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Grand Valley celebrates 50 years of shaping lives

Posted on August 16, 2010

There’s an extra level of excitement as Grand Valley State University students and professors return to campus. The university is kicking off its yearlong celebration of its 50th anniversary. The greater Grand Rapids community is invited to participate in these events, which are centered on the anniversary’s theme, “50 Years of Shaping Lives.”

President Thomas J. Haas will kick off the academic year with a pair of events on August 27. At 10 a.m., he will deliver his traditional State of the University Address in the Louis Armstrong Theatre on the Allendale Campus. At 11:30 a.m., he will be joined by faculty members and students for the Opening Convocation Ceremony in the Fieldhouse. Both events are free and open to the public, and media coverage is welcomed.
Grand Valley received a charter from the state of Michigan in 1960, after lobbying by a citizens group led by L. William Seidman, former chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. In the late 1950s, Seidman read a legislative report that stated young people in West Michigan were going to college at a lower rate than elsewhere in the state. Seidman rallied support for a public, four-year college in West Michigan from other influential community leaders including then Congressman Gerald R. Ford, Edward H. Frey, former Congressman Richard VanderVeen, Francis C. Campau and Duncan E. Littlefair. 

Grand Valley admitted its first class of students in 1963. They arrived to find one building on acres of farmland in Allendale. Since then Grand Valley has grown to a main campus that sits on 1,280 acres in Allendale, plus an urban Grand Rapids campus, Meijer Campus in Holland and centers in Muskegon and Traverse City.

Events to celebrate the university's 50th anniversary include:
• John Philip Sousa’s operetta “El Capitan” will be performed on September 13 at the Louis Armstrong Theatre, Performing Arts Center, on the Allendale Campus.
• Distinguished academic lecturer Jill Ker Conway, former president of Smith College, author and businesswoman, will present “The Next 50 Years in the World” on September 30 at the Eberhard Center, Pew Grand Rapids Campus.
• GVSU President Emeritus Arend D. Lubbers and former Provost Glenn Niemeyer will give a historical look at the campus on October 13 on the Allendale Campus.

Other events, ranging from poetry readings to art exhibitions to receptions, are detailed online at Most events are free; some require an advance, free ticket for admission.


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