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Across Campus

September 26, 2016


April commencement expands to three ceremonies

Grand Valley's April commencement is expanding from two ceremonies to three ceremonies, beginning this April at Van Andel Arena. 

One ceremony will take place at 7 p.m. on Friday, April 28; two ceremonies will take place on Saturday, April 29, at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. December 2016 commencement will remain the same with one ceremony. 

Provost Gayle R. Davis said an additional ceremony will improve the overall commencement experience for students and their guests. 

"Commencement is a time to celebrate students' accomplishments and their transition from one chapter of life to the next," said Davis. "It's an important day for friends and family members who have been supportive throughout their student's journey. The addition of a third ceremony will decrease the length of the ceremonies and increase overall student participation to make for an exciting and meaningful experience for everyone."

Bob Stoll, associate dean for Student Life, said with a third ceremony, there will be additional space for students to invite more guests. The number of tickets each student receives will increase from five tickets to nine tickets. Each ceremony will include approximately 1,000 students.  

The April 28 ceremony will include Seidman College of Business, College of Community and Public Service, and Padnos College of Engineering and Computing. The 10 a.m. ceremony on April 29 will include the College of Health Professions, Kirkhof College of Nursing and science programs from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The 3 p.m. ceremony on April 29 will include the College of Education, Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies and liberal arts programs from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. 

Visit to learn more. 


SeoulTech students create ArtPrize entry

After traveling 6,492 miles to West Michigan from South Korea, 13 students from Seoul National University of Science and Technology spent the month of July creating the only ArtPrize entry on display at Grand Valley.

Art Prize sculpture

Ceramic columns created by teams of students and South Korean artists are displayed at the Eberhard Center during ArtPrize.

During the International Ceramics Workshop, facilitated by Hoon Lee, associate professor of ceramics, four teams of students paired with both local and Korean artists to wedge, mold and sculpt nine ceramic columns, each standing approximately 8 inches tall. 

The columns are on display at the Eberhard Center during ArtPrize, but they will find a new home in Grand Valley's permanent collection following the event. To vote for the piece, use the voting code 63800.

This year's workshop was another phase in the effort to nourish the collaborative relationship between Grand Valley and SeoulTech.

The partnership began between the two universities in 2008 after Lee worked with the Padnos International Center for four years to initiate the international exchange program.

Since that time, students and faculty members from both universities have participated in various degree and study abroad programs to exchange creative practices and culturally diverse ideas. Lee said he hopes to expand the partnership by establishing a dual degree program in which students would be able to obtain degrees from both Grand Valley and SeoulTech.

In summer 2011, Grand Valley hosted the first international ceramics workshop. The partnership continued in 2013 when the SeoulTech Museum of Art hosted the first joint exhibition between Grand Valley and SeoulTech art and design faculty. 

The second joint exhibition is on display in the Art Gallery, located in the Performing Arts Center, through November 4, as a part of the university's 13th annual Fall Arts Celebration. More information about this exhibition can be found at


KCON earns grant to train nurse practitioners

The Kirkhof College of Nursing received a one-year, $332,640 federal grant to train and prepare nurse practitioners to work in Michigan's rural communities.

Leaders at KCON said the Health Resources and Services Administration grant, from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, addresses the critical shortage of qualifiedhealth care providers in rural areas.

Cynthia McCurren, dean of KCON and professor of nursing, said the traineeship grant will help pay tuition and some expenses for students in the Doctor of Nursing Practice program learning in rural communities. 

“The strategic priorities of our college include actively engaging students in high-impact learning experiences and building mutually beneficial relationships," McCurren said. "With the support of this grant, our doctoral students not only gain real-life experience in rural health care, they contribute to the health and well-being of the communities we’re partnering with."

In the fall 2016 semester, 14 students each will be awarded $22,000 traineeship grants and placed in rural and underserved settings for clinical education.

Shelby Sikkila was among those students who received a grant, and will start her traineeship at Fox Pediatrics in Mt. Pleasant. "This grant has allowed me to focus on my education without financial stress while providing an amazing opportunity to learn and grow as a pediatric nurse practitioner," said Sikkila, a native of Covington.

Sandra Spoelstra, associate dean for research and scholarship, said the mission of the HRSA grant is to improve the health of residents in rural and underserved communities. "By strengthening the health care workforce and connecting skilled professionals, like nurse practitioners, to communities in need, vulnerable populations have better access to health care," Spoelstra said.


UCC posts course updates

To keep faculty members informed of policies, the University Curriculum Committee will have occasional announcements published in Forum.

• Credit Hour Definition: Grand Valley has an official definition of a “credit hour": this definition governs the number of contact hours per credit hour for various course activity types (e.g., lecture, lab, internship, etc.). Faculty members who are developing a new course, or changing an existing one, should be aware of the definition. For courses that fall outside the definition, an exemption request can be submitted to UCC. Visit the website at for more information.

• Content-Based Learning Designation: Faculty members with a course that requires significant community engagement by students can apply to have a new “CBL” designation added to the course in Banner. The designation will look like the current SWS designation, and alert students to the fact that the course offers them this high-impact learning experience.

• New Minors: New minors that do not require any new courses can be created by submitting a Program Change Request form in Sail ( This is an easier process than the New Program Prospectus/Program forms that are only required if a new program requires new classes to be developed.


Help from Grand Valley faculty helps childhood development organization

Family Futures is a community organization that works to build strong families throughout West Michigan, and several psychology faculty members are helping the organization reach its goals. 

The organization's main mission is to shape communities in which children are supported to reach their full potential, said Family Futures executive director Candace Cowling. The organization works to support parents with the tools they need to make sure their children are growing up in a good environment.

One of the services that Family Futures offers is developmental screenings to provide parents with feedback about if their child is developmentally on track, but those screenings also provide large amounts of data about area children in and their development over time. 

"We collect data from these developmental screenings every two to six months from birth to age 5," Cowling said. "We expect to serve about 12,000 children this year."

Psychology faculty members Jing Chen and Gwenden Dueker are helping take that data and answer research questions with it, and are helping Family Futures learn ways to more effectively and efficiently manage the programs that they offer. 

"With Grand Valley, we really gain access to that applied research lens," Cowling said. "We've processed screenings through the research partnership with Grand Valley and found that for every week a child is born closer to full term, it reduced the risk of developmental concerns, especially with communication skills."

The partnership with Grand Valley has grown over the years, with interns from Grand Valley's biostatistics program working with the United Way-funded organization, and using the computing and research power of the Johnson Center's Community Research Institute to help learn more from the data that Family Futures gathers.

"We try to help them with evidence-based research questions," said Chen. "We are trying to be sure to use our research expertise to help them collect meaningful data that can help them the most."

Grand Valley supports United Way programs like Family Futures through its annual campaign, which runs October 3-14. Faculty and staff members can expect a United Way campaign pledge form soon.


New group supports family members of students

Thousands of new students left home last month to attend Grand Valley, which can be a tough transition for some family members. 

The Grand Family Network serves as a resource and support system for parents and family members who have a student attending the university. 

"We chose to call it a network because we want parents and family members to feel connected to each other and the university," said LeaAnn Tibbe, associate director of Student Life and co-chair of the Grand Family Network. 

Tibbe, and co-chair Rhonda LeMieux, administrative assistant for Dean of Students, worked with a group of graduate students in the College Student Affairs Leadership program to research existing programs and develop a proposal. Tibbe said the network stems from the need for more frequent and consistent communication with family members. 

Family picture

The Grand Family Network serves as a resource for parents and family members who want to connect to the university. A family is pictured in a living center in August.

Tibbe, and co-chair Rhonda LeMieux, administrative assistant for Dean of Students, worked with a group of graduate students in the College Student Affairs Leadership program to research existing programs and develop a proposal. Tibbe said the network stems from the need for more frequent and consistent communication with family members. 

"We do a lot to connect with families in the summer during New Student Orientation, but oftentimes we don't connect with them again until commencement, at the end of a student's college experience," said Tibbe. "We have to build deeper connections because parents and family members are our advocates." 

Members of the Grand Family Network will receive monthly newsletters that detail campus resources, such as the Career Center, and important topics, such as homesickness. Join the network at