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Across Campus

March 27, 2017


Forum will detail myGVSU Campus Climate recommendations

Recommendations and action plans related to results from the myGVSU Climate Survey will be discussed at a campus forum on Thursday, March 30, at 10:30 a.m. in the Kirkhof Center, Pere Marquette Room. 

Faculty, staff and student action teams delved into the 2015 survey results to develop recommendations that were submitted to the Division of Inclusion and Equity in early March. Also at the forum, information about ongoing analysis and protocol for requesting data will be shared. 

The survey results are online at The forum will be livestreamed; those unable to attend in person can view by accessing the website or watching a recording later.


Department restructures major program

The Geography and Sustainable Planning Department has restructured its major program in order to meet industry needs, and better equip students with the necessary skills to succeed in their careers.

Beginning in fall 2017, students can choose from one of three new emphases to accompany a bachelor of arts or bachelor of sciences degree in geography. They are geospatial technology (computer cartography, geographic information systems, remote sensing, imaging processing and GPS technology), urban and regional planning, and environment and global development.

Elena Lioubimtseva, department chair, said the changes were based on student surveys, recommendations from external program reviewers and local and national benchmarking.

"This change is in response to a higher demand for GIS specialists, urban planners and environmental professionals who have strong, often more quantitative, analytical skills specific to each of these three areas," Lioubimtseva said. "Prospective employers from all over the world are looking for students with specific, well-defined professional skill sets in addition to a broad liberal arts education."

The department held an open house March 13 to connect prospective students with faculty and advisors. A keynote presentation was given by Rachel Hood, former executive director of the West Michigan Environmental Action Council.

In addition to dividing the program into three tracks, revisions are being made to many existing courses, and multiple new courses will be offered.


Holocaust survivor speaks before hundreds

Holocaust survivor Madga Brown asked the audience during her presentation March 15 to leave with three ideals: protect your freedom, think before you hate, and stand up against deniers.

Madga Brown speaks to an audience of about 600

Photo by Valerie Wojciechowski

Madga Brown speaks to an audience of about 600 in the Kirkhof Center about surviving the Holocaust. Brown is the great aunt of a Grand Valley student.

Brown, 89, spoke about her survival to a crowd of more than 600 people in the Kirkhof Center during a Women's History Month event. She is a great aunt of Samantha Murray, Grand Valley student and president of the Hillel chapter.

In 1944, Brown and her family were taken from their home in Hungary to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland. Yet, for Brown, her journey began before that. 

Her family experienced an immediate change in their lives before they were taken to Poland. She lived in a designated area called the “ghetto” and more than 40 people were forced to live in her house.    

“One day, I was a regular child, enjoying my daily life,” Brown said. “What happens when the pendulum swings and your happy days are severed?”

Then on Brown’s 17th birthday, she and her family were escorted into a crowded train box car. Each car held hundreds of people who traveled for three days with no food, drink, or any idea of where they were going.

“You cannot fathom what thirst is,” Brown said. “Thirst so powerful that you forget your physical pain, you forget your stress, and the only thing you can focus on is a single sip of water.”

Their destination was the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. When they arrived, men and women were separated. This was the last time Brown saw many members of her family.

“We were not human beings anymore,” Brown said. “Nobody talked to us. Nobody looked at us.”

A year later in March 1945, Brown and her group were sent on a march to Buchenwald. After escaping, Brown and the group hid in a nearby barn, lying in piles of hay for nearly two days. Two American Armed Forces soldiers discovered Brown and her group, leading to their liberation. She moved to the U.S. in 1946. 

Brown was united with her brother, Miklos Brown, in 1962. For 40 years, Brown worked in a physician's office as a certified medical assistant. She is an active member and past president of the American Association of Medical Assistants, Illinois Society. She is also a member of the Speaker's Bureau of the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center. Learn more about Brown at

Robin Hutchings, treasurer of Hillel at Grand Valley, said it was an honor to host Brown on campus. Hutchings praised Brown’s audience and said their presence was significant.

The event was organized by Grand Valley's Women's Center and Hillel chapter. Hillel International is a Jewish campus organization. 


Women's Center celebrates 15 years

Campus community members gathered March 20 to celebrate the Women's Center's 15th anniversary at its annual EqualiTEA event. 

Students, faculty and staff members enjoyed the centuries-old tradition of combining tea parties with conversations about politics and current issues. The 14th annual event took place in the Kirkhof Center. 

Marlene Kowalski-Braun, associate vice provost for Student Affairs and assistant vice president for Inclusion and Equity, gave remarks, telling audience members their attendance shows their support of the center, as well as gender justice and student success. 

"The team of Women's Center staff members are boldly guiding a dynamic future of the center," she said, adding that gifts to the center's Enrichment Circle will support current and future programs.

Attendees at EqualiTEA pose with props in a photo booth

Photo by Amanda Pitts

Attendees at EqualiTEA pose with props in a photo booth. The event celebrated the Women's Center's 15th anniversary.

The Women's Center Enrichment Circle was established in 2012 to provide the center with necessary resources to achieve plans for the next 10 years. Donations totaling $34,000 started the circle; new donations will go toward the Women’s Center Endowment Fund. 

Jennifer Moss, WGVU Morning Edition host and reporter, was the host. She has served on the Women's Center Advisory Board since its inception in 2001. 

Since the Women’s Center was founded in 2001, it has assisted hundreds of students each year, hosted hundreds of programs, raised funds for organizations that work with women and girls, and provided dozens of nonprofit agencies with volunteers. 

EqualiTEA was among the events celebrating March as Women’s History Month. For more information, visit


RMSC hosts annual Science Olympiad

More than 1,000 local middle and high school students spent March 18 on campus building bottle rockets, constructing hovercrafts, solving crimes, exploring the chemistry of food and much more during the 33rd annual Region 12 Science Olympiad Tournament.

Students from Byron Center compete in the Science Olympiad experimental design challenge.

Photo by John Meyers

Students from Byron Center compete in the Science Olympiad experimental design challenge.

Hosted by Grand Valley's Regional Math and Science Center, the event gave students from more than 60 middle and high schools from  West Michigan the opportunity to showcase their knowledge in biology, earth science, chemistry, physics and technology during various competitions.

"The students are participating in an event that acknowledges their gifts, passions, and abilities," said Karen Meyers, RMSC director. "They are coached, encouraged and applauded for their success by their peers and learn that it is OK to be a 'science nerd.' They are rewarded for problem solving, critical thinking and teamwork in a setting that develops an understanding of how the world works."

Science Olympiad is an international non-profit organization devoted to improving the quality of science education by increasing student interest in the field, while providing recognition for outstanding achievements in science education by both students and teachers.

During Grand Valley’s first Science Olympiad Tournament in 1984, only 26 teams competed from schools in Kent, Ottawa, Muskegon, Allegan and Oceana counties. Now, approximately 70 teams sign up to compete each year. The top teams advanced to the state tournament, set for April 29 at Michigan State University.

Meyers said the yearly success of the Science Olympiad can be attributed to an expansive team effort, through volunteering by students, faculty and staff members, and area teachers and parents who serve as team coaches.