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GVSU College of Education News
Back in the classroom, Haas enjoys teaching remotely
September 21, 2020
GVSU President Emeritus Thomas J. Haas now teaches courses for the College of Education and Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies. And like other faculty members, Haas spent his summer preparing content as well as learning new methods of teaching remotely.
It was a productive and busy summer, he said. "Knowing I needed to engage in new modalities and learn Blackboard and Banner, I reached out to faculty colleagues, took a Magna online course, aligned my course outlines with others who have taught, added my own perspectives, and participated in new faculty orientation," Haas said.
Haas served as Grand Valley's president from 2006-2019, and committed to teaching classes after he retired. Provost Maria Cimitile recommended Haas teach courses in which students would benefit from his extensive and varied experiences, he said. That recommendation landed him a graduate course, "Organization Behavior, Ethics and Decision-making," in the College of Education's Educational Specialist program, and an undergraduate course, "Leadership and Social Change," in Brooks College's Integrative, Religious and Intercultural Studies department.
Haas said he finds the Educational Specialist course rewarding because the students have diverse professional goals. As former chair of the 21st Century Education Commission, he shares how commissioners shaped the state's educational framework and, of course, his knowledge of the higher education landscape.
Melanie Shell-Weiss, chair and associate professor of IRIS, called Haas a wonderful colleague and said she appreciated how he connected with other faculty teaching the same course. "They collaborated on ideas, shared resources and book lists," Shell-Weiss said. "It's been a wonderful experience to have Tom as a colleague."
When he served as GVSU's president, Haas often spoke about servant leadership, and he returns to the topic in class.
"Students are expanding their learning into social change movements of their choosing and creating plans for actions," he said. " I view my role in this class as a mentor."
Article photo shows Haas reading from notes while teaching a class from his home office.