Meet Our Staff

Profile Photo of Aaron Haight

AARON HAIGHT, ED.D., Associate Vice President for Student Engagement and Dean of Students

Email: [email protected]

Aaron Haight has worked with the students of GVSU since 2000. She currently serves as the Associate Vice President for Student Engagement and Dean of Students.  Dr. Haight has served in the Dean of Students Office since 2013 as Associate Dean, Assistant Dean and Director of Student Conduct and Special Programs while also providing leadership for the Division of Student Affairs. Prior to the Dean of Students Office, Aaron was an assistant director in the Office of Student Life for 13 years working with orientation, student organizations and fraternity and sorority life.

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 in college access, hazing, and diversity initiatives. She is a past member of the Allendale Public Schools Board of Trustees, Allendale Rotary and volunteered with the Allendale PTO, Allendale Youth Soccer Organization, and Allendale Little League.  

In her position as Associate Vice President and Dean of Students, Aaron leads the Dean of Students Office functions and team.  She provides oversight, leadership and support to the Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution, the Office of Student Life, the Promotions Office, and oversees the Division of Student Affairs crisis response, first-year experience initiatives, family programs, and divisional communication and marketing efforts.

Strengths: Discipline | Responsibility | Consistency | Analytical | Relator

EMILY FIRST, MS.ED., Assistant Dean of Students

Email: [email protected] 

Emily First serves as the Assistant Dean of Students at Grand Valley State University and joined GVSU in the Fall of 2019. In her current role, Emily oversees the daily operations of the University CARE Team and outreach to students of concern. Emily leads a team from across the University in proactive outreach to students who may experience a variety of concerns, including but not limited to: academic, financial, basic needs, physical and mental health, support when facing death of family members,  campus climate concerns, concerns for well-being and disruptive behavior. Emily serves as a resource to students, faculty, staff, parents and community members when they have concerns for a student's overall well-being. 

Emily currently serves as a Faculty Member of the Higher Education Case Managers Association (HECMA) in which she collaboratively works to develop training and coach new Case Managers in Higher Education across the US and Canada. 

Before joining Grand Valley, Emily served as the Case Manager for Student Care and Outreach at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. She holds a Masters in Educational Psychology from Baylor University and a Bachelors in Psychology from Taylor University.

Strengths: Developer | Belief | Empathy | Harmony | Intellection

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KATIE PERSCHBACHER, M.ED., Student CARE and Outreach Case Manager

Email: [email protected]

Katie Perschbacher joined the Dean of Students office in 2020 and currently serves as the Student CARE and Outreach Case Manager where she provides support to students, staff, faculty, and members of the community who may express concern about well-being for other students in a variety of areas. She engages with students who may be experiencing difficulties both in and out of the classroom that include food insecurity, academic and social stress, mental wellness, and other basic needs. She also serves on committees around the university focused on strategic vision and gender equity. Prior to coming to GVSU, Katie worked for CETUSA as a Student Services Advisor where she provided support for J-1 international students in grades 9-12. 

Katie has been a three-time Laker graduate, earning her Bachelor of Arts in Advertising and Public Relations, Master of Education in College Student Affairs Leadership and Master of Education in School Counseling. 

Outside of her role at GVSU, she currently serves on the GVSU Alumni Board of Directors and as the current President of the Humane Society of West Michigan’s Board of Directors. She also volunteers for Alpha Sigma Tau, the BISSELL Pet Foundation, and Make-A-Wish Michigan. She resides in Hudsonville, with her husband Kirk and her two rescue cats Gigi and Ruth.

Strengths: Belief | Restorative | Connectedness | Developer | Futuristic

SUSAN SIGLER, B.S., Administrative Assistant

Email: [email protected]

Susan Sigler joined Grand Valley State University in December 2016 as an Academic Department Coordinator in Kirkhof College of Nursing and transitioned to the Dean of Students Office in April 2019.  As Administrative Assistant, Susan provides administrative support to the Associate Vice President and Dean of Students, coordinates confidential employment hiring processes, and supports major programs, meetings, and initiatives such as Student Leadership Awards, Commencement, Convocation, and Dean of Students outreach efforts.  Susan also monitors Dean of Students Office budgets and reporting. 

Susan graduated from Ball State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism and her career has included several administrative support roles in the financial, healthcare and legal professions.  Susan makes her home in Holland, where she enjoys spending time on the Lake Michigan beach (in all seasons!) with her family and collies Ivy and Gracie.

Strengths: Harmony | Learner | Intellection | Input | Achiever

Profile Photo of Susan Sigler
Dean of Students Office logo

BETH VENDAL, B.S., B.B.A., Office Assistant, Dean of Students Office



Beth Vendal joined Grand Valley State University in November 2022 as the Office Assistant in the Dean of Students Office.  Beth provides administrative and clerical support for the Assistant Dean of Students, Director of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution and Dean of Students Office, which includes planning, coordination, implementation of projects, events and services.

Beth graduated from Kennesaw State University with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Marketing and a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology.  Her career has included several administrative support roles including local government and public schools.

Beth makes her home in Jenison.  She is the proud mother of five adult children and grandmother of three.  Beth enjoys spending time with family, reading, and long walks.

Strengths: Connectedness | Learner | Empathy | Belief | Developer

Page last modified April 9, 2024