Lubbers Society Profile: Defining Lakers for a Lifetime

Betsy and Steve Carlson

Few families define what it means to be Lakers for a Lifetime as much as the Carlsons. For nearly 40 years Betsy and Steve Carlson ’78 have been giving to Grand Valley, ranking them among the university’s most loyal donors and members of the highly valued Lubbers Society. What began right after graduation as a way to invest in keeping Grand Valley’s educational experience excellent and attractive to future students and their employers, has expanded to giving to causes the couple is passionate about throughout the university.

Their commitment to Grand Valley is deeply personal. The Carlson family includes three generations of Lakers. Steve’s mom, Barbara Carlson, encouraged him to attend Grand Valley where she started working in 1967 in Loutit Hall, becoming assistant to the Dean of College of Liberal Arts and Sciences before retiring. Steve and Betsy’s son, Adam Carlson ’09, also attended Grand Valley, a legacy that makes them proud.

“We were excited when our son chose GVSU to continue the family tradition. We knew he would get a great education at a reasonable cost, and we enjoyed watching his soccer career at a different level of competition,” said Betsy.

In 2020, the Carlsons established the Carlson Family Endowed Scholarship in honor of Steve’s mom and the family’s legacy at GVSU.

“The Carlson Family Endowed Scholarship has two goals. First, to celebrate Barb Carlson's career with the university; and second, to provide access to GVSU for first-generation college students as they stay at the university for their education,” Steve explained. “We want to help provide an uninterrupted journey to graduation and lessen the need for student loan debt.”

Financial support is just one way the Carlsons show that they are Lakers for a Lifetime. Steve is an active Alumni Champion and has served on the Alumni Association Board for more than 20 years. The couple also engages with Grand Valley through alumni and Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies events. Betsy and Steve are also founding members of the GVSU Parent and Family Association Advisory Board.

The Carlsons hope that their gifts and involvement with the university will help provide current and future students with countless opportunities and experiences to grow within the community and at Grand Valley.

“When students select Grand Valley, they will come for different reasons, such as cost, size, and opportunities for involvement. The students we meet at events are the ones who have embraced all that Grand Valley offers. That's the beginning of networking and future success when they leave the cocoon of academia,” Betsy said.

“We hope any students we support will keep their connections with Grand Valley after graduation.” Steve added. “We have truly embraced being Lakers for a Lifetime and have stayed active with GVSU even in retirement."

The Lubbers Society, named in honor of President Emeritus Arend D. “Don” Lubbers, recognizes donor longevity and loyalty. For more information on joining the Carlsons by becoming a Lubbers Society member, please visit our website or contact us at 616-331-6000.