Campus News

A Roundup of Events, Activities and Achievements at Siena Heights

Campus News

A Roundup of Events, Activities and Achievements at Siena Heights

In Memoriam...

Scott Patrickscott_patrick2.jpg

A Siena Heights University student and his mother were killed when the vehicle they were traveling in collided with a tow truck Feb. 1 near Fenton, Mich. Scott Patrick was a junior Spanish/English major who lived on campus. He was involved in the Rotaract Club and was a regular attendee at Sunday Mass, according to SHU Chaplain Father Tom Helfrich. The University conducted an informal memorial service for members of the Siena community Feb. 3 in Lumen Chapel. 

Renato Gonzalezrenatogonzalez.jpg

SHU Professor Renato Gonzalez passed away Nov. 27, 2007. There was a memorial service for Renato Dec. 12 in Lumen Chapel.  Renato was the first state director of Bilingual Education in Michigan and the first president of the Michigan Association of Bilingual Education. He taught Spanish since 1963 with long stretches at Albion College as well as Siena Heights University. His life’s mission was to promote global understanding and peace through language learning and an appreciation of cultural diversity. He encouraged all of us to consider studying a second language, to take advantage of the opportunity to spend a semester in Mexico, and to support and learn from the Middle East Studies minor.

SHU Announces Tuition Freeze for 2008-09

Recognizing the current economic climate in the state of Michigan and the national trend of rising tuition costs in higher education, Siena Heights University took a bold step to remain affordable for its students. President Sister Peg Albert, OP, PhD, announced Siena Heights is freezing tuition rates for full-time undergraduate students enrolled at its Adrian campus. This freeze is in effect through the rest of the winter 2008 semester as well as for the 2008-09 fall and winter semesters.

“I recognize the value of a Siena Heights University education, however, I am also aware that many public and private institutions are pricing many students out of the market,” President Albert said. “We want to be among the leaders reversing that trend. I want to assure our current students, and any prospective student considering Siena Heights University, we will do everything we can to keep a Siena Heights education affordable.”

President Albert said what sparked the decision was hearing Siena students’ concerns – as well as the growing national worries – of college affordability. Siena Heights also analyzed data from a recent comprehensive study examining the university’s current tuition rates. In a survey recently conducted by the Chronicle of Higher Education, Siena Heights ranked 16th out of 28 Michigan private institutions in tuition price, and below the average of $19,026.According to one of the nation’s top higher education marketing consultants, the price of higher education continues to increase, and institutions could soon be feeling pressure from government to control these rising costs.

“I applaud Siena Heights’ decision to step out and take the lead in Michigan, especially with the current economic situation the state is facing,” said Robert A. Sevier, PhD, vice president, strategy for Stamats, Inc. “The decision by the university to freeze its tuition is evidence of its commitment to the students and families of Michigan, many of whom are facing a tough economic climate. There is always a delicate balance between value and quality, and it is encouraging to see Siena Heights cares about both.”

“A college education for every Michigan citizen is key to diversifying our economy and creating jobs in the 21st century,” Governor Jennifer M. Granholm said. “I am pleased that Siena Heights University shares our commitment to making college affordable and accessible for all our citizens.”

In addition to the decision to freeze tuition, Siena Heights is expanding the allowable number of semester hours for its “flat rate tuition” from 12-16 semester hours to 12-18 hours. This will assist students to enroll for more hours without incurring as much cost.

Mitchell Blonde Named VP of Advancement

Mitchell Blonde was named Vice President of Advancement. Blonde began hisMitchell-Blonde2.jpg new position at Siena Heights Jan. 22. Before arriving at Siena Heights, Blonde served as the Executive Director of the Jackson Community College Foundation. While at JCC, he has developed and implemented comprehensive plans in annual giving, major gifts, planned giving, alumni relations, prospect research and stewardship. He has also served in various fundraising capacities at Adrian College and Bowling Green State University. Blonde earned a bachelor of arts degree in communications in 1995 from Adrian College and a master of arts degree in organizational leadership from Siena Heights University in 2004. He also is a Certified Fund Raising Executive. Locally, Blonde serves on the City of Adrian Zoning Board of Appeals and is a member of Adrian’s St. Mary's Catholic Church. A native of Imlay City, Mich., Blonde resides in Adrian with his wife, Dawn, and their children, Grace and Grant.

Final Approval Given to RN to BSN Nursing Program

The Higher Education Learning Commission granted final approval to Siena Heights University’s Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree completion program, meaning classes will begin this fall.

“We are delighted to receive this news,” said SHU President Sister Peg Albert, OP, PhD. “This is not an easy process, and getting final approval is the culmination of more than a year of planning and due diligence on the part of our administration, faculty and staff. I am especially pleased for our Director of Nursing, Dr. Sue Idczak. I know she is ready to lead Siena Heights’ nursing program into an exciting future. We couldn’t be in more capable hands.”

Idczak said now that this final hurdle has been cleared, Siena’s main focus will be recruiting students to the program. Because of the expected demand, Idczak said she anticipates spots in the first class to fill quickly.

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend Speaks at Chiodini/Fontana Series on EthicsTownsend-KK--Photo-(NEW).jpg

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, the eldest daughter of the late Robert Kennedy, was the featured speaker at 7th annual Chiodini/Fontana Lecture Series on Ethics March 12 at Siena Heights University. Her lecture was based on her latest book, “Failing America's Faithful; How Today's Churches are Mixing God with Politics and Losing Their Way.” After the lecture, there was a public reception and book signing in the Stubnitz Lab Theater.

Auxiliary Bishop of Detroit Visits SHU

Siena Heights University hosted the Most Reverend Bishop Daniel E. Flores, S.T.D., April 10, in Francoeur Theater. Serving as the Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Detroit, Bishop Flores, 45, became not only Michigan's first Hispanic bishop on Nov. 29, 2006, but also the youngest bishop in the United States.

Siena Heights Granted StormReady Status

Siena Heights University became the first college or university in Michigan, StormReady-highres.jpgOhio and Indiana – and only the 24th nationally – to be granted StormReady® Community status by the National Weather Service. According to the NWS, StormReady® is a nationwide community preparedness program using a grassroots approach to help communities develop plans to handle all types of severe weather — from tornadoes to tsunamis. The program encourages communities to take a new, proactive approach to improving local hazardous weather operations by providing emergency managers with clear-cut guidelines on how to improve their hazardous weather operations.

“Siena Heights University is proud to have the distinction of being the first university in Michigan to receive the National Weather Service StormReady® recognition,” said SHU Director of Public Safety Cindy Birdwell. “The StormReady status reaffirms our commitment to the safety of our campus community. This partnership with the National Weather Service is another way for Siena Heights University to reach out to the community we serve to better educate them about the hazards associated with severe weather.”

The program that started in 1999 provides communities with the communication and safety skills needed to save lives and property – before and during the event. StormReady® helps community leaders and emergency managers strengthen local safety programs. According to the National Weather Service StormReady® provides communities with clear-cut advice from a partnership between the local NWS weather forecast office and state and local emergency managers.  

SHU Students Attend Black Legislative Staff Caucus in Washington, D.C.monument4.jpg

Three Siena Heights students, Andre’a Davis, Robert Banks and Jasmine Arnold, attended the U.S. Senate Black Legislative Staff Caucus March 13 in Washington, D.C. Students from around the country had an opportunity to attend sessions in the Senate Hearing Room. Other activities included a guided tour of the Senate facilities, presentations by various members of U.S. Senate staff and a student/Senate staff group pairing discussion. U.S. Sen. Carl Levin’s office extended the invitation to Siena’s students. Pictured inset are the students with SHU Director of Intercultural Affairs April Gutierrez.

President Sister Peg Albert Attends Papal Address

Siena Heights University President Sister Peg Albert, OP, PhD, attended an papal-address.jpgaddress by Pope Benedict XVI April 17 at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. The pope spoke to an audience of more than 600 on the topic of Catholic education. He addressed the presidents from more than 200 Catholic colleges and universities as well as heads of education from more than 190 dioceses around the country. President Albert was one of only a handful of Michigan representatives attending the address.

Student Kevin Mizzi Named Multicultural Advisor

In an effort to promote diversity, and educate the students, staff and faculty at Siena Heights University, current resident assistant, Kevin Mizzi has been recently named the Multicultural Advisor for the 2008-2009 school year. The new position, as recently put in place by the Siena administration, will replace the current senior RA position, and those duties will go to the residence hall director. The Multicultural Advisor will give students a facilitator to educate diversity at Siena.

“My job is to promote diversity within the residence halls,” Mizzi said.

More than just speaking about the cultural similarities and differences at Siena, Mizzi will hope to hold events and activities to promote mixture of cultures and ideas. Mizzi, who is currently a junior, and involved in many campus groups as well as an RA, said the position is mostly for education and is designed to get people to be culturally sensitive and understand the different backgrounds people come from.

Mark Vroman Receives CAHEN Awardmark-vroman.jpg

This year’s CAHEN Outstanding Adult Learner Award nominee for Siena Heights University is Mark Vroman. He attended Lansing Community College and Ferris State University prior to his transfer to Siena Heights, where he pursues a Bachelor of Applied Science in public safety studies with a minor in health care management. He carries a 4.0 grade-point average and is an instructor for C-CERT (Campus Community Emergency Response Team) with MSU, having “trained the trainer” on 10 college campuses nationwide. Vroman has served as a firefighter/paramedic with Meridian Charter Township for more than 10 years. He decided to run for office and was elected a commissioner of Ionia County. He also serves on the Airport Board, the Emergency Management Advisory Council and the Finance Review Committee for the county. As vice chair, Vroman initiated a Strong Communities Summit, bringing together elected officials and school boards to improve health, safety, welfare and education of citizens in the county. He also joined ENRICH, a non-profit organization that provides furniture, clothing and household goods and appliances to those in need in the community. Vroman was recently elected vice president of the ENRICH Board of Directors.

Honors Convocation Lauds Siena's Bestdavin-heckman1.jpg

Honors Convocation was conducted April 20 in Lumen Ecclesiae Chapel. Students, faculty and staff were recognized for their achievements. Receptions following the convocation also awarded outstanding students from the divisions and from the academic organizations/societies. Some of the major awards presented during the convocation were the Thomas Emmet Student/Athlete Award (Kent Laskowsky and Amanda Marinello), the Sister Eileen K. Rice Award for Outstanding Teaching (Davin Heckman, pictured), the Jack Bologna Award for Innovative Teaching (Carol Himelhoch), the St. Catherine of Alexandria Medal (Kati Saul), the Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award (Olivia Rawson and Christine Coleman) and the Staff Excellence Awards (Joy Garrow and Donna Marowelli). In addition, Professor of Education and Child mary-griffin.jpgDevelopment Mary Griffin (pictured) was granted Professor Emerita status. Controller Mary Kruse was named this year’s recipient of the Fred Smith Championship Award, and Dawn McCarley received the Rick & Joan Artman Service Award.

Siena Heights Receives $5,000 DaimlerChrysler Minority Retention Award 

Siena Heights University recently received a $5,000 DaimlerChrysler Minority Retention Award through the Michigan Colleges Foundation. Director of Intercultural Affairs April Gutierrez said the funds will be used to create a resource and tutoring center on campus.

Author Headlines Common Dialog Day 

Paul Elie, author of “The Life You Save May Be Your Own,” was the keynote speaker for  Common Dialog Day, which was Oct. 9, 2007, on the Adrian campus. Common Dialog Day is a Siena Heights tradition that allows for a day of discussion, debate and reflection. There are no classes during this day, and students are encouraged to participate with faculty, staff, alumni and administration to discuss different topics.

SHU Lansing Campus Moves into New University Center 

Siena Heights University helped to celebrate the grand opening of the Lansing Community College University Center in November 2007. Members of the SHU administration, faculty and staff attended, and Siena students were also well-represented at the opening: the woman who did interpretation for the deaf, one of the security guards and a woman who performed a song were all SHU students. SHU’s Lansing Center will continue to partner with LCC to offer junior and senior level courses leading to bachelor’s degrees.

Metro Detroit Center Celebrates 30th Anniversary; Siena Heights Also Marks 25th Anniversary at LMC 

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Metropolitan Detroit Program, Siena Heights University hosted a gala event in October 2007 at the St. John’s Banquet and Conference Center in Southfield, Mich. The anniversary marks a program that was the first of its kind in Michigan. Siena Heights’ Metro Detroit campus was the first in the state to serve nontraditional students using nontraditional course formats. It was designed to serve allied health and technical students through its innovative Bachelor of Applied Science degree. From 1975-77, Siena Heights offered courses at various Detroit corporations and schools, exploring Metro Detroit to determine if there was a viable market for its unique programs. Siena Heights also celebrated its 25th anniversary at the Lake Michigan Center campus in December 2007.

"Writing With the Pros" Workshop June 25-29 at SHU 

The Department of English at Siena Heights University is offering the “Writing with the Pros” creative writing workshop June 25-29 on the Adrian campus. For four days, those attending will participate in a two-hour session in one of four areas: short fiction, poetry, memoir or play/screenwriting. On the fifth day, people will have the opportunity to share something they have written. There will be optional evening events, such as open-mike opportunities to share light verse, religious poetry or live music. Leading the workshop are four creative writing veterans who each have a particular expertise. Award-winning author Philip F. Deaver, winner of the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, will lead the short story group “Short Fiction: Writing the Short Story.” SHU Professor of English and noted playwright Simone Yehuda will lead the play/screenwriting group “The Word and the Image: Playwriting and Screenwriting as Storytelling.” Leading the poetry group will be SHU Associate Professor of English Saleem Peeradina, whose weeklong focus will be “The Poem as a Window.” SHU Professor of English Nancy Seligmann will lead the memoir session “Writing Your Life Stories.” Cost is $150 per session, with a $25 discount for those who register before June 1. Seniors are eligible for a 30 percent discount. Meals are available in the university cafeteria at reasonable prices. For more information on the workshop, please call Sister Pat Schnapp at 517-264-7677 or email her at

Graduate Students Visit Venezuela 

C. Patrick Palmer, Dean of the Graduate College at Siena Heights University, spent his spring break leading students from the school’s international studies program on a week-long odyssey through Venezuela to study leadership. The group visited a wide variety of locations from the large cities of Caracas and Barquisimeto, to the mountain towns of Sanaré and Tovar, down to the desert town of Carora. In Carora they attended a Socialist Party meeting and spent several hours in conversation with Mayor Julio Chavez (no relation to President Hugo Chavez). They met with one of the community councils to see how they are working first-hand. Those who took the trip were course members Shante Davis, Andrew Dubay, Linda Easley, Bonnie Easley-Appleyard, Juan Freitez, Chenglei Huang, Gift Isiakpere, Kajal Kapoor, Frank Laurette and teaching assistants Fatmy Abed, Joseph Fischer and Philip Laurette.

Focus on the Faculty

  • On April 18, SHU Associate Professor of Psychology Dr. Jeffrey Lindstrom was honored at the Michigan Campus Compact Behavioral Sciences Honors Reception with an MCC Faculty/Staff Community Service-Learning Award. This award was given from the 12th annual Institute Service-Learning and Civic Engagement, and is the highest MCC bestows on faculty and staff in the state of Michigan. Dr. Lindstrom was designated by peers as the faculty/staff person on campus who has made the most outstanding contributions in service-learning and community service. This award recognizes his influence on and the engagement of students to be involved in community service or service-learning through modeling, influencing or instruction.
  • An article by SHU Professor of Art History Peter Barr, "The Push and Pull of Christina West's Ceramic Sculptures," appears in Clay Art International Yearbook Edition 07-08 along with eight pages of photographs of West’s recent works. The article describes and analyzes the figurative ceramic sculptures of West, a 2003 SHU graduate. The 220-page yearbook with supplementary compact disk (which includes 13 additional views of her work) is published annually in Athens, Greece, and features articles about emerging artists and international trends in ceramic arts. This year it is dedicated to figurative ceramic sculpture from around the world. Anyone interested in a digital copy of Barr’s essay can email him at Examples of West's recent works is available at her website: West will mount a solo exhibition a year from this fall in the Klemm Gallery.
  • SHU Assistant Professor of English Davin Heckman has released a newHeckman-Cover.jpg book, “A Small World: Smart Houses and the Dream of the Perfect Day.” The 224-page book published by Duke University press considers how domestic technologies free people to enjoy leisure time in the home, and how technology has come to be understood as necessary parts of everyday life. The price of the book is $21.95 for paperback. To check out more information, please see or contact Laura Sell at 919-687-3639 or email her at
  • SHU’s Coordinator of Special Education Martha Carroll was recently honored with the Distinguished Career Award from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro. Carroll, who was the chair of the Special Education department at the University of Toledo before coming to Siena Heights, has a long career in education. She has created numerous special education programs and courses, including advanced methods for working with children with a learning disability and curriculum for the developmentally handicapped. She sits on several councils, including the Council for Exceptional Children and the Association for Children with Learning Disabilities. She also is an evaluator of special education teaching programs for Wright State University, Wittenberg College, John Carroll University and Stuebenville University. Carroll serves on the board of directors for Goodwill of Northwest Ohio, the Scottish Rites Learning Center and the Children’s Right Council.
  • SHU adjunct faculty member Trish Knight from the Battle Creek Center was in Cyprus and Egypt April 9-23. Knight was invited to do leadership training program for young professional women plus a business writing course for a marketing company in Cyprus, followed by a leadership training in Cairo for young Egyptian and Saudi Arabian women. Knight has trained more than 90 women from over 20 countries in New York City.



Meet Siena


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Gilius Blinstrubas

Business major, Entrepreneur, Adrian Campus

Faculty & Staff

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Gail A. Ryder

Associate Professor of Humanities


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Matt Robinet '15

Communications and Business Graduate