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December 13, 2016

SVSU College of Education earns 7-year accreditation stamp of approval

The endorsement of a new accrediting agency will empower Saginaw Valley State University graduates with a powerful résumé boost when they seek jobs in an expanding K-12 education workforce.

The SVSU College of Education recently earned accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) for a 7-year period. SVSU is one of the early adopters of the relatively new agency, said Craig Douglas, dean of the SVSU College of Education.

“The reason we decided to pursue this accreditation was because we embrace the idea of continuous improvement,” he said. “Education is changing so fast, and in order to prepare teacher candidates, colleges of education have to be able to change too, and to improve with the changes.”

SVSU is one of only 17 schools in the nation to have passed the new, tougher standards, according to Education Week. 

Douglas, who spent nearly 40 years working in public education before joining SVSU in 2014, said the accreditation is a powerful endorsement of the support students receive from SVSU faculty, and for SVSU graduates as they enter a work force ripe for qualified candidates — in Michigan, especially.

After years of decline, openings for K-12 teachers in the state have swelled. For example, there were 546 K-12 teaching openings reported in 2012 compared to 849 openings in 2015, according to SVSU Career Services, which tracks job opportunities for students and alumni. That’s a 35.6 percent hike in opportunities within a 3-year span, and districts have been active posting jobs this year, too.

Some education experts estimate nearly one-third of the teaching jobs in Michigan will turn over in the next few years.

“This accreditation breeds confidence in our students’ abilities,” Douglas said. “For schools looking for candidates, this means they can be assured our students meet the expectations of an accrediting body. Once you attain accreditation, you have achieved a benchmark that is of value and importance to your students and employers that will hire them one day.”

December 13, 2016

Four SVSU teams advance to moot court nationals, placing SVSU among nation’s elite

A supportive culture has empowered students in Saginaw Valley State University’s moot court program since its founding six years ago, a span when at least one tandem of student teammates from the program has qualified for the national tournament each year.

This year, four SVSU teams — eight dedicated students in total — have qualified for the 2017 tourney at Stetson University College of Law in Gulfport, Florida January 6-7. Only two colleges or universities – out of more than 350 nationally – qualified more students to attend the contest. In all, 80 teams with 160 students will compete.

Julie Keil, SVSU assistant professor of political science and moot court advisor, said SVSU’s success is inspired in part by a hard-working group of supportive faculty and alumni. Among Keil’s assistant advisors this year are former SVSU President Eric Gilbertson, a constitutional law scholar who now serves as the university’s executive in residence; Amy Hendrickson, SVSU assistant professor of law; as well as SVSU graduates and former moot court members Mark Babcock and Jacob Mojica.

“None of these people get paid to help our students,” Keil said. “They’re doing it because they care. It’s a network, and it’s a culture of belief that we are capable of succeeding at any level.”

In a moot court competition, students act as attorneys in teams of two. They make arguments to a panel of judges by drawing from constitutional law and Supreme Court cases. Judges then decide winners based on public speaking ability, knowledge of cases and of law, and the ability to answer questions.

Most recently, three SVSU teams qualified for the finals after a regional tournament SVSU hosted Dec. 2-3. They include the tandems of Jrew Brickel, a criminal justice major from Midland, and Gabe Klotz, a political science major from Midland; Allison Fuller, a political science major from Davison, and Nancy Haddad, a communication major from Saginaw; and political science majors Eric Maul of Lupton, and Joshua Hoebeke of West Branch.

In November, SVSU student teammates Connor Hughes, a political science major from Howell, and Madison Laskowski, a political science major from Bay City, qualified for the finals during a regional tournament in Chicago.
Keil and a group of passionate students founded the program six years ago. Since then, SVSU students have qualified for the national tournament each year. During the inaugural season, one SVSU team qualified; three teams qualified each of the following two seasons; and two teams qualified for the next two seasons.

More than 350 colleges and universities field American Moot Court Association teams. Each year, American Moot Court Association organizers create a single fictional U.S. Supreme Court case — often based on actual cases heard in lower courts — that competitors must address when participating in the regional and national tournaments.

This year’s case study concerns voter rights. The case specifically deals with a citizen who divorced her husband, changed her name but did not update her ID documents in time for the election. As a result, clerk employees did not allow the citizen to vote because her ID did not match the voting registry.

For more information on the American Moot Court Association, visit

December 13, 2016

Four SVSU forensics students qualify for nationals

Saginaw Valley State University's forensics team competed well with strong team and individual performances at the Michigan Intercollegiate Speech League tournament Saturday, Dec. 3.

Four SVSU students saw their months of determined public speaking preparation pay off; they qualified for the National Forensics Association tournament at this event, hosted by Hillsdale College and featuring teams from across the state.  As a team, SVSU finished third overall.

Erik Breidinger, a communications major from Auburn, placed first in the After Dinner Speaking competition and third in Impromptu. Abbey Leach, a communications major from Frankenmuth, placed second in the Informative Speaking competition. Gylian Castle, a communications major from Standish, placed third in Persuasive Speaking competition, and Haley Eilliott, a nursing major from Burt, placed third in the Informative Speaking competition.

The national tournament will be held April 13-17 at the University of Wisconsin Eau-Claire.

This year’s SVSU team is made up primarily of novice team members, so for many of them, this was their first collegiate forensic tournament.

Three students earned Top Novice awards: Castle; Kelley Gray, a communication major from Sandusky; and Kaleb Yaeger, a communication major from Saginaw. Yaeger also placed third in Programmed Oral Interpretation.

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 tournament, students engage in public speaking events such as Prose or Poetry Interpretation, where a student performs a selection of a published literary work. In the After Dinner Speaking category, a student gives a humorous and engaging speech for which they are judged based on credible sources, word choice and nonverbal delivery.

Including past performances, a total of nine SVSU students have qualified for the National Forensics Association tournament next year.

December 8, 2016

Friday symposium to showcase SVSU students' collaborations with region's manufacturers, organizations

Saginaw Valley State University on Friday, Dec. 9 will host its fall 2016 Engineering Symposium, where 27 mechanical engineering students will showcase their senior projects for the public.

For their projects, eight teams of students engineered technology and product prototypes in collaboration with regional manufacturers and organizations such as Dow Corning Corp., Kremin Inc., Nexteer Automotive, Allen Supply, Euclid Industries, Great Lakes Pet Emergencies, and Means Industries. One team of students also worked with SVSU's golf program.

The projects include the design and production of items relating to power steering systems, wheelchairs, veterinarian care equipment, indoor golf simulators, and more.

At SVSU, mechanical engineering majors are required to collaborate with outside clients or university organizations as part of the senior projects.

The Friday symposium begins in the southernmost first-floor hallway of SVSU’s Pioneer Hall. There, from 10 a.m. to noon, the students will showcase and discuss their projects with the symposium’s attendees.

From 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., there will be two sessions in rooms 245 and 247 of Pioneer Hall, where the teams of students will present their projects to the audience as a whole.

December 8, 2016

SVSU student earns national recognition from residence hall organization

Saginaw Valley State University student Bailey Brown, a Spanish and criminal justice major from Fowlerville, received the National Association of College and University Residence Halls Student of the Month award for the month of October.

The award is given to a student showing a dedicated and community-minded approach to working with fellow campus residents.

As a member of the Olivia A. Lake Chapter of the National Residence Hall Honorary, which represents some of the top leaders residing in campus housing, Brown attended the Great Lakes Association of College and University Residence Halls (GLACURH) regional conference this November in Milwaukee. There, she was named the GLACURH Student of the Month by a regional selection committee.

Regional Student of the Month award recipients are then reviewed and evaluated by a national selection committee.

Brown was chosen for the national award due to her involvement in SVSU's Peer Health Education Program, the Residence Housing Association, her position on the Leadership Development Committee and the hours she dedicated serving as the program coordinator. She also played an instrumental role in "Haunted Grove," a popular haunted house set up on campus. She secured 50 volunteers for the initiative. 

Brown wears a number of other hats on campus. As a student employee in the SVSU Writing Center, she advises students on how to improve their school papers and provides them with valuable and constructive feedback. She also is involved with the SVSU Honors Program.

December 7, 2016

Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to speak at SVSU in January

The former top law enforcement official in the United States, Eric Holder, will serve as keynote speaker for Saginaw Valley State University’s Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration on Wednesday, Jan. 25.

Over his career, Holder was appointed to various law enforcement-related positions by four U.S. presidents from both sides of the political aisle. Most recently, President Barack Obama nominated Holder as U.S. attorney general. When the 82nd attorney general took office in February 2009, he was the first black person to serve in that position. When he stepped down in April 2015, he was the third-longest-serving attorney general in the nation’s history.

Holder, named one of Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” in 2014, visits SVSU Jan. 25 at 7 p.m. in the Malcolm Field Theatre for Performing Arts.

The event, part of the Eighth Annual Great Lakes Bay Regional MLK Jr. Celebration, is free and open to the public, although attendees must acquire a free ticket for admission. To pick up tickets, visit the main desk on the second floor in SVSUs Ryder Center, just inside the doors at the top of the north ramp. Individuals can acquire up to four tickets. Individuals needing more than four tickets will be placed on a waiting list.

Holder first joined the Department of Justice through the attorney general’s Honors Program after earning his Juris Doctor degree from Columbia Law School in 1976. The New York City native was assigned to the new Public Integrity Section, where he investigated and prosecuted corruption involving officials in local, state and federal government.

Before Obama nominated Holder in 2009, three earlier U.S. presidents asked him to serve in various roles. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan appointed Holder as associate judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. In 1993, President Bill Clinton appointed Holder as the United States attorney for the District of Columbia. In 1997, Clinton appointed Holder as deputy attorney general of the United States. At the request of President George W. Bush, Holder served as acting attorney general in 2001 pending the confirmation of Attorney General John Ashcroft.

In July 2001, Holder joined Covington & Burling as a partner in the firm’s litigation practice group, where he represented clients in complex civil and criminal cases as well as internal corporate investigations. He returned to the firm in 2015 following his tenure as attorney general.

Holder has made headlines in recent weeks.

In October, it was announced he would serve as chairman of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, which will in part seek to move the redistricting process from a partisan process into an open and transparent nonpartisan process.

In November, he called for the abolishment of the electoral college system — used in the elections of United States presidents — in favor of a popular vote system. Debate about the merits of both processes heated up after Donald Trump was elected president by earning more electoral college votes despite losing the popular vote to Hillary Clinton.  

Holder’s many civic commitments over his career have included service on the boards of Columbia University, the National Center for Victims of Crime, the Meyer Foundation and the Save the Children Foundation, among many others. He also served on the U.S. Sentencing Commission Ad Hoc Advisory Group.

Holder has received numerous awards and honorary degrees in recognition of his professional and civic contributions, including the NAACP “Chairman’s Award,” the Department of Justice’s “John F. Keeney Award,” the District of Columbia Bar Association’s “Beatrice Rosenberg Award,” George Washington University’s “Martin Luther King, Jr. Medal for Outstanding Service in Human Rights,” and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights’ “Robert F. Kennedy Justice Prize.” The District of Columbia Bar Association has recognized Holder as its “Lawyer of the Year,” and in 2008, the Legal Times named him as one of the “Greatest Washington Lawyers of the Past 30 Years.”

For more information on Holder’s appearance at SVSU, visit

Those attending the event must issue a government-issued photo ID such as a driver’s license. Large baggage, including backpacks, briefcases, large umbrellas and other oversized items will not be allowed in the Malcolm Field Theatre.

December 2, 2016

Communications executive and alumna to address SVSU December graduates

A respected communications executive will deliver the keynote address to graduates during Commencement exercises at Saginaw Valley State University. Jan Botz, an SVSU alumna who previously served as chief communications officer for Dow Corning and as vice president of Public Affairs and Communications at the University of Notre Dame, will speak Friday, Dec, 16 at 7:30 p.m. and again Saturday, Dec. 17 at 11 a.m. in O'Neill Arena.

Commencement exercises for graduates in the colleges of Business & Management and Health & Human Services will be held Friday evening. Students completing degrees in the colleges of Arts & Behavioral Sciences; Education; and Science, Engineering & Technology will take part in the ceremony scheduled for Saturday morning.

The graduating class consists of 685 students who are expected to complete degrees, including 623 individuals who have indicated that they intend to don regalia and march in the ceremonies. The class includes 554 who will receive bachelor's degrees, and 131 who will receive master's or education specialist degrees.

As is tradition, SVSU President Don Bachand will congratulate each graduate as he or she crosses the stage.

A 1974 graduate of SVSU, Botz majored in sociology and English. She was a reporter and later editor of The Valley Vanguard and served in student government. Botz later earned a Master of Business Administration from Central Michigan University.

Botz is passionate about the value of liberal arts to corporate organizations; and in 2013, she established the Botz Fellowship at SVSU to help liberal arts students gain corporate experiences via internships. She also serves on the university’s Foundation Board of Directors and is a past member of the Alumni Board and the Board of Fellows. Botz received the university’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 1998.

Botz began her career at The Saginaw News. After several years as a reporter and an editor, she moved on to the Dow Corning Corporation, where she held positions of increasing responsibility  in various business and communications roles in the U.S. and Europe for some 30 years. Botz retired after seven years as chief communications officer and transitioned to higher education as vice president of Public Affairs and Communications at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. While in South Bend, she served as a member of the board and the executive committee of WNIT, the northern Indiana PBS station.

In 2012, Botz formed her own communications consultancy firm. She currently works as program director of the Conference Board for two executive peer groups and conducts the annual Corporate Communications Conference. Botz was a decade-long member of The Conference Board’s Corporate Communications Strategy Council, serving as chair for several years.  
A member of the Friends Board of Wisconsin Public Television, based in Madison, she also belongs to the Arthur W. Page Society for communications executives. 

December 1, 2016

SVSU to host state festival for high school thespians

Some 1,900 prospective actors and actresses from high schools across the state will spend Friday and Saturday, Dec. 2-3, in Saginaw as part of an annual Saginaw Valley State University-hosted festival supporting theatre education.

SVSU has hosted the festival for Michigan Thespians, the state affiliate of the Educational Theatre Association, since 2011.

“It’s a great way for these students to see the work of their peers,” said David Rzeszutek, an SVSU associate professor of theatre and one of the festival’s coordinators.

“This might be the first time they’re on a campus setting, and so they might be discovering their future for the first time.”

Students from the Great Lakes Bay Region will attend, as will teenagers from Detroit, Traverse City, Charlevoix, and many other corners of Michigan, Rzeszutek said.

The festival’s opening ceremony kicks off at Temple Theatre in downtown Saginaw Friday at 8:30 a.m. before the group arrives at SVSU at noon. The 2-day slate of activities include workshops, scholarship competitions, and an awards ceremony.

Theatre professionals and representatives from performing arts costume shops expect to attend. SVSU theatre students will be among the festival volunteers.

Admissions representatives from up to 20 colleges and universities — including SVSU — also plan to attend, Rzeszutek said.

The commuting attendees stay overnight in the region’s hotels, boosting the local economy.

“It’s a great festival for everyone involved,” Rzeszutek said.

November 30, 2016

SVSU professor receives national neuroscience honor

A Saginaw Valley State University educator has earned accolades from colleagues nationally for his commitment to support and empower students with research opportunities.

Jeffrey Smith, SVSU’s Malcolm & Lois Field Endowed Chair of Health Sciences, received the Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience’s (FUN) Service Award, given to individuals who contribute to the development of the national organization and its mission of advancing neuroscience studies.

Smith received the award Sunday, Nov. 13, when he attended the Society for Neuroscience’s annual conference in San Diego.

He was nominated in part by students such as Zackary Bowers, an SVSU psychology major from Freeland. He said Smith’s leadership encourages an academic curiosity that enables students to succeed in classrooms and research laboratories alike.

“With Jeff, finding your passion in neuroscience is what matters,” Bowers said. “As long as you are willing to work hard, he will work twice as hard to provide you with opportunities.”

Bowers has experienced Smith’s empowering impact first-hand. This year, Bowers attended two national conferences to present research conducted with Smith’s help in the SVSU Brain Research Lab. Bowers received an Undergraduate Student Outstanding Poster Award from among 180 poster presentations at the Michigan Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience conference in May.

“He demonstrates, on a national scale, how our faculty are willing to go above and beyond for undergraduate education and the societies which support them,” Bowers said.

One of the societies Smith supports includes FUN, which Smith first joined in 1999. From 2013-15, he served in various leadership roles for the group, including as its president.

Lisa Gabel, another former FUN president, was one of the individuals who presented the Service Award to Smith in San Diego.

“For Jeff, it is all about the students,” said Gabel, an associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania.

“He worked tirelessly to develop lasting relationships with our sponsors to increase the number of travel awards we are able to offer to exceptional students to attend the Society for Neuroscience meeting. Jeff is dedicated to the development of undergraduate research and has provided the opportunity for SVSU undergrads to participate and lead award-winning projects that are presented at national conferences and ultimately published in peer-reviewed journals.”

Smith joined SVSU in 2010; he completed a Ph.D. at Emory University. He called receiving the award “a tremendous honor.”

“FUN is a great organization,” he said. “It’s not just an organization dedicated to research; members are very supportive of each other and are active in helping each other become better teacher and better practitioners of neuroscience.”

In 2016, SVSU added a neuroscience major to the curriculum. It features teaching and research activities of faculty members from the departments of biology, chemistry, health sciences and psychology.

November 30, 2016

SVSU College of Business & Management program to host elevator pitch competition

SVSU College of Business & Management program to host elevator pitch competition
Thursday, Dec. 1; 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Curtiss Hall banquet rooms A and B, Saginaw Valley State University

The Saginaw Valley State University College of Business & Management’s Dow Entrepreneurship Institute will host its second annual Elevator Pitch Competition this week.

SVSU and eight other universities from across Michigan are sending a combined 25 teams of students to pitch their new business ideas during a 2-minute presentation to a panel of judges in front of an audience for a chance to win $2,000.

During the contest’s inaugural year, Joshua Zyrowski, an SVSU international business major from Saginaw, earned a $1,000 grand prize after impressing the judges with his inspired idea of a magnetic travel mug that clings to metallic surfaces.

The Dow Entrepreneurship Institute, part of SVSU’s College of Business & Management, is organizing the event, as part of a series of opportunities for students to engage in the business start-up experience.  

The Dow Entrepreneurship Institute at SVSU's College of Business & Management was funded by the Herbert H. & Grace A. Dow Foundation. The institute stimulates creation of new business ventures, serves as a resource for research activities aimed at business innovation, and provides internship opportunities with area businesses for student entrepreneurs.

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