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Convocation looks to future, acknowledges past

  • President Haas addresses faculty and staff during his Opening Address in the Louis Armstrong Theatre.
  • Representatives from National Taiwan Normal University, Cracow University of Economics and University of Cape Coast in Ghana greet the audience at the opening address.
  • Provost Gayle R. Davis addresses the crowd at convocation.
  • Kristine Mullendore, chair of the University Academic Senate, talks about Grand Valley's history during convocation.
  • Jarrett Martus, president of Student Senate, encourages students to get involved on campus.
  • Student Kaylin Heydenburg sings "Les Filles de Cadix" from The Girls of Cadiz.

Posted on August 27, 2010

Anticipate, adapt, lead. Those three words wove through President Thomas J. Haas’ opening address to faculty and staff members August 27 in the Louis Armstrong Theatre. “Everything that we have today has come from our ability to anticipate, adapt, lead,” Haas said.

As appropriate at the start of the 50th anniversary year, he led audience members through a brief history lesson on how Grand Valley was established, moved to the university’s legacy, and then to its future and the role that faculty and staff members play in it. Haas said Grand Valley’s greatest asset is its ability to prepare graduates for a new state and global economy. He cited groundbreaking ceremonies for the Mary Idema Pew Library Learning and Information Commons on the Allendale Campus and the L. William Seidman building on the Pew Grand Rapids Campus as examples of how the university anticipates the needs of current and future students.

Haas challenged the audience to expand Grand Valley’s “market share” of students in Michigan and in the Midwest. “We must be sure that our campuses are welcoming, tolerant and inclusive. Enrollment is job one and it’s everyone’s job,” he said. “The best recruiting tool we have is to ensure that students get the best possible experience at Grand Valley.”

Many new students heard a similar message during Convocation in the Fieldhouse. They were greeted by the pageantry of faculty members processing in their academic regalia and heard welcoming messages from Haas and others including Jarrett Martus, president of Student Senate.

Gayle R. Davis, provost and vice president for academic affairs, told new students their experiences at Grand Valley will help shape their futures in the workplace. Kristine Mullendore, chair of the University Academic Senate, compared Grand Valley of 2010 to the 1960 version and drew laughs when she said when people turn 50 “they’re invited to join AARP.”

Haas told the convocation audience that Grand Valley was founded with a strong base of public-private partnerships. “That foundation with our boards, donors and community support is what sustains our success and growth today,” he said.

Special guests at both the opening address and convocation included international delegations from partner institutions the University of Cape Coast in Ghana, National Taiwan Normal University and Cracow University of Economics in Poland. Representatives from each of those universities addressed faculty and staff members in the morning to offer congratulatory remarks.

Patricia Clark, professor of writing and university poet-in-residence, read a poem she wrote, “Five Kinds of Celebration,” at convocation.

To read President Haas' Opening Address remarks, click (here). To read his convocation address, click (here).

For more on events and other ways the university will mark its 50th anniversary, visit

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