Higher Learning Commission to evaluate SAU for accreditation

By Nathan Salsbury

On December 4, a group of five faculty members from various schools in the region will visit Spring Arbor University (SAU) to evaluate the school and decide whether or not it will maintain its regional accreditation.

On Monday, October 16, a student leadership meeting was held to inform students about SAU’s upcoming evaluation. Professor of Sociology John Hawthorne, alongside a team of other faculty members, has been working on the required paperwork for the visit. The document, at the time of the meeting, consisted of 28,456 words of the maximum 30,000 words and featured information on how the institution is doing academically and spiritually. Hawthorne said the project, which has taken up much of his time since March, is mostly ready to be reviewed by the visiting board, although it is still going through changes.

HLCmap“I was really excited Saturday when I put what I thought were the last edit passes in to say, ‘Oh good, now we’ve got this thing put to bed,'” Hawthorne said. “I got about seven emails between 5:30 and 10:30 on Sunday morning, so then I went back in and I’ve been working on that since.”

The document will then be assessed by the five faculty members that are chosen to evaluate SAU. These members will come from schools in the North-Central region of the country, which is comprised of schools from 19 states. This region is also known as the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

To remain accredited, five criteria must be met as listed on the HLC’s official website. The surveyors need to make sure:

1) The institution’s mission is clear and articulated publicly; it guides the institution’s operations.

2) The institution acts with integrity; its conduct is ethical and responsible.

3) The institution provides high quality education, wherever and however its offerings are delivered.

4) The institution demonstrates responsibility for the quality of its educational programs, learning environments, and support services, and it evaluates their effectiveness for student learning through processes designed to promote continuous improvement.

5) The institution’s resources, structures, and processes are sufficient to fulfill its mission, improve the quality of its educational offerings, and respond to future challenges and opportunities. The institution plans for the future.

Not only will the HLC be looking for those five criteria to be met during their visit, they will also be sitting down with various students to evaluate what campus life is like. Hawthorne said students should be honest about their thoughts on the school, although they should not take this as an opportunity to voice complaints about such things as the limited parking availability.

HLCcriteria“We are not a perfect institution,” Hawthorne said. “The institutions that our visitors will come from are not perfect institutions. So, if you should say, ‘There’s an area that we think we’re working on as an institution and I wish we did more of that,’ I want you to be honest in that conversation.”

During the meeting, students can expect to hear questions such as, “What’s it like to go to school here?” and, “How your major classes are going?” Hawthorne, who is occasionally asked to be a part of the HLC when evaluating other schools, said he would not directly ask about advising, but there might be questions to ensure students know what classes they need to take and that there is a strong support system of faculty members for the student to come to with any problems.

Hawthorne said he assured the president that although SAU is being evaluated, there is almost nothing that anybody could say in the visit that would cause the school undue harm or prompt the accreditation to be taken away. The visit is a procedure that every accredited institution must go through every few years. In particular, the HLC typically evaluates schools once every seven to ten years, and this year marks ten years since SAU was last evaluated. Once accreditation takes place, it gives the school the opportunity to receive Title IV funding from the Department of Education, which means the school will receive federal financial aid funds.

The HLC will spend most of Monday, December 4 on campus, as well as some of Tuesday, December 5. The five members will then draft their assessment of the school to decide whether or not SAU will remain an accredited institution.

Phishing emails continue to test SAU cyber security

By Kayla Williamson

Every morning, Chief Information Officer Chris Blackstone runs a report that pulls a list of all email accounts that have forwarding rules set up. He then looks at the name of each email account that is forwarded for any clue it might be a fake email.

“The challenge with all this is that it’s kind of like a dam that’s cracking and trying to put your finger in the holes,” Blackstone said. “It’s kind of like playing whack-a-mole.”

On July 31, the first of many phishing emails were sent to hundreds of Spring Arbor University (SAU) students. Over 200 accounts were compromised in this phishing attack. Emails varied from fake Dropbox links, warnings your email is going to be disabled and alerts that an account is over its email quota.

Although these kinds of scams are common with other schools using Microsoft systems, there is not much anyone can do to prevent or to protect against the attacks once they start and have compromised an account. So far the Information Services team has spent over 300 hours trying to fix the problem.

“It’s consumed my August,” Blackstone said. “It’s pretty much all that I’ve been working on in August. I was on vacation and got pulled back into doing stuff. It’s been quite an ordeal.”


Unlike hacking, phishing emails do not have access to users’ information unless the users give it away.

Blackstone said it is different from a hack because people give their information willingly, whereas in a hack someone penetrated the network to find information.

Once the phishing source has a student’s information, he or she has access to all of the student’s records. A student’s username and email are just as valuable as a social security number, Blackstone said. But since these attacks were random, no account changes have been reported. But this summer there have been reports of students not receiving financial aid information and faculty not receiving emails for five days.

This is why Blackstone runs a manual report on all email accounts with forwarding rules. Attacks have forwarded emails from an arbor.edu account to a fake email. After 22 accounts were reported not receiving emails, that was the point when Blackstone said they had the potential for significant damage.

The solution: a password reset.

On August 25, all students, alumni and adjunct instructors had to reset their passwords. Since the password reset, there have been less attacks.

“The frustration to me now that we are working hard to lock our stuff down, it’s how many other organizations aren’t,” Blackstone said.

While SAU may be strengthening its own cyber security, a network is only as strong as its weakest link. Groups SAU partners with, like BankMobile, NAIA, Tree of Life and more, can be weak points in the security depending on their own IT precautions.

Blackstone has already reached out to the NAIA and the Commissioner of the Crossroads League because SAU accounts marked emails from them as spam because their system was not configured correctly. After Blackstone reached out to their IT team, the problem was fixed within a day.

While attacks may be slowing down, Blackstone still encourages students, faculty and staff to never click on links or give out login information unless it is through the portal. Because of these attacks, Information Services has updated the portal login. Instead of a pop up asking for a username and password, the portal opens a new login screen with the clock tower on it.

“Knock on wood, we’re seeing fewer of [the email attacks],” Blackstone said. “I think we’ve got greater security in place. Once we turn on the next step of the security, I think that will additionally help keep stuff out.”

New Microbiology Lab: Weatherwax Foundation Sponsors Upgrade

By Nathaniel Salsbury

The Department of Biology and Chemistry upgraded one of its labs in Whiteman-Gibbs over the summer to create a more modern environment thanks to donors and a grant. Spring Arbor University (SAU) decided a renovation was needed because Whiteman-Gibbs was built nearly 50 years ago.

“The facilities are older than I would like and so I’m rejoicing that we have a refurbishing right now,” Bruce Baldwin, chairperson of the department of biology and chemistry, said.

The renovated space, officially named the Weatherwax Microbiology Laboratory, features new equipment for students and new surfaces to work on. The new tables provide more open sightlines for the professors to supervise the students. They will also get to interact more with their instructors as the new tables provide more working and walking space. New lights were also installed and changed from fluorescent to LED. The lights will last longer and are easier and safer to dispose of once they do go out.

Shortly after students finished the school year and moved off campus, the project began. Baldwin said the goal is to finish the renovations before classes begin. However, a backup plan is set in place for the lab’s first classes in case construction is not completed in time for school.

“You can never guarantee when a project is going to finish,” Baldwin said. “It’s a good target and you do your best and then you react if things don’t work out.”

In the middle of the 2016-2017 school year, SAU applied for a grant from the Weatherwax Foundation, the namesake of the new lab, with the hopes of renovating one of the labs in the science department to create a more modern, high-tech microbiology lab.  The Weatherwax Foundation is a Jackson-based organization that provides funding to help strengthen various educational programs in the county.

Chief Financial Officer and Vice President for Finance and Administration Kevin Rose assured that the foundation funded 100 percent of the renovation.

Although the microbiology lab is currently the only space being funded by the Weatherwax Foundation, the plan is to eventually refurbish the other laboratory spaces in the building. Whether these plans will get the funding from the same foundation or elsewhere remains to be seen, but the hope is to receive additional donations after the school is able to demonstrate the functionality of the new lab.

SAU Sticker Shock

By Carly Thompson
Director of Campus Safety Scott Krebill announced a new $50 fee for parking permits this year.

Director of Campus Safety Scott Krebill announced a new $50 fee for parking permits this year.

Prior to this semester, parking permits were free for all students. Krebill made this change in order to provide better service to campus.

“We have been aware that other schools charge a permit fee, and we could no longer afford to provide quality services while issuing the permits for free,” Krebill said.

Krebill researched other Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) and found that most schools charged more than what Spring Arbor University (SAU) settled on.

“Parking permits at other schools range from free to up to $300 per year,” Krebill said.

Although parking permits have a cost, the price of parking tickets will remain the same. According to Krebill, SAU has some of the lowest fines for parking tickets, and a 50 percent break is given if paid within the first three days.

“I understand that we have a cheaper fee than most schools. What is frustrating and upsetting to me is that we were not informed until two weeks before school. There was no way to make appropriate plans for the year,” senior Emily Wilcox said.

According to junior Campus Safety officer, Lexi Horn, it was time for this change to occur, in order to continue providing necessary services. Campus Safety has needed more funds to update their equipment.

Funds from the permit charge are designated for Campus Safety use, not the general budget. Campus Safety plans to use these funds for improving some parking signage, replacing worn out equipment used to keep parking lots safe and every vehicle running smoothly.

This year, Campus Safety is able to add service hours on weekend mornings and replace their worn out patrol vehicle.

According to Horn, this new cost has nothing to do with the demolition of the tennis court parking lot, but more to do with a change in funding for Campus Safety.

Another parking lot is already in the works adjacent to the freshman lot. Juniors and seniors are being asked to park in the Gainey, Ogle and sophomore lots, as well as in the overflow lot behind the Fieldhouse.

All students are welcome to attend the “Know Parking” education blitz plan advertised the first two weeks of school. Posters and flyers will explain the changes and educate people on where to park and how to obtain the proper permit.

“Our goal is compliance, not enforcement, but this is how we have to manage a parking system with very limited space. It works if everybody does their part,” said Krebill.

Students are asked to take any complaints, questions, and concerns to Krebill at scott.krebill@arbor.edu. Campus Safety can also be contacted through the SAU mobile app.

SAU App Centralizes Information

By Katie Shotts

Spring Arbor University (SAU) launched a self-titled app this summer featuring information on all campus activities.

The iOS and Android app is free and available for download for students, staff, and guests alike, so parents or friends can stay connected to campus life. Its many features will improve communication and safety between students and campus groups.

Assistant Dean of Students Bobby Pratt was largely responsible for the development of the app. He said the goal behind its creation is taking information and “putting it in students’ hands.”

With the app, students can find schedules and locations of all campus events. A master calendar is also available from sports events to chapel speakers to club meetings. There is also an option to buy tickets for events such as Homecoming or shows.

Clubs and groups have their own page on the app and can keep students informed about meetings, practices and announcements through notifications by email or straight to a phone. A campus wide feed, similar to Facebook, also includes categories like “Buy & Sell,” “Lost + Found,” “Housing” and “Ride Sharing.”

Under “Campus Services,” students can find office times and locations including the Dining Commons, Cougar Den and Holton Health Center.


In the past, Pratt said, communication to the entire campus during potential emergency situations could be difficult and possibly ineffective. Now, the app can send out campus wide notifications at a moment’s notice. The app also allows students to call Campus Safety with a touch of a button.

“It’ll be handy,” says Campus Safety Officer, Alexis Horn. “You can call us straight from the app. It’s a lot easier.”

The app is a continual work in progress, with a plan in place to add coupons from local businesses.

The administration hopes the app will be valuable to students, according to Pratt, they, “hope that it is another element to add to the community.”


New SGA President and VP Q&A (extras)

You may have already seen Joey Dearduff (JD) and Alessandra Varelis’s (AV) interview in the current issue of “The Pulse” (go and pick up a copy if you haven’t yet!). Here a couple of extra questions that didn’t make it past the editing and cutting down process.

The Pulse (TP): What are some of the main goals you want to accomplish as president and vice president?

JD: Our slogan for the campaign and what it will be for SGA as a whole next year, is “Believe, belong, beyond.” Those three words encapsulate what we want to continue on campus and what we want to push for even more next year. Believe is Alessandra’s and my rootedness in Christ’s transformative power and the university’s desire to pursue Him, love Him and serve Him. Our belief in that empowers us to belong and to go beyond. What we desire for this campus next year is to belong, to build support among and between communities. Like Alessandra mentioned, empowering the people who feel as though their voice isn’t heard. To let them know that it is heard. So, belonging. Having people on campus know that they’re loved and taking that fellowship and that love we have for each other and having it transcend outside of these boundaries, outside of the Spring Arbor bubble into the world around us. That looks like service and worshipping not just in Chapel, and inviting the community here and going out and loving the community.


TP: Have Ty and Holly given you guys any advice on what to expect?

AV: We’ve talked a lot with them. They’re great and very encouraging. They’ve said if we have any questions we can call, email or text them; even next year, when they’re gone, if we need any help or advice. I’ve met with Holly and she told me the beginning of the year is super busy so make sure we take the summer and plan and think through things, which is helpful because a lot goes on in the beginning of the year.

JD: Ty has been very encouraging but also very real. He mentioned the campaign and how exhausting it would be and how taxing. When I was elected, he pulled me aside and congratulated me and said, “Hey man, just know that when times get rough, and they will get rough, I’ll be here for you.” I’ve been communicating with Steven Hlatky, who was the student body president my freshman year, and we built a relationship my freshman year. Even Ben Frederick here and there a little bit. It’s been really cool how encouraging, how supportive, and how real current and past presidents and vice presidents have been for us.

By Amber Cekander


Student created petition against trafficking gains support

You might not have noticed it, or ever thought anything of it. But when driving on Interstate 94 heading towards Spring Arbor, it’s almost impossible to miss certain billboards that advertise peculiar services.

Bold yellow and pink letters over a solid black background promote an Oriental Health Massage parlor. While seemingly innocent enough, the strange part comes further down the billboard where it says they are conveniently open seven days a week…until 1 am. Many people in the Jackson and Spring Arbor area know this as blatantly promoting human trafficking.

Currently, a petition with over a thousand signatures on it is being enforced through Change.org. When enough people have signed the petition, Michigan Representative Tim Walberg will receive a letter asking him for the removal of these billboards in Jackson.

“Every time I drive on I-94 I’m reminded that Jackson is a safe place for human trafficking,” said Dr. Matthew Hill, Spring Arbor University (SAU) professor of philosophy. “That sign is a physical reminder that the political leaders in the city of Jackson and Jackson county (many of whom claim to be Christian) are too scared or impotent to do anything about such depravity.” Opinions like these were expressed during one of Dr. Hill’s Ethics classes, which actually sparked the idea for the petition in the first place.

Josh Riddick, Lindsey Fluharty, Caleb Smith, Quinn D’Ascenzo, and Nikki Bonnema pursued the idea in Dr. John Hawthorne’s Spirituality, Faith, and Justice course as an “action” project. According to Riddick, his group was struggling to get things done with their other project ideas until the subject of the billboards came up in Ethics class and they decided to do something about it.

While there is currently no lawful proof that human trafficking takes place in these parlors, there has been questionable activity. Senior Lindsey Fluharty, as part of the action project, tried calling the phone number on the billboard to make an appointment, but reported that they wouldn’t let her do it and insisted she should make an appointment “for her husband” instead.

During further research of the subject, it was also discovered that the massage parlor has a profile on “Naughty Reviews.com.” A website who’s tagline is “Find naughty girls near you.” 

A picture of the parlor’s entrance
In past interviews, SAU sociology professor Jeremy Norwood has said “There is no reason that a massage parlor should be open at 1 a.m.; nobody wants to purchase a massage at 1 a.m.”

At the time of this writing, the student-led petition currently has 1,157 out of the 1,500 signatures needed to continue the petition process. Dr. Hawthorne said he has started introducing the action projects to his class because his students said they “wanted to actually do something.” This is exactly what this group of students is doing, and if others continue to sign the petition, they will be too.

To look at and sign the petition, visit this link

By Nate Bortz


Have You Heard About SAU’s German Club?

Photos by Allie Herkenroder

Wir laden Sie ein, Deutsch zu entdecken! (We invite you to discover German!)

A recent addition to Spring Arbor University’s World Languages Department is Deutsch club (or German club) led by Prof. Kim Bowen, which was officially recognized last semester. Students can look for the German flag outside Ada’s Kitchen (in Poling Lobby) on Tuesdays at 11:30 a.m. to practice their conversational German and discover more about the culture.


In April, the club will be putting on a German festival. There will be opportunities to eat German food, study a bit of the language, practice some German dances, and practice Scherenschnitte, an art form similar to making paper snowflakes.

“We are excited to see the campus get involved.” says Bowen.

On April 25, students will be traveling to Ann Arbor based German restaurant Metzgers for lunch. There students will receive an entree and drink, have the opportunity to taste a variety of side dishes and eat dessert for only $13.95, including tax and tip. At 3 p.m. they will be back on campus to watch the award winning Das Wunder von Bern, which tells the story of Germany’s soccer team after World War Two. History professor Dr. Correll will be guest speaking.

Events are open to all students and everyone is encouraged to attend.

Past events included visiting the Christkindlmarket, an outdoor German Christmas market, in Chicago. There students had the opportunity to practice conversational German with the vendors and sight-see in the Windy City.

Additionally, last semester students spent a night taste-testing different German foods, including Spätzle (macaroni and cheese), Bauernbrot (German bread), and Apfelschorle (sparkling apple soda). They then watched Lilo and Stitch in German with English subtitles.

“Generally Germany doesn’t get a lot of attention. This club is just bringing more to the World Languages Program.” says Allie Herkenroder, president of Deutsch club.

Education photo-1

Spring Arbor University students have the option to take two years of German classes. During this time students learn about the basics of the language and culture. Prof. Bowen begins every class with a German scripture.

Games are often played to keep the students engaged.  “I want my classes to be interactive.” Bowen explained.

A German business class is also available for students who want to be able to use the language in their careers. Half of the class is devoted to German business language, while the other half focuses on the culture. This is beneficial, since there are over 200 German companies in Michigan and over 1000 German companies in the midwest.

Finally, both a study abroad and cross cultural experience is available in Germany. Both of these opportunities are available to students who do not speak the language. The University of Regensburg will be hosting their first Spring Arbor University student next fall, with two more planning to attend in the spring. There the students will have an opportunity to travel throughout Germany and the rest of Europe, including studying art in Rome and politics in London. The program is designed for Christian universities. Students will also have opportunities to do mission work.

“So much of American culture comes from Germany,” says Herkenroder “there is so much going on in the world and it is important to see how other cultures play with each other. Being able to see other country’s perspectives and the relationships between countries can help in a time of crisis.”

By Courtney Applebee


Small College Invitational Art Exhibition

Small-College-Invitatioal-art[1]SPRING ARBOR, Mich.—Spring Arbor university art students have 42 works displayed in the Small College Invitational Art Exhibition that opened February 8 in the Ganton Art Gallery.  The exhibition includes Spring Arbor University, Sienna Heights University, Hillsdale College and Cedarville University.  Spring Arbor University students won the award in the painting, sculpture, graphic design and drawing/printmaking categories.  A Sienna Heights University student won the award for photography.

Out of 207 pieces entered, 77 were accepted into the show.  The juror was a professor of photography from Michigan State University, Peter Glendinning.  An awards reception was held February 8 where Glendinning made comments about the winning pieces.  Kerri Conrad, winner of the graphic design award, said he noted the quality of her work and that it was portfolio-worthy.

Professor of 3D design J.D. Garn said he is biased but SAU’s art program is impressive, especially compared to other schools the same size.  The schools competing in this exhibition are about the same size and focus their art programs on good ideas, good technique and good design.  Together, the schools donated $1000 to the exhibit.  Glendinning decided to divide the money amongst the five categories, with $100 going to each winner and $50 to each honorable mention.  Shannon Bardwell, winner of the painting award, said she spent her cash prize to buy another book about painting.

Kim Bigos won the sculpture award for her life size wheelchair made out of little green army men.  She said she wanted to convey the concept that veterans sacrifice much when they serve and we honor them for their service, but we don’t really think about the effects.  Bigos used more than 1000 army men, spending 60 hours on the sculpture.  Bigos said, “I get asked a lot if I have a family member in the military and I do, but that wasn’t what I was thinking of when I created this piece.”

Amelia Harris won the award in the drawing/printmaking division for her illustration of a fairy escaping from a jar.  She tried different drawing techniques before deciding on stippling, which means it is created with tiny ink dots.  Harris said she was thrilled to be accepted into the show and shocked when Glendinning called her name to receive the award.  She said, “I was just really honored that he chose my piece, because there were so many good pieces.”

Kerri Conrad said, “We have a close-knit community at the SAU art building, and I appreciate the ability to comfortably approach other artists for their opinions.”  She said it is constructive to receive criticism and she values others’ critiques.  Shannon Bardwell said the encouragement of her peers motivated her to keep working even when she felt her painting wasn’t going to turn out or when she thought she ruined the painting with a brushstroke.

By Jenny Croizer

Bomb Threat at Spring Arbor Free Methodist Church

photo[1]Around 9:00am on Monday morning, students at Spring Arbor University (SAU) received an email explaining that because of a bomb threat at the Spring Arbor Free Methodist Church (SAFMC), Chapel had been cancelled.

Early in the morning, SAU students reported seeing caution tape and police vehicles in the SAFMC parking lot.  Damon Seacott, Chief of Staff at SAU, said, “Our campus safety folks saw a sticky note on the door that said there was a bomb at the church.”

Campus Safety Director Scott Krebill said that the threat was likely the work of a student or the relative of one. The note was a threat to the SAFMC rather than the Spring Arbor campus, but the time indicated was that of SAU’s Chapel hour.

Krebill said that this threat could be related to some earlier campus vandalism, including destruction in White Auditorium several days previous and defacing of trash cans the night before the note was found.

“The impact on campus was minimal,” said Krebill. The incident had far more of a repercussion for the church and the preschool meeting there. “I don’t think this person knew what they were doing,” said Krebill. “They probably just wanted to cause some trouble for the university. They didn’t think about how this would affect those kids in the preschool.” Some of the children’s parents still have concerns about whether the church is safe, he added.

According to Seacott, “The local and state police are handling it, if they do find out who did it, it’ll be very serious.  Once they find out who, it’s no longer a school disciplinary issue.”

SAU students were informed of an alternative Chapel service that would take place in the Ralph Carey Forum (RCF) on campus. “We only had an alternative service because it was an Arbor Day,” said Seacott.

The prospective students visiting SAU’s campus and a small gathering of current SAU students gathered in the RCF at 10:00am for worship to hear SAU Chaplain Ron Kopicko speak.

“Still having chapel speaks louder than whatever this person meant to say,” said Krebill. “The bomb threat created an opportunity for the university to overcome adversity. And they succeeded.”

By Amber Cekander and Heather Clark