Monthly Archives: May 2016

Lumber City Baseball Returns for 2016 Season

LumberCity1If you have a passion for baseball, then here is an invitation for summer fun in Flint. Lumber City Vintage Base Ball Club is ready to step to the plate for their fourth season. For the past few years, Flint’s historical baseball team has taken to field withover 30 teams all over Michigan. Each team dresses in period uniforms, uses replica equipment, and plays by rules of the 1860s to recreate the earliest days of America’s past time. This year, Lumber City will be hosting two tournaments on their field at the University of Michigan-Flint. The Stockton Cup, named for Flint’s Colonel Thomas B. Stockton will showcase four clubs playing for the trophy on May 21. On June 11, the team will host the Carriagetown Classic in a “Gatling-gun” style tournament where three teams compete in a single game. The remaining home games are select Saturdays. Most games begin at 2:00 pm with earlier start times for tournaments. You can see the full schedule by visiting the Whaley House website

The team is sponsored by the University of Michigan-Flint Department of History and the Whaley Historic House Museum. Spectators get to see more than an authentic competition. During the game, Thomas. Henthorn, Wyatt Professor of U.S. History, treats the crowd with interesting stories about the history of the sport and why Americans took to the game in the nineteenth century.  “Our history department is always trying to come up with unique ways to engage the community with history,” remarked Henthorn. The team also serves as part of the outreach programming for the Whaley Historic House Museum. The Museum is currently being restored from damage by a fire on November 30, 2015. “The baseball team has been a very successful way for use to reach people offsite,” said Samantha Engel, the museum’s director. “This year, the team will help remind people that the museum is still busy promoting history, even though the house itself is being repaired.”

For fans who think they may want to do more than watch, the Lumber City team is looking to add players to its roster. “Anyone is welcome to join,” said Henthorn. “We even have special incentives for University of Michigan-Flint students.” Prospective players must be at least eighteen years of age and do not have to be associated with the university to be members. Practices have already begun with a special scrimmage match and information session scheduled for April 16 at 1:00 pm at the University of Michigan-Flint. Anyone wishing to join should contact Prof. Thomas Henthorn at the University of Michigan-Flint. 810-762-3366.

ERS is Now the Department of Geography, Planning, and Environment

This spring the Regents of the University of Michigan approved a change in department name for UM-Flint’s Earth & Resource Science. Starting with the Fall 2016 semester, they will be known as the Department of Geography, Planning, and Environment (GPE). This change reflects the department’s focus on continuously serving students in relevant ways.

ERS’ two existing majors have been reconfigured into Environmental Science & Sustainability and Urban & Regional Planning. They will continue to offer minors in Environmental Science and Urban & Regional Planning (formerly City & Regional Planning); a certificate in Geographic Information Systems; and for prospective teachers the Integrated Science TCP, Social Studies TCP, and the Earth Science TCP minor.

The former ENV and RPL course prefixes will be discontinued. Instead, students should look for ESS (Environmental Science and Sustainability) or URP (Urban and Regional Planning) in future catalogs. The GEO prefix will remain and will be used for courses in Geographic Information Systems.

Dr. Marty Kaufman of the new GPE department teaches a class.

Dr. Marty Kaufman of the GPE Department.

Dr. Marty Kaufman, department chair, answered a few questions about the changes:

Why the new name?
The name change more accurately reflects what our curriculum addresses. A geographical approach has long been the foundation of our approach to the curriculum we provide. With the evolution of our faculty expertise through new hires into the urban and planning arena, it made sense to have the department name reflect our curricular approach and faculty expertise. Moreover, our students supported this change.

UM-Flint ERS students out in Flint conducting a field survey.

UM-Flint ERS students conducting a field survey.

Will you be offering new majors, minors, or certificates? Are any current areas of study being discontinued?
We have changed the names of our two majors and slightly modified their content. The most important change is the provision of a clear track for students interested in urban and regional planning, and multiple tracks for those interested in environmental science and sustainability. We have discontinued the minor in Physical Geography, as the required courses within the science track of the new Environmental Science and Sustainability major virtually duplicate those previously offered by the minor.

Will there be new courses?
We have new courses in the Urban and Regional Planning major. These courses were included because we are seeking national accreditation for the program. This accreditation will make UM-Flint a preferred destination for prospective students interested in Urban and Regional Planning.

UM-Flint ERS students out in the field.

UM-Flint ERS students out in the field.

Why are you moving in this new direction? How will it better serve students?
Our department has always tried to serve the best interest of our students. We frequently speak with our current and past students about the relevance of the curriculum, and we adapt as student interests and the marketplace change. These changes will help those students interested in planning or science attain a better focus on those disciplines, while receiving more comprehensive preparation for either the workplace or graduate school.

Will the role of the GIS Center be changing?

What research projects are in the future?
Our department has always been very active in research. Significant research will continue by our faculty in the areas of non-motorized transportation, environmental health,  water resources, remote sensing and Geographic Information Systems, community population loss, and sustainability.

For more information on the Department of Geography, Planning, and Environment, visit their website. To research available courses, visit, and to register for an upcoming semester, visit

Alumni Spotlight: Tiffany Williams

The roots grown in Flint, Michigan, are strong for our graduates. For one graduate, they were strong enough to draw her 2300 miles across the country, from Seattle, WA, to lend her voice in raising awareness of the water crisis and to support Flint residents. During the time of Democratic Presidential Debate, Tiffany Williams, a 2011 sociology graduate, hosted a peaceful demonstration march and encouraged area citizens to express their feelings. Read below to get to know this passionate graduate.

Tiffany Williams (right) stands with Heather Laube of Sociology in Flint's Wilson Park

Tiffany Williams (right) stands with Heather Laube of Sociology in Flint’s Wilson Park

Name and degree: Tiffany Williams. I majored in Sociology and graduated at the end of 2011.

What are you doing now?
I currently work as a Resource Coordinator at a software company in the Seattle, WA area. Sometime in the future, I would like to work for a non-profit, eventually starting my own non-profit organization. Outside of my regular work, I have been actively pursuing social justice for the people of Flint during the continuing water crisis.

However, back home in the Seattle region, I am also starting to get involved in efforts to help the homeless population. Homelessness has become and increasing issue; particularly on the west coast.

How did your University of Michigan-Flint education prepare you for what you are doing now?
My education in Sociology at UM-Flint is the main reason that I pursue activism and non-profit work today. It was not until I began to study at U of M that I became informed about how society functions; including gaining an understanding about the social inequalities that exist today. This knowledge is the foundation that has enabled me to pursue social justice missions back in Flint, as well as in my current communities in Washington state.

Who made the biggest impact on your UM-Flint career?
Virtually all of my Sociology professors had a positive impact on me, but Dr. Heather Laube in particular, had the biggest impact of all. She challenged me to think in a way that no one else had. She made me always ask “why,” and taught me some serious analytical skills.

Still to this day, I remember that she always stressed that even though social injustice exists, we do have the power to change the status quo. I believed her then, and I still believe her now. That belief is what brought me back to Flint to organize and host the #JUSTICE4FLINT Protest Rally & March.

Tiffany Williams, center stands with #Justice4Flint Rally members in Wilson Park

Tiffany Williams, center stands with #Justice4Flint Rally members in Wilson Park

Tiffany Williams speaks to rally members and media during her #Justice4Flint demonstration.

Tiffany Williams speaks to rally members and media during her #Justice4Flint demonstration.

Describe a firsthand example of a meaningful learning experience at UM-Flint. 
Under the instruction and guidance of Dr. Ananth Aiyer (one of my other influential professors), I wrote my senior capstone on the topic of environmental racism. This research proposal virtually brought together everything that I had learned while studying Sociology, all into one project. It was essentially the most important exercise that I did while an undergrad. This project is how I learned to apply the study of Sociology in the “real world.”

The Flint Water Crisis made me realize just how important my research and writing on the topic of environmental racism was, especially considering the real life example that we see playing out currently in Flint as we speak. My capstone was definitely a major factor in understanding the Flint Water Crisis from a sociological perspective. I would say that my capstone was just one more stepping stone in my journey back to Flint as a self-proclaimed “activist.”

What does UM-Flint do better than any other university? 
At this campus, smaller class sizes allow students to easily access their instructors and receive personal attention which is a major student advantage. However, even though the class sizes are smaller on this campus than some others, students still receive the superb education that one would expect from the University of Michigan.

What advice would you give to an incoming UM-Flint freshman?
I would advise new freshmen not to rush into officially declaring their major right away. I would recommend that new students be open to taking introductory classes in disciplines that they are curious about. They may find themselves surprised at all of the options of study that the university offers.

Also, I would suggest staying in touch with professors throughout their program as well as after graduation. Staying connected with such esteemed professionals is always an asset.

Describe “the UM-Flint of the future.” What could it be? What should it be?
In the future, I would like to see more visible student activism on campus. The university should be a place that welcomes responsible student activism. Not to say that it currently does not; I would just like to see student activism more openly encouraged. College in often a critical time in our lives when we realize our own ability to make “change” and that realization should grow and be fostered. I would also like to see more engagement between students and the actual Flint community beyond the boundaries of campus. Community connection is important and there are a lot of students that do not currently live in Flint that could benefit by spending more time with in the community outside of the classroom.

#Justice4Flint Rally members march along Kearsley Street on the UM-Flint campus.

#Justice4Flint Rally members march along Kearsley Street on the UM-Flint campus.

To read about the #Justice4Flint rally and to view photos, check out coverage by Stand Up, Flint!, MLive, and CBCNews. For more information about UM-Flint’s Sociology program, visit

Story photos by Erin Cavanaugh.

Alumni Spotlight: Shane Emmons, Computer Science & Information Systems

Shane Emmons graduated from UM-Flint in 2004 with a BS and 2006 with an MS in Computer Science. After several years of success in his field, he wrote to his home department asking if there was a way to give back to the community that helped him accomplish so much. Dr. Michael Farmer, Department Chair of CSEP, gladly accepted the offer and enlisted Emmons as an instructor for a graduate-level networking course. Read on to learn more about this UM-Flint alum and his place in the world of computer science.

Shane Emmons, alumnus and faculty member of UM-Flint's Computer Science program

Shane Emmons, alumnus and faculty member of UM-Flint’s Computer Science program

Name: Shane Emmons
Degree(s): Bachelors, Computer Science – 2004; Masters, Computer Science and Information Systems – 2006

What are you doing now? 
CTO, TeamSnap. I work as part of the executive team to define, plan, and execute the vision of the company. As the CTO, I also distill the overall company vision into a vision for the engineering organization which we then act upon. I spend time daily mentoring developers, defining our platform architecture and working to create consensus amongst the various groups on how we approach technical hurdles.

According to their website, TeamSnap is an “online sports team management application for coaches, managers and organizers to save time organizing their teams and groups.” Available services from the application include “0nline registration, player and schedule management, [and a] public website.”

How did your University of Michigan-Flint education prepare you for what you are doing now?
[UM-Flint] gave me the background I needed to hit the ground running. I was able to take what I learned in class and apply it directly to complicated problems that would have eluded me otherwise. It also taught me how to work as a team and how to clearly express myself. Communication is extremely important, especially in the highly remote and connected world of technology.

Who made the biggest impact on your UM-Flint career?
Dr. Turner in the CSEP department was my biggest influence. He always pushed me to do my best. He gave my opportunities to do independent research and to also assist him in research. Without his guidance and natural leadership to do something better I may not have strived as hard to reach my goals today.

What is the value of UM-Flint curricula?
You cannot begin to put value on how important the real-world curriculum was to my education. There are things we discussed in class that come up on a nearly daily basis. This approach allowed me to immediately put into action things I learned in class, even before I graduated.

What does UM-Flint do better than any other university?
UM-Flint does two great things you’ll not find at every University. First, they give students great individual focus. If you’re hungry to learn and willing to put in the work, you’ll find the professors there right alongside you giving back as much (or more) than you put in. Secondly, they offer great flexibility for those who are working but still want that university experience. Whether it’s classes at night or a mixed-mode online course, you can bet you’ll get the same University caliber experience.

What advice would you give to an incoming UM-Flint freshman?
Study hard, do the homework. What you put into the classes is what you’ll get out. The harder you work, the more you’ll learn and the further you’ll go.

Describe “the UM-Flint of the future.” What could it be? What should it be? 
An interconnected university that bridges remote and in-class students together in one cohesive experience.

For more information on the computer science program at UM-Flint, visit their website

CAS Faculty Join UM-Flint Celebration of Teaching

Shelby Newport of Theatre & Dance and Amy York of Physical Therapy discuss peer observation at the 2016 UM-Flint Celebration of Teaching.

Shelby Newport of Theatre & Dance and Amy Yorke of Physical Therapy discuss peer observation at the 2016 UM-Flint Celebration of Teaching.

Throughout the year, UM-Flint’s Thompson Center for Learning and Teaching (TCLT) acknowledges and advances excellence in teaching throughout campus. This spring they put a spotlight on that excellence with their annual Celebration of Teaching. The event marks the end of another academic year while fostering conversation and connections between faculty from around the university.

The 2016 event opened with a welcome by Tracy Wacker, director of the TCLT. She applauded the gathered faculty for the ways in which they are advancing teaching at the university.

The keynote address was given by Dr. Tom Wrobel of Psychology on the theme of the “Multiple Identities of a Teacher.” He talked about all of the facets of a teacher’s soul: a journeyman to the student apprentice, exposing them to the richness of each discipline; a salesperson, selling each area of study to students; an actor, putting on an excited face for the explanation given dozens of time before—remembering that the content is fresh for each batch of students; a lens, encouraging students “not just to see, but to see through”; and in some ways a parent.

He closed by noting that students also affect each faculty member’s identity, for “in trying to become a better teacher, you can’t help but become a better person.”

Learning from Peers

Tracy Wacker of the TCLT discusses the upcoming conversation with the Celebration of Teaching panel

Tracy Wacker of the TCLT discusses the upcoming conversation with the Celebration of Teaching panel

A faculty panel, made up of individuals from the College of Arts & Sciences, SEHS, and SHPS, spoke on “Advancing Teaching Excellence at UM-Flint.” Members included Scott Caddy of English, Jessica Camp of Social Work, Seung-Jin Lee of ERS and CSEP, Shelby Newport of Theatre & Dance, Joyce Piert of Mathematics, and Amy Yorke of Physical Therapy.

Newport and Yorke opened the discussion together, talking about their experiences with peer observation.

They discussed the unexpected ways in which their disparate disciplines, theater and physical therapy, gave surprising insight into each other’s teaching spaces and methods.

For example, Newport offered feedback on use of space that reflected her experiences with staging plays. From that, Yorke learned to stage her students and classrooms for more effective communication.

Yorke, while giving a lesson on touch in her physical therapy course, inspired Newport to think about the ways in which she talks to students about applying stage makeup. For both, a softness of touch was needed to convey expertise and confidence.

Both were surprised by the amount of common ground they found in observing each other’s teaching methods and disciplines. Newport said she loved finding, “connections from unlike sources,” and Yorke added, “as teachers, we have so much in common.”

Emily Feueherm of English at the 2016 Celebration of Teaching

Emily Feueherm of English at the 2016 Celebration of Teaching

Seung-Jin Lee spoke on his experience of being brought to campus to “bridge the gap between environment and engineering.” To do so, he’s established a course that will help engineering students think about sustainability, “not just performance, but the consequences of design.”

His goal with the course is to help his students not only make products that have a sustainable design, but also come from sustainable systems. He hopes to inspire the students to be more “aware of making the world a better place.” For example, how do you redesign a computer so that its components and the energy it uses are not negatively impacting the world in which it works?

Panel member Joyce Piert of Mathematics speaks at the 2016 Celebration of Teaching

Panel member Joyce Piert of Mathematics speaks at the 2016 Celebration of Teaching

Joyce Piert of Mathematics discussed Teaching Circles on campus, and the ways in which they have enhanced her time in the classroom. Teaching circles bring together educators from many disciplines for conversations on their personal experiences in the professional world. She noted that, surprisingly, the sessions became a place of healing for her and others as they discussed shared moments.

Jessica Camp of Social work presented on her redesign of a senior capstone course as a new faculty member, and its expected and unexpected outcomes. The new course structure allows for senior projects to be student driven and community focused. Camp noted that she wanted her students “to be able to recognize social justice issues that need to be addressed,” and then to “research and apply action.” The capstone ends with an annual event at which the students present their research projects to the community and campus.

Camp noted that having the freedom to identify and drive their own research builds important and individual skills. It “helps students identify where their passion lies and move forward in this incredibly diverse field.”

She hopes the new student-driven model will help her students stand out when entering the job field after graduation, saying “[the] industry is looking for self-sufficient and self-motivated individuals [who can] think intentionally and critically about these issues.”

Associate Dean Roy Barnes of CAS at the 2016 Celebration of Teaching

Associate Dean Roy Barnes of CAS at the 2016 Celebration of Teaching

Scott Caddy teaches English 111 and 112, courses required by nearly every student at the university and ones in which he learned a great deal about being a teacher. While helping his students learn that making mistakes is okay, and that it will lead to stronger writing, he found that the same is true for being an educator.

Said Caddy, “It’s important to create a space where ‘failure’ is acceptable and you find ways to evolve and change your approach.”

Caddy’s powerful message about giving yourself permission to fail resonated with the faculty in the audience. It led to intense discussion about the importance of sharing both successes and failures with peers, and utilizing campus resources like the TCLT to have such conversations and gain feedback and support.

Powerful Conversation

Following the panel discussions, the Celebration of Teaching audience broke into small groups for a discussion on Teaching Moments. The TCLT staff prompted discussion by asking the groups to discuss the 2015-2016 academic year and the best thing that happened, the most surprising thing, and a powerful realization they had as teachers.

Faculty members share ideas on Teaching Moments at the 2016 Celebration of Teaching

Faculty members share ideas on Teaching Moments at the 2016 Celebration of Teaching

Audience members reflect on the 2015-2016 academic year at the Celebration of Teaching.

Audience members reflect on the 2015-2016 academic year at the Celebration of Teaching.

After the groups had come back together and shared their findings, Scott Johnson, Dean of the School of Management, noted the small groups’ findings shared “the common theme of self-awareness, learning as a person, and being honest that you have vulnerabilities.” He added, “it’s a really special thing to be a teacher, but this applies to all walks of life.”

For more information on the Thompson Center for Learning and Teaching, and the ways in which they work to advance educators at UM-Flint, visit their website: