Monthly Archives: May 2014

Biology Graduates Accepted to Professional Programs

The College of Arts and Sciences’ graduating class of May 2014 included many stellar Biology Department students who have already been accepted into professional programs around the country.

We’d like to extend our warmest congratulations to the following students as they look forward to the next step in their education:

  • Imad Aljabban – Harvard University Masters Program
  • Simran Bhatti – Michigan State University College of Human Medicine
  • Matt Cluett – Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine
  • Daniel Dekoski – Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine)
  • Rebecca Farr – Wayne State University School of Medicine, Ph.D. Program in Pharmacology (also accepted into the University of Houston Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences Ph.D. program)
  • Courtney Grocholski – Jefferson College of Health Sciences Master of Science in Physician Assistant
  • Joshua Heyza – Wayne State University School of Medicine Ph.D. Program in Cancer Biology
  • Kumail Lassi – Grand Valley State University Masters Degree Program in Higher Education and Leadership
  • Rachel McCauley – Wayne State University Masters in Genetic Counseling
  • Sarah Richards – Western Michigan University Ph.D. Program in Biological Sciences with a Concentration in Developmental Biology
  • Amr Sabbagh – University of Michigan Medical School
  • Mark Webster – Western Michigan University Graduate School

To learn more about the Biology Department and the careers for which they can prepare students, please visit their website.

Theatre Faculty and Students Find New Stages for the Summer

It’s spring semester on the UM-Flint campus, and the Theatre Department is much quieter than it will be in September. However, its quiet halls belie the busy summer schedules of the department faculty and students!

Many of them spend these months involved with professional companies and theatres across the country and world, utilizing what they’ve learned on campus and absorbing new skills for the upcoming season.

Following are some of the appointments and performances in which our Theatre members will be involved:

Nicole Broughton, Lecturer
• Production Manager on a professional production of Les Miserables for Spiro Productions at the Avondale Performing Arts Center, begins June 21.

Stephanie Dean, Assistant Professor
• Assistant Directing on a professional production of Les Miserables for Spiro Productions, Avondale Performing Arts Center, begins June 21.

Janet Haley, Associate Professor
• July 17-August 17: Janet returns for her ninth season at the Michigan Shakespeare Festival as Gertrude in Hamlet and The Queen in Cymbeline.
• Janet is currently working with Michael Rohd of Sojourn Theatre/Northwestern University, Flint Youth Theatre, and a collective of community artists to develop a new site-specific production at the Flint Farmers’ Market, which will showcase how local food and local markets nourish a community (opens Fall 2014).

Bill Irwin, Assistant Professor & Chair of the Theatre Department
• June 23-28: Directing a week long intensive in the Performance of Shakespeare at the Bay View Fine Arts Camp in Petoskey, MI.
• July 14-18: Conducting an acting technique intensive for the Michigan Opera Theatre at the Detroit Opera House
• July 21-25: Returning to the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in NYC to train and perform in comedic improvisation

Kendra Babcock,Student – BS Theatre Design/Technology Major
• Company member in Spiro Production’s Les Miserables at the Avondale Performing Arts Center, beginning June 21.
• Costume Design Assistant (assisting faculty member Adam Dill) on the Flint Youth Theatre’s production of Alice in Wonderland. Performances August 8-10, 14-17.

Cat Boss, BS Theatre Design/Technology Alumna
• Company member in Spiro Production’s Les Miserables at the Avondale Performing Arts Center, beginning June 21.

Bridgid Burge, Student
• Designer with faculty designer Shelby Newport and faculty choreographer Adesola Akinleye to create “Light Steps” – a contemporary dance piece to be performed at the Turner Contemporary Art Museum in Margate, England. Performance August 10.

Michelle Hathaway, Student
• Costume Designer and wardrobe work for Children’s Theatre at the Lake Dillon Theatre Company in Lake Dillon, Colorado.

Zach Kentala, Student
• Working in Technical Direction at the Jenny Wiley Theatre in Prestonburg, Kentucky.

Annadelle Kimber, Student – BFA Theatre Performance
• Company member in Spiro Production’s Les Miserables at the Avondale Performing Arts Center, beginning June 21.

Kelsey Knag, Student
• Production Assistant at the Hope Summer Repertory Theatre in Holland, Michigan.

Ashley Kok, Student
• Costume Design Assistant (assisting faculty member Adam Dill) on the Flint Youth Theatre’s production of Alice in Wonderland. Performances August 8-10, 14-17.

Kaitlyn Pitcher, Student
• Stitcher for summer season and costume designer for Alexander and the No Good, Very Bad Day at the Hope Summer Repertory Theatre in Holland, MI. Performances held in June, July, and August.

Amanda Velasquez, Student – BS Theatre Design/Technology Major
• Company member in Spiro Production’s Les Miserables at the Avondale Performing Arts Center, beginning June 21.

Jessica Wilkowski, Student
• Scenic Charge Artist at the Jenny Wiley Theatre in Prestonburg, KY. This position entails adding realistic color and texture to the scenery surfaces.

When asked about the value of faculty and students engaging in these pursuits outside of the school theatre, department chair Bill Irwin expressed the following:

The values we place on our professional work/creative activity as an actor and/or director are four-fold:

1) Collaborating with other professional theatre artists affords me an opportunity to exchange ideas about the work, to stay relevant, to experience the current climate/culture of working professionals in the field, and to uncover what material/information/experiences my students need to be exposed to during their time of study at UM-Flint before entering the profession for themselves.

2) It is also during these endeavors where our work is reviewed either by professional theatre critics or by professional peers (actors, directors, or teachers). Although these critical assessments are of only one performance, of which they are not always privy to the creative process that led up to it, they do appraise the work and inform what we do in the future.

3) When we garner work acting or directing professionally, we personally employ, test and validate the creative concepts and performance techniques we teach our students. Quite literally, we practice what we preach in these professional creative endeavors.

4) The successes and struggles we have as professional actors or directors naturally afford us certain credibility teachers of these forms. I strongly affirm that great teachers of theatre performance must have the capacity to do it themselves. Without that facility, the acting/directing teacher can only speak of methods or techniques and not the actual experience of employing them and their actual worth.

To view photos and learn more about the experiences of the UM-Flint students traveling to England “for 4 weeks to study theatre performance, history and design,” follow their blog, England Through Our Eyes.

To learn more about the UM-Flint Theatre Department, its faculty, and performances, please visit their website or Facebook.

Newly Promoted CAS Faculty

The UM-Flint College of Arts & Sciences would like to congratulate our newly promoted faculty members! The following text is taken from the May 15th University Record. A full list of appointments and promotions, from Ann Arbor, Dearborn, and Flint campuses, can be found in the original article.

The Board of Regents at its meeting Thursday approved recommendations for new appointments and promotions for regular associate and full professor ranks, with tenure or promotion of faculty on the Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint campuses. The promotions are presented below in alphabetical order.

Olanrewaju Aluko, associate professor of mechanical engineering, with tenure, Department of Computer Science, Engineering, and Physics, College of Arts and Sciences, UM-Flint.

Jennifer E. Alvey, associate professor of anthropology and women’s and gender studies, with tenure, Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminal Justice, and Women’s and Gender Studies Program, College of Arts and Sciences, UM-Flint.

Aderemi Artis, associate professor of philosophy, with tenure, Department of Philosophy, College of Arts and Sciences, UM-Flint.

Darryl G. Baird, professor of art, with tenure, Department of Communication and Visual Arts, College of Arts and Sciences, UM-Flint.

Amelia Biehl, associate professor of economics, with tenure, Department of Economics, College of Arts and Sciences, UM-Flint.

Gabriela Zdravkova Hristova, associate professor of music, with tenure, Department of Music, College of Arts and Sciences, UM-Flint.

William H. Irwin, associate professor of theatre, with tenure, Department of Theatre and Dance, College of Arts and Sciences, UM-Flint.

Sarah Lippert, associate professor of art history, with tenure, Department of Communication and Visual Arts, College of Arts and Sciences, UM-Flint.

Murali Mani, associate professor of computer science, with tenure, Department of Computer Science, Engineering, and Physics, College of Arts and Sciences, UM-Flint.

James R. Schirmer, associate professor of English, with tenure, Department of English, College of Arts and Sciences, UM-Flint.

Cristen L. Velliky, associate professor of art, with tenure, Department of Communication and Visual Arts, College of Arts and Sciences, UM-Flint.

International Honors, African Literature, and Multiculturalism

“When I sleep, I dream about African literature. It gives me tremendous joy.”

UM-Flint Africana Studies Department professor Dr. Ernest Emenyonu was honored March 4th-7th at the Literary Society of Nigeria’s 2014 International Conference, held in conjunction with the Department of English and Literature at the University of Benin, in Benin City, Nigeria. The theme of the conference was “Whither African Literature”—one perfectly suited to complement the recognition of Dr. Emenyonu.

When asked about his experience of being the conference honoree, Dr. Emenyonu seemed pleased but very modest as he began to describe the world of African literature and his place in it. He started by introducing me to the people featured in large portraits on his office walls, including Wole Soyinka, first African recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature; Cyprian Ekwensi, author of Jagua Nana (probably Africa’s most controversial novel in the second half of the 20th century); and Chinua Achebe, author of the groundbreaking novel Things Fall Apart (the most widely read African novel today, translated into 65 languages and counting), and its sequel Arrow of God. As he spoke of these men, and how his honors are related to their accomplishments, it was obvious that the work done he’s in the field of African literature is more about personal passion than anything else.

For example, his expertise on Achebe has led to two volumes of edited works, writing introductions and chapters for books, giving keynote addresses at conferences, answering doctoral thesis questions, and speaking to scholars around the globe. In May, 2014, Dr. Emenyonu chaired a panel for a colloquium dedicated to Achebe at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. He explained that Achebe is of such note because he was the first African writer to open doors for African authorship and storytelling—to use folk tales and proverbs, honoring the oral traditions of Africa, while writing in the form of a novel.

When asked about the things that excite him in today’s African literature, Dr. Emenyonu spoke of its power, freshness, and the worldwide recognition it is receiving. African writers are being awarded international prizes—from 1986 to 2003, four Africans won the Nobel Prize for Literature: Wole Soyinka (1986), Naguib Mahfouz (1988), Nadine Gordimer (1991), and J.M. Coetzee (2003). Courses are being taught in China, India, South Korea, England, and many other countries. Michigan State University has one of the largest and most productive Africana studies centers in the United States. He sees the prevalence of African Literature in most college catalogs as a symbol of our world’s increasing awareness of the values of multiculturalism and as proof of Africa’s rightful place in a global discussion. He also expressed grave concerns for institutions in which the African experience, especially through literature, is not presently taught: “If you consciously deny your students exposure to what is happening in the world, it is a great disservice. My worry is that multiculturalism shouldn’t just be seen as a mere theoretical idea; it should be taught and practiced.”

I asked about the importance of knowing other cultures through their literature, specifically in the face of media coverage that tends to focus on the violent and negative. Dr. Emenyonu’s response was that literature serves two major functions: to entertain and to impart lessons of social justice and knowledge. “This is when we really need literature that addresses the mind. Writers exist as the social conscience of the world. They are there not to solve problems per se, but to open our eyes to them.” He also spoke on the need for art to serve a purpose of humanity; to be a window into other perspectives, cultures, and worlds in a way that allows us to see differences, recognize similarities, and remember that we are all just humans existing together on the same planet. He spoke of the innocence and hope that lies within children and their ability to simply accept others, whether dissimilar or not.

It is with hope for the reader’s return to such open-mindedness that Dr. Emenyonu has been working on a newer undertaking: books for children. He says, “If this world has a future, it depends on what we put in the minds of our children.” However, children are not the only intended audience, “I also write them for adults—just think how the world could be if we had the minds and hearts of children.” This new project, of course, coincides with several other on-going works including researching, editing journals, and writing a series of short stories each told through a narrator of a different age. This autumn he will also be busy working with a Chinese scholar coming to UM-Flint to work on his PhD that focuses on African literature.

Students attending UM-Flint are also able to work with Dr. Emenyonu, right from their very first semester on campus! He is currently teaching a First Year Experience (FYE) Course titled “Sites and Sounds of Africa.” To learn more about this course visit More information on the Africana department and Dr. Emenyonu can be found at

An Introduction

Dear UM-Flint College of Arts & Sciences and Campus Community:

I am very pleased and honored to introduce myself as the new Communications and Content Specialist for CAS. My name is Amy Hartwig, I am a 2013 graduate of UM-Flint, a passionate supporter of the local community, an advocate for liberal arts education, and a proud new member of this institution.

My goals for the upcoming months include meeting members of each department, learning about what makes them great, and working with them to share their stories with the UM-Flint campus and the world beyond. I hope to promote the departments, individual faculty and students, and the College of Arts and Sciences as a whole while creating a testament to the value and power of a liberal arts education.

In my mind, UM-Flint is an organization with everything to be proud of: enthusiastic, dedicated, and brilliant faculty; a brand with worldwide recognition; a place in a culturally rich and diverse community; and a student body that comes to us with a desire to learn. 

As both a student and a staff member, I have been impressed by the breadth and depth of talent present in our teaching staff and in the quality of programs offered to our students and community by the University. From individual research projects to campus-wide initiatives, I want to discover the stories that will both inspire and engage our current students and attract new ones.

If you have a story to tell, please contact me. People want to know what you’re researching, what you’re writing, what your students are doing, and what you’re excited about in your professional life! They want to hear about new course offerings and innovations within programs! They want to know the stories of the College of Arts and Sciences… and I want to help you tell them.

Amy Hartwig
Communications Specialist
College of Arts and Sciences
University of Michigan-Flint
Tel: 810.237.6537