New director to lead Grand Valley's Women's Center

Jessica Jennrich is director of the Women's Center.
Jessica Jennrich is director of the Women's Center.
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Jessica Jennrich has been named the new director of Grand Valley State University’s Women’s Center. She succeeds Marlene Kowalski-Braun, who is now assistant vice provost for Student Affairs.

Jennrich comes from Dartmouth College, where she directed the Center for Gender and Student Engagement. Prior to that, she led the undergraduate program in the Women’s Gender Studies Department at Dartmouth and taught at the University of Missouri.

Originally from Cleveland, she received a bachelor’s degree in English from Bowling Green University, a master’s degree in women’s and gender studies from Eastern Michigan University, and a doctorate in educational leadership and policy analysis from the University of Missouri.

Bart Merkle, vice provost for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, said Jennrich brings knowledge and ability that will enhance the center.

“The Women’s Center challenges and supports our students to explore a range of gender and social justice issues as part of their Grand Valley experience,” Merkle said. “Engaging students to learn about themselves, about other people, and about our broader society is an endeavor that we will continue to expand under Jessica’s capable leadership.”

Jennrich said her plans for the Women’s Center include maintaining current programs and events as well as leveraging work that has been done at the center on a local and national level.

“Moving forward, we’ll look at how to integrate all students into the center and make sure all people feel like they have a place here,” Jennrich said. “We’ll make sure all aspects of our work have an intersectional lens, so we’re thinking about how a student’s identity is more than just gender.”

Jennrich said Grand Valley’s collaborative environment is very impressive. “There’s genuine and intentional work being done here,” she said. “People are so friendly and students have a real sense of ownership about Grand Valley.”

The campus community can welcome Jennrich during the Women’s Center’s annual Art Reception on September 19 from 1-3 p.m. The reception will celebrate artists whose artwork is displayed in the center.