Rhodes reminds faculty they are key to university's successes

February 20, 2024 (Volume 47, Number 13)
Article by Michele Coffill

When giving a keynote presentation at the Faculty Awards Convocation on February 15, Samhita Rhodes said her faculty colleagues and her students are the reasons she finds joy in teaching at Grand Valley.

Rhodes, professor of engineering, also received a Glenn A. Niemeyer Award, which she joked could be taken away as she has "fallen behind on her grading." Rhodes said she fell in love with Grand Valley during her interview in 2007, in part, because of its teacher-scholar model. See all faculty award recipients in this article.

"The continued joy of this scholarship model is that I’ve been incredibly fortunate to collaborate with some truly excellent faculty colleagues on a wide variety of research topics," she said, citing medical devices, epilepsy, stability and balance, and cell research.

She said faculty were similar to first responders, acting as counselors for career services and academics and "loco parentis." Rhodes reminded her colleagues that the relationships they build with students are partially responsible for the university's success, including its metrics of enrollment and retention.

"Within each of those numbers lies the daily work of the faculty. The daily work of teaching students to write, to analyze, design, think, problem solve, code, reflect, heal, create — that takes faculty working with students, week after week and semester after semester," Rhodes said.

In her remarks, Provost Fatma Mili called Grand Valley's faculty unique because of their passion to the university and its students.

"They work passionately and tirelessly every day to see every Laker succeed," Mili said. "It is much more than a job that they want to do well. It is personal. They share in the success and the flourishing of every student, and celebrate with them; as importantly they struggle, and fight for every student who is struggling whether with academic, financial, mental health or family issues."

President Philomena V. Mantella also expressed her appreciation to faculty members.

"We all know today’s learners arrive on campus with a wide range of experiences and backgrounds," Mantella said. "Your commitment to meeting them where they are and role modeling a love for learning and continual growth is preparing them to be the leaders and continuous learners we need."


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This article was last edited on February 20, 2024 at 12:3 p.m.

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