Campus mourns loss of supporter

Audrey Sebastian
Audrey Sebastian
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The Grand Valley and West Michigan communities are mourning the loss of longtime university supporter Audrey Sebastian.

Sebastian died October 31, she was 100.

For more than two decades, Sebastian served as a director for the Grand Valley University Foundation, most recently as a member of the foundation’s advisory cabinet. In 2001, she served as one of the honorary co-chairs for the campaign for GVSU’s Center for Health Sciences.

Audrey and her late husband, James Sr., were tremendous supporters of Grand Valley’s engineering program. James is credited with starting the program; Audrey helped launch the campaign for the Keller Engineering Laboratories Building. The couple also established the James R. Sebastian Endowed Chair in Engineering Cooperative Education and Educational Development.

Paul Plotkowski, dean of the Padnos College of Engineering and Computing, said the Sebastians were deeply committed to the co-op approach to engineering education. Their endowment "helped make the co-op program the tremendous success it has become," he said.

Sebastian received an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Grand Valley in 1990. For her tremendous support, she was inducted into the Grand Valley Hall of Fame in 1996. 

Sebastian was an active community member and served as president of Kent Medical Foundation and the Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra’s women’s committee, and as a board member for Visiting Nurses Services and other organizations.