Detroit leaders learn about university's regional ambassador program

August 31, 2021 (Volume 45, Number 1)
Article by Michele Coffill

President Philomena V. Mantella, Vice President B. Donta Truss and members of the Board of Trustees met with Detroit area leaders August 16 to create a new ambassadors program that will expand opportunities for southeast Michigan's students, adult learners and business owners.

Speaking at the GVSU Detroit Center, Mantella said the Southeast Michigan Ambassadors program fits with the university's strategic plan, Reach Higher 2025, which focuses on three commitments: personalized educational experience, lifelong learning, and educational equity.

"We see our partnership with you as playing a key role in both advancing those commitments and enhancing the future of the metro Detroit area," Mantella said. "We are relying on you for connections with others and ideas of how to expand Grand Valley's opportunities to Detroit area residents."

Truss, vice president for Enrollment Development and Educational Outreach, told the audience there is tremendous potential in the Detroit region. "Grand Valley wants to make sure that this work is done correctly so it serves legacy Detroiters and recognizes their tremendous contributions to this region," he said.

The catalyst behind the ambassador program was former Grand Valley Board of Trustee member William "Bill" Pickard, Detroit entrepreneur who is a co-managing partner of the MGM Grand Detroit Casino, among other businesses.

Pickard encouraged potential ambassadors to become advocates for the next generation of talent to come from southeast Michigan. "I received my degrees from other universities but I learned about business from Grand Valley," Pickard said.

Truss said Pickard is connected to one of Grand Valley's newest educational partners. Pickard's father graduated from Fort Valley State University, which joined Grand Valley to develop the HBCU/HSI Consortium

Current trustees Mikyia Aaron and Victor Cardenas each spoke about the importance of the southeast Michigan area, the potential of the ambassadors program and the impact it can make.

For more information about the Southeast Michigan Ambassadors program, contact Elizabeth Russell via email at [email protected].

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This article was last edited on August 30, 2021 at 12:30 p.m.

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