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Meet the CSO: Matt Cawood

August 30, 2018

Meet the CSO: Matt Cawood

The GVSU Charter Schools Office is excited to welcome Matt Cawood, Ph.D., to the team as a School Consultant. Matt will work primarily with GVSU-authorized charter schools located throughout West Michigan.

Matt’s career has always gravitated toward education. Just after completing his undergraduate studies in marketing at Michigan State University, he went to work for an organization called The Educational Institute of the American Hotel and Motel Association. The organization was responsible for providing educational products and services to the hospitality industry, including universities that offered hospitality courses. While there, Matt was tasked for marketing the products and services to potential clients.

He then moved to Grand Rapids to work for Davenport College (as it was called at the time) and pursue a Master’s degree in Management from Aquinas College. He held a variety of positions while with Davenport before eventually landing in an administration role where he managed the college’s career center. Matt was able to successfully increase enrollment at the career center within two years.

Matt’s work at the career center caught the attention of the Davenport leadership and he was asked to move to Midland and turn around Great Lakes Junior College, a collection of small brick-and-mortar campuses that were part of the larger Davenport system. In his role as College President, Matt transitioned the school from a junior college to an accredited institution that offered bachelor’s degrees and significantly increased enrollment. It was during this time that he also earned his Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership from Union Institute and University.

When Davenport College unified all of its campuses and transitioned into a university, Matt returned to Grand Rapids to be the COO of the newly-formed university for three years. After that, Matt spent ten years as the Director of Partner Services for National Heritage Academies (NHA). His work there was focused on working with authorizers and NHA partner Boards including new school development where he successfully led efforts to open NHA’s first schools in Georgia, Louisiana, and Wisconsin.

The Charter Schools Office sat down with Matt to learn a little more about his thoughts on education and personal interests:


With all the work you’ve done with strategic planning, what’s some of the first advice you give to new school board members to make sure they get a good start?

Your founding board should have good diversity in terms of demographics, thought perspective, and professional experience. For example, it’s great to have an educator, a finance person, business experience, and a legal perspective. Also make sure you have thoroughly thought through your plan and go at it with a conservative budget. Finally, make sure you hire a good leader who can hire good teachers. That is absolutely essential.


Do you have a book that you would recommend others to read? If so, why?

Well, I read a lot. I like to read biographies, historical fiction, and business books. One book that I read several years ago that I found interesting is “Mindset” by Carol S. Dweck. It’s really targeted as a business book, but a lot of the examples I thought of when reading it related to raising kids and family situations. My wife and I read it and we both agreed we wished we would have read this book before we had kids because there was a lot of practical information about where the focus should be when raising them.


What do you like to do for fun?

I like to fish. I have lots of favorite spots and types of fishing. I do mostly river fishing, so I go to the Rogue River or the Pere Marquette River. I fish for small-mouth bass in the spring and summer up north. I also picked up running a few years ago, and now I run every other day.

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Page last modified August 30, 2018