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From the Alumni Office:

Jennifer Hamlin Church, Associate VP for Advancement & Director of Alumni Relations
Jennifer Hamlin Church, Associate VP for Advancement & Director of Alumni Relations

No Typical Alumni!

My first encounter with Siena Heights occurred 25 years ago when I answered a phone call for my husband, Tracy. The caller was a professor, my husband’s advisor, but he hadn’t seen Tracy for a while. I knew that Tracy had had other things on his mind: a wedding, a demanding job, kidney dialysis, a kidney transplant, and then a leg amputation. But this professor didn’t know any of that. He just knew Tracy was close to completing his B.A., and he didn’t want him to quit: “Tell him we hope he’ll come back,” he said. “We want him to finish that degree.”

I was dumbfounded. Who bothered to keep track of individual students and notice when they stopped out? What college took the time to call a part-time guy on the 27-year plan…and encourage him to keep going? Who did that?

Siena Heights did. Professor Bill Blackerby did.

Tracy’s graduation a few years later was another eye-opener. I had attended a traditional liberal arts college and worked at two others; there, a “typical” graduate was about 22 years old. But sitting in the Fieldhouse in 1993, I knew … knew in a new way … that no senior had worked harder to reach this day than my 45-year-old husband. And no family was any prouder of their graduate than we were. What an epiphany!

At that moment, I became a fan of non-traditional education.

Read more . . .

From the Alumni Association:

Mary Small Poore, President—Alumni Association Board of Directors
Mary Small Poore, President—Alumni Association Board of Directors

My Final Reflection

With a deadline looming, I wondered how to pen my last Reflections article as President of the Siena Heights Alumni Association. Then I realized: my experiences in just the past month portrayed the story and essence of this University. As with any good story, the cast of characters is essential to the storyline. Allow me to share a few chapters of this Siena story and its people.

Chapter 1, Theatre Siena: My husband and I, plus 158 other Siena friends and alumni, shared a great evening in late March at the annual Alumni Dinner & Theater event. This affair, always a favorite of mine, exceeded all expectations. Dinner and decor in newly renovated Benincasa Hall was remarkable; and the musical that followed, “Chicago,” was one of the finest shows I’ve seen. Everything—acting, singing, choreography, music, set—was professional. Theatre Siena continues to produce exceptional talent; talent that, once it leaves our campus, goes into the community and far beyond.

Chapter 2, Academic Excellence: In April, I was honored to attend the first (and I hope annual) Scholarship Symposium. Students showcased research and academic achievements in all areas, sharing their knowledge with faculty, staff and the community. It was a privilege to meet these students, feel their passion and see their hard work. The faculty and staff who guided and mentored these students should also feel great pride and satisfaction; they have instilled in their students a lifelong quest for knowledge. I feel sure that many more opportunities will come to these students thanks to the challenge provided by their instructors.

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Class Notes—Summer 2015

From The Sites:

SHU—Battle Creek

Tom Martin recently was credited in helping to save the life of an 11-year-old boy due to his autism safety training. Martin, the chief of the South Haven (Mich.) Police Department, received a call about an autistic boy who walked away from his home. Due to his training, he suggested that police check the shore line, since those with autism are drawn to water. Police found the boy on the end of a pier and safely returned him home to his parents. Martin is currently planning additional autism safety training for his entire force.

Sara Morgan Clark is employed as a 911 dispatcher, group leader and CTO with the Kalamazoo (Mich.) Department of Public Safety. She resides in Portage, Mich.

Chad Tackett
Chad Tackett


Chad Tackett was named the chief of the Texas Township (Mich.) Fire Department in September 2014. He has 13 years of experience working for the Michigan State Police’s Emergency Management Homeland Security Training Center and was the former chief of the Otsego (Mich.) Fire Department.

Nick Kogut recently accepted a position with the Ingham County Child Protective Services.

Read more . . .