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Grand Valley alumni leaders step forward for campaign

Posted on May 29, 2009

ALLENDALE, Mich. -- Officials at Grand Valley State University announced that six prominent alumni leaders have agreed to lead an alumni effort to help complete Shaping Our Future, the university’s first-ever comprehensive campaign for its capital and endowment needs.

The leaders are Frances E. Brown ’79, Marie O. Canepa ’81, Maria P. DeVos ’91, William R. Padnos ’79, Donald J. Paton ’67, and Diane M. Paton ’67 (see descriptions below). They are joined by 100 alumni who will help them raise the needed funds, making this the largest alumni campaign effort in Grand Valley’s history.  

The co-chairs and the Alumni Champions Committee will be formally announced at Grand Valley’s Enrichment Dinner, an annual black-tie gala event set for June 2 at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids. The event is a celebration of giving to Grand Valley and of events and activities happening at the university.  

“This is very exciting to us. We have more than 70,000 alumni today, and 30,000 of them work, live and lead here in West Michigan,” said Grand Valley President Thomas J. Haas. “They are becoming more vested and vocal about the university, and they want to ensure its future is successful. They are key to the broad-based portion of our campaign, as we seek to complete and exceed every goal in our $50 million campaign.”

William R. Padnos is a retired arts education administrator. He said he was pleased to participate. “Grand Valley has come into its own as a university,” he said. “It gives back to our region every day, economically and culturally. It is poised to give back even more when we complete the fundraising for the Mary Idema Pew Library and other portions of this campaign.”

Don and Diane Paton, both members of Grand Valley’s Pioneer Class, met when classes convened on campus in 1963. Diane was the first student admitted to Grand Valley State College and Don was eventually elected president of the first graduating class. The two dated throughout their four years in college, and married soon after graduating in 1967.

“There are many of us who have a lot of history with Grand Valley and are at the point in life where we want to support this institution that gave us so much,” said Diane M. Paton, a retired teacher now from Holland.

Don Paton, retired exeuctive vice president of Datacomp Appraisal Systems of Grand Rapids, said: “Grand Valley is already a key catalyst for West Michigan, with an economic impact of $590 million annually. But we also recognize the role it will play in providing talent for the emerging knowledge economy, which is an area where Michigan is actually gaining jobs.”  

The Alumni Champions Committee will work toward the campaign’s goal of concluding by the academic year 2010-2011, when the university celebrates its 50th anniversary. For more alumni campaign news, please visit, or contact Jill Dooley, director of Annual Giving, at (616) 331-6000.

Background on the Alumni Champions Co-Chairs

Frances E. Brown ’79
Director of State and Government Affairs, ITC
Lansing, Michigan

Marie O. Canepa ’81
Community Advocate
Grand Rapids, Michigan

Maria P. DeVos ’91
Vice President, Douglas and Maria DeVos Foundation
Ada, Michigan

William R. Padnos ’79
Retired arts education administrator
Chicago, Illinois

Donald J. Paton ’67
Retired Executive Vice President, Datacomp Appraisal Systems
Holland, Michigan

Diane M. Paton ’67      
Retired Teacher
Holland, Michigan

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