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Retired leaders will give 'lessons' to student audience

  • Pictured at the 2008 rededication of the Niemeyer Living and Learning Center are, from left, Arend D. Lubbers, Glenn Niemeyer and Ron VanSteeland.

Posted on March 08, 2011

Three men with a storied history at Grand Valley will share their knowledge with students and others during an event sponsored by Housing and Residence Life.

“Lessons from a Lifelong Learner” will feature Arend D. Lubbers, president emeritus; Glenn Niemeyer, provost and vice president of academic affairs emeritus; and Ron VanSteeland, vice president for finance and administration emeritus. Their presentation is set for Tuesday, March 15, from 6-7:30 p.m. in the Cook-DeWitt Center. A reception will follow.

The three men formed the core of Grand Valley’s central administration for more than three decades until they all retired in 2001.

Lubbers became president of Grand Valley in 1969 at the age of 37, making him one of the youngest college presidents in the nation. Niemeyer was working as an assistant professor of history when Lubbers arrived, and VanSteeland’s tenure began in 1966 when he was named personnel officer.

During an interview for Grand Valley’s 50th anniversary, VanSteeland said the three men “looked each other in the eye every day for almost 30 years.” They also led the way for major changes at Grand Valley, including closing the cluster college system, establishing a presence in downtown Grand Rapids, and creating professional academic programs in health sciences, nursing, business, engineering, social work and education.

Niemeyer once said he credits two factors for the trio’s longevity and success. “One was that we had great respect for one another,” he said. “We enjoyed working with each other; we respected what the other was doing; we had confidence in each other; we knew each other that well. The second factor, I think, was that we had so much invested in this university.”

Lessons from a Lifelong Learner is free and open to the public; it is also a LIB 100 approved event. RSVP by sending an e-mail to

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