Grand Valley celebrates graduates at commencement

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More than 3,000 Grand Valley State University students participated in two commencement ceremonies April 27 at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids. Gov. Rick Snyder and Business Leaders for Michigan President and CEO Doug Rothwell gave keynote addresses to students and their families.

Before becoming governor in 2011, Snyder served as CEO of the computer company Gateway and founded a venture capital company and an investment firm. He earned a bachelor’s degree, a master’s of business administration and a law degree from the University of Michigan. Snyder has traveled to Europe and Asia on trade missions and research and development opportunities associated with Michigan universities.

Rothwell, recognized nationally for helping promote economic growth, hopes to make Michigan a Top 10 state for economic growth. He founded Business Leaders for Michigan and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, which have become two of the most prominent organizations driving the state’s economy.

During the ceremonies Hubert Massey and Patricia L. Birkholz received honorary degrees. Massey, who graduated from Grand Valley in 1981 with a degree in art, has work featured on campus and in Detroit. Most recently, he worked with students from a Grand Valley-chartered school in Detroit to create a bus-sized mural that will be exhibited at the new L. William Seidman Center. Birkholz, a former state representative and senator and current director of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters, is well-known for her commitment to fresh water and natural resources. As a senator, she authored the Great Lakes Compact, which seeks to safeguard the future health of the Great Lakes.

The Alumni Association presented two awards during the ceremony. Arthur Campbell, professor of music, received the Outstanding Educator Award; and Laurie Beard, a 1981 Grand Valley graduate and current president and CEO of Founders Bank & Trust, received the Distinguished Alumni Award.