Across Campus

October 9, 2015


Grand Valley, Consumers Energy break ground for Solar Gardens project

Officials from Grand Valley and Consumers Energy, along with local, state and federal officials, broke ground October 2 on a new community solar project. 

The 17-acre Solar Gardens, scheduled to be completed in the spring of 2016, will be the largest community solar project in Michigan. It will be located on the Allendale Campus, south of Pierce Avenue near 48th Avenue.

"The Solar Gardens will serve as an extension of the classroom and will give students and faculty members opportunities to learn about renewables and make a difference in the future of energy," said Grand Valley President Thomas J. Haas. "We have a strong commitment to sustainability at Grand Valley, so we are pleased to have the opportunity to showcase that commitment."

Upon completion of the approximately 11,000-solar-panel project, Grand Valley will participate in the Solar Gardens program as a customer; interested customers can start enrolling later this year. 

Officials Break Ground

Photo by Amanda Pitts

Officials from Grand Valley and Consumers Energy break ground October 2 on a new solar gardens project. When completed, the project will be near 48th Avenue.

Dan Malone, senior vice president of energy resources for Consumers Energy, said Grand Valley is helping Consumers take a Michigan-first approach to a sustainable future. 

Consumers will be responsible for all construction and operating costs of the project. For more information, visit


Goal of customer discovery program: economic growth

Eight teams of Grand Valley faculty members and students with potential products began a four-week training program October 2 that will help them better understand their customers and market potential.

The Introduction to Customer Discovery Program was hosted by Grand Valley's Technology Commercialization Office through a partnership with the University of Michigan's Center for Entrepreneurship. A grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation allows U-M's CFE to "train the trainers" at universities throughout the state.

Robert Smart, vice provost for research administration and executive director of the Center for Scholarly and Creative Excellence, said the four-week program will take faculty-student teams out of the classroom to engage with industry customers and competitors. 

At the kick-off meeting, team presentations were followed by lectures on customer segments and best practices. Junior Zoe Bruyn called it a great real-world experience. Bruyn, a double major in management and marketing, is the entrepreneurial lead on her team that is trying to market a new Web networking platform for K-12 teachers and parents.

Faculty sits around round table with laptops

Photo by Rex Larsen

From left are Lauren Sheridan, U-M; Paul Lane, Shorouq Almallah and Linda Chamberlain, Grand Valley; Zoe Bruyn, Grand Valley student; standing are U-M CFE instructors Brian Hanley and Deepak Ravindra.

"We got great feedback here and notes to take forward into our interviews with stakeholders," Bruyn said.

Linda Chamberlain, director of the Technology Commercialization Office, said the goal behind this program is to increase the probability of products and innovations reaching the marketplace and eventually contributing to Michigan's economic growth.


Benefits open enrollment period begins soon

The 2016 annual benefits open enrollment period will run October 20-November 4, allowing for all benefit-eligible faculty and staff members to update their benefit options.

At anytime, faculty and staff members can visit and click on “2016 Open Enrollment” to review all benefit options for 2016.

During open enrollment, October 20-November 4, visit the website and click on the eBenefits icon. To receive a compensation/confirmation statement, faculty and staff members must complete an online enrollment and update/verify benefit elections including:

• Dependents and their benefit plan coverage;

• Home address for W-2 purposes;

• Coordination of benefits information;

• Life insurance beneficiary designation;

• IRS re-election requirement for Flexible Spending Accounts and Health Savings Accounts

Open forums will be held to answer questions, visit the website for details. Call x12220 or send an email to for additional information or to request printed copies.


NCAA president visits campus

NCAA President Mark Emmert met with Grand Valley staff members, Laker coaches and student athletes as well as those from surrounding colleges October 5. Emmert also gave a presentation earlier in the day for the Grand Rapids Economic Club. He is pictured with student athletes, President Thomas J. Haas and Athletic Director Tim Selgo.

NCAA president and GVSU president pose with student athletes

Photo by Doug Witte