CLAS Acts June 2014

Study Abroad Destinations for CLAS

  June 2014
Vol. 7, issue 11

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is a student-centered and diverse learning community that engages in critical inquiry extending knowledge to enrich and enliven individual and public life.


Frederick J. Antczak, Dean

With the 2013-2014 academic year now behind us, many on the campus are working to put the financial year to bed.  There is a distinct feeling of turning a corner.  For instance, I completed my year as the Executive Director of the Rhetoric Society of America and have successfully handed over the reins.  May was full of good news.  The New Music Ensemble returned from a series of performances in national parks, and as you would imagine, the photos are stunning.  The Shakespeare Festival development subcommittee met with the Festival's Honorary Board to brainstorm about the future.  AWRI's Lake Michigan - Muskegon Lake Connectivity Workshop was mentioned in a federal publication.  Several of you appeared in FORUM with mentions of the papers you had given at conferences or recently published.  For instance, AD Mary Schutten gave a paper with her Movement Science colleague Colleen Lewis.  Our own Cindy Laug , administrative assistant for the CLAS, gave a presentation, "The Extinction of the Passenger Pigeon" at the Women's City Club and Monica Johnstone, Director of CLAS Communications and Advancement, gave a lecture on the other side of the state on her fiber art work.  The CLAS Faculty Council met to prioritize their recommendations to me about requests for faculty lines (hats off to Steve Matchett and the FC for devising a rather useful system for laying that out). These days, things do not slow down much in the summer.  Many in CLAS work extremely hard orienting incoming frosh and transfer students and seeing to it that they have appropriate class schedules.  Our CLAS Academic Advising Center and faculty who work orientation are to be commended for helping us make a great beginning for students-which is the first step toward successful college careers and great retention.  On June 17 there will be a CLAS sabbatical proposal workshop  thanks to your CLAS Faculty Development Committee.  The next day is the CLAS on the Green golf outing.

Thank you in advance to all of the faculty and staff who have volunteered to help us run that event and to the golfers who continue to register and to our long list of great sponsors.  Together we are building an endowed scholarship for CLAS students much faster than anticipated.  A big shout out to all of the members of the golf outing organizing committee.  Thanks to the efforts of the Regional Math and Science Center, starting on June 24 another   Grandparents/Grandkids/Grand Valley Camp will sew the seeds now for future Lakers. As you will have noticed on our Summer CLAS Happenings poster, we are increasingly a year-round campus.  As we start to think about AY 2014-2015 in which we will be engaged in strategic planning, the way we work now will be part of our consideration.  We want to thrive sustainably.  That is a matter of some checking to ensure that what we are doing works, testing ideas that might work even better, identifying and prioritizing issues to be addressed, and generally preserving the liberal arts character of the place that drew us here in the first place. Some data will be involved.  For instance, the Padnos International Center recently sent us the most recent figures on study abroad by CLAS majors.  "During the 2013-2014 academic year 383 students with majors in CLAS studied abroad, making up about 60.4% of all study abroad students from GVSU. The most popular destination for CLAS majors was the United Kingdom with the next most frequent destination being Spain."     And Mary Schutten reports that in CLAS AY total hours for the President's Honor Roll service learning, internships, and student research are 773,316 hours by students and 67,533  by faculty.  These stats show that we are creating many transformative experiences for students.  These are also rewarding (if intensive) for the faculty providing these opportunities. We'll get into this in earnest in August.  For now, I wish you perfect conditions for all of your refreshment and renewal activities.        

Student Fulbrights The application for the U.S. Student Fulbright Scholarship ( competition for the AY 15-16 year opened May 1st.  Graduating seniors and recent alumni interested in applying for research/study or English Teaching Assistants are strongly encouraged to contact the Frederik Meijer Office of Fellowships to discuss the application process.  The campus deadline is Friday, September 26, 2014.  Ten CLAS students/alumni have been offered U.S. Student Fulbright grants in recent years and we look forward to building on this trend.                                 

Alumna Uses Her Skills for Action Against Human Trafficking

From small acorns giant oaks grow, it is said, and so it was for alumna Meahgan Pear when she kindled one of her life's great passions from a television mini-series. "Then after seeing some documentaries," Meahgan explains, "you just can't turn a blind eye."  With her eyes newly opened to the subject of human trafficking, Meahgan soon found that not only was this a problem globally, but also locally.  Meahgan, who majored in professional writing and completed a minor in advertising and public relations, was at that time Director of Marketing and Communications for the Girl Scouts.  One of the board members invited her to a Manasseh Project Conference under the auspices of Wedgewood Christian Services.  The Manasseh Project provides shelter and trauma recovery for girls who are the victims of sex trafficking.  At the conference she learned about ways to get involved in local prevention and awareness activities including the Michigan Abolitionist Project (MAP), founded in May of 2011. Interest turned to action.  Meahgan e-mailed MAP founder Julie Slagter, met her for coffee, and soon found ways to use her marketing skills to help this young organization. "My journey had begun," Meahgan recalls.  She could not imagine that before long she would be president of the board for this grass-roots, volunteer-based community hub linking people with small projects that could then grow into larger projects of significant scale.  Meahgan particularly has a passion for helping to raise awareness that human trafficking is not just "over there" but happens even in Grand Rapids.  This can sometimes be hard to see because this oppression takes unexpected forms.  Meahgan explains that while recent news stories about girls in chains may conform to the stereotype in many people's minds, the chains that hold some in bondage are not so literal.  She details a case of a woman in Detroit who turned tricks against her will because her captor had manipulated her by threats against the reputation of a prominent family member. "Vulnerable populations such as run-aways and the homeless are often approached by pimps within their first 48 hours on the street," Meahgan notes.  "They are in a vulnerable state and suddenly find themselves showered with what they need." To combat this phenomenon, MAP addresses the roots of trafficking including poverty, sexual abuse, relational gaps that can be closed through mentoring, and the cultural roots that create the demand for trafficking.  MAP partners with organizations that can work directly on these issues.  Raising awareness is a process of defining, breaking down stereotypes, explaining how to get involved and knowing appropriate steps to assist those in the grip of human bondage.  To these ends, MAP provides speakers for engagements at churches and universities (in fact, the founder taught a class at GVSU on the subject), and training with law enforcement and medical professionals.  Knowing the signs of this abuse can be the difference between identifying a victim and a criminal.   [Meahgan is now Marketing Director for Beene Garter LLP]