CLAS Acts September 2017

From the Dean's Desk

With a new provost, a dozen new tenure track colleagues, 199 in the Laker Marching Band, rehearsals for The Tempest underway, newly dedicated space in the Thomas J. and Marcia J. Haas Center for Performing Arts–I still want to call it the TaM—I think we have all we need to welcome our soon-to-be-officially-counted new students with the new academic year enthusiasm characteristic of CLAS.

Collectively, we had a great summer; I hope you did individually, too.  Bard-to-Go, our peripatetic Shakespearean troupe went to the Dominican Republic.  Tim Evans (BIO) emerged from a NASA simulation capsule after 45 days of no social media. Funds were raised for the CLAS Scholarship Fund at our golf outing.  The New Music Ensemble started teasing us with hints about their upcoming CD. The summer film project “For the Birds” wrapped. We got some extra exercise figuring out how to walk across campus around the construction projects. Two units hosted conferences.  Science on Tap tackled questions ranging from Russian motives to coconut oil.  Several faculty shifted offices.  In short, there were some quiet moments, but not many.

As some of you already know, the CLAS annual report called “Scholarly and Creative Achievement in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences 2016-2017” is out in hard copy and will be posted on the website as soon as we can do the accessibility tagging.  Your stories make it a good read.  If you would like a copy, email us on

Summer may be just about over, but there is so much to look forward to. 

  • The Fall Arts Celebration begins with music on September 11. 
  • On September 13 GVSU is holding an Inclusive Hiring Symposium  
  • The first CLAS Faculty Research Colloquium of the year is on September 15, 2017 2:30 - 5:00pm, 308 PAD.
  • ArtPrize will make Grand Rapids a hive of activity from September 20-October 8.
  • The 7th Annual James W. Carey Memorial Lecture will be held on Wednesday, September 27, 2017 at 7:00 pm in Loosemore Auditorium.

Here’s hoping your parking pass arrived and you are settling into the semester well.  I’m teaching WRT 150—I haven’t taught freshman writing for exactly 18 years.  Hope your teaching is effective and inspiring—and fun for you, too.  Have a happy start to what will surely be a productive new year.

CLAS Faculty Governance – Fall Election


There are a number of open positions on CLAS and university-level committees, which will be filled through a CLAS election this fall. There will be several 2 to 3-year terms open, as well as a number of 1-semester sabbatical replacement positions. The later are an excellent way for those new to committee service to gain experience. All faculty can gain a valuable new perspective on their units, the college and university through service on these committees! 

Shared faculty governance works when faculty step up to represent their perspectives, their departments, and their colleagues across CLAS. Nominate yourselves, and encourage others in your department who you think would be great representatives to nominate as well. 

Nominations should open on Friday 9/1, and will be open for at least 1 week. You will receive an e-mail with the link to nominate when it becomes available. If you have questions, contact the Chair of CLAS Faculty Council, Michael Henshaw (1-2118;


For an Easier February

To spread the load, why not enter your most recent publications, teaching, and service in Digital Measures early in fall so there is far less for you to do when the FAR deadline looms?  

"Away and mark the time with fairest show"


Involvement in a production of Shakespeare would rate pretty highly on anyone’s scale of engagement with the liberal arts and high impact learning experiences.  Coupled with international travel to a developing country, it is hard to imagine how it could avoid being transformative.  This is the recipe for one component of the GVSU Shakespeare Festival known as Bard to Go.

From April 30 until May 4, 2017, seven Grand Valley students travelled to the Dominican Republic to perform their distilled 45 minute version of Macbeth for school audiences.  Samantha Luken (Communication Studies and theatre minor), Sara Gochenaur (Theatre), Quiana Flynn (Theatre), Caleb Baird (Theatre), Bruno Streck Rodrigues (Theatre), Seth Burton (Theatre), and Jacob Miller (History, Music, Theatre) travelled to Santo Domingo with director Visiting Professor Dennis Henry and Professor Steeve Buckridge (History and Area and Global Studies).

After one day recovering from travel on Boca Chica, a local public beach, the troupe squeezed in side trips to historic sites such as Columbus Palace, the Colonial zone, the Cathedral Primada de America and the Columbus Lighthouse around their performance schedule.

The performance schedule was packed with five performances at three different schools.  These schools have English as a required subject and some had even studied Macbeth in their class.

The students at St. Michaels had homework based on the performance, so were prepared to ask the cast questions.  

“At the Colegio School, the drama club joined the Bard to Go actors during rehearsal for a brief pre-show discussion and a tour of back stage,” Steeve recalls.  “More than 300 students and their teachers experiences Bard to Go over the three day period… [at Colegio] there was an arousing applause and standing ovation.”

Steeve’s reflection on the trip is full of admiration for the cast who he found to be “superb ambassadors of Grand Valley” and “transformed”.  He also saw the impact on their audiences through their poignant questions about the acting and the play during Q and A sessions.  Their enthusiasm was also evident in the many phone photos they took with the Grand Valley troupe.

The schools’ teachers shared their impressions by email afterward.  One wrote, “Today’s performance of Macbeth was an inspiration to many of our students.  A number of them came and told me that they felt motivated to follow their dreams after hearing the actors speak during the question and answer session.  The play renewed their interest in Shakespeare.”  

Student actor Sara Gochenaur, reflecting on the experience notes that not only did she learn a great deal about the team work involved in a touring show, she also learned much about herself.  She found the experience of performing overseas pushed her limits and raised the stakes.  She wondered how they would be received by students for whom English was a second language.  

Sara recalls that the second performance was to a less prepared audience who did have some struggles understanding, but that certain aspects of the play proved universal.  “I remember two little girls sitting very close to the performance who were so enraptured that they screamed nearly every time the witches came onstage.” 

Sara continues, “The third school went wild for the show.  The students loved it, we spent a lot of time afterwards signing autographs and taking pictures.  What stuck with me most was a question a student asked at the talkback.  He asked if we had any advice on following our dreams…These kids saw us on stage and they saw people following their dreams.”