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Across Campus

October 24, 2016


Study analyzes city zoo, museum impact

The John Ball Zoo and Grand Rapids Public Museum generate a combined $62.2 million in Kent County each year, according to new research by Paul Isely, economics professor and associate dean of undergraduate programs in the Seidman College of Business.

Paul Isely talks withPeter D'Arienzo

Photo by Rex Larsen

Paul Isely, right, talks with Peter D'Arienzo, CEO of John Ball Zoo, at a news conference at the Grand Rapids Public Museum. Isely researched the economic impact generated by the zoo and museum.

The two venues support 766 jobs annually in Kent County and attract 526,000 visitors from outside the county, the study shows. Of those visitors, 66 percent come only to experience the zoo and museum. Combined, the institutions draw more than 800,000 county residents and out-of-towners each year.

“This economic impact study demonstrates the John Ball Zoo and Grand Rapids Public Museum are more than just treasured cultural institutions, they fuel Kent County’s economy,” said Isely. “The zoo and museum attract visitors from near and far who pump dollars into Kent County hotels, restaurants and a variety of other businesses.”  

The study illustrates visitor spending in Kent County outside of the zoo and museum, as well as the financial impact of venue operations and construction projects. Results are based on a random survey of zoo and museum visitors during the summer of 2016, as well as existing information on the number of visitors over the past year and where they live, and how much they spent at the zoo and museum.

Examples of the venues’ annual economic impact in Kent County:

• $62.2 million in additional production of goods and services;

• $16.4 million directly spent by visitors outside the venues;

• $16.5 million in additional business earnings from direct, indirect and induced spending.



Victim advocacy program expands

Grand Valley has expanded its victim advocacy program to members of the campus community who want to disclose a sexual assault or another form of gender-based violence.

Six staff members have been trained as co-advocates, working closely with Ashley Schulte, victim advocate, who is based in the Women's Center.

Schulte has been in her role since May 2015 and said training others shows best practices.

"Having one victim advocate does not meet the needs of the diverse student body we serve," Schulte said.

The co-advocates completed 40 hours of training through the YWCA in Grand Rapids. They are Sharalle Arnold, associate director, Women's Center; Jen Hsu, director, LGBT Resource Center; Jessica Jennrich, director, Women's Center; Salvador Lopez, associate director, Admissions; Kellie Pnacek-Carter, assistant director, Event Services; and Marla Wick, assistant director, LGBT Resource Center

Group of women

Photo by Amanda Pitts

From left to right are Marla Wick, Ashley Schulte, Kellie Pnacek-Carter, Jen Hsu and Sharalle Arnold. Not pictured are Jessica Jennrich and Salvador Lopez. 

Like Schulte, the co-advocates are exempt from their reporting responsibilities under the university's responsible employee policy. Schulte explained that means a student can disclose information to her or a co-advocate without prompting a response from the university, only ever sharing non-identifiable information for Clery compliance.

Lopez said he was interested in serving as a co-advocate because of his role in Admissions and advisory work with Laker Familia, a student organization.

"I know and interact with a lot of Grand Valley students, and sometimes it’s better if students can put a face to the person they are meeting with, especially in very sensitive conversations or situations," Lopez said.

Information about the victim advocacy program is online at


Anonymous reporting system added

University leaders have added another reporting mechanism that allows members of the campus community to report unethical behavior anonymously.

The web-based system is hosted, staffed and managed by NAVEX Global-EthicsPoint, an external ethics and compliance firm. People may submit a report by phone (toll-free phone number 855-799-8302) or via the website, Reports can be made 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Conversations about adding this system began last year; it does not replace existing reporting methods for concerns such as bias incidents, sexual violence or student conduct, but provides another avenue to report actions believed to be inappropriate or unethical.

Grand Valley's Legal, Compliance and Risk Management Division administers the system and assigns reports to appropriate university officials for investigation and resolution. Reporters will be provided with regular status updates through the system.

For more information, contact Donna Markus at


Study: more gender diversity needed in survey questions

Most people have taken a survey or completed a questionnaire in the past that has asked the question: "Are you male or female?" A joint study from Grand Valley State University and Stanford University suggests that this traditional survey question does not mirror gender diversity in the world today.

The study explains that traditional understandings of sex and gender found in social surveys do not reflect either academic theories about the differences between sex and gender, nor how a growing number of people prefer to identify themselves.

"Beliefs about gender have shifted dramatically in recent years, enabling greater recognition for people with a range of gender identities and expressions," said Laurel Westbrook, associate professor of sociology and study co-author. "If survey research is to remain a powerful tool for tracking social trends and monitoring discrimination, survey questions need to reflect that we do not live in a world populated by only females and males, or strictly feminine or masculine people."

The study proposes that in addition to asking people about what sex they were assigned at birth and their current gender identity, surveys should measure femininity and masculinity on separate scales to account for diversity within and overlap between gender categories.

To test the effectiveness of these scales, in particular, the research team conducted a survey of 1,500 adults in the U.S. in November 2014; The study was recently published in Sage Journals' Socius: Sociological Research for a Dynamic World, and can be viewed at


Smithsonian exhibit spotlights art by faculty member

An art exhibition currently on display at the Smithsonian American Art Museum features approximately 20 pieces of work by a Grand Valley art and design faculty member.

Drawn art piece

Norwood Viviano’s ‘Global Cities’ is among the works at a Smithsonian American Art Museum exhibition.

"Visions and Revisions: Renwick Invitational 2016" features the work of four distinguished artists, including Norwood Viviano, associate professor of art and design. The exhibit will be on display in the museum's Renwick Gallery through January 8.

The focal point of Viviano's exhibition collection is "Global Cities." The piece, which Viviano said took about 300 hours of research and 500 hours of labor to complete, examines changes in the populations of certain geographic locations around the world over the past 2,000 years.

"What I was amazed by through my research was that there were all of these threads that caused patterns of people to move due to World War II, and there was also a real movement to cities during the Industrial Revolution," said Viviano. "You don't really know what kind of connections you're going to make historically and linearly through a timeline until a project like this is finished."

Drawing on census and topographical data to create models of cities at specific times in history is a consistent theme among Viviano's work, particularly because of a curiosity about immigration that was sparked by his grandparents.

"My grandparents are from Cecily," Viviano said. "I had the opportunity early on to become more aware of the immigrant experience, so my work is about the migration of people, the kinds of values that were attached to their lives, and trying to understand what kinds of influences caused those patterns of migration."