Grand Valley mourns death of former dean

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Nancy Harper, a former Grand Valley dean of social sciences and director of ALERT Labs, died March 19. She was 66.

Harper served as a tenure-track university faculty member and scholar before coming to Grand Valley in 1994 as dean of the Social Sciences Division. In 1999 she became a professor in the School of Communications and in 2000, began working with Alcohol Education, Research and Training (ALERT) Labs, a program aimed at reducing student binge drinking. Harper retired from Grand Valley in 2006.

Harper specialized in the study of persuasive communication, especially in preventing underage drinking and other drug use, intervention and recovery from substance use disorders, including addiction. She is the designer of the 2004 U.S. Department of Education ALERT Model Prevention Program, also known as the Making Sobriety Attractive and Positive Influences Program. Under her direction, Grand Valley’s ALERT Labs was deemed a model for the nation and received a $127,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education to help disseminate the program nationally and enhance the recovery program.

A memorial and remembrance celebration will be held April 14 at 10 a.m. at the North Alano Club in Grand Rapids. In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations be made to Gilda’s Club in Grand Rapids.