College Student Affairs Leadership Faculty

Reginald A. Blockett

Reginald A. Blockett

Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership & Counseling

B.A., Saginaw Valley State University; M.Ed., Iowa State University; Ph.D., Indiana University Bloomington

Dr. Blockett joined the faculty in August 2018. He earned a B.A. in Sociology from Saginaw Valley State University, a M.Ed. in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies (emphasis in Student Affairs) from Iowa State University, and a Ph.D. in Higher Education and Student Affairs from Indiana University Bloomington. His scholarly interests center on the sociocultural experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, and queer collegians of color, doctoral students’ socialization, and social justice practice and pedagogies across educational contexts. Dr. Blockett’s current research agenda mobilizes intersectionality and queer of color critique to understand the worldmaking practices employed by Black queer graduate and undergraduate men at predominantly White and (hetero)cisnormative institutions in the Midwest. He is a proud native of Detroit, Michigan, where he first learned the value of family, community, and education. Prior to joining the GVSU faculty, Dr. Blockett worked as a visiting assistant professor in the Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut. He has worked professionally in higher education and student affairs at Rutgers University as a residence life coordinator and as an instructor to first-year women students at Douglass Residential College.

Dr. Blockett will be teaching Theories of College Student Development (EDH 647), Intervention Strategies for Student Development (EDH 655), supervised practice (EDH 685/686), as well as advise master’s projects and theses (EDH 693/695).


Jay Cooper

Associate Professor and Chair of Educational Leadership and Counseling

B.S., Oakland University; M.S.Ed., Southern Illinois University-Carbondale; Ed.D., Western Michigan University

Dr. Cooper joined the faculty in the fall of 2002. He earned his Ed.D. in educational leadership from Western Michigan University in April 2002. Dr. Cooper worked as a practitioner in student affairs for 19 years. He spent 14 years at Grand Valley State University serving as associate director of Student Life, three years at the University of South Carolina at Columbia as coordinator for Student Programs, and two years as a graduate assistant in the University Programming Office at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale (SIU). He earned his M.S.Ed. in higher education with a concentration in college student personnel at SIU and his B.S. in public administration from Oakland University. Dr. Cooper has taught six different CSAL courses including Student Development Theory (EDH 647), Administration of Student Affairs Programs (EDH 653), Intervention Strategies for Student Development (EDH 655), as well as serves as a master’s thesis/project advisor (EDH 693/695), practicum faculty supervisor (EDH 685/686), and led the Mexican culture and education course in Puebla, Mexico. In addition to his teaching responsibilities as an associate professor in the College of Education, Dr. Cooper also serves as chair of the Educational Leadership and Counseling Department in the College of Education.

Bart Merkle

H. Bart Merkle

Distinguished Professor of Education

B.A., Hope College; M.A., Ed.D., Western Michigan University

Dr. Bart Merkle served as the senior student affairs officer at Grand Valley State University from 1984 - 2016.  Prior to his role as vice provost for student affairs and dean of students at Grand Valley, he served in other student affairs roles including: acting dean of students and associate dean of students at Tulane University; associate dean of students, assistant dean of students, director of career planning & placement, and hall director at Kalamazoo College; and admissions counselor at Hope College.  He transitioned from his administrative role in the summer, 2016 to join the College of Education faculty to teach in the higher education graduate program.

Bart earned the BA degree with a major in political science from Hope College, and the M.A. and Ed.D. degrees in counseling and personnel administration in higher education from Western Michigan University.  His teaching focuses on Administration of Student Affairs Programs (EDH 653), Critical Issues in Higher Education (EDH 658), Practicum/Graduate Field Experience I & II (EDH 685/686), and serving as a master’s project advisor (ED 693).

Bart and his wife, Anne, have five children and seven grandchildren. They live in Allendale and they enjoy breeding/showing Labrador retrievers, horseback riding, kayaking, and volunteering at PAWS with a Cause which is a national non-profit organization that trains and places service dogs.


Karyn Rabourn

Karyn E. Rabourn

Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership and Counseling, Director of the M.Ed. in Higher Education Program

B.A., M.A., Michigan State University; Ph.D., Indiana University Bloomington

Dr. Rabourn joined the faculty in August 2015 and earned her B.A. in Elementary Education and M.A. in Student Affairs Administration from Michigan State University. Dr. Rabourn completed her Ph.D. in Higher Education and Student Affairs from Indiana University (IU) in 2016. At IU, Dr. Rabourn worked for the Center of Postsecondary Research with the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) and the Project for Academic Success and served as an assessment consultant to the Division of Student Affairs. Dr. Rabourn worked at the University of Pittsburgh and Michigan State University within residential life, with a focus on recruitment, selection, and training of professional, graduate, and undergraduate staff members. Dr. Rabourn’s research interests include higher education finance, assessment of student affairs practice, and access, persistence and retention of non- or post-traditional and historically underrepresented students. Her current research examines college student attitudes towards student loan borrowing and debt and she hopes to uncover valuable information that will assist to improve practices and policies related to student borrowing.

Dr. Rabourn currently serves as the Program Director of the M.Ed. in Higher Education program and has taught Theories of College Student Development (EDH 647), Higher Education and Student Affairs Functions (EDH 651), The American College Student (EDH 652), Administration of Student Affairs Programs (EDH 653), Critical Issues in Higher Education (EDH 658), and advises master’s projects and theses (EDH 693/695). 



College Student Affairs Leadership Adjunct Faculty

Andy Beachnau

Andrew Beachnau

Associate Vice Provost & Director of Housing and Health Services

B.A., Alma College; M.Ed., Grand Valley State University; Ph.D., Michigan State University

Andy Beachnau is the associate vice provost for student affairs & director of housing & health services. In his current role, Andy is responsible for overall leadership for Housing and Residence Life, the Campus Health Center, Campus Recreation, and The Children’s Enrichment Center.  Andy has been at Grand Valley State University for 34 years in a number of positions. He began his professional career at GVSU as a hall director in 1982 and became a residence life coordinator in 1984. In 1986, he became assistant director of housing and was later promoted to associate director of housing in 1990. After serving one year as acting director of housing and health services, he was hired as the director of housing and health services in 1995. 

Andy received his Bachelor of Arts from Alma College in 1982 in political science and physical education, his M.Ed. in education administration from Grand Valley State University in 1985, and his Ph.D. in 1995 from Michigan State University in college and university administration. He has taught graduate courses in the College of Education since l995.  Andy's wife Jacqueline (GVSU, 1987) is an RN at Spectrum Health. They live in Walker with their daughter, Alexandra, and son, Sean.   
Favorite Quote: “Every student matters, and what you do matters to students.”

Monica Fochtman

Monica M. Fochtman

Adjunct Graduate Faculty

B.A., M.A., Boston College; Ph.D., Michigan State University

Dr. Fochtman is a senior student affairs professional with experience at multiple institutions and in various functional areas: academic advising; student success and retention; grant management; programming and leadership development; and residence life. She has worked at small, liberal arts colleges, and large, research-intensive universities. In 2016, Dr. Fochtman joined the adjunct faculty at Grand Valley State University. She teaches EDH 647: Theories of College Student Development and EDH 655: Intervention Strategies for Student Development.

Monica earned her bachelor’s degree in English and master’s degree in higher education administration from Boston College and her Ph.D. in higher, adult, and lifelong education (HALE) from Michigan State University. Her research interests include mid-career women, work-life negotiation strategies, and the intersection of motherhood and student affairs. She is a career coach, certified MBTI administrator, avid reader and frequent blogger. 

Nykia Gaines

Nykia D. Gaines

Interim Associate Dean, Division of Student Services
Director, TRiO Student Support Services STEM-Health Sciences

B.S., M.Ed., Grand Valley State University; Ph.D., Bowling Green State University

Dr. Gaines began her professional career at Grand Valley in 2001 as a living center director and later became an apartment director in 2005. In 2008, Dr. Gaines accepted a fellowship in Bowling Green State University’s Higher Education Administration doctoral program. During her tenure at BGSU, Dr. Gaines served as an academic advisor in the College of Education and Human Development. After earning her doctorate, Dr. Gaines returned to Grand Valley in June 2013 as a senior academic advisor in the CLAS Academic Advising Center. In August 2016, Dr. Gaines accepted the position of director of TRIO Student Support Services STEM-Health Sciences. She looks forward to meeting her new students and assisting them in fulfilling their academic goals and career aspirations.

Dr. Gaines received her Bachelor of Science from Grand Valley State University in 1998 in criminal justice, her Master of Education in higher education with a specialization in college student affairs leadership from Grand Valley State University in 2001, and her Doctorate of Philosophy in higher education administration from Bowling Green State University in 2012. Dr. Gaines’ research interests include study abroad among African Americans, academic advising, and internationalization and globalization in higher education.

Aaron Haight

Aaron Haight

Assistant Dean of Students

B.A.A. Central Michigan University; M.P.A., Grand Valley State University; Ed.D., Eastern Michigan University

Aaron Haight has worked with the students at GVSU since 2000. She currently serves as the assistant dean of students coordinating student conduct and intervention programs as well as working with the CSAL Graduate Assistant program. As assistant director of Student Life (2000 – 2013) she spent her first seven years advising the fraternity and sorority community and her last six years in the Office of Student Life coordinating the Transitions Orientation program and a variety of student organization services. Prior to coming to GVSU, Aaron worked as a project manager for Edison Schools, Inc. in New York City and as a special events and development coordinator at Special Olympics Michigan.

Aaron graduated with her Bachelor of Applied Arts degree from Central Michigan University, her Master of Public Administration from Grand Valley State University, and her Doctor of Education from Eastern Michigan University.  The title of her dissertation is, “Examining the Impact of Student Involvement and Intercultural Experiences on Perceptions of Institutional Commitment to Diversity.”

Aaron is also a facilitator of StrengthsQuest and True Colors. She consults with area K-12 schools on college access, hazing, and diversity initiatives. She is active member of the Allendale Rotary and serves on the Allendale Public Schools Board of Trustees.

Jessica Jennrich

Jessica Jennrich

Director, Women's Center

B.A., Bowling Green University; M.A., Eastern Michigan University; Ph.D., University of Missouri

Jessica Jennrich began in July 2013 as the director of the Women’s Center.  Previously Jessica worked at Dartmouth College directing the Center for Gender and Student Engagement and before that at the University of Missouri where she directed the Undergraduate Program in the Women’s Gender Studies Department as well as taught Women’s and Gender Studies courses.  She is currently involved in a number of higher education and feminist organizations and is a reviewer for the Diversity and Higher Education Journal.  Jessica is a former grant partner and guest writer for the American Association for University Women policy magazine.  Jessica is a contributor to research in the field of feminist disability studies as well as gender in higher education.  Jessica holds professional competencies in the National Association of Student Affairs Professionals in Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion as well as Suicide Prevention. Jessica is also a writer of creative non-fiction, most recently published in Paradigm Magazine.

Jessica earned her bachelor’s degree at Bowling Green State University in English, her master’s degree from Eastern Michigan University in women’s and gender studies, and her doctorate at the University of Missouri in educational leadership and policy analysis.

Page last modified August 22, 2018