the American Red Cross.

“We had to do something,” she said.

Shannon’s first visit to the nation happened in 1998, when she and her husband spent their 25th wedding anniversary traveling to the base camp of Mount Everest. Most recently, she took a group of 10 SVSU students to Nepal in May 2014. They visited health care facilities, both in highly populated communities such as Kathmandu as well as rural regions. They learned about medical practices and medicines used in that part of the world, and presented studies on non-communicable diseases to audiences that included government officials and academic deans.

The learning goes both ways, Shannon said.

“It’s not just about what we bring to these trips,” she said. “There’s so much to learn from these countries, too.”

Shannon hasn’t limited her students’ study abroad experiences to Nepal. Since arriving at SVSU in 1978, she led academic expeditions to Cambodia, China, Indonesia and Vietnam.

“There’s great value to service learning and study abroad,” Shannon said. “I wish more students would take advantage of that.”

She stressed the importance of understanding other cultures even domestically, considering the growing percentage of minority populations in the United States. 

“If you can’t see what others are seeing, you’re missing out,” she said. “I haven’t had a single student go on one of these trips and say, ‘I haven’t been changed.’ That’s what I want to do for students: open up the world for them.”

November 20, 2015

SVSU marching band to perform various pop hits in 40th annual indoor concert

Saginaw Valley State University’s Cardinal marching band will perform in its 40th annual indoor concert during a send-off performance for its longtime director.


Bill Wollner, SVSU associate professor of music, will direct an ensemble of 112 student musicians Monday, Nov. 23 at 7:30 p.m. in the Malcolm Field Theatre for Performing Arts. Encompassing students of various academic backgrounds, the marching band performs at all home football games and other fall events on campus.


The concert will be Wollner’s last as marching band director. He is retiring in the spring after 34 years as band director.


Wollner described his feelings on his retirement and final concert as marching band director as “bittersweet.”


“We’ve worked really hard over these past 34 years, and there comes a time when you want to move on and do something different,” he said.


Wollner added that, while he’s excited for retirement, he will miss directing and the people he worked with.


“I’ve worked with some of these people for over 30 years, so that’s the part you’ll miss,” he said.


The program lineup will consist of renditions from popular songs such as Fall Out Boy’s “Centuries,” Meghan Trainor’s “Lips Are Movin,” Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off,” Mark Ronson's “Uptown Funk,” Jimi Hendrix’s “Crosstown Traffic,” Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours” and Styx’s “The Best Of Times.”


The concert is free and open to the public. For more information on the concert, visit SVSU's Department of Music online at

November 20, 2015

SVSU group to present business research at Oxford

A group from Saginaw Valley State University will present their research paper at the 13th annual Global Conference on Business and Economics at Oxford University in England.

George Puia, SVSU’s Dow Chemical Co. Centennial Chair in Global Business, will attend the conference Nov. 22-23 with two alumni and two current students who helped him draft the paper that explores links between culture and entrepreneurial development.

“It is a great honor to present at Oxford University,” Puia said.

“It gives us the opportunity to receive feedback on our research from some truly outstanding scholars. I am also very excited that my colleagues from around the world will have the opportunity see the outstanding students that our College of Business and Management graduates. We are very proud of their work.”

Among those attending are students Zackary Gibson, a marketing major from Davison, and Heidi Hicks, a management major from Saginaw.

Two SVSU alumni also worked on the research paper: Lisa Maroni and Rosalie Stackpole. Maroni, a Royal Oak native who received a bachelor’s degree in international studies in 2010, now serves as assistant director of international recruitment and admissions at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona. Stackpole, a Trenton native who received her bachelor’s degree in marketing in May, works as a marketing project manager at Bloomfield Hills-based Flexible Plan Investments, Ltd.

The group’s paper is titled, “Indulgence, Restraint, and Within-Country Diversity: Exploring Entrepreneurial Outcomes with New Constructs.”

The Global Conference on Business and Economics is sponsored by the Oxford Journal, as well as the Association for Business and Economics Research.

November 20, 2015

George Corser, assistant professor of computer science & information systems College of Science, Engineering & Technology

George Corser’s educational background is in the modern sciences. His aspirations in academia, however, call back to ancient Greece.

The assistant professor of computer science & information systems knows well the role of technology in learning. Yet his academic ambitions are inspired by the great Greek thinkers who regularly engaged in forums of intellectual debate. 

“In current times, universities are the center of intellectual activity,” Corser said. “They can provide the kinds of forums ancient Greece had. You can learn information online, but do you really think Plato, Aristotle and Socrates would have been as effective if they hadn’t met?”

Providing a 21st century intellectual forum is at the heart of Corser’s work at SVSU. His efforts extend beyond the classroom. They also involve the community.

In August, Corser was responsible for bringing a world-renowned speaker series to the campus when SVSU hosted a TED Talks event. The TED Talks series began in 1984 as a conference where “Technology, Entertainment and Design” converged, and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages. 

SVSU’s TED Talks featured technology showcases and speakers discussing topics ranging from fatherhood to smartphone security. While Corser spearheaded the idea, he called on students to organize much of the one-day event.

Corser’s desire to get students engaged in learning also extends to his research interest: vehicle network privacy, which focuses on network routers installed in vehicles. The technology has obvious practical applications, but using computers to track vehicles raises privacy concerns.

“We want to learn about the boundaries,” he said. “How do you know some system administrator isn’t using this for nefarious purposes? How do we protect ourselves?”

Corser was hired at the university in 2014, but he has been familiar with the institution for years. His father — who shares his name — was an SVSU mechanical engineering professor before retiring two decades ago.

The younger Corser didn’t join SVSU to follow in his father’s footsteps, however. The university’s relaxed and open work environment appealed to him.

“I’ve never had a moment’s doubt about the decision [to teach at SVSU], and I still don’t,” he said.

November 17, 2015

SVSU research study highlights strength of family-owned businesses in region

Saginaw Valley State University researchers have found that family businesses in the Great Lakes Bay Region exhibit extraordinary longevity, leadership and giving. Results of the research study will be shared with the public Wednesday, Nov. 18 from 4 to 6 p.m. in SVSU’s Curtiss Hall banquet rooms.

“The family business sector in our region is even stronger and more robust than it is nationally,” said Rejeana Heinrich, associate director of the Stevens Center for Family Business at SVSU. “Because family businesses are so vital to a community's economic well-being and its quality of life, it's important to understand the characteristics of family-owned businesses here in our region.”

Rama Yelkur, dean of SVSU’s College of Business and Management, directed the research study. Key findings for family businesses in the Great Lakes Bay Region include:
•    These enterprises survive longer than the average in the United States
•    CEOs of family businesses serve in this leadership role longer than the national average
•    The vast majority of these businesses give back to their communities with some form of philanthropy

“In recent years, a lot of data has been accumulated about family businesses in the United States, and in countries throughout the world,” Heinrich said.

About 30 percent of family businesses survive to the second generation; 12 percent make it to the third generation, and 3 to 4 percent are viable into the fourth generation and beyond.
“Family businesses here are beating those odds, as the average age of a family business in our region is 39 years, compared to 24 years nationally.”

The Nov. 18 program will feature case studies on four Great Lakes Bay Region family businesses: Alloy Construction, Amigo Mobility International, Duperon Corporation, and Glastender.

National research indicates that family businesses employ about two-thirds of the U.S. workforce; account for 65 percent of all wages paid in the U.S.; and generate 64 percent of the country's GDP.

Family business does not necessarily mean small business.  About 60 percent of all public companies are family businesses, and about 34 percent of S & P 500 firms are family businesses.   

SVSU’s research was funded by a Regional Economic Innovation grant from Michigan State University, and supported by the economic development centers and chambers of commerce in Bay, Isabella, Midland and Saginaw counties.  

For more information about the research study or the public reception, contact Heinrich at 989-964-4035.

About the Stevens Center for Family Business at Saginaw Valley State University

As part of the College of Business and Management of Saginaw Valley State University, the Stevens Center for Family Business supports family business success through the generations by providing a wide range of educational and networking opportunities.  Its emphasis is on topics and issues that are unique to family businesses, especially those having to do with familial relationships, communications and succession planning.   With a triple focus on community outreach, academics and original research, the Center serves a wide range of constituencies, including family business owners and leaders, trusted advisors to family businesses, and SVSU students.  Since its founding in 2000, the SCFB has served more than 950 family business people from over 330 different family firms.  Approximately 600 other community leaders have benefited from the Center’s offerings, and more than 875 students have attended courses, programs and presentations offered by the Stevens Center for Family Business.

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