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Across Campus

December 4, 2017


New director of civic engagement named

Travus Burton has been named Grand Valley's director for civic learning and community engagement, a position housed in the Office of the Provost. 

He will begin his new role January 9, replacing Ruth Stegeman, who retired in August. 

Travus Burton

Travus Burton

Burton is currently the experiential learning coordinator for Oakland University's Office of Student Success and Experiential Learning Center. 

Suzeanne Benet, assistant vice president for Academic Affairs, said Burton brings prior experience and leadership skills necessary to move the university's civic action plan forward. 

"The search committee was impressed with Travus' past work with faculty members and the support he garnered to develop community partnerships and assist faculty with designing experiential learning components of a course," Benet said. 

Burton said he is honored to work at Grand Valley and said the university "values community engagement at the highest level." 

"I am eager to begin exploring the possibilities for new collaborations, while building upon some of the great initiatives and plans already in motion," he said. "A major goal is to continue building a culture that values and utilizes community engagement in all aspects of the education we provide and the work we do at Grand Valley." 

Prior to his position at Oakland University, Burton served as service learning coordinator for Central Michigan University's Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. He was president of the Isabella County Restoration House Board of Directors and instrumental in establishing the county's first shelter to address homelessness. Burton also worked as a HUD case manager for Capital Area Community Services in Lansing. 

He is working toward a doctoral degree in education from CMU; Burton earned a bachelor's degree in communication and sociology from Saginaw Valley State University, and a master's degree in educational leadership from CMU. 

A reception to welcome Burton to campus is planned for January 30, 4:30-6:30 p.m., at the Eberhard Center. 


Success of West Side dependent on collaboration, retaining talent

Community leaders emphasized inclusiveness, collaboration and developing talent as some of the keys to a successful future for Grand Rapids' West Side. 

"West Side Story," was the topic of the Peter F. Secchia Breakfast Lecture November 29 at the L. William Seidman Center. 


Speakers included Mike VanGessel, president of Rockford Construction; Ryan VerWys, president and CEO of Inner City Christian Federation; and Matt McLogan, vice president for University Relations at Grand Valley. Diana Lawson, dean of the Seidman College of Business, served as the moderator. 

McLogan said the transformation of the West Side began when the Gerald R. Ford Museum and the Eberhard Center on the Pew Grand Rapids Campus were built. He said positive changes have continued in the area with the availability of affordable housing, jobs and entertainment, which attract millennials and provide a stable footprint. 

President Thomas J. Haas and Greg Hill

Photo by Rex Larsen 

From left are panelists Ryan VerWys, Mike VanGessel, Matt McLogan and Diana Lawson at the November 29 Peter F. Secchia Breakfast Lecture at the Seidman Center. 


"The future of the West Side will be driven by people," McLogan said. "That means developing and retaining talent. To be vibrant, we need to pay attention to millennials." 

VanGessel, who grew up on the West Side, said investors have made a huge impact on the area, citing Meijer's Bridge Street Market as one example. The market is set to open at the corner of Bridge Street and Seward Avenue in fall 2018. 

"We are now seeing the benefits of long-term relationships and collaboration," said VanGessel. "It's important to listen, work with integrity and be true to yourself." 

He said the West Side is unique because it doesn't have defined architecture so there is great opportunity for density and height when it comes to construction. 

VerWys said challenges for longtime West Side residents include the rising cost of rent. He said residents want to protect what is good about their neighborhoods, so continued collaboration with developers and intentional inclusiveness is important. 


Save the date: Faculty Awards Convocation

The annual Faculty Awards Convocation will be held February 1 at the DeVos Center, Loosemore Auditorium, beginning at 4 p.m. 

Awards will be presented for faculty achievements as well as milestone awards for faculty members with 25 years of service or more. 

A reception will follow the ceremony. For more information, contact the Office of the Provost at x12400.


Career Center offers grants

The Career Center is accepting proposals from faculty and staff members for Internship Mini Grants (IMG). 

These grants are intended to develop, grow, and/or enhance internship initiatives within academic departments; several examples are listed below. 

· Develop an internship program for your academic area; 

· Expand internship opportunities for students through employer development; 

· Provide networking/recruiting opportunities for students. 

Previous IMG recipients have used funding to create interactive websites, build employer connections, and organize internship panels/recruitment events. Funding can also be used to pay a student, faculty or staff member for time spent on internship initiatives. 

The deadline to apply is December 7. Information and proposal submissions are online at



Diverse Visionary Award recipient

Grand Valley was a recipient of a Diversity Visionary Award from the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce. 

The university was a four-star recipient in the large business/organization category, along with Herman Miller. Criteria for the award included measurements in five areas: leadership commitment, diverse talent, internal processes, diverse supply chain and community engagement. 

Jesse Bernal, vice president for Inclusion and Equity, and Lynn Blue, vice president for Enrollment Development, accepted the award at the November 17 luncheon.