Students perform and compete at Kennedy Center regional theater festival

SVSU students competing at Kennedy Center in Madison, WI

Though the semester has not officially started, several of our students are busy competing at academic events across the country this week and weekend.

Twenty-one of our students have spent the last two days at the regional Kennedy Center theater festival in Madison, Wisconsin and will continue to perform and compete into the weekend. The Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival is a national theater program involving college students across the country, providing an opportunity for students to work with theater professionals, compete for scholarship and showcase their work. Eight students competed for the $500 Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship, and two from SVSU – theatre and communications major Josh Lloyd and theatre and psychology major Clay Singer – have made the semi-finals. Seven students participated in the festival’s musical theatre intensive, and eight of our students are working with professionals in costume, sound, stage and lighting design. Theatre major Olivia Greanias has moved to the finals for the musical theatre intensive, and communications and theatre major Jennifer Lothian presented her costume for the recent production of The Servant of Two Masters in the festival costume parade. Preliminary rounds in design, tech and management begin tomorrow. To our students competing through the weekend: Break a leg!

Moot Court team competes in national tournament over the weekend

Justin Weller and Lindsey Mead compete at national Moot Court competition

This weekend, English major Lindsey Mead and political science major Justin Weller will head to the American Moot Court Association national tournament in Orlando, Florida. The pair qualified for nationals last month, making this the ninth consecutive year that our moot court team has advanced to the nation’s most elite competition. Lindsey and Justin will work as a team to argue two hypothetical legal cases and will be judged on their argument, public speaking skills, ability to answer questions and their understanding of the law and case presented. The team, coached by Julie Keil, associate professor of political science, and Amy Hendrickson, associate professor of law, has historically performed well on both the regional and national level and is currently ranked No. 19 by the American Moot Court Association. We wish Lindsey and Justin the best as they represent SVSU!

Medical lab student wins competitive national scholarship

Medical lab student Carly McKenzie

Congratulations to medical lab science major Carly McKenzie, whose outstanding work ethic resulted in winning a $2,000 national scholarship from the American Proficiency Institute. Carly was one of only five students selected from more than 300 applicants nation-wide. The scholarship is intended to further students’ medical lab sciences education to prepare them for career and leadership in the field. Carly’s professors already comment on her dedication to the profession and her performance in both lab and lecture courses in her program. This scholarship is a well-deserved honor for a student who has, and will continue to, put in the work necessary to offer quality care to patients. Congratulations, once again, to Carly.

SVSU alumnus lands Packers’ head coaching position

Collage of graduate Matt LeFleur

In many ways, the success of our institution can be measured by the achievements of our graduates. You might have already seen news coverage on the accomplishments of one: football and College of Education alumnus Matt LeFleur. Matt, a 2003 physical and health education graduate, recently accepted the head coaching position with the Green Bay Packers – one of only 32 head coaching positions in the country. Head coaching positions are highly competitive, and Matt rose to the top among 10 other interviewees. This outstanding achievement comes as no surprise to his coaches and others who have worked with Matt on and off the field. He was a talented student who led our football team to three playoffs and a GLIAC conference title and is often described as a natural leader and educator known for his coaching style and ability to connect with players. Matt leaves his position as offensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans with an impressive coaching resume under his belt, having worked with multiple teams including the Atlanta Falcons during their 2016 Super Bowl season as their quarterback coach. Even the most diehard Lions fans among us have to look forward to cheering on the Packers under Matt’s leadership this coming season. Congratulations, Matt! You make us proud.

Bowling alumnus claims national title and Hall of Fame eligibility

Bill O'Neill - SVSU bowling alumnus

More exciting news for our Athletics alumni. Bill O’Neill, a 2004 business management graduate, took home a national title this past weekend, winning the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) Hall of Fame Classic. This victory makes Bill title-eligible for the PBA Hall of Fame in the future. This is Bill’s 10th title, making him eligible for the Hall of Fame ballot in 2025. Though this is a tremendous accomplishment, Bill is focused on the competitions ahead and officially earning Hall of Fame status. Bill was a four-time first team All-American at SVSU and a member of the Sigma Pi fraternity. He was named Bowling Writers Association of America’s Collegiate Bowler of the Year in 2001, 2003 and 2004 and honored as Most Valuable Player by the National Collegiate Bowling Coaches Association in 2003 and 2004. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for Bill.

Director of Residential Life honored by Multiple Sclerosis Society

Michele Gunkelman and her mother after fundraising cycling event

It is no secret that members of our Cardinal family have tremendous heart for others. Director of Residential Life, Michele Gunkelman, is no exception. This past September, Michele competed in the Great Lakes Breakaway Ride fundraiser to raise funds for the Michigan chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society and earlier in the month was awarded the Rookie Rider award for her participation and for her dedication to finishing the race amid difficult conditions in honor of her mother, who is currently battling MS. September’s race was a weekend event, and on the last day of the race, temperatures and rainfall caused all but 20 cyclists to drop out. Michele endured, raising over $2,500 and finishing 62.5 of the 100 mile course despite the weather conditions. I greatly admire Michele’s giving and driven spirit and am very pleased to know that her efforts were recognized. Congratulations, Michele!

Welcoming new staff members to our campus community

Corrie Piotrowski and Megan McAdow new hires at SVSU

Around the winter break, we welcomed two new individuals to our campus staff. Corrie Piotrowski joins our Human Resources team as the Assistant Director of Human Resources. Corrie comes to SVSU with over 19 years of HR experience, having most recently served as Human Resource Manager for Midland Public Schools. Her background in HR as related to education is a welcomed addition to our Human Resources staff.

As you know, Marilyn Wheaton, former director of the Marshall Fredericks Sculpture Museum, retired at the end of December after 12 years of service. I am pleased to welcome Megan McAdow as her successor. Megan has a track record of non-profit and museum leadership and most recently worked with the Ruth Mott Foundation as its director of collections and education. Megan has been a dedicated advocate for the arts for over 20 years, and I am confident that she will serve our institution and the Marshall Fredericks Sculpture Museum well.

Please join me in welcoming Corrie and Megan to our staff!

Senior Advisor to President Obama to give keynote at MLK Celebration

Valerie Jarrett on flyer for 2019 MLK Celebration

One of the most exciting events of the year on campus is the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration, coordinated by Mamie Thorns and her staff in the Office of Diversity Programs. The celebration has welcomed impressive keynote speakers to our campus over the years, including former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in 2017 and Dow Chief Diversity Officer Karen Carter in 2018. This year, the celebration will host Valerie Jarrett, who served as senior advisor to President Obama and as assistant to the president for public engagement and intergovernmental affairs until 2017. As senior advisor, Jarrett also chaired the White House Council on Women and Girls and through her career has been a champion of equality and opportunity for all. Her talk will take place on Wednesday, Jan. 23, at 7 p.m. in Curtiss Hall. I look forward to seeing many members of the campus community there. Ticket information can be found at

Winter seasons in full swing for Cardinal Athletics

Winter athletics collage

As we return for the semester, we look forward to upcoming athletic contests for our winter athletes. Our women’s and men’s basketball teams have been busy through the break, winning all their contests last weekend with victories on the road over Purdue Northwest and at home over UW-Parkside. Both teams fell to Grand Valley Thursday night and return to action Saturday at Davenport.

Ryder Center will be quite busy this Friday as two of our winter sports host contests throughout the day. Men’s and women’s track and field will host the SVSU Classic, starting at 2:30 p.m., and swimming and diving returns for the winter season at 5 p.m. hosting Wayne State in Gerstacker Aquatics Center.

Best of luck to all competitors!

Remembering Emily Knox

Criminal justice student Emily Knox, who passed away Jan. 1 2019

I would like to close this issue of the Weekly by remembering one of our youngest Cardinals, Emily Knox, an 18-year-old criminal justice major who passed away early last week as a result of a car accident. Emily was a graduate of Landmark Academy and came to SVSU as a public school academy (PSA) student. While she was only with us for one semester, Emily made a positive impression on others across campus, making many friends and enjoying her freshman year of college. Emily was also a graduate of the Port Huron Police Department’s Youth Academy this past summer and had hopes of going into law enforcement. Her passion for law enforcement led her parents to establish a memorial fund in her name called the Emily Knox Port Huron Police Youth Academy Scholarship Fund. Donations may be made directly to the Port Huron Police Department (100 McMorran Blvd. Port Huron, MI 48060). Emily’s family and friends remain in our thoughts as we begin the new semester. She will be sincerely missed.


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