GVSU – International Office History Timeline

The timeline below illustrates a history of GVSU’s international office from its inception in 1970 to the present, 2017. It is compiled using personal communications and research, and is submitted in its current form. This history was compiled and written by Alan Walczak, who worked with International Programs at GVSU from 1986 to 1998.

GVSU Presidential Leadership during History Timeline:

Arend D. Lubbers (1969 - 2001)

Mark Murray (2001 - 2006)

Thomas J. Haas (2006 – 2019)

Timeline by Year

1970   1980   1990   2000   2010


Dr. Ezra Gearhart arrives at GVSC – appointed by President Lubbers to Chair the Modern Languages Program (Seeger, M.) 

Grand Valley State Colleges (GVSC) establishes an office of international studies to centralize the responsibility for the development and administration of international programs and exchange activities sponsored by GVSC. Dr. Ezra Gearhart, recently appointed Chair of Modern languages, was appointed as Director of the Office of International Studies, later to become the Center for International Studies, “to facilitate international cultural and educational exchange and to increase cultural diversity in the Grand Valley State Colleges (GVSC) (GV Review, Fall 1993).   Dr. Gearhart worked with President Lubbers to establish the first international university partnerships.

GVSC enrollment is 3,301. (GVSU Historical Timeline)

Background influences and motivations.

Summer, 1951 -- Arend Lubbers, a college student at Hope, became a Community Ambassador along with others from Holland, MI, and traveled to Yugoslavia to work on building a railroad near Doboj, Bosnia (Review, 1993). 

Prior to the creation of the international office, GVSC students were able to partake in international experiences through the guidance and mentorship of two Modern languages faculty members – Dr. Wilhelm (Bill) and Dr. Mary Seeger. 

In 1965, Bill Seeger was hired as a German language instructor.  On his own time, he was able to assist GV German language majors to spend time in Germany with his family connections in northern Germany. These were non-credit experiences:  students lived in Bill’s family’s homes, some worked and participated in informal touring.  These were the first international experiences for students at GV.

From 1967 – 70, the university participated with the TAPV program – a program designed for potential German language teachers to spend 4 months in Germany. Roughly six GVSC students participated in TAPV.  Dr. Mary Seeger volunteered as the advisor and mentor for the program, guiding students through administrative and orientation processes.

Additionally, students participated in Junior Year Abroad Programs.  Dr. Mary Seeger’s knowledge of programs run by the Universities of Michigan and Wisconsin, enabled GVSC students to partake in their programs under her guidance and advisement.  

            In 1969, GVSC sends students abroad to the University of Lancaster in England and establishes a program in Merida, Mexico. (GVSU Historical Timeline)

            GVSC’s first international student, from Iran, enrolled in GVSC’s pioneer freshman class in 1963. (GVSU Historical Timeline)


Through Dr. Gearhart’s connections, the first faculty-led international program began in Klagenfurt Austria, led by German language faculty members Wilhelm (Bill) and Mary Seeger. The program ran for 6 weeks with accommodations and study rooms at the Vienna Boys Choir Camp in the first year (1971).  From 1971 – 1974, Bill and Mary Seeger led the language study program in Klagenfurt. In 1974, the language program ran concurrently with a new comparative government study program led by faculty member Frank Schwarz.

The long-term dedication for short-term faculty led programs led to the eventual establishment of The Mary A. and Wilhelm W. Seeger Global Programs Scholarship by Mary and Bill Seeger to enhance the learning experience of students striving to advance their foreign language skills through participation in short-term study abroad programs. Bill Seeger would serve 40 years at GVSU, starting as an early member of the faculty and later serving as chair of the Modern Languages and Literature Department. Mary was also among the early faculty when she joined Grand Valley in 1965 as a professor of German. She would retire as Dean of Advising Resources and Special Programs. (gvsu.academicworks.com/donors/mary-and-bill-seeger)

The first Graduate Assistants arrived from Germany and France to teach modern languages at GVSC. The program remained active throughout the 1970’s.

Through the initiative of Modern languages faculty member Dr. Ursula Franklin, GVSC begins its second faculty-led study abroad program in Aix-en-Provence, France, a six-week language study program.   

GVSC Foreign Language Day, a celebration and display of foreign languages and cultures, was created by Mary Seeger. Local high school students were invited to GVSC to hear a play performed in German by GVSC students. Foreign Language Day evolved into International Day and eventually the Ethnic festival, an event offering exposure of various cultures to the GVSC community. 

The Office of International Studies, located in Lake Superior Hall, makes the following study abroad opportunities available to GVSC students:

Austria                        GVSC German Summer School at Lake Worth

Canada                        AASCU Canadian Studies Program in Montreal

England                      University of Lancaster, England, Junior Year Program

France             French Foreign Study Program in Tours

Latin America GLCAS Latin America Program in Bogota, Columbia 

                        Central College Latin America Program in Merida, Mexico

                        AASCU Latin America Program in Puebla


Foreign Student Task Force begins meeting (August) to discuss ways in which an increase in foreign student enrollment might occur and the resources and responsibilities that may be required.  The desired goal is approximately 250 students by the GVSC enrollment of 10,000, thought of as near 1980. (Note* in Fall, 2016, with the university enrollment at 25,460, international student enrollment totaled 430 in a combination of undergraduate and graduate students.)

The Office of International Studies, located in Lake Superior Hall, makes the following study abroad opportunities available to GVSC students:

Austria                        GVSC German Summer School at Klagenfurt

Canada                        AASCU Canadian Studies Program in Montreal

Denmark         Northern Ill. University International Program in Copenhagen

England                      University of Lancaster, England, Junior Year Program

France             French Foreign Study Program in Tours

Italy                 AASCU International Studies Center in Rome

Japan               Far East Studies Program in cooperation with Kansai University and International Christian University, Tokyo 

Latin America GLCAS Latin America Program in Bogota, Columbia 

                        Central College Latin America Program in Puebla, Mexico

                        AASCU Latin America Program in Puebla

                        GVSC Student Teaching Program in Maracaibo, Venezuela            



January 30-31. GVSC commissions a consultation from NAFSA (Premiere Int’l. Education professional organization) to help the institution determine the proper course and systems necessary for the continued and increased enrollment of international students.   At this time, 17 foreign students were enrolled at GVSC. The consultation concluded that GVSC appeared to have a well-organized approach to the enrollment of international students and was “every indication” that the colleges could handle a significant increase in foreign student enrollment.

At the time of the NAFSA report, study abroad at GVSC included eleven programs in nine countries – a combination of both GVSC programs and those sponsored by other institutions. (Catalog 1973)


The Office of International Studies is given the status of an independent institute: the International Studies Institute. The International Studies Institute is a teaching and service center aimed at directing and coordinating all phases of international activities at GVSC.  Its primary areas are Study Abroad Programs; Foreign Student Affairs, including recruitment, admission, and advising students; Interdisciplinary Support Courses for courses, seminars and lectures of “international character;” and Community Extension Services, relating GVSC’s international goals to West Michigan. Ezra Gearhart remains director of the institute, while having been appointed Dean of Continuing Education and Community Services, to which the International Studies Institute reports.  A. Frank Schwarz, Professor, is appointed Assistant Director of the Institute.  (College Catalog, 1974-75). 

The protocol is drawn up for the proposed partnership with the University of Sarajevo, Yugoslavia.  


Summer 1968: Dr. Gearhart first visited Yugoslavia with Dr. Michael Petrovich (both being faculty members at Hope College, Holland, MI). Dr. Petrovich eventually developed a Balkan Studies curriculum for the Vienna Summer School directed by Gearhart. In 1974, Dr. Petrovich joined GVSC as an associate professor.  Their mutual interest and expertise in Yugoslavia would lead to the signing of a protocol and eventual partnership in 1975 with the University of Sarajevo.  

Dr. Ezra Gearhart follows up on previous contacts in Krakow, and travels to Krakow with GVSC President Arend D. Lubbers. That trip and the cultivation of a relationship with the Polish Heritage Society in Grand Rapids, Michigan, by Lubbers and Gearhart, led to the initiation of a summer program in Krakow in 1975 comprised of Grand Rapids community members accompanying GVSC faculty and staff, and to an official academic collaboration with the Krakow Academy of Economics (AE).


The International Studies Institute continues to be led by Dr. Gearhart, and increases its study abroad offerings through continued use of collaborations with AASCU and GLAC programs.  Additionally, the number of GVSC sponsored programs increases, and includes the following:

Austria            GVSC German School

Egypt              GVSC academic year at University of Cairo

Europe            GVSC Summer School in Political Science in Italy, Austria, and Germany

France             GVSC French language and International Business Schools in Tours

Italy                 GVSC Film Making Term in Rome

Venezuela       GVSC Student Teaching Program

Yugoslavia      GVSC Summer School in Yugoslav Studies 

The initial summer educational program to Krakow, Poland, commences comprised of GVSC Russian Language Professor Christine Rydel, Dean Ezra Gearhart, and members of the Grand Rapids community and the Polish Heritage Society. 

Three partnership agreements are signed:

1)Academy of Economics (AE) evolved to the Cracow University of Economics (CUE).  The agreement was signed by GVSC President Arend D. Lubbers and AE Rector Antoni Fajferek at GVSC’s campus in Allendale, Michigan.  The terms of the agreement called for a fall term study in Poland for GVSC students, and an AE faculty program at GVSC.  

2)University of Sarajevo, Yugoslavia.

April:  Utilizing contacts in Yugoslavia, initial meetings were in Sarajevo, where an initial “agreement in principle” was signed by E.F. Gearhart and Vice-Rector Emir Humo.

In the Fall, a delegation from Sarajevo visited GVSC and an agreement was signed between the institutions by President Arend Lubbers and Rector Zdravko Besarovic. During that visit, an Honorary Degree was conferred on Rector Bersarovic. During a visit in 1987 to Sarajevo, President Lubbers would receive an Honorary Degree as well.   

During an official visit to Washington, DC, GVSC faculty member Dr. Petrovich served as then U.S. President Gerald R. Ford’s official interpreter. President Ford told Yugoslav Prime Minister Bijedic, “Take good care of them,” meaning GVSC.   (Review, 1993)

Historical context: Grand Valley State Colleges is comprised of the College of Arts and Sciences, Seidman College of Business, College IV, and the less traditional colleges Thomas Jefferson College and William James College, with a total enrollment was 7,340. Gerald R. Ford, a native of Grand Rapids, is President of the United States.  The Fall of Saigon to communist forces occurs in April and President Ford declares an end to the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.   However, the U.S. and the U.S.S.R.  with their profound political and economic differences, remained in the midst of the Cold War (1947-1991).  Many countries in Central and Eastern Europe were under control of the Soviet Union, including Poland and Yugoslavia. The partnership between GVSC and the Cracow University of Economics and the University of Sarajevo offered unique opportunities to bring together university faculty, students and staff whose lives existed in profoundly different circumstances.

3)International Christian University (ICU). The ICU relationship resulted partially from ICU’s post-WWII incentive to enroll a percentage of the ICU student body as international.   At GVSC, ICU was a location for a Far Eastern Studies Program since 1972 through the Office of International Studies. (Catalog)  The program oversight was now the responsibility of the Coordinator of Special Student Programs, Sara Harding.  (Seeger, personal communication) GVSU is ICU’s first exchange partner in the U.S.A.


GVSC enrollment: 7,540

The International Studies Institute names Michael Haviland as Director, reporting to Dean of Community Research and Education, Ezra Gearhart. Frank Schwarz remains Assistant Director.

August: a delegation from Sarajevo arrives to GVSC for a 4-week course of study and touring.  (50th anniversary timeline)

GVSC basketball team travels to Sarajevo (Review, 1993).


First Symposium held in March, in Sarajevo.  Topic – “The Impact of Industrialization on Society.”  Under the terms of the agreement, international symposia were to be held between university faculty from many disciplines and guests from other institutions.

Sarajevo Basketball team (semi pro) travels to GVSC. One game is played at Pontiac Silverdome (Review, 1993). 

GVSC Professor of Economics and Management, and International Studies Institute Fellow, Kenneth Zapp, is selected as program director and travels to Krakow to meet with AE representatives for group preparations for the fall program there. Professor Zapp is met at Rector’s Office by Professor Magda Paleczny, the AE program coordinator. In the fall semester, the first GVSC faculty-led student program to Academy of Economics arrives for 10-week study program led by Professor Zapp, appointed faculty director.


The second 10-week study abroad program takes place in the Fall, at the AE in Poland. Program is led by GVSC Professor of Economics and Management, and International Studies Institute Fellow, Kenneth Zapp. 

President Lubbers and Nancy Lubbers travel to Krakow and attend the wedding of Dr. Zapp and Dr. Magda Paleczny, an AE professor and first faculty scholar to attend GVSC. 

The second GVSC/Sarajevo Symposium is held at GVSC. Topic – “Social Change in the Contemporary World.” Also attended by Yugoslav Ambassador to the US, Dimce Belovska.


The International Studies Institute* (Global Education Institute, [Review])  becomes the Center for International Studies with the intent to assist the Colleges of achieving its goal of “graduating students who are responsible members of modern society; knowledgeable of our Western heritage and appreciative of other cultures.”

R. Michael Haviland, director of the Center for International Studies, submits a comprehensive report on internationalization to the Board of Control, in April.

The Center now includes the International Student Office, which assists international students with admissions, orientation, academic counseling, job placement, and immigration matters. It is staffed by Lisa DuBois, Foreign Student Advisor.

In December, 30 of GVSC’s international students make a holiday trip to Washington, D.C. 

[Insert photo of group on steps of US Capitol]

Faculty-led study abroad programs include:

  • Poland (semester) – Professor John Batchelder
  • Spain – Professor Antonio Herrera
  • France – Professor Ursula Franklin
  • Germany 
  • Italy
  • Mexico – Professor
  • England -- Art
  • Yugoslavia – in alternating summers GVSC students travel to Sarajevo, Yugoslavia, and students from Sarajevo travel to GVSC.

The third GVSC/Sarajevo Symposium is held in Mostar and Sarajevo, Yugoslavia.  Topic – “Theories and Methods of Education in Contemporary Society.”

GVSC English Professor Anthony Parise spends one semester in Sarajevo as a Shakespeare scholar.


127 international students are enrolled at GVSC  -- overall enrollment is 6,984 -- (VanderBroek, L. report, 12/2/1980)

Historical Context: Thomas Jefferson College closes; financial circumstances necessitate university-wide actions – salaries reduced for top administrators, and more than 50 positions are cut) (50th timeline)


On February 25, an Honorary Doctorate Degree is bestowed upon Professor Antoni Fajferek, Rector of the Academy of Economics, Krakow, Poland, (CUE), by President Arend D. Lubbers, GVSU. 

The Center for International Studies is eliminated. Study abroad programs are offered and are listed under the College of Arts and Sciences. Study abroad options are those through the partnerships in Poland (winter semester) and Yugoslavia (summer with year-long study available); summer programs in France and Spain for language students; art program at Slade School in London; semester program in Egypt; and a fall semester program at Haifa University in Israel. (Catalog, 1981)  


GVSU student enrollment: 6,366

International student enrollment: 64 (representing 35 countries)

In the absence of a specific office dedicated to study abroad and/or other international services, study abroad programs do continue to exist and continue to be placed under the College of Arts and Sciences, with their catalog placement within Foreign Languages.  Three summer programs are offered: in Paris, France for language study; in Guadalajara, Mexico for Spanish; and at the Slade School in London for art. The two partnership programs in Poland and Yugoslavia continue as well.

An International Students Office is located within the Student Services Office and provides assistance with admissions, orientation and academic counseling. (Catalog, 1982)


GVSU student enrollment: 6,710

International student enrollment: 50, representing 20 countries

Historical Context: Academic programs are reorganized into divisional structure, including Arts and Humanities, Business and Economics, Science and Mathematics, and Social Sciences. Grand Valley State Colleges drops the ‘s’ to become College. (Timeline)

The Academic Resource Center (ARC) is created and Professor of German, Dr. Mary Seeger, is appointed as Director. ARC provides a variety of services to support student learning including new student orientation, advising of undecided majors, support for students with learning disabilities, tutoring services and the Honors Program. Additionally, ARC provides information and advising on international university partnerships, providing a home for their coordination. The International Students Office continues to be located within Student Services. (Catalog, 1983)  Study abroad programs are identified under Foreign Languages.     


Office of International Affairs (OIA) is created. Professor Dorothy Armstrong, School of Education, assumes leadership as ½ time position and reports to GVSC Provost Glenn Niemeyer. The office is located in Au Sable Hall where the School of Education resides and Dorothea Thomas, COT, is appointed as the Administrative Assistant.  OIA is responsible for university partnerships and study abroad programs.  Student Services continues to house international student support services.

International programs include CUE, Krakow; ICU, Japan; University of Sarajevo; Semester in Vienna;   Art in Aix-en-Provence, France (Professor Don Kerr). 


Support services for international students are relocated to the Office of Special Student Services.  Ginger Randall, who would eventually become GVSU’s Associate Dean of Students and would assume primary responsibility for international students, is Special Student Services Assistant in the office. 

Provost Niemeyer expresses an interest in new programs and making current programs more robust.  Interest was for a program in England and Dorothy Armstrong, OIA, was directed to talk with Bill Baum, a faculty member with some connections there. Eventually, that leads to correspondence with David Fyfe, from Kingston Polytechnic, just outside of London. 

Faculty visitors from Sarajevo arrive to GVSC for 2-week stay and participate in a faculty symposium held in conjunction with the History conference held in Grand Rapids. Both GVSC and Sarajevo faculty present academic research.


GVSC enrollment – 8,361

First GVSU student participants attend Kingston Polytechnic for their summer program in British Culture. 

Bob Godfrey, Kingston Polytechnic, visits GVSU and is hosted by Brian Curry, Professor of Biomedical Sciences and a UK native. Their interactions and those with Dorothy Armstrong, Director of the Office of International Affairs, leads to the development of an official partnership between GVSU and Kingston in 1987.   (Kingston 25th History)   

Study abroad programs include faculty-led summer study in London, England (Slade), Guadalajara, Mexico (Spanish language), Krakow, Poland (Economics and Social Sciences) and Yugoslavia (social Sciences).   

Services to international students continue to be offered under the Office of Special Student Services and include orientation programs, cross cultural adjustment seminars, housing assistance, host family arrangements, and immigration updates.  (Catalog, 1986)

Historical Context: groundbreaking starts for the Grand Rapids Center


Context: Michigan legislature passes a law renaming Grand Valley State College to Grand Valley State University (GVSU).

(author’s note:  The “Office of International Studies,” listed under the Office of Special Student Services, is now identified as the study abroad office for GVSU. (Catalog, 1987) Its location in Au Sable Hall, suggests it is the Office of International Affairs, headed by Professor Dorothy Armstrong in the School of Education.  The inconsistency and confusing reporting line along with the actual study abroad program descriptions identified under Foreign Language, imply that the community and culture at GVSU is still confused as to the place study abroad has within a university education.  Two partnership opportunities at GVSU – Poland and Yugoslavia – are notable, but not foreign language programs). 

An official University partnership is established between GVSU and Kingston Polytechnic (University).  Kingston was established in 1899 as a technical institute, but has grown to currently encompass five faculties (departments) with schools in varied subjects open to most study abroad students: Art and Architecture, Humanities, Social Sciences, Business and Law, and Science, Computing and Engineering, Health, Social Care and Education.     

Kingston University is located just 20 minutes from the center of London, one of the world’s most diverse, vibrant, and cosmopolitan cities.  This proximity allows for the development of a summer program offered at Kingston in British Culture. The summer program, the variety of subjects similar to those offered at GVSU, and the shared language of the institutions enabling semester and year-long student exchanges, would allow for the eventual successful participation of students, faculty and staff throughout the partnership’s history.  

May 9:  Honorary Doctorate conferred upon Professor Jerzy Altkorn, Rector of the CUE, by President Arend Lubbers, GVSU.

Alex Lin, a local restaurateur, contacted GVSC with an interest in establishing a relationship with National Chengchi University in Taiwan, an institution with which he had friends. With his assistance, Dorothy Armstrong coordinates a trip to Taiwan, including a visit to Tokyo to International Christian University (ICU).  Participants included, Dorothy and her husband, Forrest, Dean of Arts and Sciences, Glenn Niemeyer, Provost, and his wife, Betty, and Bruce Klein, Head of Faculty Senate, and his wife Georgi, GVSU faculty member in Math.   

GVSU Education Professor, Faite Mack, receives a Fulbright to visit the University of Cape Coast (UCC) in Ghana. UCC, since its inception in 1962, was a teacher-training university though it would expand to several other disciplines. Dr. Mack was the first GVSU faculty to visit UCC, and while the immediate ensuing interactions between the two institutions were sporadic, eventually they grew and an important formal relationship benefitting students and scholars would be established between UCC and GVSU.     

In an intentional move to ensure more students gain exposure to global learning, GVSU’s General Education Program is redesigned to include a course requirement in a new category in the College Section –“ Foreign Culture and Multicultural Approaches.”  The category includes courses from a variety of disciplines including foreign languages, comparative politics, foreign cultures, and geography. Courses that could qualify as world perspectives would contain elements of cultures other than US, language competence other than English, and cultural competence skills.  This new requirement is credited with exposing more students to foreign cultures and consequently increasing a demand for expanded international programs.  (Identified by M. Seeger as a significant gain for internationalization at GVSU)  


Directorship of the Office of International Studies is assumed by Alan Walczak, Director of Special Services in the Academic Resource Center (ARC), a ½ time position reporting to the Dean of Academic Resources, Mary Seeger.  

GVSU, as a member of the Consortium of Public Universities in Michigan, begins participation and negotiations and eventual creation of the Japan Consortium of Michigan Universities (JCMU). The JCMU was created to commemorate the anniversary of the Sister-State relationship between Michigan and Shiga Prefecture. The JCMU, a facility constructed on the shore of Lake Biwa, admits students from Michigan’s public universities to study for summer and semester-long study. 


May 17:  An Honorary Doctorate is conferred upon President Arend D. Lubbers, GVSU, by Rector Jerzy Altkorn, at the Cracow University of Economics. 

Publication of book in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, in English and Serbo-Croatian, co-authored by Peter Mandic (University of Sarajevo) and Antonio Herrara (GVSU): Education for the 21st Century: from Traditional Education to Technological Revolution.


Tirana University, Albania. Esther Visser, currently in GVSU’s School of Social Work but then an employee of Bethany Christian Services in Grand Rapids, is working in Tirana, Albania, on potential adoptions.  Artan Agolli, former director of Bethany Christian Services for Albania who would become an international student at GVSU, and Esther both meet Irv Berkowitz, Director of the GVSU School of Social Work, in Tirana. Berkowitz was in Tirana at the recommendation of officials in Romania, where he helped establish schools of social work in Bucharest and Timisoara (GR Press, 9/2/92 & Visser interview).

According to Berkowitz, the previous communist government in Albania “never acknowledged the existence of poverty, chemical dependency, homelessness, mental illness or other individual or family problems, and made no serious effort to address them” (GR Press, 2 September 1992).

Discussions with the Tirana University led to proposals to establish a school of social work there. Eventually, funded by a $50,000 Soros foundation grant achieved by Berkowitz, a group of four professors from Tirana led by the Dean of Tirana University’s first School of Social Work, Theodor Karaj,  arrived in Grand Rapids in May, 1992.   The four undergo 5-week training on social work at GVSU and other West Michigan Universities and visit related non-profit organizations; GVSU will help create the social work curriculum and train future faculty (GR Press, 9/2/92).

Fall Semester: CUE, Poland. The first semester exchange students from CUE arrive to GVSU: Lukasz Piechowski and Tomasz Ronikier.  A new feature of GVSU/CUE agreement defines terms and includes scholarships.           


GVSU enrollment – 13,384

GVSU partakes in an extended effort to assist its partner institution, the University of Sarajevo, at the time victim of the Bosnian war and the siege of Sarajevo, with the escape and enrollment at GVSU of several of its students whose promised scholarships await them at GVSU. At the end of a year’s efforts, involving collaborations with several U.S. international agencies and Consulates, seven Bosnian students successfully arrive to study at GVSU.   

President Lubbers commissions the first Task Force on the Internationalization of the University, chaired by Provost Niemeyer and comprised of faculty, staff and university leadership. Its charge is to create recommendations for the enhancement of study abroad, a more internationalized curriculum, the enrollment of international students, and community relations. Among several, some key recommendations submitted in 1994 and eventually realized included the creation of the Dean of International Education to oversee university internationalization, the modification of the university mission statement to emphasize internationalization, intentional effort to recruit more international students, and the creation of a general education requirement in world perspectives.    

August 31: Honorary Doctorate bestowed upon Rector Jerzy Mikulowski-Pomorski, CUE, by GVSU President Arend D. Lubbers.

Context: groundbreaking for new science complex encompassing Loutit Halls, Padnos Hall of Science, Students Services and Henry Hall.  School of Education, School of Social work, and Kirkhof School of Nursing become autonomous schools; graduate program in nursing is established.


As a result of a prioritized Task Force recommendation, the first Dean of International Education is appointed, Modern Languages professor Louis Olivier, reporting to the Provost, Glenn Niemeyer.


Lou Olivier, Dean of International Education resigns and Al Walczak, Director of the Office of International Affairs, assumes interim leadership.

GVSU Provost Glenn Niemeyer approves proposal submitted by Alan Walczak and Brian Curry to establish a faculty/staff exchange program with Kingston University, designed for university members to meet with their counterparts abroad.   

Through the efforts of Dr. Peimin Ni, Philosophy, and the Office of International Affairs, GVSU begins a relationship with the East China University of Science and Technology in Shanghai, China.   The new agreement allowed for the exchange of faculty and the commencement of a faculty-led summer study program in Shanghai, organized and led by Dr. Ni.

To commemorate the 70th Jubilee Anniversary of CUE and 20th Anniversary of GVSU/CUE partnership a GVSU delegation travels to CUE: President Arend Lubbers; Sue Martin, School of Business; Michael Mitchell, visiting professor, School of Business; Chuck and Stella Royce, Grand Valley University foundation Board; Al Walczak, GVSU Director of International Studies.  


Dr. Brenda Robinson is hired as Dean of International Education.

Ginger Randall, Assoc. Dean of Students, and Dale Schriemer, Department of Music, travel to Kingston University as the first GVSU/Kingston University faculty/staff exchange participants. Over successive years, this exchange remains active allowing for international experiences for traditional academic faculty as well as staff from offices as diverse as Career Services, Financial Aid, Housing, Admissions and Facilities and Planning.    


GVSU University partner the Krakow Academy of Economics’ University Senate determines that the Academy of Economics official name be changed to Cracow University of Economics (CUE). The change reflects the multidisciplinary nature of the institution.     

A new student exchange agreement and comprehensive partnership is signed with Universidad de las Américas—Pueblo (UDLAP), in Puebla, Mexico.

Context: Groundbreaking ceremony for Grand Rapids downtown campus begins, named for Amway co-founder, Richard M. Devos. 


GVSU enrollment – 16,751

Context: Meijer Campus in Holland, MI, is dedicated. School of Health Professions is established.


As the West Michigan community was also acknowledging the importance of global education, community leader Stuart B. Padnos, Senior Vice President of the Louis Padnos Iron and Metal Company of Holland, Michigan, founded the Barbara H. Padnos International Scholars Program at GVSU with a gift of $1 million for an endowed scholarship in honor of his late wife Barbara. The Barbara H. Padnos Scholarship, provides funds for year-long study abroad programs (minimum 9 months) with awards ranging from $5,000 - $15,000.  In appreciation of their generosity, the Office of International Affairs is renamed the Barbara H. Padnos International Center (PIC). 

GVSU hosts a Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence, Literature Professor Kwadwo Opoku-Agyemang, from the University of Cape Coast, Ghana, for the academic year.  Hosted by the English Department, Professor Opoku-Agyemang developed strong relationships with many faculty across GVSU which led to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between UCC and GVSU in June, 2001.

November: A new partnership agreement is signed by President Lubbers with East China Normal University (ECNU) committing GVSU and ECNU to 5 years of exchange and cooperation (Schaub memo, 22 June 2011).  GVSU’s initial contact with ECNU began in 1995 (check this) with GVSU Professor Peimin Ni who initiated contacts there and created the short-term faculty-led program in Shanghai.  The agreement eventually results in an active participation from both institutions: hundreds of GVSU students through summer programs in Shanghai; several visiting scholars from ECNU for semester-long assignments at GVSU; a partnership delegation of 8 faculty and staff from GVSU visiting ECNU; and several GVSU faculty and staff awarded exchange grants to visit ECNU. 

Historical Context:  GVSU Van Andel Global Trade Center is established and housed in the downtown DeVos Center.       


Wendy Wenner is appointed Acting Dean of International Education after the departure of Brenda Robinson.

Rebecca Hambleton appointed Director of Study Abroad and International Partnerships.  Roughly 60 students were studying abroad, not including those on faculty-led programs.

To commemorate the 75th Anniversary of CUE and 25th Anniversary of GVSU/CUE partnership: GVSU Delegation travels to CUE led by Don Lubbers, President, and Nancy Lubbers; Glenn Niemeyer, Provost, and spouse Betty; and included several faculty, university administrators, and community members including Donna Brooks, Chair of the GVSU Board of Control and Patricia Renucci, community volunteer.

President Lubbers created the Tibetan Refugee Scholarship, which eventually supported three undergraduate students to earn their degrees from 2000 through 2009. In succession, these students are: Tenzin Bhagin, Dorjee Damdul, and Tshering Bhutia.

Three students from the former USSR arrive to GVSU, sponsored by the U.S. State Department programs (administered by IREX, ACIE, and World Learning). The first three students are Valentyna Bolshakova, Ivan Skripka, and Anait Sarkisyan.


GVSU enrollment – 19,762

President Arend D. Lubbers retires. President since 1968, Lubbers was the longest serving president of a public university in the nation. 

July 1:  Mark Murray becomes the third president of GVSU.  

Dr. George Kieh is appointed by Provost Niemeyer as the new Dean of International Education.

President Murray’s support for international programs becomes realized through increases in aid for programs during his tenure, directing $150,000 in base funding for study abroad scholarships.  President Murray would also establish the Mark A. and Elizabeth C. Murray Scholarship for Study Abroad in 2006 (Schaub interview, 2017). 

The second Internationalization Task Force concludes its work and makes recommendations. George Kieh is appointed the Dean of International Education.   The Padnos International Center becomes a major unit in the Division of International Education.

A Memorandum of Understanding between GVSU and the University of Cape Coast (UCC) is signed in June, representing the first partnership with an African university.

President Mark Murray, with support from local businessman and former Ambassador to Italy Mr. Peter Secchia work with John Cabot University (Rome) to create a North American office for JCU, housed at GVSU. For its first year and a half, JCU’s N. American office is hosted by the Seidman College of Business, and staffed by Mr. Bernardo Dargan.

Kate Stoetzner is hired by Associate Dean of Students, Ginger Randall, as coordinator of international student services.

A revision in the General Education includes the addition of a second course requirement for global learning  -- in addition to the “World Perspectives” students must also complete a course on U.S. Diversity.

Historical Context: on September 11, evening classes were cancelled and memorial services held in recognition of the victims of the terrorist attack in New York. A U.S. response to the attack would include the creation of a more vigorous record-keeping mechanism for international visitors to the U.S. The Department of Homeland Security would create the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), a web-based system to monitor F, M, and J non immigrant student visa holders. International offices at universities, such as GVSU, would need to train and certify individuals to monitor the status of their international applicants and enrollees.       


GVSU enrollment – 20,407

Dr. Mark Schaub, an Asst. Professor in the new Dept. of Writing, is appointed the Assistant Dean of International Education and reports to Wendy Wenner, Acting Dean of International Education and Associate Provost.  These changes are made in response to the request by George Kieh, Dean of International Education, to go on a one year leave in order to campaign in the election of the next President of Liberia.

May -- UCC Vice-Chancellor, Emmanuel Obeng, UCC Registrar Kofi Ohene, and Professor Opoku-Agyemang visit GVSU to sign a formal agreement between the universities. The agreement makes possible the exchange of students and scholars.  A three-year $100,000 US State Department grant is  awarded to support the collaboration, with the additional goals of strengthening UCC’s capabilities in Information Technology, Literacy Education and study abroad, and to strengthen GVSU’s African Studies Program.

The grant program, “Faculty/Staff Exchange” grants expands to include most overseas partnerships and fund employee travel to work with counterparts at these partners.

International Student Services, headed by Coordinator, Kate Stoetzner, is moved from the Dean of Students Office to PIC.  International Student Services assumed responsibilities for J and F visa students. Kate continues to report to Ginger Randall until 2004, when she begins reporting to Mark Schaub, Executive Director of PIC.  Interim use of SEVIS system begins.

Context: Dr. Gayle R. Davis is appointed Grand Valley Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs.


After resignation by Dean of International Education, George Kieh, Mark Schaub is appointed as the Executive Director of the Padnos International Center; this move is concurrent with the work of a re-organization task force, convened by Provost Gayle Davis.

Spring: GVSU English Professors Laura Vanderbroek and Shinian Wu visit UCC and investigate literacy education practices in Ghanaian schools.

The North American Office of John Cabot University moves to Padnos International Center in summer. Michelle Parker is hired to direct.

Winter: GVSU delegation consisting of Becca Hambleton (PIC), David Bair (Education), Veta Tucker (African/African-American Studies), David Reed (IT), and Sherry Barricklaw (IT), spend two weeks in Ghana under the initial faculty/staff exchange agreement with the Department of State Grant.

Mandatory use of SEVIS system begins, January 31.

Historical Context: The Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences in Grand Rapids is dedicated.


GVSU enrollment – 22,063

Context: A university reorganization divides the university into eight professional colleges: Seidman College of Business; College of Education; College of Community and Public Service; Seymour and Esther Padnos College of Engineering and Computing; Kirkhof College of Nursing; College of Health Sciences; and College of Interdisciplinary Programs, and a new College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. (50th anniversary timeline)

College of University-wide Interdisciplinary Initiatives (CUII). Mark Schaub continues as Executive Director of the Padnos International Center.   The position of Dean of International Education is eliminated as the Padnos International Center becomes a non-academic service unit.

A new comprehensive partnership and student exchange agreement is signed with the University of Oslo (Norway).

Initial rollout of a comprehensive online application and tracking system for study abroad participation. The program is called OASIS (Online Application System for International Study). The program will be re-vamped in 2007 and again in 2018.

A campus-wide committee, the International Enrollment Development Planning and Assessment Committee  (International EDPAC), convened by GVSU Registrar Lynn (Chick) Blue, begins its function to recommend on issues regarding international students. It includes Chick Blue, Registrar, representatives from Admissions, Financial Aid, University Development, Deans of Students, Interdisciplinary Studies and Graduate Studies, and PIC, and is referred to informally as “Big Dogs.”  The committee is responsible for setting direction, funding, recruitment strategies and support for international students to increase retention. Its greatest benefit is that such recommendations would now come from a diverse group representing various elements around campus, beyond the international office only. Its existence and success served to further campus internationalization (Stoetzner & Schaub).

April 2:  The University Academic Senate (UAS) approves the International Education Committee (IEC) as a faculty governance committee. IEC is charged with advising the Padnos International Center on international programs administered by PIC, new initiatives including curricular and co-curricular activities, to advocate for its mission and constituents, and to ensure integrity.   An international advisory committee had been in place since the early 1980’s and had functioned effectively with a similar charge.

GVSU begins partnership with ELS Language Services. Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs, Wendy Wenner, led the effort to partner with the organization. ELS is a for-profit corporation that provides Intensive English Language training to potential international students who usually plan to matriculate as degree-seeking students.

Kate Stoetzner appointed as Director of International Student Services, reports to Executive Director of PIC.

Increasing interest from the GVSU community in international programs leads to the creation and publication of the first Padnos International Center Partnership Guide, to assist university faculty and staff through the process of proposing and establishing international partnerships. The guide was created by PIC Director of Study Abroad and International Partnerships, Rebecca Hambleton. The partnership guide was singled out as a model for “Best Practices” by the Education Advisory Board (EAB).  (Hambleton, 2016 & Schaub, 2017, interviews)

CUE Rector Ryszard Borowiecki, Vice-Rector Janusz Teczke and Professor Micha Patkaniowski of CUE visit GVSU. One purpose is to extend the ongoing agreement and develop the newest exchange with CUE and the GVSU School of Non-Profit Administration (SPNA). Rector Borowiecki and Vice Rector Teczke are inducted as honorary members of the School of Public and Non-Profit Administration Honor Society. GVSU President Mark A. Murray signs renewed agreement with CUE.  

Winter: UCC Information Technology staff member, John Edmumadze, spends 6 months at GVSU teaching Computer Science and working with IT staff. UCC Literacy/Education Professors Rosemary Bosu and Hubert Quist spend 3 week at GVSU as visiting scholars.  

2004 Faculty-led programs



Australia - Criminal Justice

China - Philosophy

China - Social Work

Denmark - Social Work

Egypt - History/Middle Eastern Studies

El Salvador - Social Work

England - Business

France - Language

Germany - Language

Ireland - Writing

Italy - Hospitality and Tourism

Mexico - Education

Mexico - Language

Poland - Business/Economics

South Africa - Education

Taiwan - Chinese Language


GVSU enrollment: 22,565

International student enrollment: 177

Study abroad participants (05-06): 520

As a consequence of university growth and increased participation in international programs, the Padnos International Center’s need for increased space compel its move into the newly built lake Ontario Hall, along with the Dean’s office for University College (current name of CUII).

February – President Murray sign partnership agreement with Middle East Technical University (METU) of Ankara, Turkey, the only partner GVSU has in Turkey or the Eastern Mediterranean Region.  The agreement will remain valid for 5 years and offers student-for-student semester-long exchanges. (Schaub, memo. 12 January 2015)

Provost Gayle Davis leads a delegation to Krakow for the 80th anniversary of CUE and 30th Anniversary of GVSU/CUE partnership.  A renewal of GVSU/CUE Agreement is signed by Provost Davis, GVSU, and Rector Borowiecki, CUE, which included a new cooperation for an MPA collaboration to exchange faculty and students from each institution.

With the leadership of Dr. Richard Jelier (SPNA), GVSU signs a new student exchange and partnership agreement with Macquarie University (Sydney, Australia).

Padnos International Center publishes its first Study Abroad Catalog, which evolves into a signature piece for the next 13 years—featuring photos taken by GVSU students around the world.

With the assistance of Sociology professor Devereaux Kennedy, GVSU signs a comprehensive partnership and student exchange agreement with the University of the Sunshine Coast (Australia).

GVSU begins a student exchange and partnership with Université catholique de l'Ouest (UCO) in Angers, France.


GVSU Enrollment: 23,295

International student enrollment: 219

Study abroad participants (06-07): 624

The University College is formally known as the College of Interdisciplinary Studies (COIS).

GVSU hosts its first of several Fulbright-awarded graduate students. The pioneer Fulbrighter is Leidy Cubilla (Panama) in the M.Ed TESOL graduate program.

July 10: Board of Trustees appoints Thomas J. Haas 4th President of GVSU. Investiture ceremonies are held on October 27.

With a rapidly growing number of students from Saudi Arabia, with many more expected, Suzanne Itani is hired (until 2008) as the Saudi Arabian Student Services Coordinator (part-time Adjunct AP).  Ms. Itani meets with stakeholders on and off campus to provide cultural training to staff and students, as well as support the Saudi Arabian and other international students.

Mark A. and Elizabeth C. Murray Scholarship for Study Abroad is established by the Murrays to support students who wish to study outside the U.S. but without the scholarship would not be able to do so. 

Study abroad is described by Elizabeth as a “life-long investment.” (GVSU website)


GVSU Enrollment: 23,464

International student enrollment: 281

Study abroad participants (07-08): 561

The Padnos international Center assumes a faculty Fulbright outreach, advising, and support role for GVSU. The additional function for PIC spurs an increase of interest and participation in Fulbright awards. (Schaub, 2017)

Spring:  GVSU Ceramics Professor, Hoon Lee, an alum of Seoul National University of Technology (SeoulTech), Seoul, South Korea, Professor Patricia Clark, Chair of Art and Design, and Henry Matthews, GVSU Art Curator, travel to SeoulTech further establishing relationships between the institutions.  In August, Professor Dae Jin Kim, SeoulTech’s chief international officer, visits GVSU while in Michigan. Looking for a high quality institution in the Midwest to which they might send undergraduate students, he finds GVSU appealing and eventually proposes an exchange with terms that acknowledge and compensate for what is assumed a greater interest in SeoulTech’s students than that of GVSU students.  A Memorandum of Understanding is created and sent to GVSU leadership by Mark Schaub proposing a limited exchange. (Memo, December 2007. Schaub)    


GVSU Enrollment: 23,892

International student enrollment: 283

Study abroad participants (08-09): 600

March: GVSU is awarded Honorable Mention in the category of “Best Practices in Study Abroad,” for the Andrew Heiskell International Education Awards, recognizing GVSU’s steady growth in longer term study abroad programs.

1979 Alumnus, Dr. Yuichi Kondo (B.S., Behavioral Sciences) approaches GVSU in his current role as Dean at Ritsumeikan Asia-Pacific University (Beppu, Japan) to establish a student-exchange. The initial agreement is signed during Dr. Kondo’s visit to his Alma Mater.

With the support of the Grand Rapids Sister City Committee for Perugia (Italy), GVSU is part of a three-way partnership with two universities in Perugia: The Università degli Studi di Perugia and the University of Perugia. Dr. John Constantelos of Political Science champions a long-time faculty exchange program with University of Perugia’s faculty of Political Science.

Commencement of STAIR agreement (Studies in Trans-Atlantic International Relations): GVSU/CUE/University of Debrecen, Hungary.  The objectives of the STAIR Program, funded by a 4-year Dept. of Education/FIPSE grant, are to provide students of International Relations opportunities for studying abroad thereby personalizing trans-Atlantic international issues and events and enhancing participants’ global competence.   Students study at each of the three participating institutions potentially culminating in dual degrees.  STAIR faculty exchanges present opportunities to lecture abroad and collaborate with colleagues through joint teaching and research. It is GVSU’s first initiative to offer students dual degrees from two continents.

The North American office of John Cabot University closes at GVSU, with an independent office opening in North Carolina.

A new position is created in the Fall: Coordinator of Outreach and International Students. Liz Smith is hired in November as the pioneer employee in this position.

East China Normal University (ECNU) cultural exchange: GVSU Professor Karen Libman and others accompany the GVSU student troupe, “Bard-to-Go,” to ECNU for several performances. Later this year, GVSU hosts a group of ECNU drama students who perform at GVSU and other West Michigan schools. (Schaub Memo, 22 June 2011)    


GVSU Enrollment: 24,408

International student enrollment: 307

Study abroad participants (09-10): 721

First Partnership Delegation travels abroad. To promote campus internationalization, PIC creates Partnership Delegation Grants.  Competitive grants provide GVSU faculty and staff opportunities to be a part of a delegation to a GVSU partner institution and meet with counterpart faculty and staff.  The program typically lasts one week and takes place during GVSU’s spring break.  Funding is available for five or six participants and two co-leaders – a faculty member with country expertise and one staff member from PIC. The first program is led by Dr. Jim Goode, and includes 6 participants who travel to Middle East Technical University (META) in Ankara, Turkey. Successive annual programs will travel to China, Jamaica, Seoul, Chile, Mexico, Ghana, Japan, and the UK in 2017.  (Annual Board Report, 2017 & Hambleton, personal communication).


GVSU enrollment – 24,541

International student enrollment: 322

Study abroad participants (10-11): 639

Context: GVSU celebrates its 50th anniversary. The College of Interdisciplinary Studies is renamed the Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies in honor of Holland residents Jim and Donna Brooks and their family. Groundbreaking is held for the new Mary Idema Pew Library Learning and Information Commons.

Delegations from national Taiwan Normal University, Cracow University  of Economics, and the University of Cape Coast, Ghana, attend the 50th anniversary of GVSU celebrations in Michigan.  Guests participate in the August convocation. 

Rector Roman Niestroj, CUE, receives an Honorary Degree at the GVSU December commencement. 35th anniversary of GVSU/CUE Partnership.

GVSU welcomes its first of many Fulbright-awarded undergraduate students (we hosted our first graduate student in 2006). The pioneer Fulbrighter at the UG level is Douwe Driehuis (Netherlands), who eventually earned his bachelors degree in HTM from GVSU.

March: GVSU Professor Peimin Ni and PIC staff member Rebecca Hambleton lead the second Partnership Delegation of 8 GVSU faculty and staff to ECNU.


GVSU enrollment – 24,662

International student enrollment: 317

Study abroad participants (11-12): 807

Beginning of the first University-wide partnership with South American University: Universidad del Bio-Bio (UBB), Concepcion, Chile.  UBB is a public institution with a range of programs that mirrors many from GVSU’s curriculum including Engineering, Technology, Nursing, Business, Social Sciences and Arts &Humanities. Both UBB and GVSU are named for their river valleys.  UBB has approximately 11,000 students, comprised of a notable percentage of the indigenous people of Chile, called Mapuche.  

The GVSU/UBB partnership is intended to produce student exchanges, preferably for semester-length study, which could be made more affordable for GVSU students due to a relatively low cost of housing and meals in the region. GVSU students would take courses at UBB taught in Spanish.       

3rd Faculty/Staff PIC Partnership Delegation visit to University of the West indies – Mona Campus, Jamaica. 


GVSU enrollment – 24,654 (370 international students) 

January -- GVSU baseball team travels to Cuba with First hand Aid, a Grand Rapids non-profit, and plays against the Cuban national team.

25th anniversary of the partnership of GVSU and Kingston University.  Since its inception, over 1,000 GVSU students attended Kingston University through semester exchanges, faculty-led summer programs, sport competitions, or the art exchange.  A total of 57 faculty and staff members from Kingston and GVSU participated in the faculty /staff exchange. (Kingston 25th History)  

Gayle Davis, University Provost, commissions GVSU’s participation in the American Council on Education (ACE) Internationalization Laboratory. The Lab provides “customized guidance and insight to help colleges achieve their international goals” (ACE website, May 20, 2017).

GVSU President Thomas J. Haas travels to the University of Cape Coast, Ghana, as the invited representative of GVSU for their 50th anniversary Jubilee celebration. President Haas delivers comments acknowledging the growth of UCC, congratulates the outgoing leadership from Dr. Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang, and welcomes the new leadership of Professor Dowini Dabire Kuupole, who will serve as the next UCC Vice-Chancellor. The date also marks the ten-year anniversary of the formal cooperation between UCC and GVSU.  President Haas recognizes the “scores of students and Fulbright scholars [who] reap the benefits of this relationship”.  (Jubilee Proclamation, UCC. 2012) 

With the resignation of Liz Smith, a search is conducted to fill the position of Outreach Coordinator. Alissa Lane is hired.

4th Faculty/Staff PIC Partnership Delegation visit to Seoul Tech, South Korea.


As of July 1, the OASIS system in PIC identifies 3,757 alumni who studied abroad while GVSU students (INZ Review)

The GVSU Internationalization Task Force issues its 2013 Internalization Review, a product of the 2012-13 Internationalization Task Force, appointed by Provost Gayle Davis to inventory the level of internationalization University-wide, develop global education learning outcomes, and produce recommendations for further strategic internationalization and advancement of global learning.   The Review is a comprehensive examination of GVSU’s past and current international efforts and programs and strives to issue recommendations in accordance with the overall University Strategic Plan for 2010-2015.  The 47-page comprehensive report is to be shared with the campus community and used as a document for a review team of the American Council on Education (ACE) Internationalization Lab, commissioned by provost Davis, and due to visit GVSU in April 2014 (2013 Internationalization Review). 

A definition of global learning and considerations for GVSU faculty on how to incorporate and  strengthen it is distributed to the university community by the Internationalization Task Force. Guided by the LEAP goals identified by AAC&U, and the American Council on Education, GVSU’s definition of  globally educated students (“….those who have internalized the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to operate effectively in an interconnected changing world of diverse ethnicities, religions, languages, institutions, and cultures.”) will further emphasize the significance of the mission of the Padnos International Center as the provider of high-impact experiences important to global learning.   (Global learning at GVSU, 2013)

While elements of university internationalization are broad, The Padnos International Center is considered the centralized unit for leading internationalization as it supports “four primary elements” to campus internationalization: study abroad; international student and scholar services; maintenance of institutional international partnerships; and faculty and staff services that support internationalization. (Review, p.7)   To varying degrees of depth and reach, GVSU’s past offices overseeing international programs have assumed similar responsibilities since the International Studies Institute in 1974 which expanded its charges from the office created for study abroad only in 1970.  (College Catalogs, 1970-74)

International Student Integration Coordinator position redefined to work for all international students; The initial position began in early 2000s and was designed to work only for Saudi students arriving to the US on the Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission (SACM) established by King Abdullah, where Saudi students’ enrollment in US colleges was supported.  The position now held by Libby Jawish, in PIC, is responsible for providing “purposeful programming” (P.E.E.P.S.) – connecting international students with domestic commuter students enabling peer mentoring and mutual enrichment.  Extra-curricular activities are encouraged and will have resulted in shared food preparation (sometimes provided in university cafeteria), club sports and various country celebrations.  International students, mostly undergraduates, will benefit from greater integration into the GVSU community. (Stoetzner & Jawish personal communications)

The “Fit the Mitt” program is instituted.  The program intends to foster relationships between faculty/staff and international students, creating mentorships and friendships. “Fit the Mitt” also moved additional mentoring, hosting, and orientation activities from host families in community to GVSU faculty and staff, officially ending the host family program.  Faculty and staff will need only meet with students on campus. No hosting at home required although additional off-campus activity would be allowed, such as weekend excursions, dinners, etc. Initial training occurred in July 2013. (Stoetzner personal communications & INZ Review) 

GVSU faculty-led program in Middle Eastern Studies and History, led by Dr. Jim Goode, is offered at Middle Eastern Technical University (METU), GVSU’s partner institution in Ankara, Turkey.  Dr. Goode brings 11 students to METU for 5 weeks with support of a $5,000 grant provided by the Turkish Coalition of America. (Schaub Memo. 12 January 2015)

International GVSU Alumni Event: May -- Cracow, Poland. 17 alumni and guests meet a delegation from GVSU led by Provost Gayle Davis.  

5th Faculty/Staff PIC Partnership Delegation visit to Universidad del Bio-Bio, Chile. 

Historical Context: Detroit Center opens, serving southeast Michigan and housing classrooms and a regional office for the Small Business and Technology Development Center. 


GVSU President Haas and METU Rector Dr. Acmet Acar, sign a Mevlana Exchange Agreement allowing eligibility for student travel scholarships from the Turkish Government’s Mevlana Exchange funding.

International GVSU Alumni Event: March – Sao Paulo, Brazil. 16 alumni and parents of current GVSU students.   

International GVSU Alumni Event: November – London, U.K. 14 alumni and guests or current GVSU students.

6th Faculty/Staff PIC Partnership Delegation visit to Universidad de las Americas, Puebla, Mexico.

Brooks College Dean Anne Hiskes starts the Brooks College Study Abroad Scholarship.

Historical Context: University endowment surpasses $100.2 million.   


GVSU enrollment – 25,325

40th Anniversary year of GVSU/CUE partnership and 90th Anniversary Jubilee of CUE.  A GVSU Delegation comprised of current university leadership, faculty and staff, as well as past leadership, including President Lubbers, and retired faculty and staff previously involved with the CUE partnership, travels to CUE in Krakow, Poland, for the ceremonies. An Honorary Degree is bestowed upon GVSU President Thomas J. Haas, by CUE Rector Andrzej Chochol.

Proposed renewal of Exchange with METU is forwarded to university leadership. Since 2010, 7 summer terms and 9 semester terms of student exchanges have taken place as well as one GVSU faculty-led program and 4 faculty/staff visits from GVSU to METU supported by PIC grants. 

GVSU is ranked second among Master’s degree institutions for the number of Fulbright Scholars and tied for 12th place for the number of student Fulbright Scholars.

International Students: A collaborative effort led by the Admissions Office at GVSU brings the full-time enrollment of international students to 430 (1.6% of total enrollment) representing 82 countries. (PIC Annual Board Report, 2017)

The PIC study abroad team develops a new marketing and outreach plan to increase participation in study abroad by students of color.  To aid in the effort, the PIC team applied for a $30,000 grant from the Partner for the Americas (a response is expected by June). (PIC Annual Board Report. 20 March, 2017)

International GVSU Alumni Event: June – Munich, Germany. 11 alumni and current students attend.

7th Faculty/Staff PIC Partnership Delegation visit to University of Cape Coast, Ghana.  


The inaugural Faculty Internationalization Award is presented by Provost Gayle Davis at the annual faculty awards convocation in February. This new award recognizes an individual GVSU faculty member for their efforts to advance international education at the institution. James Goode, History faculty member and founder of the Middle East Studies program, is the first awardee.

23 April:  The Padnos International Center (PIC) is officially renamed and re-dedicated “The Barbara and Stuart Padnos International Center” three years after the death of Stuart Padnos.  The occasion is acknowledged with a ceremony at Lake Ontario Hall attended by the extended Padnos family and GVSU officials. A commemorative booklet on the success and work of the PIC was given to each of the attending members of the Padnos family. 

16 May: Start date for a new Peace Corps recruiter based at GVSU, Carissa Patrone. PIC negotiated the funding from the U.S. Peace Corps for the half time position. GVSU is in the top third of the 18 universities in the Middle States Region for Peace Corps applications. (PIC Annual Board Report. 20 March, 2017)  Since 1961, approximately 260 Grand Valley State University alumni have served as Peace Corps Volunteers. Currently, GVSU has about 16 former students serving in the Peace Corps in countries across the world. (PIC website)

GVSU is listed as #10 for Masters-level institutions in the Institute for International Educations (IIE) annual Open Doors report. GVSU sets a new record for study abroad participation for 2015-16 with a total of 854 students participating in short-term, semester and year-long programs, faculty-led programs and internships. This number reflects a steady growth in participation over roughly a decade; participation in academic year 2004-05 totaled 475.

Faculty-led programs at GVSU produce the greatest numbers of participants, totaling 348 students in 2015-16. The number of faculty-led programs that were conducted this year are 28, up from 14 programs (186 participants) in 2007-08.   The locations of faculty-led programs are diverse, with destinations in Asia, the Caribbean, South America, Africa, Central America, Europe, and the Middle East.     

Fall semester:  A new endowment fund, the Mary A. and Wilhelm W. Seeger Global Programs Scholarship Fund, is created to support student participation in faculty-led study abroad and overseas internships for durations of less than 8 weeks. 

October: 4th annual “Global Gala” event is held to generate support for various GVSU international education endowments, drawing 160 alumni, students, and community members. 

International GVSU Alumni Event: March – Koror, Palau. 18 alumni and spouses.

International GVSU Alumni Event: March – Shanghai, China. 14 alumni and spouses.

International GVSU Alumni Event: March – Xi’an, China. 7 alumni and 2 future graduate students.

International GVSU Alumni Event: May – Seoul, Korea. 17 alumni and current students.

The first-ever Faculty Program Directors Awards Dinner is held in the Eberhard Center in September. Provost Gayle Davis applauds the faculty who create and lead study abroad programs for GVSU students. Retiring directors Charles Baker-Clark (HTM), Gary Stark (History/CLAS Dean’s Office), and Jim Goode (MES/History) are recognized. Peimin Ni (Philosophy) and Julie Guevara (SW) are recognized for 20 years of leading programs—to China and El Salvador, respectively.

8th Faculty/Staff PIC Partnership Delegation visit to 3 partner institutions in Japan: International Christian University, Japan Center for Michigan Universities, and APU.

The Padnos International Center releases the PIC Strategic Plan and Goals Summary. A summary of PIC’s mission is to engage the university community in meaningful international experiences, and its vision to be a catalyst for a globally engaged campus and provide leadership for global learning.  While providing an array of high-impact experiences abroad and services and support for international students remain central to their role at GVSU, some desired outcomes for the next 5 years include faculty and staff training, increasing participation in programs by students of color, integration of the Peace Corps recruiter, connections with alumni, and support for the enhancement of global learning, all which acknowledge PIC’s expanded and integral role for comprehensive internationalization at GVSU.          


Eglantina Gjermeni, a GVSU international alumna from Albania who earned a master’s degree in social work in 1998, receives GVSU’s Distinguished Alumni Award at the April commencement. Gjermeni was named the Minister of Urban Development for the Republic of Albania in 2015 and had been a member of Albania’s Parliament from 2009 – 2013. Gjermeni is also  the author and co-author of numerous studies and publications addressing social issues, gender mainstreaming in policy making and women empowerment and is considered one of the most outstanding gender balance and social experts in her country (Alumni website).     

International GVSU Alumni Event: May – Tirana, Albania.

9th Faculty/Staff PIC Partnership Delegation visit to Kingston University, London, England.  

Dr. Carol Sánchez, Seidman College of Business, is awarded the second Faculty Internationalization Award at the GVSU Faculty Awards Convocation in February.

The long-time student organization, ISO (International Student Organization) evolves into a group of domestic and international students in the newly created BTW (Bridging the World). The new group continues popular programming, including signature events like the annual “Sexy Accent Night” and monthly international dinners in partnership with the Campus Dining staff of the Connection.

The fifth annual global gala attracts 175 people to the Waldron House in downtown Grand Rapids, on 1 November.


Sharon Espinosa is hired as the new Peace Corps campus recruiter, after the resignation of Carissa Patrone.

Web developers in GVSU’s University Marketing finalize development of a new/replacement system of the OASIS program (Online Application System for International Study): OASIS 3.0. This is the third iteration after the first version was created in 2004 and then replaced with OASIS 2.0 in 2007.

A new scholarship to attract high school students to enroll at GVSU is created, aiming at those students who select their college based on study abroad opportunities. The new scholarship, available to students beginning in August 2019 is called the “Lakers Go Abroad!” scholarship. In its first year, 100 $2000 scholarships will be awarded, providing a “coupon” for them to redeem on any GVSU-approved program during their GVSU career.


Faculty Internationalization Awards

2016                 James Goode               History/Middle East Studies

2017                 Carol Sánchez             International Business/Management

2018                 John Constantelos      Political Science/International Relations




Annual report (20 March, 2017). Barbara and Stuart Padnos International Center.  

Armstrong, D. (9 December, 2015) Faculty, School of Education; Director of International Affairs Office, 1984-88.  Personal Communication. 

Course Catalogs. GVSU libraries digital collections.  Retrieved 2017 from



Gearhart, E. F. (1993). GVSU – University of Sarajevo exchange – a retrospective. In Simone R. (ed.) Grand Valley Review  (vol. IX, Fall 1993) special section: Remembering Sarajevo (pp. 3-8). GVSU

Global learning at GVSU. (2013). GVSU internationalization task force. Revised 11 October 2013.  

GVSU helps four visitors organize Albania’s first school of social work. (2 September, 1992).  McClellan, T. D., The Grand Rapids Press

Haas, Thomas, J.  (29 September, 2012). Proclamation in recognition of the Jubilee of the University of Cape Coast.

Hambleton, Rebecca. (Fall, 2016).  Director of Study Abroad and International Partnerships, GVSU.

Personal Communication

History of enrollment and degrees awarded. Retrieved from GVSU Office of Institutional Analysis

Internationalization review (2013).  GVSU Internationalization (IZN) task force

International Student Enrollment Figures retrieved from: Enrollment Students by Visa Type

International education committee (IEC). (2016). Guide for IEC members.

Jawish, Libby. (April 5, 2017). International Student Integration Coordinator, GVSU. Personal


Kinston University partnership information retrieved from: (Kingston 25th History)  ; Kingston University website; & Dorothy Armstrong personal communication

Lubbers, Arend D. (2016).  GVSU President Emeritus.  Personal communications & email


PIC Strategic plan & goals and summary, 2016-20121. (January, 2016). 

Summary of UCC and GVSU Relationship. (n.d.)

Schaub, M. (15 December, 2007). Memorandum – MOU document: SeoulTech & GVSU

Schaub, Mark. (2016 & 17). Chief International Officer, GVSU. Personal Communications

Seeger, Mary & Seeger Wilhelm. (Fall 2016, Winter and Spring, 2017).  Professors Emeritus, GVSU. Personal Communications

Stoetzner, Kate. (2016).  Director of International Student Services. Personal Communications

Visser, E. (May 24, 2017).  GVSU School of Social Work. Personal Communications

Walczak, A. L. (2015). Grand Valley State University / Cracow University of Economics: 40 years of

 international partnership.  GVSU.

www.gvsu.edu/alumni (28 April, 2017)

50th Anniversary web page GVSU


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