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GVSU Historical Timeline



Study by Dr. John Russell, commissioned by Michigan legislature, determines need for a new four-year college in Grand Rapids area—the first in 60 years independent of existing institution.

October 25

L. William Seidman creates Committee to Establish a Four-Year College (CEFYC) to study Russell Report, obtain legislative support, and begin process of planning and promoting a four-year institution.

For more information about the founding of Grand Valley, link to the narrative history, Section One, Part I, "High Hopes."



The Grand Rapids Foundation funds a more detailed study by John X. Jamrich. "A New College: A Report to the Legislative and Citizens Committees on the Eight County Study of Higher Education Needs in Allegan, Barry, Ionia, Kent, Montcalm, Muskegon, Newaygo, and Ottawa Counties," published on November 30.


April 26

Public Act 120 of the 70th Legislature of the State of Michigan, Regular Session 1960 (House Bill No. 477), to establish and regulate a state institution of higher learning, is signed into law.

Million Dollar Fund Drive set up to raise private money required by legislation. $350,000 raised for purchase of campus site and over $1,000,000 for building program from over 5,000 individuals, organizations, and businesses in eight-county area.

College Naming Contest draws 2500 submissions. Several suggest Grand Valley State College; drawing held in March 1961 from those entries for prize of four-year tuition scholarship. Winner gives scholarship to his 7-year-old sister.

Thirty-six member Site Committee forms to evaluate locations for new college in one of the eight counties of the area: Allegan, Barry, Ionia, Kent, Montcalm, Muskegon, Newaygo and Ottawa. By March 10, 1961, 20 sites are under consideration.

October 17

Grand Valley College Board of Control sworn in and holds first meeting in office of Governor G. Mennen Williams.

Citizen’s Advisory Council is created to involve community in establishment of college.



University of Michigan, Michigan State, Wayne State, Western Michigan, and Grand Rapids Junior College provide assistance for development and planning.

April 8

Board of Control selects 876-acre site bordered by Grand River in Allendale, Michigan in Ottawa County. 10-year master plan for campus developed, architects hired.

For more information about the site selection process, link to the narrative history, Section One, Part IV, "A Place for Us."

June 2

Governor Swainson signs higher education appropriations act providing $150,000 for Grand Valley operations funding for fiscal year 1961-62.



Administrative offices moved from Randall House in Grand Rapids to remodeled farmhouse on new campus.

February 9

Dr. James H. Zumberge, professor of geology at University of Michigan, appointed first president of Grand Valley State College.

For more information about Dr. Zumberge, link to the narrative history, Section One, Part VII, "The Right People."

August 28

Groundbreaking for college’s first academic buildings.

First library set up in The Pink House, a small residence and garage, to prepare for new library planned for second floor of Lake Superior Hall. First acquisition of literature and rare books for the library.

First prize awarded to anonymous contestant among 60 submissions for design of college seal.

First catalog describing educational program printed.


First students accepted to start as freshmen in 1963.


First faculty hired.