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Saginaw Valley State University welcomed campus, community and business leaders to celebrate a $25 million construction project that will enhance business research and education, while also supporting the region's business community through state-of-the-art educational resources and strengthened partnerships with local entrepreneurs.
The groundbreaking ceremony for a planned 38,500-square-foot building expansion to house SVSU's Scott L. Carmona College of Business & Management began at 11:30 a.m. Monday, Oct. 22. The event was held near the entrance of SVSU's Groening Commons, next to where the addition will be built.
“This building project will provide resources to advance teaching and learning in our business disciplines, and it further reinforces our commitment to graduate outstanding business professionals for the leading employers in our region and our state,” said Donald Bachand, SVSU president.
“We would like to thank the state legislators who supported the nearly $10 million in state funding we received for this project, as well as the many alumni and friends who have given generously to create these new opportunities for students, faculty, staff and the business community.”
Bachand joined several speakers for the event. Others included Andrew Bethune, executive director of The SVSU Foundation; Anthony Bowrin, dean of the Scott L. Carmona College of Business & Management; John Kaczynski, SVSU director of Governmental Affairs; Morrison Stevens Sr., chairman of Stevens Worldwide Van Lines and a chair of the fundraising campaign supporting the expansion project; and Jenée Velasquez, executive director of The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation as well as chair of the SVSU Board of Control.
The namesake of the College of Business & Management, Scott Carmona, also spoke at the groundbreaking. In May, the SVSU alumnus and his family pledged the lead gift for the project's fundraising campaign.
“SVSU equipped me with many of the tools in life that I used to build a successful career in business along with the steadfast support of my wife, Nancy,” said Carmona, the owner of Sunrise National Distributors Inc. and a member of SVSU's Board of Control.
“It is our hope that this newly constructed and renovated building will be an inspiration for the many business students to remain engaged with this wonderful community and to share their time, talent and treasures. Because at SVSU, success is not acquired for its own sake, but for the sake of the people and the places that once lifted you up.”
The expansion project will create additional space to house the academic college's classrooms, faculty offices and business programs. Those elements are spread across SVSU's campus today.
The new space also will include state-of-the-art technology such as analytics labs and a Bloomberg Trading Room, which tracks stock data in real time. Planners say the upgrades will provide hands-on learning opportunities for students while also encouraging members of the business community to visit campus and engage with students.
"The opportunities and technologies that will be available when this facility opens in 2020 will be spectacular and will prepare and empower students for many years to come," Carmona said.
The $25 million project is funded in part by a $9.8 million commitment from the State of Michigan. The SVSU Foundation is leading a $15 million fundraising campaign to support the expansion project.
Following the Monday groundbreaking ceremony, a reception will be hosted in SVSU's Curtiss Hall second floor banquet rooms. The banquet rooms also will serve as an alternative site of the groundbreaking ceremony in the event of poor weather conditions.
Campus and community leaders will gather Monday for a groundbreaking ceremony before construction begins on a $25 million building expansion project at Saginaw Valley State University. The 38,500-square-foot expansion, announced earlier this year, will house SVSU's Scott L. Carmona College of Business & Management when construction is expected to finish in January 2020.
The groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 22 at 11:30 a.m. near the entrance to Groening Commons. In the event of inclement weather, the ceremony will move indoors to the Curtiss Hall banquet rooms.
The expansion project will create additional space to house the academic college's classrooms, faculty offices and business programs. The new space also will include state-of-the-art technology such as analytics labs and a Bloomberg Trading Room, which tracks stock data in real time. Planners say the upgrades will provide hands-on learning opportunities for students while also encouraging members of the business community to visit campus and engage with students.
Saginaw Valley State University students elected Kayla Flintoft and Tyler Boylen as the 2018 Homecoming queen and king, respectively.
Flintoft and Boylen were crowned Saturday, Oct. 13 during a halftime ceremony at SVSU's home football game against Northern Michigan University.
Flintoft is a biology and secondary education major from Caro. She is involved in SVSU's Outdoor Adventures program and works for Residential Life. Flintoft also is member of the university’s Foundation Scholars Program.
Boylen is a supply chain management and marketing double major from Gladwin. He works at SVSU's Residential Life and Campus Recreation offices, and serves as a campus tour guide.
Alongside Flintoft and Boylen, eight other students were selected to serve on the Homecoming Court earlier in the month.
The students joining them on the 2018 Homecoming Court were as follows:
Two Saginaw Valley State University club hockey players have been selected to serve as members of the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) Division III Select Team.
Guy Soulliere, a graphic design major from Gladwin, and Steven Roberts, a general business major from Beaverton, have made great impacts on SVSU's team and on the national stage, leading to them having the opportunity to compete at the international level.
“When I found out, I was ecstatic,” Roberts said. “I went to Europe two years ago with the same team, and we traveled a lot. We got to play good hockey, and it was a great learning experience. I enjoyed traveling and learning about the different cultures over there.”
As members of this team, they will travel to Albany, New York for team training camp from Aug. 30 to Sept. 4 to prepare for the Student Hockey Challenge in Krasnoyarsk, Russia from Sept. 28 to Oct. 8. They will play teams from both Europe and Russia.
Only 22 players were selected from the 158 Division III club hockey teams in the nation, with SVSU being one of 14 colleges and universities represented this year.
“When I found out I was selected along with another team member, I was very excited,” Soulliere said. “It's an experience only few get to have, and I am honored to be selected.”
Both athletes are entering their fifth and final year of competition at SVSU. Last season, Roberts played center and was the scoring leader of the team. Soulliere was the overall point leader while he played forward and defense.
The two hockey players said they are eager to vie for a tournament championship across the world.
The teammates are eager to travel and compete, but Soulliere said that they will not be taking this opportunity for granted.
A leader and educational expert from Ghana will grace the Great Lakes Bay Region, offering ambassadorial greetings focused on culture and economic partnership potential.
Nana Osim Kwatia II, a leader from Ghana, will attend a number of festivals and events while touring Michigan attractions next week. At SVSU, he will participate in a session aimed at identifying opportunities for Michigan businesses to invest in Ghana during a gathering with the region's economic leaders Friday, Aug. 10.
He will be accompanied by his economic adviser, Oheneba Mercy Akosua Yeboah.
"This is an important visit for a lot of reasons," said Amy Hendrickson, an SVSU associate professor of law and one of the officials coordinating the visit. "These guests have a lot to offer culturally and, given the fundamentals of their market, they have a lot to offer us as economic partners too."
Hendrickson said she expects both guests from Ghana will surprise local entrepreneurs with the business opportunities available in his region.
"If you look to see where a lot of the smart money is at globally – in terms of where the next opportunities will be – Ghana is in the middle of that," she said.
"They have so many things going for them: A young population, emerging middle class and an economy predicted to grow at a rate that rivals China. This visit represents a fantastic opportunity for businesses to think about what their next step will be."
The group from Ghana also hopes to learn from their trip, Hendrickson said. They are interested in developing Ghana's appeal as a tourist destination, and plan to discuss ways to create such an environment with community leaders here.
SVSU's Scott L. Carmona College of Business & Management is organizing part of the delegation's visit to the region. The guests' appearance is due in part to their familiarity with Joseph Ofori-Dankwa, SVSU's Harvey Randall Wickes Chair in International Studies and a native of Ghana.
Other community and business leaders plan to address Friday's meeting at SVSU. Friday's speakers include:
• Victor Atiemo-Obeng, a retired Dow Fellow with Dow Chemical Co.
• Ric Olson, co-founder and president of Gantec Inc., and Joseph Affholter, co-founder and chief innovation officer of Gantec Inc.
• Jacob Schroeder, an international trade manager with Michigan Economic Development Corp.
• John A. Tsaras, value delivery leader for Diamond Systems Analytics
The public also can meet the group from Ghana when they serve as guests of honor at the 50th annual Saginaw African Cultural Festival at 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 11, at the site of the former Morley Elementary School, 2533 Lapeer Ave. in Saginaw. They plan to discuss the importance of a community's elders.
The cultural festival also features an SVSU connection. Dawn Hinton, professor of sociology, serves as the event's chairperson.
During their week-long stay, the group from Ghana will receive a ceremonious key to the City of Saginaw and meet 1-on-1 with business leaders from across the state.
Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori Panin, the king of Akyem Abuakwa in Ghana, was scheduled to join the delegation but he canceled his plans to travel to the United States due to health issues.
Saginaw Valley State University student Valerie Klein's passion for marketing and her creative spirit paid off recently when she received a scholarship from the Midland Area Chamber of Commerce.
A marketing major from New Lothrop, Klein is one of three students in the region to receive the $1,500 scholarship. High school and college students were eligible. She currently works as the marketing and events coordinator for the Associated Builders and Contractors Inc. Greater Michigan Chapter and the Greater Michigan Construction Academy, where she is implementing her marketing skills learned at SVSU.
Although she was not sure what her future career plans were when arriving at SVSU for the first time, Klein soon found her career path.
“As a freshman, I wasn't sure what I wanted to study, but I learned of marketing and fell in love. It really is the creative side to the business world where I can showcase the interesting ideas that pop in my head,” Klein said.
Bill Stec, assistant director of SVSU Career Services, has served as a mentor to Klein. He said her success is a result of her committed efforts in both the classroom and on the job.
“Valerie is such a dedicated marketing student that thinks critically, is open to ideas and perspectives, and is proactive. And it shows, as she has completed three internships with Tri-City Motor Speedway as the operations and marketing intern, Nexteer Automotive as the global supply management resource group co-op and Vector Tech Group as a marketing co-op,” he said. “It has been a joy advising her.”
Klein credits her family, mentors and SVSU for shaping and preparing her for life after her planned graduation in 2019.
“After graduation, I plan to get a full-time job in marketing and stay within the Great Lakes Bay Region. I have really grown within this region and plan to better my skills and help companies and individuals along the way.”
For more information on internship opportunities at SVSU, visit www.svsu.edu/careers.
Saginaw Valley State University's Danielle Slonac continued her accomplished undergraduate career by presenting her research on the geography of innovation in the autonomous vehicle industry at Oxford University in England during The Institute for Global Business Research conference in May.
Growing up only 60 miles from the Motor City of Detroit in St. Clair, Michigan, she said her interest in the auto industry led to researching how the industry will continue to evolve.
“The research I conducted looks at national competitiveness and intellectual property in the autonomous vehicles industry,” Slonac said. “I focused on how various factors influence autonomous vehicle patents by nation and how this impacts which nations will likely become the leaders in this emerging market as it continues to develop.”
George Puia, the Dow Chemical Company Chair in Global Business at SVSU, served as Slonac’s research adviser and traveled with her to Oxford.
“When I found out that I would get to present my research at Oxford University I was incredibly humbled, honored and excited,” Slonac said. “Oxford is such a prestigious and influential university, and to be able to present my research there was an incredible opportunity. I was really grateful for everyone who helped me get there and proud of the hard work it took to make it happen.”
Slonac, a triple major in management, finance and supply chain management, recently completed her four-year career on the SVSU women’s tennis team. Throughout all of these responsibilities, she has maintained a 4.0 grade point average.
Slonac expects to graduate in December; she plans to attend graduate school to pursue a Ph.D. in order to become a business professor.
Jessica Schafer-Thomas started tossing T-shirts. That action sparked an interest in sports marketing that has landed the recent Saginaw Valley State University graduate one of the most coveted internships in the industry.
A Clio native who earned a bachelor's degree in marketing, Schafer-Thomas is headed to New York City to participate in a coveted internship with the Manhattan Sports Business Academy, starting June 10. With only 25 spots available for the summer, Schafer-Thomas is among the select few to earn the highly competitive opportunity.
“I've never been to New York City so it's going to be a big change of pace for me, but I'm absolutely ecstatic,” Schafer-Thomas said. “I feel like this is what I'm supposed to be doing and SVSU definitely helped to set me on that path.”
The program runs eight weeks and requires participants to work full-time at their internship placement while also attending a weekly speaker series, receiving one-on-one mentorship with established sports industry professionals, and participating in weekend outings. Past internship providers include Madison Square Garden, the NFL, Red Bull, and the New York Mets among other prominent names in sports.
As the first SVSU student ever to be admitted to the prestigious program, Schafer-Thomas is grateful for the three years she spent as a sports marketing and promotions intern for SVSU Athletics. Responsible for all in-game promotions at football, basketball, soccer, and volleyball events, Schafer-Thomas earned herself a reputation around campus.
“I'm kind of known as the t-shirt girl,” Schafer-Thomas said with a laugh. “If you went to a basketball game over the past few years, chances are you saw me shooting T-shirts into the crowd. After my first year working with the athletic department, people started to recognize me around campus. It always made me smile.”
Jim Dwyer, SVSU executive director of alumni relations and a former SVSU men’s basketball player, served as a mentor to Schafer-Thomas.
“It was clear to me that Jessica was very driven to make her way in the sports marketing field,” Dwyer said. “She knew the value of experience outside of the classroom and that positioned her to get this opportunity. She took her weaknesses and parlayed those into strengths and then was relentless in making it happen.”
Beyond her internship, Schafer-Thomas was a member of the coed business fraternity Delta Sigma Pi. She also dedicated a great deal of her time to IMPACT, a Christian-based student organization. Schafer-Thomas volunteered for SVSU Athletics, as well, working at events such as SVSU's Community Youth Days clinics for grade school children.
Each year, SVSU students compete in a charitable fundraising competition against their counterparts from Grand Valley State University, known as Battle of the Valleys. A chance encounter helped lead Schafer-Thomas down her current path.
“I remember attending my first Battle of the Valleys event,” she said. “One of the students working the event asked me to participate in one of the promotions and I was on cloud nine. That was a surreal moment for me. It made me feel like I belonged and it helped to point me in the direction of what I really wanted to do.”
Schafer-Thomas feels prepared for her move to New York.
“SVSU has taught me to stay true to myself and trust my own abilities,” Schafer-Thomas said. “I love what I'm doing and, although getting here wasn't easy, I'm really proud of the fact that I decided to step out of my comfort zone and try.”
For more information on the Manhattan Sports Business Academy, visit https://gomsba.com/.
Late nights, early mornings, a determined spirit and a supportive family carried Scott Carmona to success as a businessman starting in the late 1970s. Back then, the Bay City native – who married his wife Nancy at age 19 – was pursuing an education at Saginaw Valley State University, using wages earned operating small business ventures built with sweat equity.
Forty years later, some things have changed for Carmona. Other things have not. His tenacious work ethic turned fledgling entrepreneurial experiments into prosperous business enterprises that grew along the I-75 corridor, even as far south as Florida. Despite his far-reaching interests, though, he never forgot his roots in the Great Lakes Bay Region or the role his alma mater played in providing an educational foundation for his success.
Carmona and his family have pledged the lead gift for the fundraising campaign for SVSU's business school. The SVSU Board of Control approved naming the college the Scott L. Carmona College of Business & Management at the Board’s May 11 meeting. (Carmona is a member of the Board; he abstained from the vote.)
"I am thrilled to have this academic college named in honor of my family," Carmona said. "This is an honor, since my family is from the Great Lakes Bay Region, and we have SVSU alumni in our family and businesses, and we embrace that entrepreneurial spirit."
Carmona is the owner of Sunrise National Distributors Inc., a Bay City-based distributor of automotive aftermarket products. He owns and manages several real estate developments in Michigan and Florida. He also has remained active in community organizations including the Bay County Growth Alliance, the Dow Bay Area Family YMCA and the McLaren Bay Special Care Hospital board of directors. A member of the SVSU Board of Control since 2011, Carmona and his family have contributed financially to SVSU scholarship funds and academic ventures.
Carmona's entrepreneurial acumen, philanthropic vigor and tireless work ethic represent a shining example for students enrolled in the business college, said Donald Bachand, SVSU president.
"Scott and his family showed great determination and creative thinking to build successful businesses, and they continue to work hard for the successes still in front of them," Bachand said. "We thank the Carmona family for their outstanding generosity and committed support of our students and our university.
"Their story resonates with so many of our students who are driven to complete their degrees, even as they juggle work and family demands themselves. I hope our students find inspiration in the Carmona family's story, and we are proud to have the Carmona name forever associated with our institution."
Andy Bethune, executive director of the SVSU Foundation, said the Carmona family's gift is a statement that will positively affect the region for generations.
"We are grateful to the Carmonas for their generous support of our College of Business & Management campaign," Bethune said. "Their commitment is a major step forward in the growth and development of the college, and sets the tone for the importance of private philanthropy and the long-term success of our institution and the region we serve."
While the College of Business & Management has been a part of SVSU since 1972, the legacy of Carmona and his family is being attached during a turning point in its history. A $25 million, 38,500-square-foot building expansion – expected to open in January 2020 – will house the academic college's classrooms, faculty offices and business programs. Those elements are spread across SVSU's campus today.
The new space will include state-of-the-art technology such as analytics labs and a Bloomberg Trading Room, which tracks stock data in real time. Planners say the upgrades will provide hands-on learning opportunities for students while also encouraging members of the business community to visit campus and engage with students.
Carmona said his family is excited to invest in the project.
"With the success of this university's alumni and how they have spread SVSU's influence across the world, we decided we wanted to support the continued success of future generations of students from here," he said. "This expansion will give students a leg up in the business world. We want to help future generations find success."
Carmona knows the value of an SVSU education. He completed a bachelor's degree in engineering in 1981 and his son, Ryan, received a bachelor's degree in finance in 2008. Shannan Weston, the current president of Sunrise National Distributors Inc., started with the company as an intern, completing a bachelor's degree and an M.B.A. at SVSU as she climbed the ranks.
Carmona learned persistence from his father, who emigrated to the U.S. from Egypt at age 17. While attending SVSU in the late 1970s, the just-married Carmona made ends meet at first by developing a swimming pool maintenance company. It was a gritty job that required him start his days early. During his senior year, he was contracted to perform service work for Coca-Cola USA. The new opportunity led him to create a small business that specialized in repairing and remanufacturing dispensing equipment used in restaurants across the country.
"I would show up at Coca-Cola's office in Dearborn – with my shirt still dirty from working on pools – to pick up equipment to work on," he said. "I was driving all over the place, sometimes waking up at 4 in the morning and working throughout the night."
Carmona's company, National Equipment Refurbishers Inc., flourished, employing up to 50 people at one point. After 15 years, he sold the business to create and develop other companies, largely in the commercial real estate and automotive aftermarket distribution industries. Over the decades, he also pursued business interests outside of Michigan, including Texas, New Hampshire and Florida, where he developed an industrial park in the 2000s.
The entrepreneurial spirit remains strong in Carmona, who would rather talk about new opportunities than reflect on past accomplishments.
"It's hard for me to look back, because I'm always looking forward and asking, ‘What are we going to do tomorrow?,'" he said. "It's the same with education. The exploration for education is endless. Let's always look ahead and learn something new."
For SVSU and its College of Business and Management, the vision for its future is clearer thanks to the generosity of a family who is helping future generations of business professionals.
Mallory Fisher has wrapped up her last round of final exams and is about to pack her bags for her job in Texas. Within weeks, she will begin a full-time position in The Dow Chemical Company’s Finance Development Program for Accountants in Houston, where she spent time as an intern last summer.
A Midland native, Fisher began her journey at SVSU in 2014; she graduates Friday, May 11. She quickly became an active member of the campus community and earned a number of accolades during her time as a student. Most recently, she was named the Outstanding Accounting Student Representative by SVSU's chapter of the Institute of Management Accountants.
“Honestly, being singled out by such an outstanding organization for work in my field was the perfect bookend to my time as a Cardinal,” Fisher said. “These past four years have been filled with endless studying and self-motivation to succeed in the field of accounting.”
Fisher parlayed that self-motivation into a position with Dow as part of their college co-op program in 2015. As a tax department co-op, she had the opportunity to travel to Lake Jackson, Texas in May 2017 to participate in a summer internship with Dow's Texas Operations Controllers.
There, Fisher was actively involved in several projects that would span the length of her 12-week internship including one that required her to analyze data that would then be used by the Texas site controller and the vice president of Gulf Stream operations to make management decisions for the Dow sites in Texas.
Lowell McLaughlin, associate director of Dow Chemical's department of U.S. State and Local and Canadian Property Tax, spoke highly of Fisher’s attitude and aptitude.
“Mallory has been a standout college co-op and intern at Dow,” said McLaughlin, Fisher's supervisor. “She has a great work ethic and positive 'can do' attitude that has allowed her to grow and flourish in her roles.”
Fisher explained that it was the support of McLaughlin and the Dow team based in Midland that gave her the confidence to take such a huge step in her life.
“Moving 1,400 miles from my family, friends, coworkers and community was a huge step for me, personally and professionally,” Fisher said. “When Dow asked me if I would be willing to work in Texas, I immediately knew that this was a perfect opportunity to be daring, challenge myself, and step outside my comfort zone.”
Her professors noticed the difference. Betsy Pierce, assistant professor of accounting and faculty advisor to Beta Gamma Sigma, feels confident Fisher is headed down the right path as she continues to gain momentum in her career trajectory.
“After her internship last summer, she came back completely energized and excited about the idea that she might be able to go back to Houston for a full-time job,” Pierce said. “As it turns out, that's exactly where she's going. It's just so clear to me that she has a true love for working in the corporate field and we couldn't be more excited for her.”
Fisher is among the 1,083 individuals expected to graduate from the university this month. She will participate in Commencement exercises for graduates in the colleges of Business & Management and Health & Human Services Friday, May 11 at 7:30 p.m. Students completing degrees in the colleges of Arts & Behavioral Sciences, Education, and Science, Engineering & Technology will take part in the ceremony scheduled for Saturday, May 12 at 11 a.m. Each ceremony will be held in O'Neill Arena of the Ryder Center.
Drive and determination were not limited to Fisher’s work with Dow. She is the outgoing president of SVSU’s chapter of Beta Gamma Sigma, the international honor society recognizing those who have achieved academic excellence in business-related programs, and the outgoing vice president of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. Fisher also completed Cardinal Business Edge, a program that aims to strengthen the business and leadership skills of a select group of high-performing incoming freshmen.
Fisher hopes to inspire others to step out of their comfort zones to find success. She recently was invited to co-host the College of Business and Management's Best in Business Awards Night, and thought back to the days when such an opportunity might have passed her by.
“During my freshman year, I admittedly hated public speaking,” Fisher said. “I remember my professor told me that, as an effective communicator, I'd be invited to speak frequently because people know that I have something important to say. Co-hosting the awards ceremony in front of my professors, administrators, mentors, local business leaders, and my peers was such a great example of how much I've grown as a Cardinal and a businesswoman.”
As Fisher embarks upon her professional career, one goal remains at the forefront:
“I like being known as the girl who always has a smile on her face and finds joy in life,” Fisher said. “That's the person I strive to be in and out of work.”