Faith Connect Initiative will support recruitment, retention efforts for students of color

March 22, 2022 (Volume 45, Number 14)
Article by Michele Coffill

B. Donta Truss, vice president for Enrollment Development and Educational Outreach, led an event with area clergy members to build and strengthen relationships within the faith community in support of the university's recruitment and retention efforts.

Truss said the GVSU Faith Connect Initiative, engaging with Grand Rapids and Muskegon clergy, is a direct effort to increase diversity among undergraduate students. An initial meeting was held January 27 at the DeVos Center on the Pew Grand Rapids Campus.

“Working with church leaders is one approach to bridge the gap between the university and the African American community,” Truss said. "We want to build a relationship in which these two institutions, the church and the university, work together to build a stronger future for the Black community."

Cassonya Carter, senior academic advisor for the Kirkhof College of Nursing, and Patrice Pierre, special assistant to federal TRIO programs, led dialogue with Pastor Eula Gaddis, pastor of Prince of Peace Missionary Baptist Church. Discussion focused on best practices that would benefit students of color. 

Shannon Cohen, ’99 and ’01, and owner of Tough Skin, Soft Hearts Inc., shared her student experience and the importance of unity, leadership and transformational relationships. Cohen said she serves as an example of what happens when "great leaders pour into students."

Truss said this initiative will be a valuable model within the division's Strategic Enrollment Management Plan.

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This article was last edited on March 22, 2022 at 10:25 a.m.

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