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February 23, 2016

SVSU Intercultural Night to feature ‘Olympics’ theme, showcase talent from across the globe

Saginaw Valley State University will host its 15th annual Intercultural Night Friday, Feb. 26 at 7 p.m. in the Rhea Miller Recital Hall.

Thirty international students from more than 10 nations will perform songs, dances, and skits that showcase their respective cultures. Nations to be represented include Bangladesh, Brazil, China, India, Japan, Kazakhstan, Nepal, Nicaragua, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and the United States.

“The audience can expect to be entertained by the variety of talents and cultures displayed by SVSU students from all around the world,” said Pat Shelley, SVSU's international student advisor.

SVSU’s International Students Club selected “Olympics” as the theme for this year’s event, since Brazil is hosting the 2016 Summer Olympics later this year. The major sporting event brings performers from many countries together, similar to Intercultural night.

The night will feature singing, instrumental music, dancing, skits, costumes, and cultural information from over a dozen different countries. Many of the students will be dressed according to customs of their homeland.

“The purpose of SVSU having international students is not only to provide educational opportunity, but also to enrich the campus with an international flavor through global awareness,” Shelley said. “This is one way we do that.”

Admission is $10 for the general public and free for students with their ID card. Tickets may be reserved in advance through the SVSU Box Office at (989) 964-4261.

February 22, 2016

Bay City Handy students to visit SVSU for Day of Writing

Bay City Handy students to visit SVSU for Day of Writing
10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 23
Zahnow Library, other buildings, SVSU

Some 30 students from Handy Middle School in Bay City are scheduled to visit SVSU Tuesday, Feb. 23 as part of a “Day of Writing” event intended to reinforce the importance and value of writing.

SVSU English faculty and others will lead sessions on writing activities for the students, starting around 10 a.m. in room 111 of Zahnow Library.

In addition to the writing workshops, the visiting students will receive a campus tour, as SVSU collaborates with leaders of Bay City Public Schools as they seek to encourage students to seriously consider higher education opportunities.

February 22, 2016

Survivor determined to beat cancer, joins fellow students at SVSU’s Relay for Life

With a clean bill of health, Olivia Hawley plans to showcase what perseverance looks like when she participates in Saginaw Valley State University’s annual Relay for Life to benefit the American Cancer Society Friday‌, Feb. 26.

For Hawley, a sophomore who plans to graduate with a bachelor's degree in nursing in May 2019‌, health wasn't always a given.

She was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma while a senior at South Lyon East High School in 2012. She began chemotherapy sessions the same week she received her diploma.

“Then I was in remission for a year and a half before I relapsed in 2014,” she said.

With Stage IV Hodgkin's lymphoma – the most advanced stage – Hawley dropped out of classes at the university she had been attending. She received more chemotherapy, a bone marrow transplant and radiation treatment.

“I'm healthy now,” she said. “So far, so good.”

Hawley, who re-started her college life by enrolling at SVSU in fall 2015, plans to share her story of endurance at the university's Relay For Life event, scheduled from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. in the Ryder Center.

She also will lead participating cancer survivors in the fundraiser's “Survivors Lap” at 7 p.m.

“I've been involved in Relay For Life near South Lyon for six or seven years, before I was diagnosed,” she said. “One of my best friends had cancer, and that's why I became involved originally. When I got sick, I started my own Relay For Life team.”

The fundraiser now carries additional importance because Hawley's grandmother recently died of ovarian cancer.

“It's for such a good cause,” Hawley said of Relay For Life. “And it's fun, too.”

Relay For Life is considered the world's largest fundraising event to fight cancer. Over 4 million people participated in 6,000 events globally in 2015.

At SVSU, Relay For Life events feature participants taking turns walking or running around a track while also collecting funds through various methods including silent auctions and competition-based fundraising.

The money raised supports the American Cancer Society's efforts to fund groundbreaking cancer research, provide information and critical services for people with cancer.

“It's an extreme honor to be part of this event,” Hawley said.

February 22, 2016

SVSU students take home three first-place finishes at forensics competition

Saginaw Valley State University students delivered an inspired performance at a recent intercollegiate speech tournament, showing themselves to be among the top college public speakers and debaters in Michigan.

Three students won their respective categories and have qualified for the national competition.

Erik Breidinger, a communications major from Auburn, took home first place in the informative event with a speech on the topic of Nano Drones. Melinda Dinninger, a communications major from Saginaw, captured first place in the persuasion event. Baron McBride, a communications major from Waterford, finished first in the impromptu event.

Overall, SVSU placed third at the Michigan Intercollegiate Speech League Novice States Tournament at Hillsdale College Saturday, Feb. 13.

SVSU has empowered students to enjoy such opportunities, having started the forensics program in 2001 through funding provided by a grant from the SVSU Foundation. Amy Pierce, associate professor of communication, serves as the team’s adviser.

Rishawnda Archie, a criminal justice major from Detroit, also placed well for SVSU, finishing fifth in the impromptu event. Dinniger followed her first place finish with a fifth place showing in the informative event.

Each tournament includes events from three genres: platform/public address, limited preparation and oral interpretation.

Students participating in the impromptu category are presented with prompts typically in the form of a famous quotation or political cartoon, and are then given 90 seconds to write a four and a half minute speech. Participants in the informative and persuasion categories are required to give a speech over a recent topic, citing 8-15 sources and with full memorization.

Breidinger, Dinninger, and McBride, the SVSU winners, will compete in the 2016 national championship tournament held April 14-18 at Ball State University in Indiana.

In December, SVSU’s forensics team placed third at the fall Michigan Intercollegiate Speech League tournament at Oakland University. The next state tournament will be at Eastern Michigan University March 11-12. There are currently 15 college and university forensics programs in Michigan.

February 18, 2016

SVSU theatre to perform 'Terra Nova,' play based on doomed South Pole expedition

Saginaw Valley State University's Department of Theatre in February will present Ted Tally's play based on a real-life doomed expedition to the South Pole in the early 20th century.

“Terra Nova” will be performed Wednesday, Feb. 24 through Sunday, Feb. 28 in SVSU's Malcolm Field Theatre for Performing Arts. Wednesday through Saturday will feature 7:30 p.m. productions with a 3 p.m. matinee set for Sunday. Tickets are $13 for general admission and $10 for students and seniors.

Steve Erickson, SVSU professor of theater, will direct the play that is set in the winter of 1911-12, when two separate expeditions raced to the bottom of the earth. Only one group returned home alive.

“Terra Nova” follows the story of Captain Robert Falcon Scott, the English explorer whose expedition arrives in the South Pole only to discover a team of Norwegian explorers arrived days earlier.

The drama is set in the terrain of the Antarctic, where Scott and his crew face the harsh elements of the South Pole. The final tragedy is recounted in a mixture of fantasy and realism, which underlines both the human and epic qualities of their adventure.

The production includes a cast of seven student actors and a set design crew attempting to recreate the South Pole environment. Peggy Mead-Finizio, SVSU assistant professor of theatre, is helping the production by creating lighting effects.

“Each show has different challenges and it is the lighting designer's job to collaborate with the production team to meet these challenges,” she said. “We work hard to hang and circuit the lights, focusing them and put colored lighting gel in them to create atmosphere and spend a great deal of time recording cues into the computerized light board.”

“Terra Nova's” production involves recreating the aurora australis, also known as the southern lights.

“The challenge here is that the southern lights are not stationary and change all sorts of brilliant colors,” Mead-Finizio said. “Lighting itself is best when the audience does not even notice it.”

For more information on "Terra Nova," contact the SVSU box office at (989) 964-4261 or visit‌.

February 17, 2016

Book examining the growth of Islam in Detroit wins SVSU literature award

The winner of the 2015-16 Saginaw Valley State University Stuart D. and Vernice M. Gross Award for Literature is an author of a book tracing the roots of Islam in Detroit.

Sally Howell, associate professor of history at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, received the award and its $1,000 prize.
Her book, "Old Islam in Detroit: Rediscovering the Muslim American Past," looks at the development of Muslim communities in Detroit since the first mosque was established in 1893. It analyzes the conflicts between new and established Muslims of 1970s Detroit over various subjects including manner of worship and the embrace of American identities.

Many Muslims, the book points out, came to Detroit after the invention of the assembly line, making the city their home during the auto industrial boom. In her book, Howell connects the phenomenon to current events, arguing that the 1970s view of Islam has influenced how many Americans view the religion today‌.

Howell has been published in multiple journals and was an editor for the book, "Arab Detroit 9/11: Life in the Terror Decade," and a co-author of the book, "Citizenship and Crisis: Arab Detroit after 9/11." She visited the SVSU campus Tuesday‌, Feb. 16 to receive her award.

Established by the late Stuart D. Gross and his wife, Vernice, the Gross Award for Literature is administered by SVSU.  Winners are selected by a panel of judges from SVSU's staff and faculty. Judges this year were M. Patricia Cavanaugh, professor of English; Catherine Curtis, reference librarian; Brad Jarvis, associate professor of history; Beth Johns, electronic resources and reference librarian; and Carlos Ramet, associate dean of the College of Arts & Behavioral Sciences.

Employed for many years as a journalist with The Saginaw News, Gross joined the SVSU staff in the school's early years and served in a variety of public affairs roles. He was recognized as a regional historian and published several books. Among his writings are, "Saginaw: A History of the Land and City," "When Timber was King," and "Where There is a Will." Following his retirement from SVSU, Gross wrote and produced a play, "Let's Have Lunch Sometime." He died in 1996; Mrs. Gross, in 2001.

February 16, 2016

SVSU Board grants tenure to 17 faculty

The Saginaw Valley State University Board of Control approved tenure for 17 members of the SVSU faculty during the Board’s regular meeting Monday, Feb. 15.

Those approved for tenure include:
•    Emily Beard, English
•    James Bowers, criminal justice
•    Colleen D’Arcy, teacher education
•    Sherrin Frances, English
•    Melissa Garmo, criminal justice
•    Dennis Gray, biology
•    Ellen Herlache-Pretzer, occupational therapy
•    Kimberly Lacey, English
•    Thomas Mahank, mechanical engineering
•    Andrew Miller, geography
•    Rajan Murgan, physics
•    Emmanuel Ncheuguim, mathematical sciences
•    Jean Prast, occupational therapy
•    Sheruni Ratnabalasuriar, criminal justice
•    Jennifer Stinson, history
•    Rebecca Toth, nursing
•    Charles Weaver, health sciences

The Board also authorized the issuing of general revenue bonds to advance or refund existing bonds. Given the current market conditions that include unusually low interest rates in the bond market, SVSU may see total savings of $6 million to $8 million by restructuring $60 million to $70 million in existing debt. The resolution also authorizes borrowing up to $10 million for the Zahnow Library renovation project that was previously approved.

In other action, the Board:
•    Passed a resolution to appoint a nominating committee for May Board elections.
•    Passed a resolution appointing Ryan Carley, Dirk DeBoer, Heather Gallegos, Leslie Perry, Maliha Shaikh and Kathy Stewart to the SVSU Board of Fellows, a community advisory board.
•    Passed a resolution to approve the development and implementation of a new marketing campaign in collaboration with The Image Group, a communication and marketing firm based in Holland, Michigan, at a cost not to exceed $600,000 through June 2017.

February 12, 2016

SVSU vocalists combine with Saginaw Choral Society in concerts

Saginaw Valley State University's Cardinal Singers and Concert Choir will team up with Saginaw Choral Society to perform in the concert “The Valley Sings Saturday, Feb. 20 at 3 p.m. and again at 7:30 p.m. The performances in SVSU’s Rhea Miller Recital Hall are free and open to the public.

The program will feature sacred selections such as “Lobet den herrn” and “Organ Fugue” by J.S. Bach, and “Gloria” by Antonio Vivaldi.

Kevin Simons, assistant professor of music, will conduct both Cardinal Singers and the choir, which includes SVSU students and faculty. Amanda Lewis will provide musical accompaniment.

The Saginaw Choral Society will be conducted by its music director Jeremiah Kraniak. Catherine McMichael will serve as accompanist and Carl Angelo will perform on organ for certain selections.

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

February 12, 2016

SVSU to offer college credit to graduates of teacher cadet programs

Saginaw Valley State University has signed an agreement with the Michigan Department of Education that will allow high school students from approved teacher cadet programs to receive university credit.

“We are dedicated to providing the best opportunities for students who want to pursue careers in education,” said Craig Douglas, dean of SVSU’s College of Education. “Many students feel a calling to be a teacher at a young age. This agreement empowers students to expedite their college education while still in high school.”

Under the agreement, students who graduate high school having completed an approved Teacher Cadet Career and Technical Education program will receive SVSU credit for the introductory teacher education course (TE 100/101) that is a prerequisite for SVSU's education programs.

There are nearly 50 approved teacher cadet programs in Michigan.

“The job market for teachers is improving dramatically, and that trend will continue, especially in Michigan,” Douglas said. “So this is part of our commitment to providing the best educators to support our region and our state and get outstanding students into the teaching pipeline to educate future generations.”

To qualify, high school students must complete each of the 12 segments of the teacher cadet program, including the field work component, with a GPA of at least 3.0. Upon successfully enrolling at SVSU within three years of high school graduation, students must complete at least 12 credits as a full-time student, in addition to other requirements, prior to applying for the articulation credit.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts nearly 700,000 new jobs in education fields through 2024, making it no. 8 on the list of occupations expected to see the most job growth over the next decade.  (

For more information on SVSU’s teacher cadet agreement, contact the College of Education at 989-964-7107.

February 10, 2016

SVSU hosts 2nd annual STEM teachers dinner on Thursday, Feb. 11, 4:30 to 7 p.m. in Curtiss Hall Banquet rooms.

SVSU hosts 2nd annual STEM teachers dinner
Thursday, Feb. 11, 4:30 to 7 p.m.
Curtiss Hall Banquet rooms

Saginaw Valley State University will welcome some 100 K-12 teachers in the STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering, math) for the 2nd annual STEM teachers dinner Thursday, Feb. 11 from 4:30 to 7 p.m. in the Curtiss Hall Banquet rooms.

Greg Johnson, science consultant for the Wayne Mathematics and Science Center, will deliver a special presentation on “Engineering in the Michigan Science Standards” as part of the program.

Attendees also will receive an update on the various initiatives SVSU is leading to advance STEM education in the Great Lakes Bay Region and beyond. An estimated 11,000 K-12 students in the region are being taught this year by teachers who participated in STEM professional development experiences offered at SVSU in 2015.

For more information on the event or SVSU’s STEM outreach programs, please contact Adrianne Cole, STEM program manager, at

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