Monthly Archives: August 2014

UM-Flint Alumni, Student, Professor Publish Book on Michigan’s Civil War History

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Two University of Michigan-Flint alumni, one student, and a faculty member are among the members of the iMichigan Productions (iMP) team that has independently published The American Civil War Years: The Michigan Experience (The Reenactors’ Telling).

UM-Flint’s representatives on the team are distinguished alumnus Michael J. Thorp, Flint author and broadcaster; multiple UM-Flint degree-earning alumnus Rodney W. Brown, Flint-based director of iMP’s public television series on the same subject; senior art major and book designer Shekinah Tapplin of Clio who designs under the name Shekinah Shazaam; and Communications faculty member Donna Ullrich of Perrinton, who edited the project. Tapplin’s work on the book was supported by a UM-Flint Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) grant.

The 136-page book features full-color photographs of American Civil War reenactors as their actions tell the stories of going off to war, camp life, battles, and surrender. The photography of Wayne Dabney of Ann Arbor and Leon C. Collins of Grand Blanc is featured.

The book focuses on Michigan’s role in the Civil War and its many contributions to the war effort. It highlights African-Americans and Native Americans who fought for the Union cause along with the rest of Michigan’s 90,000 soldiers. Michigan’s troops included specialized regiments of sharpshooters and engineers and at least 68 Michigan soldiers received the Medal of Honor for gallantry on the battlefield. The book demonstrates the roles of women both in battle and in society, and covers the politics of the times. The photos throughout the book were taken in Michigan, by Michigan photographers.

Says UM-Flint Art major Shekinah Tapplin on being involved in the project, “All in all, I’ve had an excellent experience working on these books for Donna and the rest of iMichigan Productions. Editorial Design and Photography are my favorite aspects of design and I am very fortunate to gain experience with them while I’m still in school.”

When asked to detail her involvement she said, “Basically, I was the designer for this pictorial representation of reenactors showcasing Michigan’s involvement in the Civil War. I participated in weekly meetings with iMichigan Production’s team to hear their feedback on each new version of the book I had. The team also helped a great deal with narrowing down specific images, storytelling, and the overall flow of the book. I also designed a few promotional flyers to help spread the word about this book.”

The book features a Foreword by noted Michigan historian John Gibney of Ann Arbor, and Introduction and Epilogue by Thorp. In addition, it offers a bounty of resources about Michigan’s Civil War history to encourage learning activities and day trips for families and classrooms alike.

The book evolved out of iMichigan Productions’ (iMP) hour-long living history television special that aired throughout the state on public television stations in 2011 and 2012.

All proceeds of the book stay in Michigan, paying Michigan media artists and supporting iMP educational projects. It is available at iMichigan Productions of Flint is a 501(c)3 educational multi-media production company.

Tapplin is also designing a companion coloring book for children: “For the coloring book currently underway, I was given a collection of the same photographs from the main book, but was instructed to simplify them into black-and-white line images in order to form coloring pages. For this companion project, I am not only the Graphic Designer, but also the Photo Editor. This involves a bit more detailed work, but it will be worthwhile in the end to help educate children about history in a fun way.”

For more information on the book, contact Donna Ullrich of UM-Flint’s Communications Department. Visit iMichigan Productions to learn more about their Civil War work.

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English Students Publish Class Book


Students in English classes can expect to produce a lot of material by the end of a semester. But recent students of ENG 317 with Dr. Mary Jo Kietzman produced something even greater than the usual papers and research. They created a book.

Entitled Authors to Ourselves, the book is a compilation of student essays that cover topics related to class themes on the power of literacy and literature. In addition to essays, readers will find art and photography by the contributors. Focusing almost exclusively on writings by Shakespeare and Milton, Authors to Ourselves explores how older works are still relevant in and apply to modern times. The students are also writing in defense of their experiences as English majors and the continuing value of education, reading, writing, thought, and expression. They are speaking out about the need for people to be engaged citizens who stand up for change and live with an awareness of their governments and surroundings.

Candace Lester, a senior from the English Department at UM-Flint, says in the book’s introduction, “Open your eyes, open your mind; it may not make you happier, but it will make you more connected, more real because today indifference is the biggest crime of all.”

Following is a brief glimpse of what readers can find in the book:

Mind-forged Manacles: Slavery in the 21st Century by Brekke Pichette. “It is a slavery of the mind which we have learned from our culture and it influences the way we think without us even realizing it.”

The Alchemy of Advertising by Candace Lester. Influenced by reading The Alchemist by Ben Jonson. “Advertising surrounds us and works on us in ways that we don’t even notice because we are too preoccupied with the things they are selling us.”

Social Media #TheGardenofEden by Anna Luke. “If our society could see that there are other things that are going on in the world besides obsessing over what others are eating an doing, where they are going, and one another’s relationship status, etc., then maybe we would have more of a sense of community.”

Sex in Society by Melissa Pomerantz. “Whether you like men or women or both or neither, your life should not be defined by the label someone else insists that you need. We need to free ourselves from the labels that define and trap us. Free love.”

It’s Not Once Upon A Time by Kristen Machuk. “It is because of our human nature that our marriages, both the physical and the spiritual sides, will always be tested.”

Fight For Our Fiction by Rebecca Blakeney. “Stories are both our culture’s history and  legacy, and so they are not something that we can afford to lose touch with.”

All the World is a Classroom by Meghan Christian. “We must take what we have learned in school and in literature, and apply it to our everyday life. If we do not do this, then what is the point of even receiving that education?”

Books Are Not Dead Things by Briana Hetherington. “If books go the way of the cassette tape, we could lose part of our history all at once. What would happen to our society then?”

The Monarchy of Flint; University of Michigan by Rachel Stickland. “Students need to take their education in to their own hands and realize that self-education is just as important as the institutions we currently invest in.”

Thinking Vicariously Through Characters by Gina Rose. “Censoring material will not help people make good choices. In fact, it will impede that process. We all can learn from characters… whether the content is considered ‘bad’ or ‘good.’”

We the People: Why We Must Seize the Power of Our Voices by Lauren Climie. “Reading literature can broaden our knowledge and allow us to understand the tools of change that we hold within us.”

Education at the Gas Station by Erin Brender. “Read something you do not agree with and fight with it in your mind to help you sort through what your own opinions are and how they might be improved or solidified.”

When asked about the experience of producing a printed work with her professor, student contributor Rebecca Blakeney said, “Being able to work so closely with an accomplished faculty member has been an amazing experience for me. It has helped me learn along the way and has also given me the confidence to really grab on and see the book through … It has been an invaluable experience, and I hope every student at University of Michigan-Flint gets a chance to work with a faculty member and mentor in their field of choice before they graduate.”

Her sentiments are echoed in the book’s dedication:

We, the students authors of this book, would like to dedicate this endeavor to Dr. Mary Jo Kietzman, without whom none of this would have been possible. Her creativity, intelligence, and direction have motivated and encouraged us throughout this semester and, for some of us, our entire college careers at University of Michigan-Flint. She goes beyond what anyone could reasonably expect from a professor. UM-Flint is a better institution because she is there for her students.

In addition to the print copies, the students are working on a digital version that will be posted online.

For more information on the book, contact Dr. Mary Jo Kietzman of the UM-Flint English Department.


New ERS Program: City and Regional Planning Minor

New Program: This fall, the Earth & Resource Science department will begin offering a minor in City and Regional Planning (also known as “urban planning”).

Planners often work with the public to identify goals and make positive change happen in communities. This minor is ideal for anyone interested in creating healthy, efficient, and sustainable places for people to live.

Planners work in a variety of subfields including environmental planning, transportation, urban design, and economic development. Planners can work for city, state, and federal governmental agencies; non-profit agencies; and private consulting firms. Successful planners have strong written and oral communication skills, as well as technical skills like knowledge of geographic information systems.

Our coursework combines the theoretical, practical, and technical knowledge necessary to prepare students to enter this growing field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 10% job growth in the field of planning through 2022. The median annual wage for planners was $65,230 as of May 2012.

This minor should be especially attractive to students majoring in fields that inform the profession of planning like political science, sociology, economics, public policy, public health, and social work.

Visit the catalog to see requirements for the City and Regional Planning minor.

Any questions about the program should be directed to Dr. Victoria Morckel, Assistant Professor of Earth & Resource Science:

UM-Flint Faculty Member Receives $5,000 Grant for Media Project

Congratulations to Donna Ullrich from the Communications and Visual Arts Department of UM-Flint, who was recently awarded $5,000 from the Community Foundation of Greater Flint for her Flint Youth Media Project blog!

The goals of the project are two-fold: First, to reach and engage Genesee area youth interested in media arts by launching a youth blog where they can showcase their own creative media productions and engage with other interested peers. Second, to use the data generated by this blog to gauge the interest of area youth in the media arts, communication, journalism, and to identify how the Flint Youth Media Project (FYMP) can best reach this population with programming and serve it as students prepare for college and careers.

In addition to giving students a platform to showcase their creative talents, the project will be addressing key discrepancies between the “media” produced by students in their casual photography, video, and writing as they engage with various social media outlets, and the skills that are actually needed in a career or post-secondary education.

By having peer-to-peer interactions in the Blog project, and access to experienced professionals and educators, students will enhance and learn skills and also begin to understand the processes of collaborative creation and teamwork. This will both improve their own work and give them a glimpse of the processes needed for real-world media production.

The blog is one of five programs envisioned by the Flint Youth Media Project. Other programs include youth summer media/film camps held at UM-Flint that will help students capture, focus, and develop their skills; a youth film festival that would include a series of filmmaking workshops throughout the school year; a Flint Community Schools Media Center; and an after school media program for students interested in broadcast, film, and digital production.

All of the programs, and the project as a whole, hold underlying themes of engaging the students in their local communities, improving media education, and building a youth media community. The blog will be the first step of the project.

Team members for the project include award-winning television producer Rodney W. Brown; Leon Collins, who brings a lifetime of experience including serving as the director of telecommunications for WFUM TV 28 PBS and multiple teaching and advisory positions at a variety of educational institutions; and Michael J. Thorp, longtime broadcaster, writer, and producer at WJRT-TV12 and EMMY-winner.

The project director, Donna Ullrich, has 32 years of media teaching experience and 35 years as a successful communications professional.

UM-Flint Faculty & Students Join FYT in “Alice In Wonderland”

aliceinwonderlandA substantial number of UM-Flint faculty members and students will be working professionally on a production of Alice in Wonderland at the Flint Youth Theatre, opening August 8th:

William Irwin (UM-Flint Theatre Professor & Chair) is playing the Mad Hatter and the White Knight.
Jessica Wilkowski (BS Design & Technology) is the Scenic Paint Charge.
Adam Dill (UMF Theatre Costume Shop Manager & Lecturer) is the production’s Costume Designer.
Kendra Babcock and Ashley Kok (BS Theatre Design & Technology) are assisting the costume designer.
Cat Boss (BS Theatre Design & Technology alum) is also assisting the costume designer.
Jodie Maier (BA Theatre Performance) is an assistant to the director.
Sam Richardson (UM-Flint Theatre Lecturer) is directing.
Matt Coggins (BA Theatre Performance) is playing the White Rabbit.
Elsa Harchick (BFA Theatre Performance Alum) is playing the Narrator.
Deidre Baker (BA Theatre Performance Alum) is playing the Queen of Hearts.

Says Bill Irwin, Theatre Department Chair, “We deeply value the alliance we have with Flint Youth Theatre and we look forward to building upon it.”

The Flint Youth Theatre is located at 1220 E. Kearsley St., Flint, MI. Performances run from August 8th through August 17th:

• Friday, August 8 at 7:30pm
• Saturday, August 9 at 2:30pm
• Saturday, August 9 at 7:30pm
• Sunday, August 10 at 2:30pm*
• Thursday, August 14 at 2:30pm
• Friday, August 15 at 2:30pm
• Friday, August 15 at 7:30pm*
• Saturday, August 16 at 2:30pm*
• Saturday, August 16 at 7:30pm
• Sunday, August 17 at 2:30pm
*A conversation with the creative team will follow this performance.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the performance website.

Visit the UM-Flint Department of Theatre & Dance page to learn more about their course offerings and Fall 2014 Performance Schedule.

New 15-Credit WGS Certificate at UM-Flint

Beginning in Fall 2014, UM-Flint will be offering a 15-credit certification to demonstrate proficiency in Women’s and Gender Studies.

Students often report that they would like to complete the 21-credit WGS minor and that they have only two or three additional courses left to take, but that they simply do not have the time as they work to complete their major requirements and graduate in a timely manner. Students often do not “find” WGS until they are well along in their studies. Sometimes it takes a couple of courses before they realize they are interested and that a minor even exists. The large population of transfer students at UM-Flint contributes to this challenge. Because of their degree requirements, students in the professional schools may find it particularly difficult to complete a 21-credit minor. The option of a 15-credit certificate may allow them to fulfill many of their general education requirements while gaining knowledge that will strengthen their marketability and success in their chosen fields (e.g. social work, education, nursing and other health professions, business, etc.).

This certificate will help students connect ideas and themes across disciplines, deepen their understanding of inequalities, and consider issues of social justice. A student’s transcripts will indicate successful completion of this certificate, which will help potential employers understand a student’s claim that she or he has knowledge of diversity issues without having to read their full transcript. In order to be financial aid eligible this certificate must be completed in conjunction with a Bachelor’s degree. It cannot be completed as a stand-alone program.

At its core this certificate is student centered. Our goal is to provide the flexibility for students to pursue their educational desires and to provide them with an advantage as they pursue careers or graduate school.

WGS courses include classes from Philosophy, Africana Studies, Sociology, Anthropology, Political Science, History, and more. The program prepares students to become knowledgeable about and conscious of women’s lives and gender processes as they pursue jobs and careers, as they move through their life course, as they further their studies at postgraduate levels, and as they work to become active and socially responsible participants and leaders in their communities.

To learn more, visit, call 810.762.3044, or email Director Heather Laube at