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July 19, 2018

SVSU summer camp empowers girls interested in computer, Internet technology

Madison Crawford can see seventh grade approaching quickly, but thanks to a science-based camp for girls at Saginaw Valley State University, the Bullock Creek youth may have glimpsed even further into her future this summer.

In June, Crawford was one of 25 middle school-aged girls who participated in SVSU's Camp Infinity, a week-long outing featuring hands-on activities and college professors teaching and mentoring female youths interested in careers relating to computer and Internet technology.

The second-year camp represents a collaboration between The Dow Chemical Company, the Michigan Council of Women in Technology Foundation, IBM, Microsoft and SVSU, the camp's host. The first two gatherings proved enough of a hit with participants that organizers decided to offer an additional camp for high school-aged girls, scheduled from Monday to Friday, July 23-27.

Crawford, a self-proclaimed prospective computer science student despite only recently completing the sixth grade at Bullock Creek Middle School, said June's camp was an empowering experience that was punctuated by the participation of female professors and scientists who serve as role models.

“On the first day of camp, the teachers told us why they were interested in science, and it made me feel close to them,” she said.

“It's also easier to express yourself at Camp Infinity, because you are with other girls with some of the same interests as you. They're pursuing things I want to pursue.”

Those involved in June's camp developed smartphone apps in SVSU's computer labs; and built and programmed robots capable of responding to voice commands. The week culminated in a “dance party” with the student-built robots.

Betsy Diegel, SVSU's STEM mobile lab support specialist and Camp Infinity's director, said she was not surprised by the positive response from participants.

“I wish I would have had a program like this when I was a girl,” Diegel said. “I would have loved this.”

While Diegel went on to pursue a career in the sciences, she said programs such as Camp Infinity increase the likelihood other young girls will pursue their passion for STEM.

“We see females are so underrepresented in our region's STEM workforce,” she said. “Getting girls excited and exposed to this kind of education early on is crucial to changing that underrepresentation.”

A video showcasing Camp Infinity - and Crawford - is available at the following link: 

July 19, 2018

Three for three: SVSU again named a ‘Great College to Work For’

Saginaw Valley State University’s supportive environment for faculty and staff has resulted in the school being selected as a “Great College to Work For” for the third consecutive year by The Chronicle of Higher Education, a top trade publication for colleges and universities.

SVSU was the only public university in Michigan to receive the coveted designation in 2018.

The distinction was announced earlier this week when The Chronicle published its 11th annual report on The Academic Workplace. SVSU was among 84 higher education institutions — out of 253 institutions that applied — to achieve the honor this year. SVSU has earned the distinction each of the three times the university has applied.

SVSU President Donald Bachand said to be selected for the honor three years in a row speaks to how the university community is deeply dedicated to serving students.

“We have longstanding commitment to empowering faculty and staff to pursue initiatives that improve teaching, learning and service opportunities for students,” Bachand said.

“We have worked to build and sustain a strong culture of growth and opportunity, even in the face of challenges. I am proud of our collective efforts to not settle for mediocrity, but to instead push to be better and to do better for our students and for the communities we serve.”

SVSU was honored in the same four categories for the second consecutive year: compensation and benefits; facilities, workspace and security; teaching environment; and tenure clarity and process.

The survey featured components including a questionnaire about institutional characteristics and a faculty/staff questionnaire about individuals’ evaluations of their institutions. The selection process also included an analysis of demographic data and workplace policies at each institution.

The questionnaires were administered online in March and April across SVSU, which employs more than 750 full-time faculty and staff members.

To administer the survey and analyze the results, The Chronicle worked with ModernThink LLC, a strategic human capital consulting firm that has conducted numerous “Best Places to Work” programs, surveying hundreds of thousands of employees nationwide.

Great Colleges to Work For is one of the largest and most respected workplace-recognition programs in the nation. For more information and to view all the results of the survey, visit The Chronicle’s website at

July 13, 2018

Author to speak in Midland about improving children's writing skills

Renowned author and educator Colleen Cruz will give a public talk on how to improve childhood literacy Monday, July 23, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Central Middle School in Midland.
The event is hosted by the Alden and Vada Dow Creativity Foundation, in conjunction with the Saginaw Bay Writing Project. It is free and open to the public.
A staff developer at the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, Cruz currently works as a literary consultant with students and teachers throughout the U.S.
“We are pleased to have such a well-known expert visit our region and talk with parents and educators on the best ways to help our children become better writers, readers and thinkers,” said Helen Raica-Klotz, director of Saginaw Valley State University's Writing Center and the Saginaw Bay Writing Project.
Cruz is the author of the young adult novel “Border Crossing,” a Tomas Rivera Mexican American Children's Book Award Finalist. She also writes books for teachers including “The Unstoppable Writing Teacher,” “Independent Writing,” and “A Quick Guide to Reaching Struggling Writers.”
The talk is part of the 2018 Vada B. Dow Writer's Workshop for Area Teachers, funded by the Alden and Vada Dow Creativity Foundation, to support the professional growth of writing teachers in the Great Lakes Bay Region.
The Saginaw Bay Writing Project is an SVSU organization that supports teachers throughout Mid-Michigan through professional development and workshops.

July 11, 2018

Four well-known Michigan authors come to Midland to share their work

The Alden and Vada Dow Creativity Foundation, in conjunction with the Saginaw Bay Writing Project, is hosting the Michigan Authors' Series.

Four well-known Michigan authors will read their work Tuesday, July 24 and Wednesday, July 25 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at The Saints and Sinners Lounge at the Midland Center for the Arts. The series is free and open to the public.

“These four authors represent some of the best writers in the state of Michigan today, and their work – which includes poetry, memoir and fiction – is worth reading and hearing,” said Helen Raica-Klotz, director of Saginaw Valley State University's Writing Center and the director of the Saginaw Bay Writing Project.

Tuesday night, authors Linda Nemec Foster and Anne-Marie Oomen will read from their co-authored book, “The Lake Michigan Mermaid.”

Nemec Foster has authored 11 collections of poetry and is the first Poet Laureate of Grand Rapids. She also received a Lifetime Achievement Award for her work from the Dyer-Ives Foundation.

Oomen has authored several books of memoir and poetry, including “Uncoded Woman” and “Pulling Down the Barn.” She currently teaches at conferences around the country as well as The Solstice MFA at Pine Manor College in Massachusetts and Interlochen's College of Creative Arts.

Authors Zilka Joseph and John Mauk will read from their work on Wednesday night.

Joseph has published two chapbooks, and her first book of poems, “Sharp Blue Search of Flame,” was a Foreword Indie Prize Finalist.

Mauk currently teaches at Miami University and co-directs the Ohio Writing Project. He has written four college textbooks and is the author of a collection of short fiction, “Field Notes for the Earthbound.”

“We are very fortunate to have Oomen, Mauk, Joseph and Nemec Foster as part of our Authors' Series this year, thanks to the generous support of the Alden and Vada Dow Creativity Foundation,” Raica-Klotz said.

The Michigan Author's Series is part of the 2018 Vada B. Dow Writer's Workshop for Area Teachers, funded by the Alden and Vada Dow Creativity Foundation, to support the professional growth of writing teachers in the Great Lakes Bay Region.

The Saginaw Bay Writing Project is an SVSU organization that supports teachers throughout Mid-Michigan through professional development and workshops.

June 26, 2018

SVSU art gallery to display former Saginaw Art Museum director's work

Saginaw Valley State University will display the works of a 20th century Saginaw artist whose legacy resonates with her creative successors in the University Art Gallery this summer.

The exhibition featuring the work of Julia Roecker will be shown from July 2 to Aug. 10.

Art pieces shown in the exhibition will include traditional work in the area of linocut and woodblock prints, as well as silkscreen and impressionist pastel drawings. In addition to these pieces, there will be examples of her sketchbooks displayed.

Roecker shared her skills of art and teaching with the people she inspired during her lifetime.

Born in Saginaw in 1887, she received her art training at the Arts Institute of Chicago. After receiving her education, she returned to her hometown – with her husband Henry – to teach art classes at Saginaw High School.

Roecker then continued to instruct others at Alma College as a professor of art. After retiring from Alma, she finished her career in Saginaw as the director of the Saginaw Art Museum, a title she held for 10 years until her retirement.

The couple's accomplished life is detailed in the book “A Century on Canvas: The Lives and Work of Julia Roberts and Henry Leon Roecker” by Jean Beach.

Julia Roecker was a dynamic artist, as SVSU's studio art technician Sara Clark described.

“There wasn't much in art that she wasn't in charge of at Alma College, so she was constantly working in different media and taking different approaches to her favorite subject matter which consisted largely of flora and fauna,” she said.

Even after her death at the age of 101 in 1988, Clark said that her legacy remains in the region through others.

“She was quite prolific as an artist, and this passion and discipline surely rubbed off on her students and admirers.”

The exhibition is free and open to the public. The art gallery is open daily Monday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information on SVSU's University Art Gallery, visit

June 25, 2018

SVSU students design new mobile app for Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum

The Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum has launched a new app designed to allow visitors to tour the galleries and sculpture garden on their smartphones. The free app is available on both iOS and Android via the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. It can be downloaded in advance of a visit or in the gallery on the museum’s free Wi-Fi.
The impetus for the project stems from the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum’s current strategic plan which sets forth the goal to “Strengthen the use of technology in program.” To accomplish this aim, one of the strategies is to “offer memorable experiences – both on-site and online – through the best use of technology.”
Museum Director Marilyn Wheaton pointed out that museums across the country are developing apps as a means of giving every visitor the maximum benefit in looking at the collection and exhibitions.
“With an app, you can learn so much more about a work of art than if you rely on label text,” she said.
The app provides visitors with self-guided audio tours and more in-depth information about the museum, its collections, and temporary exhibitions in a fun, easy, and efficient manner. Upon opening the app, users are given four easy-to-navigate options – About, Tours, Support and Social – each of which helps users discover works of art, media and resources that best meet their interests. It can be found by searching for “MFSM.”
One of the highlights of the app is the ability to access detailed information, gleaned from the museum’s archives, for over 35 sculptures, opening visitors’ eyes to the museum’s collection like never before.
The new app was produced by the Museum in collaboration with Saginaw Valley State University’s art and computer science departments. Ka Vang, who recently graduated with a degree in graphic design, designed the app; she worked with Blake Johnson, SVSU professor of art and graphic design. Adam Pero, who recently graduated with a degree in computer science, completed all the coding. He worked with George Corser, SVSU assistant professor of computer science.
“The primary purpose of the project was to provide a real world educational experience for students, with collaboration between multiple departments within the university, to produce a real software product,” Corser said. “The overall project was a successful collaboration between SVSU's Art and Computer Science departments, the Museum, Information Technology Services, and University Communications.”
Vang, the student designer, learned a great deal through the project.
“It made me challenge the way I think, because I have to think like the user and how they might navigate through the app,” she said. “There was a lot of trial and error, a lot of testing, a lot of sketching. I learned a lot of tips and tricks. It’s a very competitive field and it really helps me to be able to say ‘I designed this.’ I can show it to people in an interview.”
That’s exactly what Pero, the computer science student, experienced.
“When I started working on the app, I didn’t have a job and I was struggling to get interviews. Afterward, I was able to show pieces of code during my interviews. That definitely helped me get my current job.  It was a lot like being in class, but instead of being instructed, you figure it out on your own.”
Pero currently works as a software developer at Dice, a software and telecommunications company in Bay City. He also is a graduate student in SVSU’s master’s degree program in computer science and information systems.
Corser and Johnson are advisers for Cardinal Solutions, an interdisciplinary faculty/student team that works directly with local businesses and non-profits to develop marketing solutions.
“SVSU is such an amazing resource — skills, talent, and expertise,” Johnson said. “When we choose to work together across disciplines and solve problems for the community, not only do we serve, but we create opportunities for our students to learn far more than they would in a standard classroom.”
Visitors without a mobile device may check-out a tablet at the museum’s front desk (valid photo identification required) to explore the new app.
The Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum is dedicated to celebrating the artistic legacy of Marshall M. Fredericks through collecting, preserving, presenting, and interpreting his life’s work. It is located on the campus of Saginaw Valley State University, 7400 Bay Road.  Museum hours are Monday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m.  Admission is free.  For more information, call (989) 964-7125 or visit the museum’s website at

June 21, 2018

SVSU student receives scholarship for marketing success in the Great Lakes Bay Region

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

June 19, 2018

SVSU student invited to Oxford to present her research on autonomous vehicles

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.

June 19, 2018

SVSU Board Approves Contract with Support Staff Union

The Saginaw Valley State University Board of Control approved a contract with the SVSU Support Staff Association (MEA/NEA) during its regular session Monday, June 18.

The three-year agreement covers the period from July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2021.  Terms call for wage increases of 2 percent in the first year, 1.05 percent in the second year and 1 percent in the third year.

“We appreciate the fine work our dedicated support staff employees provide on a daily basis,” said SVSU President Donald Bachand. “Making a good first impression is so important, and these are the people who keep our campus looking its best, who greet students and families and help them when they have questions, and who do important work behind the scenes to ensure campus operations run smoothly.”

The deal also provides increased flexibility in health care coverage options. As part of the contract, members will be offered a new health insurance option that features a health savings account and lower premiums, in addition to the medical plans previously offered. The agreement includes modest increases in the capped contributions the university makes to employees’ health care coverage under existing plans.

“Overall, we think this is a fair contract,” said Tish Yaros,  administrative secretary for Information Technology Services and president of the Support Staff Association. “The new health plan option will take some education to make sure our members understand it, but at the level the university is backing it, that could be a valuable benefit for our employees.”

Yaros said the union is pleased to have the new contract in place.

“We’re here to support the students, and we want them to be served well. We love working here.”

The Support Staff Association represents 168 employees, including secretaries, clerks, and campus facilities personnel.  Union membership ratified the contract Tuesday, June 12.

June 19, 2018

SVSU Board approves 2018-19 budget, tuition to rise by $489

The Saginaw Valley State University Board of control approved a tuition increase of $489 for in-state undergraduate students as part of the 2018-19 general fund operating budget adopted during the Board's regular meeting Monday, June 18.

A Michigan undergraduate student taking 30 credits will pay $10,308 for the upcoming academic year. SVSU students were charged $9,819 during the 2017-18 academic year.

“All budget decisions are made with students and families in mind, and this budget maintains our priorities of providing outstanding opportunities for our students and ensuring access to a high quality education,” said Donald Bachand, SVSU president. “We have significantly expanded our scholarship and financial aid offerings to support students and families, and we continue to work hard to sustain our longstanding commitment to affordability.”

SVSU will continue to have the lowest tuition among the 15 Michigan public universities for 2018-19, even after the increase of 4.98 percent takes effect.

In other action, the Board:

  • Approved the confirmation of board members for previously authorized public school academies.
  • Approved the addition of grades nine through 12 to the New Standard Academy, a previously authorized public school academy.
  • Approve the addition of pre-kindergarten to Kingsbury Country Day School, a previously authorized public school academy.
  • Approved the tenure recommendation for Catherine Macomber, assistant professor of social work.
  • Approved promotion recommendations for 16 faculty members, including 13 faculty who were promoted to the rank of associate professor: Prashanth Anekal, management; Meghan Baruth, health sciences; Veronika Drake, English; Rosina Hassoun, sociology; Amy Hendrickson, law; Julie Keil, political science; Natalia Knoblock, English; Scott Kowalewski, rhetoric and professional writing; Catherine Macomber, social work; Elizabeth Pierce, accounting; Khandaker Abir Rahman, computer science and information systems; Isaac Stephens, history; and Adam Warhausen, chemistry. Three faculty were promoted to the rank of professor: Daniel Cook, English; Jeremy Knous, kinesiology; and Diana Trebing, communication.
  • Passed a resolution to grant emeritus status to Moe Bidgoli, who served 33 years on the computer science faculty.
  • Passed a resolution to grant emeritus status to Steve Hocquard, whose service to SVSU spanned 25 years; he retired as assistant vice president of facilities planning and construction.
  • Approved conveyance of property and an amendment to the lease for the SVSU Business and Professional Development Center Project. This will allow SVSU to work with the State of Michigan’s State Building Authority on the construction of a 38,500 square foot building addition for the Scott L. Carmona College of Business and Management.
  • Authorized the president and/or the executive vice president for Administration & Business Affairs to enter into natural gas and electricity purchase agreements with the State of Michigan, Wolverine Power Marketing Cooperative or other suppliers for the period ending December 31, 2045.


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