In January 2013, the Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies appointed Melanie Shell-Weiss, Ph.D. to serve as the new director of the Kutsche Office of Local History. The mission of the Kutsche Office is to facilitate the engagement of GVSU faculty, staff, students, and local history institutions with historically under-represented/marginalized West Michigan communities to make their history visible and their voices heard. With her deep and broad experience in public and local history, prolific scholarship, energy and vision, Melanie strives to build on the work of founding Director Veta Tucker.
Melanie received her M.A. in American Studies and her Ph.D. in History from Michigan State University. As a postdoctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins University from 2003-2006 and visiting assistant professor from 2006-2011, in the Department of History and Center for Africana Studies, Melanie produced two books in local and public history: Coming to Miami: A Social History and Florida’s Working Class Past: Perspectives on Labor, Race, and Gender. During her time in Baltimore, Melanie became deeply involved with Baltimore’s local history community launching the East Baltimore Oral History Project and working closely with the Baltimore Immigration History Memorial, among other groups.
Since coming to GVSU in 2011, Melanie has developed two collaborative, public history projects: “Speaking Out: Western Michigan’s Civil Rights Histories” (www.gvsu.edu/speaking) and “The Young Lords in Lincoln Park” (www.gvsu.edu/younglords). Both projects engage students in local history. She is an assistant professor of Liberal Studies.
Office Address: 324B Lake Ontario Hall
Phone: (616) 331-8059
In February 2014, the Kutsche Office of Local History welcomed Courtney Sherwood as the new office coordinator. A Grand Haven native, Courtney began working at GVSU in 2002. She has worked in the Dean’s Office of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences for eight years, wearing many hats including providing grant support. As an extension of desire to advocate for the elderly she co-facilitates a support group on campus for Alzheimer’s caregivers. Courtney holds a B.A. in Writing from Vermont College of Norwich University. She continues to write in her spare moments she finds while raising two daughters. Her family recently moved to Allendale and spends their time together traveling and learning. Courtney began her work with the Kutsche Office in February 2014.
Office Address: 324 Lake Ontario Hall
Phone: (616) 331-8099
Special Projects Graduate Assistant
We are also very pleased to welcome Special Projects Graduate Assistant Jakia Fuller to the Kutsche Office staff for the 2014-2015 academic year. Jakia is a bundle of pure awesomeness, and is really
excited to work with us. Jakia was born and raised in Muskegon, MI. She graduated from Muskegon High School in 2009, and came to GVSU in the fall is 2009. Jakia graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Liberal Studies with an emphasis in Religion, Culture, and Nonprofit Leadership in 2013. While an undergrad, Jakia was a part of many students organizations and campus activities. "I am excited to come back to GV this fall. I am even more excited for this assistantship and the opportunity to not only get professional experience, but also work with a team that will help me academically also", Fuller said. After finishing her year-term as an AmeriCorps*VISTA member, Jakia will be starting the College Student Affairs Leadership program.
Office Address: 145 Lake Michigan Hall
Phone: (616) 331-8099