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A community-minded marketing class at Saginaw Valley State University hopes to help the Village of Chesaning reinvent public perception.
After the loss of the popular Chesaning Showboat Festival in 2013, leaders in the small town located in largely rural in southwestern Saginaw County are hoping to strengthen the village's image.
Gary L. Clark, SVSU professor of marketing, and 26 students in his marketing research course plan to provide a blueprint that empowers the community of about 2,000 residents.
“The Village of Chesaning is primarily interested in four things,” Clark said. “What is their current image, how can they increase their population, what does their population want to be offered that the village council can provide, and how should they brand Chesaning?”
The collaboration began when Chesaning Village Administrator Troy Feltman sought out Clark, whose previous classes have led marketing-related projects for approximately 130 businesses and organizations.
“The reason the village engaged the marketing class was to help us with a branding process we're going through,” Feltman said. “We're trying to create a new identity for the community.”
Students will survey the community's residents, teachers, municipal leaders, business owners and members of the Chesaning Chamber of Commerce.
At the end of the semester in April, Clark and his class will present their findings to Feltman, who will then decide what to do with the information.
“We will give them data on what the surveyed people think, and they will make their data-driven decisions,” Clark said. “We will suggest certain things they should do, but they'll have to make their own decisions based on the information.”
Zackary Gibson, a marketing major from Davison, has enrolled in several classes with Clark that worked on marketing projects with other organizations. Gibson said collaborating with a community such as Chesaning has presented a unique challenge not put forth by the companies and organizations they've worked with in the past.
“It's going to be a challenge,” he said. “We're used to businesses, where it's easy to look at what your strengths and weaknesses are. But, with a community, there are so many things you can do. You can deal with the council, the school system, the downtown, the businesses or the residents.”
Brittany Lentz, a communication major from Applegate, has been a part of the website analysis team that compares Chesaning to other communities of similar size to see where the village measures up. This process includes comparing municipal websites, school systems and opportunities for growth.
For Lentz and her classmates, the project offers a hands-on learning experience that will strengthen their résumés.
“It's really good real-world experience,” Lentz said. “The assignments you do apply to real-world jobs.”
Gibson echoed his classmate's sentiment. He said students will not only know how to do a job, but they'll be able to show it as well.
“As a marketing student, this real-world experience is something I can discuss in a job interview,” he said. “You have something tangible you can take into an interview. This is something you can't get from other classes because it's beyond theory. You've applied it, and that's what employers really like.”
A New Lothrop native once again will join one of the world's leading Super Bowl advertising experts in analyzing the trends and consumer impact of the ad lineup planned for this year's big game.
Saginaw Valley State University student Courtney Seamon and nine of her classmates will participate in a Super Bowl ad research project with Rama Yelkur, dean of SVSU's College of Business and Management.
Yelkur's work has been published in leading scholarly journals and has been cited widely in popular media, including Advertising Age, CNN Money, The New York Times, USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal. Seamon, a marketing major, has collaborated with Yelkur on the research since the dean began hosting student focus groups examining the Super Bowl commercials at SVSU in 2014.
“The critical thinking behind why some commercials score well and others not so much - and if our previous theories will still apply to the changing world of Super Bowl advertising - is really what intrigues me,” Seamon said.
This year - as with the previous two years - Seamon and her classmates will watch and analyze the Super Bowl commercials on the SVSU campus when the game starts at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 7.
The stakes are high this year; a 30-second commercial during this year's broadcast costs $5 million.
Yelkur's research over the years has shown there are certain “likability factors” that can predict whether an ad will appeal to viewers. Some of those factors include the presence of humor, animals, celebrities or children. The SVSU focus group will analyze the advertisements during the game, predict how consumers will react to the marketing based on those likability factors, then research consumer reaction in the weeks following the Super Bowl to track whether those factors have changed.
Seamon also plans to co-author a research paper with Yelkur, which they plan to submit for publication in a peer-reviewed academic journal. Seamon presented an earlier research paper co-authored with Yelkur at the Marketing Management Association annual conference in Chicago in March 2015.
Seamon already has begun preparing for Sunday's focus group, analyzing the Super Bowl commercial information that has been released before the game.
“Personally, I'm always interested to see what Anheuser-Busch comes up with; especially, since they are expected to have bought 3.5 minutes of air time this year,” she said.
Seamon also is looking forward to BMW's MINI vehicle commercial.
“They have posted several inspirational celebrity teasers online which will be interesting to see how they tie them all together,” she said. “I'm thinking it could be an encouraging, pull-at-the-heartstrings ad similar to Always' ‘Like a Girl’ 2015 commercial, which scored very well in terms of ad likability.”
Seamon will be joined in the research by fellow SVSU marketing majors Daniel Hill of Harrison, Valerie Klein of New Lothrop, and Kyle LaPine of Troy.
Other students participating in the study are Kevin Finley, an accounting major from Flint, Michael Hensley, a criminal justice major from Warren, Andrew Jarmon, an accounting major from Ortonville, Daniel Newton, a mechanical engineering major from Warren, Gerard Lefebvre, a biology major from Dearborn Heights, and Erica Seamon, a finance major from New Lothrop.
Courtney Seamon said participating in the Super Bowl ad research has been fulfilling, both academically and personally.
“Even after I graduate in May, and my research with Dr. Yelkur ends, I'm not sure I'll ever be able to watch a Super Bowl game without analyzing the ads,” she said.
“Personally, this experience has been life-changing because of the knowledge and advice I've received from Dr. Yelkur, not only as a mentor in marketing research, but also as a woman in business.”
EXTRA: Read about Rama Yelkur reflecting on Super Bowl commercial history by clicking here.
Born in 1980 in Poland, Izabela Szymanska witnessed the birth of the country’s Solidarity movement, and though young during its flourishing decade, was awestruck by its impact. She saw this movement transform her country’s peoples as it empowered them to take responsibility for their lives. Notable were economic changes, as citizens went from being government-supported to owning businesses.
Family business and entrepreneurship were fledgling opportunities that motivated a young Szymanska to dream that one day she would study business and entrepreneurship in the U.S. because, as she asks, “Who does it better?”
So it is no wonder that the assistant professor of management chose a case study of family business and innovative changes for her recently-defended doctoral dissertation.
And it’s equally no wonder that Szymanska felt that when she arrived at SVSU in fall 2014, she had found a “perfect fit.” That’s because she is teaching entrepreneurship classes as well as working with the Dow Entrepreneurship Institute at SVSU, the Stevens Center for Family Business, and SVSU students.
She is quick to point out that SVSU’s focus on family business was not only very attractive to her, but that such a program affiliated with a university is not very common. That, she says, is great for both students and the region.
It is in the role of teacher that Szymanska makes her greatest impact. “I work with students on independent studies, take them to business events, and bring speakers into the classroom, all to enrich the student experience. “
And in the very brief time she has been at the university, she has led a student team to the University of Vermont’s Family Enterprise Case Competitions held each winter. She is already planning a return trip in 2015-16, noting the value of this competitive experiential learning for her academic college’s students.
Szymanska especially enjoys teaching Introduction to Entrepreneurship, a semester-long course where students create a comprehensive business plan. “Some love it and some learn that entrepreneurship is not for them. That’s not a bad thing; rather it’s invaluable for students to participate in that discovery process,” Szymanska said.
And some students are excited about becoming an “intrapreneur,” an employee within a company charged with bringing new products or innovations to market. “This can be very appealing to students who don’t necessarily want to start a business, yet who want to bring that entrepreneurial energy to a company.”
Szymanska’s enthusiasm and efforts must be paying off, as an influx of student interest in entrepreneurship has led to adding another section of the course this academic year.
Sarah Klammer will become one of Saginaw Valley State University’s younger graduates this spring, when the 19-year-old earns a bachelor's degree in economics at the same time she earns a high school diploma from the Academic and Career Education Academy in Midland.
She was accepted into the program as a high school sophomore at age 15 after spending her freshman year at Frankenmuth High School.
Klammer served as a tutor at SVSU's Center for Academic Achievement and was selected as vice president of the school's recently-founded Economics Club. She also was inducted into Beta Gamma Sigma, an international college honor society for business students.
At a Career Services fair on campus, Klammer connected with organizers for the Frankenmuth Farmers Market, where she now serves as the market activities coordinator.
Klammer isn't the only member of her family to participate in the dual-enrollment program. Her older sister, Leahana, is a member of the program and will complete her bachelor's degree in communication at SVSU in December. Her younger sister, Rachel, is currently enrolled in the program and is expected to graduate from SVSU in spring 2016.
Next up: master’s program, Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs
Career prospects: watershed environmental management
Fun fact: Before attending SVSU, Linskey had never visited a nation outside the U.S. “Not even Canada,” he said. Since then, Linskey has traveled to 12 countries. They are Sweden, the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Spain, the United Kingdom, Italy and India. This summer, he will add Canada and Peru to that list.
Evan Linskey’s travels have taken him to 12 countries, but what was in his own backyard may have had the heaviest influence on his career aspirations.
The Prudenville native was raised alongside Houghton Lake, and now he is pursuing a profession in environmental management, analyzing data collected from watersheds across the world.
“I’ve always enjoyed water,” said Linskey, who will graduate from Saginaw Valley State University with a bachelor’s degree in economics in May.
“There’s a lot of information coming out of the environmental sector. Someone has to interpret it.”
When he begins his master’s program at Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs in the fall, Linskey already will have logged plenty of hours in environmental management research in his own home state. At SVSU, he worked as a research assistant for the geography department, helping the community by studying the water quality of the Kawkawlin, Pigeon and Pinnebog rivers, analyzing how each affected the Saginaw Bay.
Linskey’s passion for scientific research as well as community engagement and service learning became a heavy theme of his SVSU undergraduate experience.
He has participated in several opportunities with SVSU’s Alternative Breaks, a program that sends students to volunteer in destinations across the world during the winter and spring breaks. He traveled to Atlanta to help children living in poverty; to Murphy, North Carolina to remove invasive species from the Hiwassee River; and to New York City to provide meals for the terminally ill.
Linskey also took advantage of SVSU’s Study Abroad connections, living in Prague for a semester in fall 2013 while studying economics and intergovernmental organizations at the University of Economics.
“I wanted a new challenge, and so I decided to go to a country with a language I don’t speak,” said the 2011 Houghton Lake High School graduate.
“It was a challenge. And I loved every minute of it.”
Linskey also stayed active on SVSU’s campus.
Along with his classwork, he was involved in the university’s Honors Program, served as the first president of the newly-founded Economics Club, and worked as an economics and statistics tutor in SVSU’s Center for Academic Achievement. He recently finished his Honors Program thesis on how higher education, religious and other social institutions impact secondary school performance.
One of Linskey’s mentors, Kaustav Misra, SVSU assistant professor of economics, described the student as a quiet, motivated “explorer.”
“His academic work has been recognized by many faculty members in the Department of Economics, and as a result, they recommended him as our outstanding econ graduate for this academic year,” Misra said.
“I do believe that he will reach his goal to become a geospatial researcher and solve various rural problems in Michigan. I am sure Evan will represent SVSU well.”
[Return to We Are 2015 Page]
Next up: accountant, The Rehmann Group
Fun fact: Skidmore has competed nationally in American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) tournaments. AJGA’s alumni include Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson, Jordan Spieth and Sergio Garcia.
On Saginaw Valley State University’s golf team, Micah Skidmore’s precision and hard work paid off, earning the Saginaw native numerous accolades including First Team All-GLIAC honors in 2014.
In his SVSU studies, a different kind of precision and hard work helped Skidmore hit the college student equivalent of winning a tournament: A full-time job waiting for him after graduation.
Once Skidmore receives his bachelor’s degree in accounting in May, he will join the financial firm Rehmann as a full-time accountant in the tax division, known as Rehmann Robson. He was connected to his future employer during an SVSU Career Services jobs fair.
“I am excited to have a job that I can start my career with,” he said. “Rehmann is an amazing company, and I was so blessed to have received an offer from them.”
Those who worked with Skidmore academically weren’t surprised by the news.
“In my opinion, (Rehmann) got the better part of the deal,” said Anthony Bowrin, SVSU associate dean of the College of Business and Management. “They couldn’t pay him enough money.”
Skidmore already has experience working among professional accountants. In the summers of 2013 and 2014, he worked as an intern in the tax department of the Starbucks corporate headquarters in Seattle.
Bowrin, who has worked at SVSU for six years, counted Skidmore among his top students ever.
“From day one, he was excellent,” Bowrin recalled of the first of several classes he taught with Skidmore as a student. “He sat in the front row of a class in Science West, totally engaged, asking questions, breaking the ice and being very interactive with the class.”
When other students struggled in class, Bowrin sometimes turned to Skidmore to help them with tutoring.
Skidmore’s generosity extends beyond the classroom. He is a regular volunteer at SVSU golf clinics, working with youths interested in the sport.
“This was a rewarding experience: helping younger kids that sincerely enjoyed and appreciated the experience,” he said.
Those youths learned from an exceptional golfer. Skidmore's accomplishments continued right up until days before his graduation.
In his final game as an SVSU golfer, Skidmore and his teammates in May played in the 2015 NCAA Division II Midwest/Central Super Regionals at the Cog Hill Dubsdread Course, a Chicago site where the PGA sometimes plays. Skidmore’s individual performance tied him for ninth place among the competition, his sixth top 10 performance of the season.
Skidmore said he values the lessons learned at SVSU — both on the golf course and in the classroom. He credits his SVSU experience in part for his success in finding full-time employment so quickly.
He said mentors such as Bowrin and Mark McCartney, professor of accounting, helped in preparing for a career.
“Having put in five full years to attain my professional accountancy degree, I am well prepared to handle the stress of the workplace while thriving under pressure,” Skidmore said. “I think my ability to handle stressful and busy times can be attributed to my time here at SVSU.”
He said his experience on the golf team strengthened his work ethic and also taught him to succeed under pressure.
“None of this could have been possible without SVSU,” Skidmore said of his career opportunities.
[Return to We Are 2015 Page]
Saginaw Valley State University was ranked No. 20 nationally on a list rating the best educational institutions for military-affiliated students seeking an education in business.
Rama Yelkur, dean of SVSU's College of Business and Management, said SVSU takes pride in providing a top-notch education and experience for students affiliated with the military.
“The College of Business and Management at SVSU focuses on both classroom and experiential learning,” Yelkur said. “We also provide flexible day and evening classes that allow veterans to schedule around their full-time jobs and families, as they are often different from the traditional 18- to 22-year-old student.”
The Military Times is an independent media organization dedicated to news and information about the military. In November, the organization ranked SVSU No. 40 in its Best for Vets: Colleges 2015 list.
To determine its business school rankings, Military Times focused on culture and curriculum that cater to military-affiliated students.
The rankings will be published in the issues of Army Times, Navy Times, Air Force Times and Marine Corps Times - on newsstands now - as well as online at ArmyTimes.com, NavyTimes.com, AirForceTimes.com, MarineCorpsTimes.com and MilitaryTimes.com.
The full rankings are available online here: http://bestforvets.militarytimes.com/business-schools/2015/
SVSU’s College of Business and Management is accredited by the leading accrediting agency for business colleges, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, or AACSB. Less than 5 percent of the 13,000 collegiate business programs worldwide are so accredited.
• Martin Arford, associate professor of geography, was presented the Osprey Award for Outstanding Conservation Volunteers by the Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy for the work at the Frankenlust Township Park and the invasive species removal that he coordinated with the help of SVSU student volunteers.
• James Bowers, assistant professor of criminal justice, and Poonam Kumar, director of online/hybrid learning, co-authored an article titled “Students’ Perceptions of Teaching and Social Presence: A Comparative Analysis of Face-to-Face and Online Learning Environments” that was accepted for publication in the International Journal of Web-based Learning and Teaching Technologies, 10(1), 2845.
• Ann CoburnCollins, director of academic programs support, recently attended the Innovations for Adjunct Faculty Support conference in Phoenix, Ariz., where she gave three presentations: “Creating an Inclusive Orientation Process”; “Developing Adjunct Faculty for Improved Student Success”; and “Developing and Resourcing an Adjunct Faculty Support Center.
• Danilo Sirias, professor of management, provided training for 112 math teachers on his Problem Solving Maps methodology in Manila, Philippines. He was sponsored by Theory of Constraints for Education and hosted by the Rotary Club of Makati Central. More than 1,000 Philippine teachers have been trained on this methodology.
• Marilyn Skrocki, associate professor of health sciences, and Poonam Kumar, director of online/hybrid learning, gave an invited session titled “Strategies to Support Student Retention in Online Courses” at the Transforming the Teaching & Learning Environment: the 2014 PASSHE virtual conference, organized by the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.
• Stephen Taber, professor of biology, had a manuscript titled “The Previously Unknown Female of the Fungus Gnat genus Paratinia Mik (Diptera: Mycetophilidae) with Notes on Nearctic Males” accepted for publication in Southwestern Entomologist magazine.
• Bob Tuttle, professor of mechanical engineering, was selected by the American Foundry Society to receive its 2015 Applied Research Award for his “Ultrasonic Testing Gage R & R Study.” Tuttle’s research involves the ultrasonic testing of steel castings and has helped make advancements in testing standards. The project’s goal was to measure the repeatability and reproducibility of X-ray and ultrasonic testing readings for castings and to compare the results. This information is now being used in participating foundries as a way to work on permitting ultrasonic testing, as opposed to X-ray standards.
• Gardner Umbarger, associate professor of teacher education, presented at the 16th International Conference for the Division on Autism and Developmental Disabilities-CEC in Clearwater Beach, Fla., in January. The topic of his presentation was “The Ethics of School Immunization Exemption Laws.”
• Scott Youngstedt, professor of anthropology, presented a paper titled “Water Vendors, Gender, and Islam in Niamey, Niger” at the 113th annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association
• James Bowers, assistant professor of criminal justice; Kim Lacey, assistant professor of English; and Poonam Kumar, director of online/hybrid learning, presented “Teaching Presence on the Rise: Engaging Undergraduate Students in Online Course” Nov. 15, 2014, at the Bucknell Digital Scholarship Conference.
• Brandon Haskett, assistant professor of music, recently published two articles: “A Case Study of Early Professional Development Opportunities for Steel Band Directors in the United States: The Haystack Steelpan Program,” in Visions of Research in Music Education (December 2014); and “A Survey Study of U.S. Collegiate and K12 Steel Band Directors’ Attitudes Relating to Steel Band Curriculum and Pedagogy” in Update: Applications of Research in Music Education (November 2014). Also, Haskett presented “The Development of K- 12 and Collegiate Steel Bands in the U.S.” at the Percussive Arts Society International Conference in November 2014.
• Robert Tuttle, professor of mechanical engineering, and Yousef Jabbari, associate professor of mechanical engineering, have received a $21,359 grant from the American Foundry Society for their Thermal Property Trends in Green Sand. This project focuses on determining how the thermophysical properties of foundry molding sands vary with temperature and sand composition. Results from this project will improve the performance of the solidification simulation software by creating new thermophysical property data sets and developing a better understanding of the effect of molding sands on removing heat from a casting.
• Sara Beth Keough, associate professor of geography, and Scott Youngstedt, professor of anthropology, have co-authored an article that was published in Vol. 57, no. 4 (2014) of the peer-reviewed journal, FOCUS on Geography. The article is titled “The Material Culture of Water: Transportation, Storage, and Consumption in Niamey, Niger.” Funding for fieldwork in Niger was provided by the American Geographical Society’s McColl Fellowship and an SVSU Faculty Research Grant.
• Jeffrey Koperski, professor of philosophy, has published his first book with Wiley-Blackwell: The Physics of Theism: God, Physics, and the Philosophy of Science.
• Helen Raica Klotz, Christina Montgomery, and Christopher Giroux, with Crystal Brinson, Zach Gibson, Taeler Singleton, Kramer Stoneman and Ka Vang, published “‘Developing Writers:’ The Multiple Identities of an Embedded Tutor in the Developmental Writing Classroom” in Praxis: A Writing Center Journal (12:1), December 2014.
• Anne Tapp, professor of education, and Joe Jaksa, associate professor of criminal justice, presented “The Role of Technology in Virtual Mentorships and Internships” at the 13th Annual International Conference on Education, Jan. 8 in Honolulu.
Saginaw Valley state University recognized six of its graduates and one future graduate at its annual Alumni Celebration Friday, Feb. 20. Five alumni were honored with the 2015 Distinguished Alumni Award, the highest award presented by the SVSU Alumni Association. In addition, the Young Alumni and Future Alumni award recipients were bestowed.
The Distinguished Alumni Award is presented to an SVSU graduate in recognition of distinguished service and accomplishment in any field of human endeavor that enhances the prestige of the university.
In the College of Arts & Behavioral Sciences, Patrick McInnis received the 2015 Distinguished Alumnus honor. He currently serves as CEO of Fathead, an industry leader of officially licensed sports and entertainment graphics with headquarters in Detroit. Previously, McInnis served as president of Quicken Loans from 2002 to 2009. He completed a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice in 1988.
In the College of Business & Management, the 2015 Distinguished Alumnus award was given to Dave Abbs. A certified financial planner and owner of Abbs Retirement Planning Advisors in Saginaw, he also is actively involved in the Great Lakes Bay Region, having served as chair of SVSU’s Board of Control and the Saginaw Community Foundation Board. Abbs completed a bachelor’s degree in business with an emphasis in marketing and management in 1983.
In the College of Education, Karen Abbott received the 2015 Distinguished Alumna honor. During her 35-year career in education, she has served as a teacher, administrator and principal; she presently is the elementary principal at Rutherford Winans Academy, a charter school in Detroit. Abbott completed a bachelor’s degree in elementary education in 1979.
In the Crystal M. Lange College of Health & Human Services, the Distinguished Alumna award was given to Carmella Jones. A registered nurse and an ordained American Baptist clergywoman, she serves as the director of the Faith Community Nurse Program at Holy Cross Health in Silver Spring, Md. Jones completed a bachelor’s degree in nursing in 1981.
In the College of Science, Engineering & Technology, Rick Nash received the Distinguished Alumnus honor. Since 2007, he has served as a global product line executive director and chief engineer for Saginaw-based Nexteer Automotive's steering columns and intermediate shafts business. Nash began his career as a project engineer for General Motors after completing a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 1988.
The Young Alumni Award recognizes an individual who has graduated within five years, contributed to student and campus life, has a strong affinity for and connection to SVSU, has been recognized for a strong work ethic, and has shown evidence of professional achievement and civic service. The 2015 recipient is Sarah Lockwood, who graduated from SVSU in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. A native of Waldron, she has since completed a Ph.D. in analytical chemistry at Michigan State University – where she received the Outstanding Teaching Award – and currently serves as chief technical officer at LifeBlood, a start-up company in East Lansing.
The Future Alumni Award is presented to an SVSU student of junior or senior class standing who meets the same criteria as the Young Alumni award. The 2015 recipient is Valerie Adams, an exercise science major from Washington Township who is expected to graduate with honors in May. She has been accepted into Duke University's Doctor of Physical Therapy program, where she will continue her education in the fall. While at SVSU, Adams has presented at the 2014 National American College of Sports Medicine conference, received a grant to redefine proper nutritional practices for NCAA collegiate athletes, and she is an active member of several student organizations.