College Student Affairs Leadership Faculty
Associate Professor and Chair of Leadership & Learning
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 Leadership and Learning Department in the College of Education.
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 E. Rabourn
Assistant Professor of Leadership & Learning
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.S. in Student Affairs Administration at Michigan State University. Dr. Rabourn completed her Ph.D. in Higher Education and Student Affairs from Indiana University (IU) in the summer of 2016. Her 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 dissertation focused on beginning college student attitudes towards student loan borrowing and debt and she looks forward to connecting information learned about students’ attitudes to actual borrowing behavior. 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. Prior to doctoral programming, 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 has taught Theories of College Student Development (EDH 647), Higher Education and Student Affairs Functions (EDH 651), Administration of Student Affairs Programs (EDH 653), and also advises master’s projects and theses (EDH 693/695).
College Student Affairs Leadership Adjunct Faculty
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 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 D. Gaines
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.
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.
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.