Vice President B. Donta Truss, front row, far right, stands with area
pastors and organizers of the GVSU Faith Connect Initiative.
From left are Cassonya Carter, B. Donta Truss and Patrice Pierre.
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.