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From the Heights—Fall 2016 Campus News

SHU and Chinese Institute Collaborate on Business Degree Partnership

Siena Heights University and the Shijiazhuang Vocational Technology Institute of China recently announced a business administration bachelor’s degree articulation agreement in August 2016. SVTI marketing and planning majors will have the opportunity to attend Siena Heights during their final year of study. Under the agreement, SVTI students will complete the first three years of coursework in the marketing and planning major at Shijiazhuang, then can attend SHU and take courses in SHU’s business administration program to complete their major. Students will also take English language courses and live on campus during their time in the U.S.

Environmental Science Students Conduct Research in Florida

In April 2016, Siena Heights Environmental Science majors/minors traveled to Florida’s Ponce Inlet and the Indian River Lagoon, the most bio-diverse estuary in North America covering two climate zones and 156 miles from Ponce Inlet to Jupiter Inlet. Students researched current environmental issues impacting a particular local habitat or species. They then toured or caught these species (live catch and release). Subsequent research involved tours of local conservation/preservation sites developed to protect these same habitats or species.

Reuss-McCann on Panel at BGSU

Professor of Sport Management Dr. Peggy Reuss-McCann was a panelist at the Social Justice through Sport and Exercise Psychology symposium April 1-2 at Bowling Green St. University. She
participated in a discussion on community engagement and social justice.

Siena Heights Hosts Inclusion Event May 20, 2016

Siena Heights hosted the American College Personnel Association’s Equity and Inclusion Summit May 20. SHU Director of Diversity and Inclusion Sharese Mathis co-chaired the event, which had a theme of “Practicing Authenticity, Integrity and Self-Care as Students and Educators.” The objective was to bring graduate students, student affairs practitioners and faculty together to discuss the challenges in student affairs, equity and inclusion and social justice work.

Scholarship Symposium Again Highlights Top Student Scholarship

SHU presented its second annual Scholarship Symposium April 20. The event kicked off with a keynote address by Wayne St. University Associate Professor of History Dr. Danielle McGuire. Her talk, entitled “The Power of the Past: History and the Art of Storytelling,” illuminated why history matters to our contemporary society. There were also a series of breakout sessions throughout the remainder of the day. More than 180 students participated in the symposium.

Warner Works with Girls from South Dakota Reservation

In July, SHU Assistant Professor of Theater and Creative Stages Director Joni Warner worked with girls from the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Through this unique program of cultural immersion and academics, she learned about the Lakota traditions as well as offered workshops in dramatic arts. “Wincincola Wiyannan Wounspe” math camp in conjunction with the “Tapa Wankaye Woecun” ceremony were conducted on the sacred ground of Pe’Sla in the Black Hills July 24-29. This is the first time in more than 100 years that the ceremony has returned to Pe’Sla. The hope is that returning to Pe’Sla and learning will empower these young girls, many who are at high risk for suicide.

Wassmer Publishes Research Articles

SHU Assistant Professor of Biology Thomas Wassmer recently teamed up with Professor Roberto Refinetti, one of the leading researchers on biological rhythms, and published two research articles:

  • “Daily Activity and Nest Occupation Patterns of Fox Squirrels (Sciurus niger) throughout the Year” was published in the open-access journal PLoS ONE.
  • “Variability of Behavioral Chronotypes of 16 Mammalian Species under Controlled Conditions” was published in: Physiology & Behavior 161:53-59.
  • Also, Olivia Smith, whose senior project Wassmer supervised, developed an ethogram of behaviors of the critically endangered Bridled White-Eye (Zosterops conspicillatus). The two cooperated in writing a paper on this topic that was accepted for publication in The Wilson Journal of Ornithology.
  • Finally, last summer, Wassmer contributed to the work of an international group of ecologists, organized by Jorge Ari Noriega of the Department of Biogeography and Global Change at the Museum of Natural Science in Madrid, Spain. Noriega will study the dynamics of dung removal in many countries worldwide.

Porath, Detwiler Present at National Advising Conference

SHU’s Director of Advising Wiona Porath and Student Support Services Director Robert Detwiler, along with colleagues from Calvin and MacMurry colleges, presented at the 2016 NACADA annual conference Oct. 5-8 in Atlanta. Their presentation “It’s HOTlanta: Don’t Burn Out,” was selected by the Small Colleges & Universities Commission to be one of its sponsored sessions. Each NACADA commission can select a maximum of three proposals for this honor. Commission-sponsored status is awarded to sessions that reflected information particularly representative of that commission’s interests. Sponsored status will be reflected in the program everyone receives at the conference, facilitating attendance by participants interested in this commission’s focus.

Meyers Named New Director of Nursing at SHU

Stacey Meyers, RN, MSN, APRN-BC, PMHNP, was named the next director of Nursing. Her first day at Siena Heights was June 30. Meyers previously served as a nurse practitioner at the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Ann Arbor. She also worked in nursing in Georgia and Pennsylvania. She earned bachelor’s degrees in nursing and psychology from The Ohio State University, her MSN from the University of Pennsylvania and is a doctoral candidate at Mercer University in Atlanta. She was the assistant director of undergraduate nursing at Columbus St. (Ga.) University from 2014-15 and also an instructor there for four years.

Ross Presents at Education Summer Conference

In July, SHU Assistant Professor of Education/Special Education Julie Ross presented at the North Carolina Career and Technical Education Summer Conference in Greensboro, N.C. Her presentations, “What’s Up with the Teenage Brain,” and “Teamwork Makes the Dream Work!” stem from her years of interest and passion for the educational application and implications of brain research.

Moody Publishes Research in Journal of Urban Health

Siena Heights Associate Professor of Environmental Science Heather Moody had her manuscript “The Relationship of Neighborhood Socioeconomic Differences and Racial Residential Segregation to Childhood Blood Lead Levels in Metropolitan Detroit” accepted by the Journal of Urban Health.

Hamilton Participates in Summer Institute in Israel

SHU Director of Engineering Ryan Hamilton was one of 24 college and university professors who participated in the Jewish National Fund and Media Watch International’s Faculty Fellowship Summer Institute in Israel. The group spent 10 rigorous days traveling throughout Israel, meeting Israeli professors in their disciplines with the same or similar research interests, all with the goal of developing collaborations, research projects, co-authoring articles and establishing exchange programs with faculty and students.

Speakers enlightened and educated the participants all about Israel, its history, the Holocaust and Israeli and Arab women’s rights among other topics. Throughout their visit, participants were exposed to Israeli culture, toured historical sites, made connections with local residents and got a taste of the Israeli way of life. “It was an excellent opportunity to accelerate the internationalization of my program and research while learning about the diversity, plurality of political views and and vibrancy of modern Israel,” Hamilton said.

The Institute is a competitive academic fellowship that invites full-time university and college faculty members to apply to participate in the two-week fellowship. The program links scholars from diverse disciplines with their Israeli counterparts at major institutions for the purpose of initiating exchanges and collaborations.

SHU Honored with Gold Level Status by MVAA

For the second consecutive year, Siena Heights University earned Gold Level status in Veteran-Friendly School program created by the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency. The program recognizes institutions of higher learning for their dedication to student veterans and dependents utilizing their G.I. Bill and other educational benefits. Recognized Michigan colleges and universities earned either bronze-, silver- or gold-level status as determined by the number of services they offer to student veterans. Some of the criteria schools were ranked on included having an active student-operated veterans club or association; veteran-specific career services or advising; on-campus veteran’s coordinator and awarding credit based on prior military training and experience.

Barr Creates Unique Self-Guided Walking Tour of Historic Adrian

SHU Professor of Art History Peter Barr has released a new web site that features a self-guided walking tour of the city of Adrian’s historic district. Formerly known as, the new site,, features the Dennis and State streets Historic District, a neighborhood of privately owned homes listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1975. This web page offers an updated version of the popular self-guided walking tour that the Lenawee County Historical Museum printed a decade ago.

SHU President Speaks at Regional Advancement Conference

SHU President Sister Peg Albert spoke at the Independent College Advancement Associates Conference in August in Perrysburg, Ohio (right). She was the presidential keynote speaker and presented on the importance of friendraising and fundraising for small colleges and universities.

Cichy Named New Director of Teacher Education at SHU

SHU announced that Kelly Cichy, PhD, is Siena’s new director of the Teacher Education Program. Her first day was July 29. She was previously the director of Curriculum and Consultation for the STEM Services/Project Lead the Way for the Lenawee Intermediate School District. From 2010-12, she also was the director of the Graduate Teacher Education Program at SHU. She earned her bachelor’s degree in English Literature from DePauw (Ind.) University, her master’s degree in Cultural Anthropology from Southern Illinois University and her doctorate in Physical (Biological) Anthropology from Southern Illinois. She also completed SHU’s Intensive Certification Program and has her Michigan Professional Certification in secondary education in biology and English.

SHU Hosts Children’s Literature Event

SHU’s English Program hosted several southeastern Michigan authors for “A Celebration of Children’s Literature” event Sept. 15 in Dominican Hall. Authors attending included Shutta Crum, Deborah Diesen, Debbie Gonzales, Maripat Perkins, Nancy Shaw and Lisa Wheeler. Each author performed a short reading, and there was a panel discussion and then a book signing following.

Ethnic and Gender Studies Institute Created at SHU

SHU announced the creation of its first institute: the Ethnic and Gender Studies Institute. Directed by Associate Professor of English Julie Barst, it will build upon the current EGS minor program and work closely in partnership with Sharese Mathis in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, various student groups and the Adrian community. The Institute will also offer a film and speaker series and expand educational opportunities in numerous curricular areas.

SHU Online Learning Program Has One of Best Graduation Rates in Nation

Siena Heights University’s undergraduate Online Learning Program has the nation’s second highest graduation rate among private institutions and was fifth overall in a recent report released by the U.S. News and World Report. This is the second consecutive year Siena Heights has made the list. SHU’s Online Learning Program made the U.S. News and World Report’s “Short List” of top 10 colleges or universities that had the highest six-year completion rates based on students who entered in 2008-09. U.S. News surveyed 1,750 schools for its survey of online bachelor’s degree programs.

Siena Heights was the second highest private institution ranked with an 83.7 percent graduation rate during that period. SHU was fifth overall nationally among all institutions, placing behind the University of Missouri-St. Louis, the University of Illinois-Chicago, Southwestern Oklahoma St. University and Malone University. Earlier in 2016, Siena Heights’ Online Learning Program was ranked 72nd nationally in the U.S. News and World Report’s 2016 Best Online Bachelor’s Programs ranking. SHU has offered online bachelor’s degree completion programs in selected majors since 2004.

Jaramillo Presents at Canon Law Convention

SHU adjunct professor Eileen Jaramillo presented a paper at the Canon Law Convention in Houston, Texas. It was entitled “Are There Canonical Implications In Pope Francis’s Apostolic Exhortation: The Joy of Love In The Family?” Her paper will be published in the spring.

Frost Presents at Communal Studies Conference

SHU Associate Professor of History Dr. Julieanna Frost recently presented her paper, “Awaiting the Second Coming in the Piney Woods: The New House of Israel” at the Communal Studies Association Conference in Salt Lake City.

Lauderdale Honored by the State Bar of Michigan with Klein Award

SHU Professor Emerita of Social Work Ann Lauderdale received the Nancy S. Klein Award from the State Bar of Michigan in September 2016 for her work in alternative dispute resolution. She was honored at the group’s annual conference in Grand Rapids. She has been at the forefront of the use of mediation, restorative justice and other alternatives instead of traditional legal solutions to disputes for more than 30 years. Though retired from SHU, she also is a volunteer mediator, trainer and adviser for the Southeastern Dispute Resolution Services Center, which serves Lenawee, Jackson, Hillsdale and Monroe counties. She also recently completed a mediation training manual and a trainer’s manual that have been approved by the Michigan State Court Administrator’s Office as a general civil mediator training program. Lauderdale was approved as a lead trainer by the SCAO.

Walter Publishes Article in Journal of Catholic Higher Education

SHU Associate Professor of Religious Studies Sister Patricia Walter, OP, had her article, “’What We Have Seen…’: Higher Education in the Dominican Tradition,” published in the international Journal of Catholic Higher Education. It will appear in the Winter 2016 edition.

Siena Heights Opens Degree Completion Center in Kalamazoo

Siena Heights University and Kalamazoo Valley Community College formally signed an agreement Sept. 26, 2016, (right) that will allow KVCC students to complete four-year degrees with SHU. KVCC President Marilyn Schlack and SHU President Sister Peg Albert, OP, PhD, signed the memorandum of understanding that allows SHU to open
a campus at KVCC’s University Center.

“We are pleased to be collaborating with Kalamazoo Valley Community College in offering four-year degree completion options on the KVCC campus,” President Albert said. “We are excited to be on their campus to be able to offer more educational opportunities to their students as well as to the Kalamazoo area community.” After completing an associate degree, students will be able to seamlessly continue their education in the same buildings with the same services with which they have grown accustomed.

Students seeking a four-year degree at Siena Heights will be able to choose from a number of programs. Classes are scheduled to begin in 2017. Including its Adrian campus, Siena Heights now has nine locations throughout Michigan, as well as online.

Mathis Receives Excellence in Leadership Award

SHU Director of Diversity and Inclusion Sharese Shannon Mathis was recently awarded the 2016 American College Personnel Association-Michigan Excellence in Leadership Award for her work at SHU. ACPA is a comprehensive professional development organization for college student educators. Members come from a wide array of student and academic affairs functions, including academic advising, residence life, career services, student activities and multi-cultural services. The Excellence in Leadership Award, is given to a ACPA member who has demonstrated continuous and sustained leadership.

Scientist Draud Named New CAS Dean at SHU

Siena Heights University named Dr. Matthew Draud as its new dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. His first day at Siena Heights was July 18. Before coming to SHU, Draud was the head of the biology department at Armstrong St. University in Savannah, Ga., for three years. Previous to that, he was chair of the biology department at Long Island (N.Y.) University Post for 10 years. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Thomas More (Ky.) College, his master’s from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette and his PhD from Lehigh University, all in biology. He is a broadly trained ecologist with a strong interest in marine systems, especially coral reefs.

Over his career, Dr. Draud has overseen numerous full-time faculty hires and tenure and promotion decisions. He is an avid faculty advocate and mentor, and is well-versed in the role that small private universities play in the landscape of higher education.

Dr. Draud worked to bring a brand new genetic counseling graduate program to LIU Post as well as the external funding to support its growth. More recently, working in collaboration with greater Savannah area entrepreneurs and philanthropists, he brought a brand new Aquaponics Research Center to Armstrong St. It is dedicated to the study of technologies and practices to improve the sustainability and profitability of this soilless agriculture method.

“I am grateful to Siena Heights University for the wonderful opportunity they have given me,” Dr. Draud said. “I look forward to personal and professional growth as a scientist and as a leader in higher education. Having the chance to engage with the outstanding faculty, staff and students in the College of Arts and Sciences, and to support our programs and forge new paths is truly exciting.”

He was born in Covington, Ky. His wife, Michelle, is a registered nurse specializing in high risk OB-GYN patients. The couple has two children, Travis, 22, and Savannah, 18.

Weinstein Earns National Acclaim for “Children of the New World”

SHU faculty member Alexander Weinstein had his debut collection, “Children of the New World,” receiving national media acclaim. It named as top pick of the week by The New York Times and was also in Entertainment Weekly. It also received national reviews from The Atlantic and Boston Globe, and was named among The Best Science Fiction Books of September by The Washington Post. Also, an excerpt from the short story, “Moksha,” from the collection has been republished by the Buddhist Magazine, Tricycle. The book is available at major book sellers including Amazon. A book signing was held at SHU on September 29 (below).

Siena Heights Only Michigan Institution to Receive $300,000 Program Grant

In September 2016, Siena Heights University received a $300,000 federal Campus Program Grant from the Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women to help students who are victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking.

Siena Heights was one of 45 colleges and universities nationwide—and the only institution in Michigan—to receive one of 61 grants totaling $25 million.

“These Department of Justice campus grants are extremely competitive, and the fact that Siena Heights was funded is a real testament to the professional effort that was put forward by all involved,” said SHU President Sister Peg Albert, OP, PhD. “These funds will really provide a great resource for Siena Heights and its students. I would like to thank our Dean for Students, Michael Orlando, for leading this effort, as well as the many others who helped make this grant possible.”

According to a release from the OVW, recipients of these awards will work to deliver effective, comprehensive and coordinated strategies that help survivors heal; reduce campus sexual and domestic violence; and improve the institution’s response to these crimes. The awards will make possible a range of services, including specialized training for campus law enforcement, healthcare providers, university housing personnel and others who are often first responders.

“Schools that individualize their response to sexual, dating and domestic violence are better able to meet the unique needs of their student populations, especially underserved groups,” said OVW Principal Deputy Director Bea Hanson, Ph.D., in a statement. “Coordinated, comprehensive responses allow college communities to develop sustainable strategies to address these crimes.”

“We are grateful to have this additional funding that will directly serve our students, help improve Siena Heights’ readiness and response, as well as work to prevent such incidents from happening on campus,” President Albert said.


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