Saginaw Valley State University recognized six outstanding K-12 employees during SVSU’s first-ever Heroes in Education awards ceremony April 13.
SVSU’s student-led College of Education Leadership Team presented the awards to a mix of teachers, custodians and cooks who made a difference in the lives of students from across Michigan.
“The future of Michigan depends on our children receiving excellent education to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing world,” said Craig Douglas, dean of the College of Education. “We are fortunate to have so many individuals at all levels of education determined to see students succeed through their committed service and inspirational examples, and we at SVSU are proud to recognize them for their vital work.”
The recipients are:
• Charles Arnett, a music teacher from Chandler Park Academy, an SVSU-authorized charter school in Harper Woods. Evelyn Shropshire, a building administrator at the academy, said Arnett built the academy’s music program from scratch, applying for grants and using his own hands to construct acoustic-friendly music rooms within the building.
• Sally Burkey, an assistant cook from Freeland High School. Nominators explained that Burkey is a favorite of the students. She recently took the initiative to pack breakfasts daily for a middle school student too shy to come to the cafeteria. After weeks of encouragement, the student began to sit with classmates in the cafeteria.
• Scott Garcia, a custodian from Genesee STEM Academy, an SVSU-authorized charter school in Flint. Rita Cheek, the school’s principal, said Garcia performs beyond the call of duty. “He covers the maintenance, security, student supervision, barbecue chef, motivator and any other task that needs to be completed,” Cheek said.
• Katie Jenkins, a teacher from Carrie Knause Early Childhood Learning Center in St. Louis, Michigan. Jenkins recently battled breast cancer and her mother died. “Despite her loss and heartbreak, she came to work every day and focused on her students and their needs,” said Theresa Vance, a kindergarten teacher at the institution. “She would leave an hour early every other Thursday for chemo treatments but be right back to work the very next day.”
• Gary Karney, a teacher from List Elementary School in Frankenmuth. Nominators said Karney worked hard to engage with students. He often arrived to school early, stayed late, volunteered as a tutor, and worked on weekends. He was credited with helping a special needs student concentrate in class by building the student a desk-sized replica of “his favorite thing:” The Titanic.
• Kathryn Layer, a teacher from Great Beginnings Christian Childcare and Kindergarten in Saginaw. Nominators touted Layer’s efforts to involve her students in service learning activities that included visits to local nursing homes, where classmates read to the elderly and provided company. Layer also was recognized for her work with autistic students at the institution.
The six were selected from among 86 educators statewide nominated for the award.
Douglas says the awards ceremony will become an annual tradition to highlight employees in the education industry who make a difference.
Saginaw Valley State University will see nearly $7 million in cost savings, thanks to timely debt refinancing and a dedication to running a fiscally responsible organization to better serve students.
In January, SVSU officials recognized an opportunity with historically low interest rates on long-term tax-exempt bonds.
“All of our financial decisions are made with students’ interests in mind,” said James Muladore, executive vice president for administration and business affairs. “This was not something we had to do, and it required a great deal of effort to achieve, but these types of actions are what have allowed us to remain affordable and provide a high quality education.”
In order to refinance $52 million in existing debt and borrow an additional $10 million for the renovation of Zahnow Library, the credit rating agencies of Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s completed extensive reviews of SVSU’s financial position.
In announcing their A1 rating of SVSU, Moody’s cited “consistently strong operating cash flow resulting in healthy debt service coverage, very good financial resource cushion relative to operations and debt, and a conservative debt structure.” (https://www.moodys.com/research/Moodys-assigns-A1-to-Saginaw-Valley-State-Universitys-MI-Series--PR_903180475)
Working with investment banker Barclays, SVSU successfully marketed the $62 million bond issue to investors. SVSU will realize interest savings of $6.8 million, more than $300,000 annually through 2038 when the long-term bonds will be fully paid off. The money borrowed for the library project is a short-term note that will be repaid within four years.
SVSU also refunded bonds in 2013 that resulted in $1.2 million in savings, and in 2015, which saved SVSU roughly $1.7 million in interest. Most of SVSU’s borrowing has been for construction, such as housing and dining facilities, and the university’s portion of state-supported projects, such as the Health and Human Services Building.
Leaders with Saginaw Valley State University and Bay-Arenac ISD Career Center recently demonstrated their shared community-minded commitment by signing an articulation agreement to benefit students planning careers in the health professions.
The agreement allows graduates of six programs at the Bay-Arenac ISD Career Center – dental occupations, forensic science, health technology/medical science, nursing assistant, physical therapy/occupational therapy/sports medicine, and veterinary science – to transfer credits to SVSU.
Qualifying Bay-Arenac ISD Career Center graduates would be able to allocate credits toward SVSU degree programs in kinesiology.
The agreement allows qualifying students the opportunity to progress more efficiently through their programs of study, SVSU leaders say.
“Both SVSU and the Bay-Arenac ISD Career Center have high standards in academic expectation, and in this case, those mutual standards are going to benefit students in their pursuit of an academic degree,” said Judy Ruland, dean of SVSU’s College of Health & Human Services.
“Both of our institutions want to help our students efficiently and effectively achieve their desired program of study, and this agreement will do just that.”
Audiences are invited to attend Saginaw Valley State University’s Percussion Ensemble and Valley Steel concert Wednesday, April 20.
The concert, free and open to the public, is at 7:30 p.m. in SVSU’s Rhea Miller Recital Hall.
The concert program will feature performances from a number of 20th century musicians. The musical lineup will include Jimmy Buffett’s “Volcano,” Winston Bailey’s “Shift Your Carcass,” and Lord Kitchener’s “Flag Woman,” among others.
Brandon Haskett, SVSU associate professor of music, will direct the performance.
For more information, visit svsu.edu/music or call (989) 964-4159.
Saginaw Valley State University will be able to supply new equipment to youths who participate in SVSU’s free, year-round athletics camps, thanks to a Michigan Baseball Foundation grant.
The $6,420 grant will support purchasing sports equipment more suitable in size for youths attending the Community Youth Days clinics SVSU offers in baseball, softball, football, volleyball, basketball, soccer, tennis, golf, and track and field.
“Our goal is to improve the experience of the youth who attend the clinic, which will be enhanced and improved by providing age-appropriate equipment,” said Angela Pohl, SVSU associate athletic director.
For the past seven years, SVSU has hosted 700 K-8 school-aged youths each year. SVSU coaches and student-athletes host the hour-long clinics. The Michigan Baseball Foundation grant — and the equipment it buys — will help SVSU boost continued interest in sports among the participants, Pohl said.
“Instead of trying to hit, catch, kick and swing with equipment that is either not available or too big, youth can experience success with bats, gloves, golf clubs, balls and racquets that are size and age-appropriate,” she said.
“The rate of success with age-appropriate versus collegiate equipment will be dramatically improved, and with an improved experience, a child is more likely to attempt the sport again.”
SVSU Athletics has received numerous awards for its youth outreach programs. The department most recently received the Community Engagement Award from the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) for the 2014-15 academic year. SVSU has received the award three times in its seven-year history; three other times, SVSU has been honored by the NCAA for its community engagement.
The Michigan Baseball Foundation was established to bring affordable, family-friendly entertainment to the region. Through the Great Lakes Loons and Dow Diamond, the foundation aims to revitalize and reinvigorate the region as well as promote greater economic and civic prosperity.
The foundation received initial funding from the following sources: Dow Corning Corporation, The Dow Chemical Company Foundation, The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation, The Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation, The Charles J. Strosacker Foundation, and The Bill and Linda Stavropoulos Foundation.
The Saginaw Valley State University jazz ensemble will be joined by guest pianist William Bastian for a concert Thursday, April 21, at 7:30 p.m. in SVSU’s Rhea Miller Recital Hall.
Selections to be played include "South Manitou Essay" by John Moss, "Gentle Rain" by Luiz Bonfa, and "Yardbird Suite" by Charlie Parker. The ensemble will be directed by Jeff Hall, SVSU jazz artist-in-residence, who also will play piano for various songs during the concert.
Bastian has years of experience as a professional musician and educator. He was formerly the director of Choral Activities at Southwestern Community College in Iowa. Bastian earned a bachelor's degree in jazz studies from Western Michigan University and a master's degree in jazz piano performance and pedagogy from the University of Memphis. In addition to teaching at Lansing Community College, Bastian maintains an active performance schedule in Detroit and the surrounding area. He is presently teaching piano at Lansing Community College.
The concert is open to the public; admission is free of charge. For more information, visit svsu.edu/music or call (989) 964-4159.
Saginaw Valley State University students have demonstrated extraordinary commitment to supporting charities in the Great Lakes Bay Region through the annual Battle of the Valleys fundraising competition.
Michigan Campus Compact, an organization that recognizes college students serving as civically-engaged citizens, selected SVSU and Battle of the Valleys initiative as the recipient of the first-ever statewide 2016 Innovations in Community Impact Award.
“Battle of the Valleys has had a tremendous impact on our community,” said Renee Johnston, president and CEO of the Saginaw Community Foundation. “I love the fact that the concept is so unique: a combination of fun, competitive, charitable, and a great way to get involved.”
An annual fundraising competition between students from SVSU and Grand Valley State University, Battle of the Valleys is a one-week challenge. Since 2003, students have raised funds for their university’s respective charity partners during the week leading up to the rival schools’ annual football game.
“Of course, there is the positive financial impact on those charitable organizations who have been the beneficiaries of the funds raised, but there is also an impact on the community at-large,” Johnston said. “The dollars raised over the years have allowed organizations to provide services that address specific needs in the community.
“These students also are sending a positive message to the community through the commitment they are making through their fundraising and volunteer efforts.”
SVSU has won 10 of the 13 competitions — including the last eight — raising $331,329 of the $508,819 total. The university that wins the competition also receives the contest’s “Valley” trophy.
SVSU students in November 2015 once again brought the trophy back to their campus. SVSU won the Battle of the Valleys contest by raising $24,540 for Get Outside for a Healthy Inside, an affiliate of the Saginaw Community Foundation dedicated to improving physical fitness in Saginaw.
“We are very proud of our Saginaw Valley students in meeting this challenge, and their efforts to improve the health of all Saginaw residents,” said Sharon Dinse, coordinator for Get Outside for a Healthy Inside.
The 2015 Battle of the Valleys coordinator was SVSU student Natalie Schneider, a business management major from Saginaw Township. Schneider also was honored individually by Michigan Campus Compact with a Commitment to Service award for her extensive community involvement. She serves as the philanthropy chair for SVSU’s student government and is a Wolohan Fellow, part of a select group of Saginaw County students working to improve the image and quality of life for their hometown.
“Natalie and her classmates at SVSU stepped up to address the lack of adequate areas for exercise and enjoyment of the outdoors,” Dinse said. “We are using the funds to begin the process of creating and revitalizing neighborhood parks and trails.”
Schneider and her fellow SVSU students who helped organize the Battle of the Valleys initiative accepted the awards during the Michigan Campus Compact Awards Gala in East Lansing Thursday, April 7.
Students in Saginaw Valley State University’s Roberts Fellowship are devoting a Saturday to improving a community facility.
As part of the 2016 Global Youth Service Day Saturday, April, 16, the SVSU students are partnering with the AmeriCorps program in Saginaw to use a $350 mini-grant toward the renovation of Shelterhouse, a Midland shelter for victims of domestic and sexual abuse as well as human trafficking.
The project will focus on education through sustainable environmental change, such as cleaning up the grounds and building garden beds for long term-use at Shelterhouse. The grant funding was provide by the Michigan Community Service Commission, Michigan Nonprofit Association and Mentor Michigan.
The students won't be alone in their renovation attempt. Volunteers also have signed up to help.
Roberts Fellow Susie Balcom, a social work major from Millington, said the group chose the Midland Shelterhouse because it was “close to their heart.”
She added that much of the service project relates to what she and her group has learned during their time in the Roberts Fellowship program.
“It has helped us recognize the power we have as students and leaders of our student body,” Balcom said. “When we first began, we didn't feel like we were leaders. But then as we learned about it, we learned that leadership is more than just having a ton of success and connections in your back pocket. It's about using that for the good of your community.”
Balcom is joined by four other Roberts Fellows students on the project. They are:
• Allison Bargard, an English major from Frankenmuth
• Alyssa Cozad, a visual arts education major from Bay City
• Billie Deshone a history major from Saginaw
• Daphne Hamburg, a social work major from Alma
Global Youth Service Day is April 16. It's a day dedicated to having youths 25 years old and younger design, plan and execute a service project in their community that focuses on education, health, clean energy or environmental stewardship, economic opportunity or disaster preparedness.
Established in 1999, the Roberts Fellowship program at SVSU is named in honor of Donna Roberts of Midland, who has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to SVSU through her personal generosity and prior service on the Board of Control and the Board of Fellows. A respected attorney, business leader and philanthropist, Roberts retired from The Dow Chemical Company, where she was Secretary and Assistant General Counsel. She is an honorary director of the SVSU Foundation Board.
The Roberts Fellowship supports a select group of students who have demonstrated both scholarship and leadership potential. These students are supported through a two-semester program of both academic course work and extracurricular activities that is designed to further develop their potential as future political, economic and civic leaders. The program culminates in a trip to Asia to provide the Fellows with an international perspective on leadership.
Saginaw Valley State University will show filmmaker John J. Valadez' new PBS documentary, "The Head of Joaquin Murrieta," Friday, April 22, at 6:30 p.m. in Wickes 115.
The event is free and open to the public. A panel discussion featuring the filmmaker will follow the screening.
The film follows Valadez' quest to find the remains of Joaquin Murrieta, a legendary Mexican outlaw. In the summer of 1853, Murrieta was killed by bounty hunters who put his head in a jar and displayed it across California, charging spectators $1.
The film embarks on a cross-country road trip through history, memory and myth to bury the head of Murrieta and finally lay to rest a dark and troubled past — one that has chilling parallels with the filmmaker’s own family story.
"The Head of Joaquin Murrieta" is an entertaining and often disturbing tale that tears open a painful and long-ignored history: the lynching of Mexican-Americans in the southwest.
Valadez has produced and directed award-winning films and documentaries for both PBS and CNN for 14 years. Other films he has directed include "Passin' it On," "The Last Conquistador" and "High Stakes Testing."
Valadez will participate in the event’s panel discussion. He will be joined by Joseph Guzman interim director of Chicano/Latino Studies at Michigan State University; Elsa Olvera, program director for SVSU’s Gear Up; and Rosa Morales, Region 6 director of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.
Daniel Soza, president of the Saginaw chapter of Latino Leaders for the Enhancement of Advocacy & Development (LLEAD), will moderate the discussion.
SVSU partnered with LLEAD to bring the film to the campus. The project was funded by the Gerald R. Beckwith Constitutional Liberties Fund.
For additional information, please contact SVSU’s Office of Diversity Programs (989) 964-4068 or Soza at (989) 708-2263.
An internationally-recognized composer from Port-au-Prince, Haiti will lead student musicians from both Saginaw Valley State University and Mott Community College in an SVSU concert Monday, April 18.
"The Music of Haiti," featuring special guest composer Sydney Guillaume, is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. in the Rhea Miller Recital Hall. The event is free and open to the public.
The performance will feature SVSU’s Cardinal Singers and Concert Choir, along with the Mott Community College Concert Choir.
Praised by The Miami Herald for their “impressive maturity and striking melodic distinction,” Guillaume’s compositions are considered intricate, challenging and highly spirited. Many of his choral works foster an awareness of the beautiful Haitian culture. His compositions have been featured at numerous conferences and international festivals. His recent engagements include an all-Guillaume concert in New York City’s Lincoln Center and a concert with the Imbroglio Sextet at Carnegie Hall.
Nearly all of his choral music have been commissioned works. He has written for renowned choirs such as the Grammy-nominated Seraphic Fire, the Westminster Chorus, University of Miami Frost Chorale, the Nathaniel Dett Chorale, Illinois Wesleyan University Collegiate Choir, the Saint Louis Chamber Singers and the Miami Children’s Chorus.
Along with Guillaume’s work, the SVSU concert also will feature selections from 19th century American composer Robert Lowry and 16th century Renaissance composer Pierre Certon.
The SVSU Concert Choir features 36 student musicians; Cardinal Singers, 15; and Mott Community College Concert Choir, 21.
The concert will be directed by Kevin Simons, SVSU assistant professor of music, and feature piano accompanist Amanda Lewis. Guillaume will conduct selected songs.