Monthly Archives: June 2015

UM-Flint’s ART 366 Students Create Murals for the Flint Community


Artists include Bryley DeFriez, Elizabeth Sevick, Dennis Skyes, Angela Pineo, Ashinique Soney-Wesaw, and Bradley Schmelzer. Pictured with Assoc. Professor Michael Sevick.

Students of Associate Professor Michael Sevick’s ART 366 class learn about the history and techniques of mural painting and then undertake one or two projects that will be featured in the Flint community. The students work with their “clients” to establish themes, present designs, and select a final direction for the project before they being painting. For the Spring 2015 semester, Sevick’s class created one large mural for the Genesee County Health Department and individual panels featuring dogs to be placed on buildings along S. Saginaw Street, south of downtown.


The Health Department mural was created in three large panels.


Before the finished panels are picked up, each artist will sign their name.


Alum and guest artist Elizabeth Sevick adds her name to the Health Department mural.

The Health Department mural will be featured in the lobby of their McCree South building in Burton. Says Suzanne Cupal, Public Health Supervisor, “We shared a great deal of information about public health and the work we do at the health department then asked the question ‘What does a healthy community look like?’ The design the students came up with is inspiring. The day and night and the contrast in the main image reflect the diversity of our community. Public health addresses the environment, personal health, community health, and so much more. The design captures that. You see the healthy eating, you see active living, you see the environment including our animal friends. All of these things play a role in the health of our community. The design will add color and a unique cultural context to our lobby area. We are appreciative of the skills and passion the students have brought to this project.”


The finished mural for the Genesee County Health Department. “The design will add color and a unique cultural context to our lobby area,” says Suzanne Cupal, Public Health Supervisor.

When asked about working on murals and adding her art to the city of Flint, alum and guest artist Elizabeth Sevick said, “I love working large scale, especially in the community. It instills a sense of pride. I think being connected to your artwork and the city is very important; it’s something that isn’t necessarily a focus all of the time, but it should be. The revitalization of Flint starts here – it starts with art and community pride.”

Ms. Sevick, who plans to be a professional artist, is proud of her roots in both the city and the university: “I love UM-Flint. I am UM-Flint. It’s definitely one of the mottos that I hold dear to me. Without the university and the wonderful professors in the university I would not be where I am today. I would not be where I am going next: I’m getting ready to start graduate school in the fall and I owe it all to UM-Flint. For an artist, there is an infinite amount of value [in getting a degree in the liberal arts]. For me, the value of this education is priceless. To be able to play with paint all my life and make a career out of it is just the greatest thing I could ever imagine. I’m really excited for the journey, where it’s led me so far and where it will continue to lead me.”


These paintings, pictured in various stages of completion, will eventually hang on buildings south of downtown Flint.


The students were able to create their individual panels with their own styles and subjects.

While the GCHD mural will beautify the inside of a building, the panels of dogs will be displayed outside for passersby and drivers to see. The students were able to create their individual panels with their own styles and subjects. Some chose to create realistic images and others imaginative representations. These panels especially had the students explore the unique challenges of working on such big pieces meant to be viewed from far away.


Elizabeth Sevick worked from a picture of her own dog for one of her panels. Here she discusses the use of light on a large scale painting.


Angela Pineo stands with one of her pieces.


Bryley DeFriez discusses the influence of Egyptian art on her dog panel.

When asked about this portion of the semester’s projects, Associate Professor Sevick said, “The dog panel project is a continuation of the Saginaw Street Corridor of Murals, reflecting my philosophy of implementing community beautification activities. The site is located on the east side of Saginaw Street, north of Atherton Road. The three buildings, which the mural panels will be attached to, are located there. The buildings and courtyard project high visibility and reflect UM-Flint’s commitment to community beautification. Working toward the achievement of a common artistic goal allowed students to shift their understanding of each other and, more importantly, learn about themselves.”


Ashinique Soney-Wesaw chose to paint wolves. They express a connection to her heritage and her own personal nature.


Brad Schmelzer stands with one of his panels–it features his favorite dog breed.


Dennis Skyes works on his panel for the Saginaw street Corridor of Murals.

To learn more about Visual Arts at UM-Flint and the ways in which our student artists engage in their community, visit their website.

UM-Flint Helps Support Performing Arts Workshop for Area Youth

TOMORROWs ANSWERThe Shop Floor Theatre Company (SFTC) takes up a small space on the Northbank Center’s second floor, yet it is making a huge impact on the lives of youth in Genesee and surrounding counties. The non-profit organization, affiliated with UM-Flint and led by Theatre faculty member Kendrick Jones, has a mission of “using the arts to engage community” and has been doing so since 2012.

This summer’s project is a seven week cross-cultural, youth driven, performing arts workshop called Tomorrow’s Answer. The workshop is open to students in Genesee and Shiawassee counties at no cost, thanks to scholarships provided by area sponsors. Executive Director Jones says this is to ensure accessibility to all students who want to participate. Transportation for students via bus to workshop sites and performance venues will also be provided at no charge. The workshop will culminate in two free public performances, one in each county.

Tomorrow’s Answer aims to allow youth from urban and rural environments to come together, discuss and express the issues they face in daily life, and learn about the similarities and differences created by their everyday surroundings.

“Bringing Genesee and Shiawassee youth together to explore, create and perform in an artistic manner is a great way to expose these young ones to the different cultural aspects of these communities and learn about one another in an uplifting and positive way. After all, many of these young ones will eventually meet on college campuses in our area. We hope this seven-week cross-cultural program will help to bring about understanding and build lasting relationships for all involved,” says Jones.

During the process, students and community members will learn techniques for encouraging dialogue on divisive issues and explore credible approaches and doable methods to produce positive social impacts.

In addition, students are able to learn transferable skill sets as they work on the production, including: conducting interviews, facilitating and participating in community dialogue sessions, creating scripts, writing lyrics, producing story boards, cinematography, building sets and props, and creating visual art and theatre and dance pieces for the project.

When asked why the Flint area is ideal for such a project, Jones says, “With the renewed commitment and the rebirth of the City of Flint, it is vital that we, as civic leaders, educators, parents, students, and community members, begin to think creatively about how we interact with one another, in an effort to create a culture of positive sustainable working relationships for the betterment of all.”

By allowing the students to drive the dialogue that will become the performances, Jones hopes to ensure that the topics are relevant and honest. He believes in the power the youth will find in having a voice on stage. He also discusses the need for positive stories to come out about Flint and surrounding areas. He says, “If we don’t tell our story, someone else will.”

Jones himself is a part of the Flint story. As the Executive Director of SFTC, he has a chance to give back to the community that he still calls home. Says Jones, “It’s my time to give back; it’s my turn.”

Tomorrow’s Answer is generously funded by the Cook Family Foundation and supported by the Ruth Mott Foundation. A total of 30 full scholarships will be given to Genesee and Shiawassee County teens, ages 15-18. The program will run July 6th-August 22nd. Downloadable applications are available at – click Tomorrow’s Answer. Completed applications can be scanned and e-mailed to For inquiries contact Shop Floor Theatre Company at 810.429.2252.

The Genesee County performance will be held on August 21st at 1:30pm at Randall Coates Auditorium: 1020 W. Coldwater Road, Flint, MI 48505.

The Shiawassee County performance will be held on August 22nd at 7pm at Owosso Community Players: 114 E Main St, Owosso, MI 48867.

Visit the Shop Floor Theatre Company website for more information and to learn about other programs.


Dr. Traci Currie is the 2015-16 Collegiate Lecturer at UM-Flint

Per a communication from Barbara Dixon, Interim Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at the University of Michigan-Flint:

2015-16 Collegiate Lecturer Announced

Consistent with the LEO collective bargaining agreement, criteria for the Collegiate Lecturer Award includes status as a Lecturer II or IV, ten years of service, and successful completion of two major reviews.  More importantly, candidates must be nominated based on exceptional teaching and/or exceptional service or other contributions to the University. 

I am delighted to announce that the 2015-16 Collegiate Lecturer Award recipient for the University of Michigan-Flint is Traci Currie, Lecturer of Communication and Visual Arts, College of Arts and Sciences.


Dr. Traci Currie – 2015-16 Collegiate Lecturer of UM-Flint

Traci received her B.A. in Communication Studies from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in 1996, and her M.F.A. in Film Studies and Ph.D. in Media Studies from the Ohio University in 2000 and 2003, respectively.  Traci joined the University of Michigan-Flint in 2004 as a Lecturer in the Department of Communication and Visual Arts, and concurrently served as an instructor in English and reading comprehension for the School of Health Professions and Studies’ Health Career Opportunity Pre-College (HCOP) Program and Future Nurses Institute during 2006-08 (winter and summer).  She also served as a literature instructor and tutor in the Upward Bound Program at Wayne State University during 2005-06.  Prior to joining UM-Flint, Traci served as instructor and visiting professor at the Ohio University from 2002 to 2004.

Dr. Currie specializes in oral performance, including spoken word, poetry, and public address, especially as these genres of speaking center around issues of diversity and self-identity.  Probably Traci’s most notable service has included her role, since 2011, as Co-Facilitator in collaboration with Flint’s Buckham Gallery, at a weekly spoken workshop at Genesee Valley Regional Center Juvenile Detention Center in Flint.  There she works with young people in the juvenile system on self-expression and writing skills, a program that has received extensive media coverage.

Dr. Currie has been involved in many service activities, too numerous to list, throughout the University and community.  She and her students have appeared in spoken word performances at dozens of University functions, with the most recent being Chancellor Borrego’s Inauguration.  Her teaching is equally impressive, with her Chair describing her as “one of the finest in our department.”  She has recently been asked to teach a pilot course of Public Speaking in conjunction with the reforms of the Promise Scholar Program and now has been asked to expand that service in Fall 2015.

Traci Currie is an exemplary community citizen combining her teaching centeredness with community service in a way that always includes diversity and self-efficacy as she touches the lives with whomever she has contact .

Please join with me in congratulating Traci Currie as the 2015-16 Collegiate Lecturer for the University of Michigan-Flint.

Q & A with Professor Albert Price, Interim Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences

Professor Albert Price, Interim Dean of the UM-Flint College of Arts & Sciences

Professor Albert Price has been a part of the University of Michigan-Flint for the past 35 years. In that time he’s served as Professor and Chair in Political Science, Director of the Masters of Public Administration Program, Pre-Law Advisor, and as Interim Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences (CAS).

His research, teaching, and service have extended outward from the university and include being a part of the advisory committee for the current Genesee County jail, hosting a multi-season political talk show on WFUM, and interacting with numerous offices of government throughout our city, county, and state.

Dr. Price will retire this summer. Read on as he reflects on his time here and talks about his hopes for the future of the CAS and UM-Flint.

How long and in what capacities have you served in CAS?
I’m completing my 35th year this year. I’ve gone through the ranks of assistant, associate, and full professor over that time. I’ve also been MPA Director at UM-Flint on and off for something like 24 years of the 35 years that the program has been in existence. And I also have served as the Pre-law advisor at UM-Flint from 1994 until I came to this office in 2013. From 2013 to the present I’ve been the Interim Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. Also in that mix, during a period from 1996 to 2002 I was the creator and co-host of a television program on WFUM called Roadkill Politics. The show covered local and national politics dealing with alternative viewpoints that were not widely distributed in the mainstream media. The tapes of all those programs are now in the library.

What role was your favorite and why?
My favorite role has been professor, just teaching in the classroom. That’s the thing I enjoy the most. I like encouraging people to think about topics in ways they might not otherwise have considered. I think that’s one of the things I’ve actually done well in my life. That is, to be a kind of an academic translator. Because often times the abstractions which are necessary for some of the systematic thinking about complex intellectual issues are not easily grasped by students who have not been prepared in those, and I think that’s always fun to see people get the idea and say “oh, I can challenge this.” It’s not so much to give them anything or saying “here’s the answer,” but to get them to think about how to find the information that will answer the questions. To make them lifelong independent learners – I’ve really enjoyed that role.

Did any of the skills you learned from being a professor translate to your administrative positions?
It definitely helped – the more you learn about the world, the more you learn about the sometimes difficult paths that our students have had to take to get to their situations. If anything it has helped me to become more compassionate about the needs of others and to try to humanize the bureaucratic experience that students sometimes face. I saw myself in that role: as a mediator between the rigidity of the rules of both law school in terms of being able to be admitted but also the university in terms of helping a student to be able to complete their degree, even though it may take them a long time. I’ve had some students, particularly in the undergraduate public administration program, who took many years because they were already employed somewhere and were only taking one course a semester. To follow along and help those people meet their requirements so that they could complete their degree—that was very satisfying. So I think the learning academically helped enrich my ability to respond bureaucratically in the roles where I had authority and responsibility over some things.

What initially drew you to UM-Flint?
It was the job. Being able to be at a regional campus of the University of Michigan. And, for me—and I didn’t even know it at the time—it was a really excellent fit intellectually. The job was to help develop a potential criminal justice track in the MPA program and eventually assume a leadership role in the MPA. So the combination of public law and the application of public law in a way that would be consistent with public administration were here from the beginning. So, for me, it was just perfect because I studied applied public law which is the impact of public law in the actual world and how people get sentenced in courts, or how courts are organized, how prisons operate, how legislatures interact with the criminal justice process by changing law. I don’t think I could have intellectually articulated that when I first took the job – I was just looking for a job teaching public administration. But this one happened to be doing exactly what my interests were in political science and public administration.

So you’ve spent your whole career at UM-Flint?
Yes. In fact, this is a strange time in my life because for the first time since the fall of 1970, I’m not going to be going to college in the fall. I went and never left! I’ve been in college in my whole adult life.


Dr. Price was recently honored by the U.S. House of Representatives and received a special tribute from the State of Michigan to honor him on his retirement. “Dr. Price has devoted his life to research and higher education, and we cannot thank him enough.”

Have you seen the relationship between the Flint community and the university evolve during your time here?
Actually it’s kind of getting back to almost what it was before. It’s heading “back to the future” almost, in a strange way. When I first got here Ellis Perlman and Peter Gluck were both political science faculty involved in public administration. And they had been deeply involved in community and agency activity. We would go to lunch and things like that and they would introduce me to people. They knew pretty much everybody in the local government and non-profit world. So they introduced me to them and some of my students also were already involved. Some of the first people in my classes at UM-Flint were Bob Emerson, he was a state representative at the time and he went on to be a state senator but also budget director for the State of Michigan under the whole period of the Granholm administration; John Cherry was a student who went on to be lieutenant governor; Deb Cherry was a student who went on to be the treasurer of Genesee County. Other people have gone on to be leaders of organizations throughout the region so that has been really good. That was early on in my career that I knew people involved in all sorts of organizations. So it was almost organic, at least in the field in which I have interest, that people from my department, from the discipline, have been involved in the community. I think that dissipated a little bit as the place grew. And maybe it was the proclivities of our faculty changing. But I think as Flint has declined people tended to move farther away and that led to a kind of a lack of connection or organic knowledge of the place. We’re seeing now that it’s re-combining. I think the new Chancellor is on board with that idea of really integrating the community into all that we do. I think it’s a good direction and I think it got lost for a little while. My expectations are that people of the discipline in which I am involved will be connected to agencies and programs around the area.

What benefits do you see from those connections for our students?
A couple of different things: they get practical experience through working on projects if they are doing research with a faculty member. They get, through the internship programs, access to agencies and the more the agencies know the people who are involved in UM-Flint the more likely they are to encourage our students to get internships and then maybe turn those internships into opportunities for jobs.
Plus, it enriches the pedagogy of class. We’re moving a little more towards a traditional aged population with our dorms and early college, but at the same time we have people in our classes who are actually experienced in the field in which they are getting an education. You can really learn a lot from the students we have in our classes. That’s an opportunity both for other students and the faculty members to learn more about how the world works outside of the academic study of it.
Our students benefit by seeing what’s occurring in the world, but also being able to then link that to an academic structure or framework from which they can make conclusions about what to do or how to help. Almost all the agencies and organizations need people who are competent to think critically and make decisions and try to help resolve some of the problems in our area and region.

Awards2What do you think the College of Arts & Sciences has in its future?
I see the college returning to its roots of being more integrated into the community, and more than it ever has been before. We’ve hired a number of young faculty in the past couple of year who have that focus: to be engaged in the community. That’s gratifying, to see a return to Flint as opposed to seeing Flint as just a place to teach. I see UM-Flint, and the College of Arts and Sciences in particular, as the intellectual home of an interdisciplinary problem solving apparatus that can impact the world. And I think that’s what we ought to be doing. We tend to focus on disciplines and academic life, people identify as a Political Scientist or a Geologist – whatever their training is – problems are more complex that that, they have a number of interacting variables. What we really need is to look at a problem and see which disciplines can impact that and in what ways and focus those disciplines on that problem. I see that as a real opportunity. We’ve got so many things that we can look at here that need to be addressed, and we have a bunch of really smart people, and students who want to do things. This is really an opportunity to engage our students in real-world problem solving “out there” instead of “in here” with our faculty as intellectual guides who are also learning themselves.


Dr. Price was also awarded the Paul Wellstone Memorial Award by the Genesee County Progressive Democratic Caucus. This award honored Dr. Price for showing “personal commitment to the progressive ideals that are the foundation of American society.” This award has only been given out once before.

What are you most proud of from your time at UM-Flint?
The thing about which I have the greatest pride is probably undeserved. And it is being part of the process that allows people to accomplish what they do in their lives. So seeing the graduates of the MPA program, the undergraduates in Public Administration, and being the Pre-Law advisor, to see people go off into the world and actually have responsibilities in things, to do things important in the world, that feels good. Even though you’re only partly related to it. I can’t go to a meeting or an organization or an agency in this area without running into somebody who was either in my classes or was in the MPA program or was in undergraduate Public Administration. So to have been involved in the preparation of people for the work that they’ve done in the world has been pretty satisfying, and humbling. You can’t claim credit or blame when people do things, but to have been engaged in the process of getting to people to where they are, where they can impact the world, that is pretty gratifying.

What advice or encouragement do you have for students?
Take your education seriously, embrace it. It isn’t a hoop to jump through; it’s something that, if you embrace it, can lead to a better understanding of yourself and a better understanding of the world. We do provide a credentialing apparatus, that’s what college can be, but what I would recommend is that students not think of life like that, instead think of life as “I need to know more.” Virtually every subject in which you can take a course in the College of Arts & Sciences has a perspective and information to better understand the world. I think students don’t intuitively know that because they’ve been processed for the most part through a system that didn’t encourage a lot of learning as a valuable function in itself. To be intellectually curious is really a value that the College can provide. Our students need to think that way: that they can do anything, that they can learn anything. Really this is the process of a college education is to make you a learning machine. You can learn anything.

Do you have advice for CAS faculty?
Get engaged in the community. Find how your discipline impacts the world, then go try to solve problems using your discipline as a starting point. That solves the relevancy question. Education for its own sake is nice, and I’m not opposed to people just seeking education, but the world is just full of problems that we need to solve, and we need to solve them from a wide range of academic interests and perspectives. Going out and actually engaging the world will be more meaningful for the faculty members who are helping students to reach their objectives.
It’s our job to help students see there is a different purpose. Yes, you need to have a job, but the job should be solving some problem. We should say “what can I do to solve problems in the world”, not “how much money can I make?” “How can what I’m learning impact the world?” will lead to a whole lot more satisfaction in life. To do something where you help people and take care of your own life at the same time is what makes for a more satisfying life.
There are so many problems facing the world, and we’re not focusing the energy of society on solving the problems to make a better world for everybody.

Are there any innovations in teaching or research in CAS you’d like to discuss?
The most innovative things in the last few years have been primarily at the Masters level. But they are really interesting.
The Master of Arts in Liberal Studies is now available fully online Rackham program. That should expand the available audience to statewide and, if not that, nationwide. It’s one of the purest, in terms of academic purpose.
The second is the Master of Arts in Communication. That is also fully online and it is a cohort system, which is different. Students take a set of classes together as they go through the program. It’s one of the first in the country to be focused on applied communication in an organizational setting.
Computer Science has a Masters program that has been expanded over the last several years and they consistently draw 600-700 applicants per semester. To help meet their stream of students they have built three cyber classrooms, which are pretty cool. It’s a way of bringing education in that field into the digital age.
Another thing within the College is the reformatting of the Secondary Education program to be true team teaching between the disciplines in CAS, for the content courses, and someone in SEHS for the pedagogy lead. UM-Flint is leading the way in this. And the place-based part of this is really cool; you have people develop learning in the environment in which they’ll be operating as opposed to just using a textbook. This is a real innovation in education and CAS has been fully partnered in that.
Another innovation is the Zick Classroom in Physics. It’s a hands-on environment that works exceptionally well. It’s tremendous. It’s a real shift in pedagogy and it’s moving in the best practice direction and away from giant lecture halls.
We also have a very robust undergraduate research environment in CAS.

Do you have any final thoughts on liberal education for our readers?
I think the world is starting ask questions as to why we’re not valuing well the things that the College of Arts & Sciences has done in the past and we maybe are becoming over technical in our educational processes. What they say in business world is that they can help train [graduates] in the technical stuff; they can’t train them in the critical thinking, or communication, or ethical decision-making and environments. That needs to be there up front, and we can do that in the College of Arts & Sciences to prepare people for a wide array of disciplines in their careers. What enriches the life is the knowledge beyond your technical field. CAS is pretty well positioned for that.

How do you think you’ll feel once you’re retired?
That’s an interesting question. Like I said, this is the first time since 1970 that I’m not going to be going to school in the fall. I’m going to be involved more in my grandchildren’s lives. We’re moving near D.C. I’m signed up for the Brookings newsletter, I’m going to be doing reading, and I’m going to start blogging. I’ll blog about politics and things related to the world in general. The blog is called “Avoiding the Obvious.” I’ve put one thing up. It sort of summarizes what I’m about: it’s a picture of Donald Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam Hussein in the 1980s.


Professor Price with the Paul Wellstone Memorial Award

At the recent MPA 35th Year Celebration, Dr. Price was honored by having a Public Administration scholarship established in his name. The first $5,000 in donations will be matched, allowing the fund to reach endowment status. If you would like to donate to this fund in his honor, contact the UM-Flint Development Office at (810) 424-5448.


Summer 2015 Theatre & Dance Positions

TheatreDancelogoEach year as the winter semester draws to a close, the halls of UM-Flint get quiet. The majority of our students are off campus–some spending a summer at home, others are working, some are doing internships or spending time abroad for study.

The students and faculty of the Theatre and Dance Department are hard at work honing skills, gaining real-world experience, and letting their talents shine as they join companies and productions across the country. When they return in the fall, they will have a season’s worth of insight they can apply to their courses and 2015-2016 productions. Some of our alums are also active in the industry, putting their degrees and experiences to work in their professional lives.

Congratulations to the following Theatre and Dance members on their summer positions:

Lydia Parker – Stitcher at Great River Shakespeare Festival, Winona, MN

Paul Docter – Carpenter at Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, Center Valley, PA

Lucas Moquin – Performer/Carpenter (George in Drowsy Chaperone) at Thunder Bay Theatre, Alpena, MI

Maria Oakley – Asst. Costume Designer at Flint Youth Theatre, Flint, MI

Kelsey Knag – Asst. Costume Designer at Flint Youth Theatre, Flint, MI

Corey Boughton – Sound Designer at The Barn Theatre, Augusta, MI

Chazz Irwin Performer at Flint Youth Theatre, Flint, MI

Dominque Hinde Assistant Stage Manager at Flint Youth Theatre, Flint, MI

Madaline Harkema – Assistant Stage Manager at Flint Youth Theatre, Flint, MI

Alex Ghattas (BFA 11) – Performer at The Barn Theatre, Augusta, MI

Allison Kimber (BFA 14) – Performer at The Barn Theatre, Augusta, MI

Bridgid Kelly Burge (BS 14) – Assistant Props Master at Illinois Shakespeare Festival, Bloomington, IL

Jessica Wilkowski (BS 15) – Scenic Artist at Illinois Shakespeare Festival, Bloomington, IL

Kaitlyn Pitcher (BS 15) – First Hand/Jr. Draper at Great River Shakespeare Festival, Winona, MN

Zach Kentala (BS 15) – Assistant Preparator at Cranbrook Art Museum, Bloomfield Hills, MI

Michelle Hathaway (BS 15) – Wardrobe Supervisor at Lake Dillon Theatre Company, Dillon, CO

Cat Boss (BS 12) – Costume Coordinator at Flint Youth Theater, Flint, MI

Natalie Sevick (BFA 11) – Performer (Sally Bowles in Cabaret) at Riverbank/Snug Theatre, Marine City, MI

Matt Coggins (BA 15) – Performer/Sound Designer at Flint Youth Theatre, Flint, MI

Kenn Hopkins (BFA 13) – Performer (Prince of Morocco in The Merchant of Venice) at Houston Shakespeare Festival, Houston, TX

Special congratulations to UM-Flint Theatre & Dance alumna Erin Darke (BFA Theatre Performance, 2005) on her successful Off-Broadway opening in the new play, The Spoils, starring alongside Jesse Eisenberg (Social Network) and Kunal Nayyar (Big Bang Theory). When hapless Ben (Jesse Eisenberg) learns that his grad school crush, Sarah (Erin), is marrying a straight-laced banker, he sets out to destroy their relationship and win her back. The Spoils is playing at the Pershing Square Signature Center/Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre in NYC until June 28th. You can also see Erin in the Brian Wilson (Beach Boys) biopic, Love & Mercy, opening nation wide June 5th. Erin was last seen in the Oscar winning film, Still Alice, starring Julianne Moore. Congratulations to Erin on all of her success! Watch the UM-Flint News for more information on Ms. Darke.

For more information on the Theatre & Dance Department and the ways our students are prepared for careers on and off the stage, visit


Get to Know Suzanne Shivnen of Political Science and Economics!


Suzanne Shivnen with Professor Albert Price, CAS Interim Dean and longtime Political Science faculty member

Name: Suzanne Shivnen
Title: Administrative Assistant Intermediate
Department(s): Economics and Political Science

Degree(s), Education, or Certification(s):
Bachelor of Business Administration from Western Michigan University, 1986
Major: Marketing
Minor: General Business and Communications

Professional or Personal Volunteer Activities:
Staff Council member from 2012-2014

Awards or Recognitions Received (UM-Flint or Community):
• Margaret Rogers Award
• Staff Recognition Award Winner 2015
• CAS Academic Advising certification
• Sterling Staff Award recipient

Ways in which I support or interact with UM-Flint students:
I assist students on a daily basis. I am the first person they see when they come into our office. I answer questions they have, facilitate them meeting with their advisors or professors. I also work with our Pi Sigma Alpha students (Political Science Honors Society). Many times, students have questions on how a process works. The department is usually their first stop to help guide them through the University.

Ways in which I support or interact with UM-Flint faculty:
Our faculty are busy teaching courses, working on research, serving on committees and community engagement, as their administrative support, I assist them by keeping the office running smoothly. I administer the financial work for the department and help them with various projects.

Ways in which I support or interact with UM-Flint staff:
As a departmental administrative assistant, our office suite consists of a variety of departments. Our success depends on working well together while communicating the goals and visions of the College of Arts and Sciences. Our faculty works very hard to ensure student success. Our department encourages students to visit with their faculty, get advised on their progress, and participate in student engagement. A lot of questions students have are related to how a process works or where to go to initiate the process, I assist them by explaining procedures or processes.

Ways in which I am involved with my department or program’s community engagement:
We consistently invite guest speakers to our campus to discuss a wide variety of topics. Last fall, we offered a three-part lecture series on ‘The Future of Michigan Cities” as well as a performance by Bob Weick, “Marx in Soho”.

What I feel my department or program does best for students:
The Political Science faculty want to deepen the understanding and knowledge of the function of governments, politics, public policy and public affairs in the USA and around the world. The Political Science faculty strive to teach students about the world, their political systems, and talk about relevant issues involving our government and political system. We also offer a Pi Sigma Alpha Honor Society opportunity to our Political Science majors. PSA is involved in many different areas on campus.

The Economics faculty shares their knowledge with student by introducing economic tools and methods to study a variety of subjects. Economic students learn to recognize the costs and benefits with alternative choices. They also examine “cause and effect” relationships. Students can apply the concepts they learn in Economics to every day decisions and the impact one choice or decision makes over another, different choice.

The Economics Club meets on a monthly basis and is involved in a variety of areas on campus.

What I hope for my time at UM-Flint:
Since I began at UM Flint 10 years ago, I strive to treat our students as I’d want my own children treated at their university. The reason I am here is to help our students succeed in their academic success. I hope to contribute to the educational experience by making processes or procedures run smoother for them to attain their educational goals.

What I hope for students from my department or program:
I hope students gain knowledge to help them attain their academic and educational goals. I hope they look back on their time at University of Michigan – Flint with fond memories of supportive faculty and staff.

Three things you should know about me:
1. I’ve been married for 27 years to my husband, Keith. We moved to Grand Blanc, Michigan twenty-one years ago.

2. We have two great children. Our daughter, Jennifer, is 23 years old and a MSU graduate who is applying to graduate school to become a Physician Assistant. Our son, Steven, will be 21 this month and is a Lance Corporal in the United State Marine Corps. He will be deploying on a Marine Expedition Unit in January 2016. He’s currently stationed at Camp Pendleton in San Diego, CA.

3. Seven years ago, we adopted two rescue pups named Sammi and Sadie. They were litter mates and we couldn’t separate them! It was their lucky day. They are great dogs, good travelers, and are a fun addition to our family.

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Pictured: Chancellor Susan E. Borrego, Suzanne Shivnen, and Political Science’s Dr. Peggy Kahn. Photo taken at the 2015 Staff Recognition Awards Ceremony and featured on Chancellor Borrego’s Twitter.

Image Created During International Space Station Research Wins Prize in Art Competition


“Soot: In the Wink of an Eye” – an image pulled from research done on the International Space Station – has won an award for Technical Merit in the 2015 Combustion Art Competition. Asst. Professor Liu of CSEP was one of the submitting team members.

Assistant Professor Yu-Cheng (Frank) Liu of the Department of Computer Science, Engineering, and Physics has his PhD roots at Cornell University, and those roots are connecting research from the International Space Station to an art competition at the 2015 International Combustion Symposium in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The Combustion Art Competition has been a part of the Symposium since 2004. Says Liu, “In every year’s U.S. National Combustion Meeting, combustion researchers submit their ‘art pieces’ (image or video or any form of art) from their research topic and form a art gallery exhibition during the meeting/conference.” The pieces are judged by the attendees through a ballot. Dr. Liu’s team submission, “Soot: In the Wink of an Eye” won this year’s Honorable Mention for Technical Merit. Other members of his team were Yuhao Xu and Thomas Avedisian of Cornell University and Michael Hicks of NASA.

The research that produced the image was taking place during Liu’s time at Cornell, and has continued on with others since his departure for the University of Michigan-Flint. The specific flame extinguishment experiment that produced the above image was carried out aboard the International Space Station.

According to NASA’s site, “The Flame Extinguishment – 2 (FLEX-2) experiment is the second experiment to fly on the ISS which uses small droplets of fuel to study the special spherical characteristics of burning fuel droplets in space. The FLEX-2 experiment studies how quickly fuel burns, the conditions required for soot to form, and how mixtures of fuels evaporate before burning. Understanding these processes could lead to the production of a safer spacecraft as well as increased fuel efficiency for engines using liquid fuel on Earth.”

When asked about the process of working with astronauts on the International Space Station, Liu said, “We scientists are watching live-streaming video sent from ISS to NASA-Glen Research Center and to Cornell via internet when the experiments are taking place on ISS. We do spend a lot of time to extract data from those images, but that’s after the experiments were done.”

The connection between art and engineering may not seem obvious to some, especially in a science as specific as combustion, in a substance as common as soot, or on a scale as small millimeters. Says Liu, “People doing combustion research usually have beautiful flame images to be proud of . . . The projects we worked on do not usually contain beautiful images. A lot of times we are working with a huge amount of data. It is when we were able to finally visualize the trend of data and interpret the meaning that becomes valuable knowledge and we start to realize and appreciate the beauty of science.” Liu found special merit in the “idealty of the spherical droplet flame.” The attendees of the Combustion Art Competition agreed.

To see all of the 2015 winning entries, visit


Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Dr. Yu-Cheng (Frank) Liu.

To learn more about the Engineering Program at UM-Flint, and other research work done by Dr. Liu and his colleagues, visit or