Across Campus

September 10, 2018

Police services expand at Grand Rapids campuses

Grand Valley has added sworn law enforcement officials to its Grand Rapids campuses to serve with security staff already in place. 

Police Chief Brandon DeHaan said as the footprint of the university has grown in Grand Rapids so has the need for additional staff members.

"The addition of sworn officers downtown will help us to continue to provide a safe and secure environment at our Grand Rapids campuses and for the Grand Valley community," DeHaan said.

Officials from Grand Valley and the City of Grand Rapids signed an agreement August 28 that allows the university to utilize the Grand Rapids Police Department Communication Center during an emergency. 

GRPD will have the ability to dispatch GVPD officers. The agreement is similar to the one Grand Valley has with Ottawa County Dispatch for emergencies in Allendale.

Grand Rapids officers include Capt. Kourosh Khatir, assistant director of Public Safety for Grand Rapids campuses, and officer JP West. DeHaan said another officer will join the Grand Rapids staff in December.

Students help refugees learn English

West Michigan has a long history of resettling refugees from around the world, and students in two Grand Valley courses are helping to teach them how to speak English.

The classes are led by associate professors Laura Vander Broek and Colleen Brice. The goal is to give students a real-world experience in teaching people English as a Second Language to learn practical skills and ESL pedagogy. 

A unique part of the program is that many of the refugees who aren't literate in their first language, which makes instruction of English literacy even more difficult. 

United Way logo

The refugees are paired with students through partnerships with Samaritas and Word ESL, which is run by the Dominican Sisters. Both programs are United Way-funded organizations. 

"We are working with students to ensure they have the skills to be successful ESL instructors, and we're looking at the implications of second-language learning by people who have limited first-language literacy," Brice said. "We discovered this unique subset of people when we discovered that the materials we had available for students was almost entirely geared toward adults who could already read and write in their own language."

The program and partnerships have been in place since 2012, and recently expanded to include graduate study in addition to undergraduate classes.

"The experiences these students have while working with these refugees are transformational," Vander Broek said. "Our students in the practicum classes are working one-on-one with refugees who have just been settled, or who are looking for additional English instruction. The experience and learning they take away from that are absolutely life-changing."

In addition to working with the United Way-funded organizations to teach English to the recently arrived refugees, students are getting a broad look at other cultures and helping refugees get settled in their new home.

"We've had students who helped pregnant women navigate the health care system, and we've had students working with large families share meals at the family table," Vander Broek said. "It's a wonderful cultural and learning experience."

Organizations like Samaritas and Word ESL are funded, in part, by support from Heart of West Michigan United Way. Grand Valley organizes one of West Michigan's largest annual United Way campaigns. This year's campaign runs from October 1-October 12. 

"The funding that our partner organizations get from the United Way is absolutely critical," Brice said. "There's often a waiting list for the services these organizations provide, so any funding they can get changes people's lives."

For more information on Grand Valley's United Way Campaign, visit .

Laker Effect Challenge team hosts uniform swap

Continuing their Laker Effect Challenge, students and faculty members in the accelerated leadership program led a uniform swap in late August for parents who have students at Harrison Park elementary and middle schools.

Steven Scholten, who is majoring in liberal studies, said about 50 pieces of clothing were swapped at the event. Connections with 30 additional parents were made and the swap program has been active since.

Scholten and students Tami Chase, Anthony Hanline and Bridgett Shafter earned $1,000 at the Laker Effect Challenge in April to implement their idea. Scholten said the group purchased clothing, made connections with school administrators and parents, conducted outreach to local community organizations and businesses, and created a marketing campaign to spread awareness about the first uniform swap. Community help and financial support came from the Grain Sandwich Shop and Mitten Brewery.

Stephen Lovell, community school coordinator for Harrison Park, called the event a success.

group of people pictured with a large check

Students are pictured at the Laker Effect Challenge in April with (second from right) Travus Burton, director for Civic Learning and Community Engagement. The students held a uniform swap at Harrison Park schools in August.

"Students are growing and in many cases outgrow their uniforms before the end of the school year," Lovell said. "This program will help families keep their students in comfortable clothing while recycling their old uniforms."

The 19-month accelerated leadership program is supported by the Center for Adult and Continuing Studies. The program offers adult students opportunities to complete a liberal studies degree in an accelerated cohort model while learning the leadership skills employers require.

University earns U.S. News ranking

Grand Valley has once again been named a top university in the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report

In the "2019 Best Colleges rankings" Grand Valley ranked third for "Top Public Regional Universities in the Midwest" and 29th for "Best Regional Universities in the Midwest."  

Grand Valley is also ranked among Midwest universities for "Best Value" (14th) and "Most Innovative" (ninth).

Grand Valley rose to 45th (from 57th) for "Best in Undergraduate Engineering" programs and the Seidman College of Business is ranked among the "Best Undergraduate Business" programs.

Grand Valley is also listed among universities with low student debt load at graduation.

The rankings are based on several key measures of quality including peer assessment, graduation and retention rates, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources and alumni giving. Data was collected from each institution that included several indicators of academic excellence.

Page last modified September 10, 2018