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October 2, 2017

SVSU students win ‘Battle,’ lift spirits for Saginaw homeless shelter's occupants, director

Saginaw Valley State University students continued their tradition of improving their surrounding community by raising $32,115 in the annual “Battle of the Valleys” fundraising competition. The funds will help the Mustard Seed Shelter double the occupancy of its Saginaw facility that moves women and children from homelessness to self-sufficiency.

The rich bonds of friendship forged during the campaign, however, could not be measured in dollars, the nonprofit's director said.

"Our world is in good hands with the leadership of these students," said Amy Bartels Roe, the Mustard Seed Shelter's director since 2014. "I'm overwhelmed and truly thankful for the care and concern of these students for the homeless, and their ability to have fun while raising money for an important cause."

The $32,115 was raised during the annual fundraising competition between SVSU and Grand Valley State University. Each year, each institution selects a nonprofit partner, then spends one week collecting donations for those respective organizations.

This year's Battle of the Valleys week began Sunday, Sept. 24 at SVSU with a kickoff celebration - featuring food and games - attended by some of the women and children housed at The Mustard Seed Shelter.

"I was touched by how the students welcomed our guests," Bartels Roe said. "This was about so much more than the check."

Caitlin Coulter, the SVSU student who serves as philanthropy chairperson for the SVSU Student Association, felt that same immediate connection between her peers and the Mustard Seed Shelter guests.

"It was very heartwarming to see them come out and have fun," said Coulter, a pre-medicine major from Clio. "Their children were playing on a Slip 'N Slide and having such a blast with us."

That interaction continued throughout the week between SVSU students and The Mustard Seed Shelter during fundraising outings at Buffalo Wild Wings and Stardust Lanes in Saginaw Township.

The competition concluded Saturday, Sept. 30 when the final tallies were announced during halftime of the football game between SVSU and GVSU at Lubbers Stadium in Allendale. SVSU students won the contest for the tenth consecutive year.

"It was great to see the sheer excitement of the students when it was announced," Bartels Roe said.

 The funds will support a 3,500-square-foot expansion to the Mustard Seed Shelter facility in Saginaw. The growth will double the existing structure's 12-person capacity, Bartels Roe said. She expects to break ground on the addition in the spring.

Coulter said Battle of the Valleys exceeded her expectations. She and fellow student leaders began organizing the week-long initiative four months ago, with the goal of exceeding the $26,000 raised during the 2016 Battle of the Valleys campaign benefiting Hidden Harvest, which helps the hungry in the Great Lakes Bay Region.

"I'm very proud of everyone who helped this year," Coulter said. "It's bittersweet that the week is done."

GVSU students collected $17,017 for their charity partner, Laker Children's Fund, which contributes to organizations that promote health and wellness for children.

Between SVSU and GVSU, the universities have raised a combined total of $601,282 since the competition started in 2003. SVSU has contributed $389,444 of that total.

The university raising the largest sum of money during each Battle of the Valleys competition claims ownership of a 3-foot-tall trophy known as "Victoria" until at least the next year's rematch. Victoria has remained at SVSU since 2008. Of the 15 Battle of the Valleys competitions, SVSU students outraised GVSU during 12 of those years.

October 2, 2017

SVSU and Pulse 3 Foundation hope to host 500 for CPR Blitz at Saturday’s football game

Saginaw Valley State University’s College of Health and Human Services, the Pulse 3 Foundation in Saginaw, and Blue Cross Blue Shield will partner to provide lifesaving training Saturday, Oct. 7. Using the slogan “500 in 5,” they hope to train 500 people how to perform hands-only CPR training the SVSU home football game that day.

Trained SVSU students and other volunteers will be stationed in a tent outside Wickes Memorial Stadium, leading 5-minute training sessions beginning at 1 p.m., two hours prior to the game's kickoff, and lasting throughout the game.

Beth Roe, SVSU professor of nursing, said CPR training is important.

“More than 350,000 people die from sudden cardiac arrest each year in the U.S.,” she said. “Sudden cardiac arrest can happen to anyone at any time, and CPR can double or triple survival rates."

The first 100 participants will receive a free SVSU T-shirt.

October 2, 2017

Unique ‘Piano Windtet’ from Germany to perform in concert at SVSU

A group to believed to be the only "Piano Windtet" of its kind (piano, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, and horn) will perform in concert at Saginaw Valley State University Sunday, Oct. 8 at 4 p.m. in the Rhea Miller Recital Hall as part of SVSU’s Rhea Miller Concert Series.

Featuring four wind soloists from German orchestras and one pianist, the members of Ensemble 4.1 devote themselves to chamber music for this unusual combination of instruments.

Since forming in 2013, the group has given concerts in Germany and overseas, some of them organized by the Goethe Institute and by German embassies abroad. Their special communicative power and their intoxicating atmosphere on stage have been repeatedly praised by critics.

In addition to the masterpieces for this original instrumentation by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven, the ensemble is devoted to discovering rarely played compositions from the turn of the 19th to the 20th century. Composers such as Walter Gieseking, Theodor Verhey, Herrmann Zilcher, and David Stephen are again being performed for an enthusiastic public.

The musicians of Ensemble 4.1 are:

  • Alexander Glücksmann, who began playing the clarinet at the age of nine. In 2003 he was appointed principal clarinet of the Berlin Symphony Orchestra.  
  • Thomas Hoppe, piano, who has won numerous prizes and awards including the German Music Competition in 2004, the Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition in 2007, selection as BBC New Generation Artists in 2009 and the Borletti-Buitoni Trust Special Ensemble Fellowship in 2012.
  • Christoph Knitt, who gained his first experience as an orchestral musician as principal bassoon in the State Youth Orchestra of Saxony-Anhalt. Since 2006 he has been principal bassoon at the Potsdam Chamber Academy.
  • Fritz Pahlmann, who was and is a regular guest as principal horn at the State Opera in Munich, the Munich Philharmonic and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, as well as other orchestras. He has been engaged as principal horn for the Staatskapelle Weimar Orchestra since 2007.
  • Jörg Schneider, who was made principal oboe in the RIAS-Youth Orchestra Berlin, and has been associate principal oboe for the Jena Philharmonic Orchestra since 2007.  He is a winner of international chamber music competitions in Osaka, Marseille and Schwerin and a is scholarship holder of the German Music Competition.

The Rhea Miller Concert Series is made possible by a generous gift from Rhea E. Miller, a longtime friend of SVSU. Her gift, administered by the Miller Trust for Music Education, has provided the university with the opportunity to offer outstanding performances by nationally and internationally acclaimed musical artists at no cost to the audience since 1993. For more information, call (989) 964-4159 or email


September 29, 2017

SVSU to host piano recital featuring Beethoven and Tchaikovsky

Two pianists will bring the music of Beethoven and Tchaikovsky to Saginaw Valley State University's Rhea Miller Recital Hall Friday, Oct. 6 at 7:30 p.m.

The piano recital will feature Wendy Chu, a piano accompanist at SVSU, and MiJung Trepanier, an adjunct faculty member at the university; each has performed across the world. They will perform classical music including Beethoven's "Egmont Overture" and "Variations on a Theme of Beethoven, op 35" as well as Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker Suite, op 71a."

Wendy Chu, originally from Taiwan, received her Doctor of Musical Arts in piano performance from Michigan State University. She has performed in recitals across the world, including Taiwan, Canada, Austria, and the U.S.; she also has been featured on PBS. Chu also serves as the vice president of the Midland Music Teachers Association. When she is not teaching at SVSU, she teaches in her home piano studio and The Rhine Center for Musical Arts in Rochester Hills.

Midland-based pianist MiJung Trepanier shines on stage and in the classroom. Like Chu, she has performed all over the world, including Asia, Latin America, and across the U.S. Trepanier is an active educator, giving lectures at multiple conferences such as Michigan Music Teacher Association, Herter Music Center, and Bay Music Teacher Association. Her private studio attracts students of all ages. She has taught at SVSU, Alma College, and Southern Utah University.

Special guests Barbara DuRussel and Diana Kurin will join the performers during "Egmont Overture." DuRussel has been teaching piano since 1964. She also enjoys accompanying and working on church music. Kurin has been teaching piano in Midland since 2006. Kurin serves as the current president of the Midland Music Teachers Association and is a co-chair for KeyboardFest 2018 in Kalamazoo.

Admission for this recital is free. Please contact SVSU at (989) 964-4159 or for more information.

September 28, 2017

SVSU forensics team wins competition

MISL group photoThe Saginaw Valley State University forensics team earned a first-place finish during a Michigan Intercollegiate Speech League competition at Oakland Community College Friday, Sept. 22.

In individual competition, Jayla Gaskins, a communication major from Detroit, was the No. 1 performer in the dramatic interpretation category.

Four other SVSU students placed within the top four during other individual competitions. Those students include the following:

•                     Jrew Brickel, a criminal justice major from Midland, earned a second-place finish in the impromptu category.

•                     Andrea Garner, a communication major from Inkster, received a second-place finish in the dramatic interpretation category.

•                     Kelley Gray, a communication major from Sandusky, earned a fourth-place finish in the impromptu category.

•                     Tiler Jewell, a creative writing major from Essexville, received a second-place finish in the informative category.  

SVSU has built its forensics program around an empowering team culture since being established in 2001. Amy Pierce, associate professor of communication, serves as the team's advisor.

At a forensics competition, students engage in public speaking events in a number of categories.

September 26, 2017

SVSU students hosting fire truck pull, dodgeball game for Battle of the Valleys fundraising

Saginaw Valley State University students are engaged in a number of fun events as part of this year’s Battle of the Valleys fundraising competition.

One new event this year is a fire truck pull being held today (Thursday, Sept. 28) beginning at 6 p.m. on University Drive (between lots J2 & J3). Teams of 10 will compete to see who can pull a fire truck 40 feet in the fastest time.

A dodgeball tournament is scheduled Wednesday, Sept. 27 from 6:30 to 10 p.m. in Hamilton Gymnasium.

All proceeds from these events and other activities will benefit the Mustard Seed, a Saginaw shelter that helps women and their children move from homelessness to self-sufficiency.

SVSU students annually compete against their counterparts from Grand Valley State University to see who can raise the most money for charity. For more information, visit



September 21, 2017

SVSU sees enrollment dip, but bright spots in student retention and graduate programs

Saginaw Valley State University saw its total enrollment decline for the 2017 fall semester, but the numbers also show encouraging trends in improved student retention and growth in the number of new graduate students.

“We are pleased to see our retention rate continue to improve; it is now at its highest level in at least 20 years,” said Deborah Huntley, SVSU provost and vice president for academic affairs. “Our faculty and staff are committed to helping all students succeed, and those collaborative efforts are proving to be effective.”

SVSU’s retention rate has risen for four consecutive years to 74.4 percent, up from 70 percent in 2014.                                                                  

Overall enrollment at SVSU dropped to 8,662 students taking classes for the 2017 fall semester, compared to 9,165 last year.

The number of new students seeking advanced degrees increased from 114 new graduate students last fall to 152 this term.

“We introduced new master’s degrees in social work, and computer science and information systems, and those offerings have been well-received,” Huntley said.

The total number of credit hours taken by graduate students increased by nearly 3 percent over a year ago.

SVSU also maintained its healthy enrollment of international students, as 630 international students, representing a record number of 54 different countries, are enrolled this year. 

Fall classes at SVSU began Monday, Aug. 28.

September 21, 2017

SVSU students to raise funds for Saginaw shelter during this year's Battle of the Valleys

Saginaw Valley State University's annual Battle of the Valleys fundraising competition will kick off Sunday, Sept. 24. For the 15th consecutive year, the students of SVSU and Grand Valley State University will go head-to-head to see who can raise the most money for their respective charity partners. The fundraiser concludes Saturday, Sept. 30, when the rival football teams face off at 7 p.m. at GVSU's Lubbers Stadium.

This year, the funds SVSU raises - through several activities and events scheduled throughout the week - will benefit the Saginaw-based Mustard Seed Shelter.

"We chose The Mustard Seed because they're a grass-roots organization that helps women and children in Saginaw who are dealing with homelessness," said Caitlin Coulter, a pre-medicine major from Clio and this year's Battle of the Valleys chair for SVSU.

"The money this year will be going towards an addition that will help them double the amount of women they can serve at their homeless shelter."

SVSU has already cultivated a strong relationship with the organization, particularly through the social work initiative where The Mustard Seed Shelter provides field placements for students in the program.

In addition to supporting a good cause, the two universities battle it out for at least one year's worth of bragging rights and the chance to take home the 3-foot-tall trophy known as "Victoria." The trophy has remained on SVSU's campus for nine consecutive years.

One of the big events scheduled for this year's Battle of the Valleys competition is the newly-added fire truck pull. This event will take place Tuesday, Sept. 26 at 4 p.m. on the campus' Collings Drive, between parking lots J2 and J3. The event is being organized by SVSU's Peer Health Education program.

Teams of 10 will compete to see who can pull a fully-loaded fire truck 40 feet in the fastest time. Cost to participate is $5 per person.

Other fundraising opportunities throughout the week will include the Kick-Off Cookout which will take place on Sunday, Sept. 24. In hopes of taking advantage of the warm weather, the kickoff party will be held in the campus courtyard this year.

"We'll be having pizza and there will be lots of yard games," Coulter said.

Buffalo Wild Wings and Stardust Lanes have also agreed to host fundraising events during Battle of the Valleys week. On Monday, Sept. 25, students and community members can bring in a Battle of the Valleys fundraising flyer to Buffalo Wild Wings. A portion of the meal cost will benefit The Mustard Seed Shelter. 

Stardust Lanes will host a bowling night Friday, Sept. 29 from 9 p.m. to midnight. The cost is $15 per ticket, which will include three hours of bowling and a shoe rental. The full $15 charge will benefit The Mustard Seed Shelter. The week's fundraising competition will close at midnight. 

Between SVSU and GVSU, the universities have raised a combined total of $552,150 since the competition started in 2003. SVSU has contributed $357,329 of that total, raising $26,000 for Hidden Harvest during last year's competition.

"What's great about SVSU is the community and how everyone comes together for a purpose," Coulter said. "This year's purpose is to help The Mustard Seed, so we're really excited about that."

The winner of the 2017 Battle of the Valleys contest will be announced during halftime of the football game between SVSU and GVSU.

For more information about Battle of the Valleys, visit

September 20, 2017

SVSU to host Visiting Scholars and Artists Series

SVSU to host Visiting Scholars and Artists SeriesSaginaw Valley State University will host several engaging guest speakers for the annual Visiting Scholars and Artists series. The series will bring guest lecturers to SVSU to speak on topics including neuroscience, political bipartisanship, and methods for motivating uninspired students. The speakers include a United States congressmen, an expert in immigration, and a philosophy professor exploring the science of free will. All events are free of charge and open to the public. 


Hispanic Heritage Month speaker: "Cuba and its Exile: Political Generations"

Silvia Pedraza

Thursday, Sept. 21

4 p.m.

Founders Hall 

Silvia Pedraza is a professor of sociology and American culture at the University of Michigan. Her research interests include the sociology of immigration, race, and ethnicity in America, as well as the sociology of Cuba's revolution and exodus. Her work includes "Political Disaffection in Cuba's Revolution and Exodus," published by the Cambridge University Press in 2007. 


Rush Lecturer: "Community Engagement through Student-Centered Geospatial Research"

Andrew J. Miller

Thursday, Sept. 28

4 p.m.

Founders Hall

With the help of his colleagues and several key internal and external partnerships, Miller has made geospatial techniques an integral part of the geography curriculum and community outreach at the university. Most notably, Miller and his students have undertaken community-engaged research projects supporting the Saginaw Crime Prevention Council, the City of Saginaw, and most recently, Mid-Michigan Health in Midland. 


Dow Visiting Scholar/Beutler Forum: "Free Will and Neuroscience"

Alfred Mele

Thursday, Oct. 5

7 p.m.

Ott Auditorium  

Mele is the William H. and Lucyle T. Werkmeister Professor of Philosophy at Florida State University. He is the author of 11 books and over 200 articles. He is past director of the Big Question in Free Will project and current director of the Philosophy and Science of Self-Control project, which provides incentives and opportunities for collaborative philosophical and scientific research on self-control.  


O'Neill Lecture: "Promoting Civil Discourse and Fostering Bipartisanship in Today's Politics"

U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee

Thursday, Oct. 19

7 p.m.

Malcolm Field Theatre for Performing Arts 

Born and raised in Flint, Kildee was elected to represent Michigan's 5th congressional district beginning in 2013. Kildee was instrumental in working to free Amir Hekmati —a U.S. Marine and Flint native — who was detained as a political prisoner for four years in Iran. The congressman also was at the forefront of supporting families affected by the Flint water crisis. 


Barstow Lecture: "The Invention and Legacy of the Amboyna Massacre"

Alison Games

Monday, Oct. 30

4:30 p.m.

Founders Hall 

Games is the Dorothy M. Brown Distinguished Professor of History at Georgetown University. Games teaches courses on a variety of topics including early America, the Atlantic world and European expansion, and global interaction. She has authored three books. She has also participated in fellowships with the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Huntington Library, and the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study.  


Dow Visiting Scholar: "The Motivation Breakthrough: Turning on the Tuned-Out Child"

Richard Lavoie

Saturday, Nov. 4

9 a.m.

Ott Auditorium 

Lavoie has served as a visiting lecturer at numerous universities and presented his message to over 500,000 parents and professionals throughout North America, Australia, New Zealand, and Hong Kong. Lavoie has delivered keynote addresses for all three of the major special needs advocacy associations in the United States including the Learning Disabilities Association, Council for Exceptional Children, and Children with Attention Deficit Disorder. 


Dow Visiting Scholar: "Literacy: The Full Story"

Anne Ruggles Gere

Wednesday, Nov. 8

7 p.m.

Gilbertson Hall, Room 202 

Chair of the joint Ph.D. program in English and Education, and director of the Sweetland Center for Writing at the University of Michigan, Gere regularly teaches courses on writing assessment, composition studies and literacy. Among her current projects, Gere is completing a longitudinal study of 160 student writers across their undergraduate degree. Gere has published a dozen books and over 100 articles.

September 19, 2017

Detroit author wins SVSU literature award

Saginaw Valley State University has awarded the 2017-18 Stuart D. and Vernice M. Gross Award for Literature to author Drew Philp for his book, "A $500 House in Detroit: Rebuilding an Abandoned Home and an American City. The award is part of SVSU’s community-minded commitment to recognize exceptional writing within Michigan.

The book describes the story of Philp moving to Detroit, with no friends, job, or home, with the hopes of making a difference in the run-down, almost abandoned city. There, he purchased a house for $500, tore out almost everything inside—leaving only the framework— and began remodeling.

Set in Detroit, this true story intimately portrays the current growth of this once-thriving American city. The book guides the reader through Detroit's rich history and addresses many of the city's current issues, including gentrification and the battles among the social classes.

Philp will visit SVSU in the early months of 2018, when he will accept this award as well as visit classes on campus to share his experiences with SVSU students.  The University of Michigan graduate also will receive a $1,000 prize.

Established by the late Stuart D. Gross and his wife, Vernice, the Gross Award for Literature is administered by SVSU. Winners are selected by a panel of judges from SVSU's staff and faculty. Judges this year were Ashley Blinstrub, research and assessment librarian; M. Patricia Cavanaugh, professor of English; Catherine Curtis, reference librarian; Jules Gehrke, associate professor of History; and Carlos Ramet, associate dean of the College of Arts & Behavioral Sciences.

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

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