Campus News Winter 2018

New theater dedicated to vocalist

Grand Valley’s new Linn Maxwell Keller Black Box Theatre is providing students and faculty members who are studying and teaching the performing arts with opportunities to tackle new types of productions.

The campus community celebrated the formal dedication of the Keller Theatre, in the Thomas J. and Marcia J. Haas Center for Performing Arts, on October 17.

To honor Linn’s memory, the Keller family established the Linn Maxwell Keller Professional Vocalist Experience Endowment at Grand Valley in 2017. The fund provides enrichment opportunities for committed vocal performance students and will aim to encourage them in their professional career development. The Keller Theatre was named in appreciation for their generosity.

group of people cut ribbon

The Keller family, President Thomas J. Haas, Marcia Haas, students and faculty members cut the dedication ribbon for the Keller Black Box Theatre. (Amanda Pitts)

Danny Phipps, chair of the Music, Theatre, and Dance Department, said the endowment will empower vocal students by providing resources through advanced study, professional production and community outreach. “These experiences are critical to their success as they launch their professional careers as the next generation of performing artists,” he said.

Fred Keller, Linn’s husband, said that the endowment supports her long-held desire to inspire young, aspiring musicians, especially vocalists.

“Linn was an incredible artist, and I’m so proud that we can have this space in her memory, and an endowment that is going to be inspiring students in the future,” he said. “You’ll never remember what somebody did or said, but you’ll remember how they made you feel, and that’s what Linn brought to the stage.”

Linn was a dedicated professional singer who performed in 28 countries throughout her career. She was a mezzo soprano who performed on many operatic and concert stages, and went on to write and develop numerous shows, including the critically acclaimed “Hildegard of Bingen and the Living Light,” and “St. Hildegard, Trumpet of God,” both of which were made into movies.

A black box theater is an indoor performance space with plain black walls and a level floor, typically designed to provide flexibility in stage configuration and audience seating. Black box theaters gained popularity in the 1960s  and the unique performance space creates a closer proximity between the audience and performers.

President Thomas J. Haas said the endowment and Keller Theatre align with Grand Valley’s mission of encouraging students to reach their full potential. “No matter what we do in the Linn Maxwell Black Box Theatre, we are going to be driven by sustained attention to excellence and quality,” said Haas.

University earns grant to support veterans

Grand Valley received a $1.3 million, five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education to establish a TRIO Veterans Upward Bound (VUB) program, providing free academic support services to low-income veterans who want to complete degree programs.

Tim Marroquin

Tim Marroquin

President Thomas J. Haas said he is pleased that Grand Valley is the second university in Michigan to offer this program, which complements the university’s Veterans Network, a network of campus resources dedicated to supporting veterans, active service members and their dependents. Wayne State University is the other institution to offer TRIO VUB.

“Grand Valley has a well-established commitment to serving veterans,” Haas said. “TRIO VUB will extend existing notable efforts by providing needed resources to support veterans who are pre-college, or transferring from community colleges or other institutions.”

The federal grant will provide $263,000 annually over five years to serve 125 pre-college, low-income, first-generation veterans per year from Kent, Ottawa, Muskegon and Allegan counties. The college access and degree completion services tailored to veterans will include advising and mentoring programs, instructor-led computer courses, course materials and supplies.

Jesse Bernal, vice president for Inclusion and Equity, said the reach of this program is significant in West Michigan, which has more than 65,000 veterans in the four-county region. Of that population, 8 percent are unemployed, 2,000 are homeless, and 77 percent do not have a bachelor’s degree.

Tim Marroquin was hired as the program’s director. Since 2013, Marroquin has served as assistant director of TRIO Educational Talent Search, a program housed in the College of Education.

Hauenstein family gives gift to area institutions

Grand Valley’s Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies was one of three West Michigan institutions — along with Aquinas College and Mercy Health — to receive a major gift from the family of Ralph W. Hauenstein, the center’s namesake.

The gift will allow the center to reach more students than ever, and transform them from learners into leaders, said Hauenstein Center director Gleaves Whitney. “Ralph Hauenstein was an American hero, and we honor him in all we do at the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies,” Whitney said.

Brian Hauenstein, Ralph’s grandson, said the gift to Grand Valley, Aquinas College and Mercy Health represented the “mind, body and soul,” three things Ralph W. Hauenstein thought were very important.

“These organizations are something he strongly believed in,” Brian said. “That’s why he lived to be nearly 104 years old, because he believed that all three of those things were very important."

His son, Ralph D. Hauenstein, presented the gifts to each institution to support Grand Valley’s center, Aquinas College’s Grace Hauenstein Library and its Albertus Magnus Hall of Science expansion, and the Mercy Health Hauenstein Neurosciences Center.

five people standing

From left are Dr. Philip Gorelick, Mercy Health Hauenstein Neurosciences; Brian Hauenstein; Sister Damien Marie Savino, F.S.E., Aquinas College; Ralph D. Hauenstein; and Gleaves Whitney, director of the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies. (Bernadine Carey-Tucker)

Agreement signed with CMU College of Medicine

From left are President Thomas J. Haas, CMU medical student Shelby Falkenhagen (a GVSU graduate), and CMU President George Ross.

From left are President Thomas J. Haas, CMU medical student Shelby Falkenhagen (a GVSU graduate), and CMU President George Ross. (courtesy of Central Michigan University)

A new cooperative agreement will grant Grand Valley premedical students early assurance of admission to the Central Michigan University College of Medicine through the Early Assurance Program.

The agreement was signed by Grand Valley President Thomas J. Haas and CMU President George Ross October 19 in Mount Pleasant. It will enhance opportunities for GVSU premed students to navigate more easily through the CMU College of Medicine admissions process, and reserve up to five positions for qualified students to be admitted.

Maria Cimitile, provost and executive vice president for Academic and Student Affairs, said: “This partnership is important for our students, and for our state. If we can create pathways for shaping, fostering a hope, a dream, we can open doors to those students at Grand Valley who want to be doctors.”

Dr. George E. Kikano, CMU College of Medicine dean, said the agreement expands on an existing interprofessional education relationship with Grand Valley, and will provide opportunities for GVSU students who demonstrate a desire to practice medicine in Michigan.

President of Palau: GVSU helped me succeed

Tommy Remengesau, president of the Pacific island nation of Palau, told a standing-room-only crowd in the Kirkhof Center that he succeeded because Grand Valley had the perfect learning environment for him.

“I was away from the island for the first time, but there was diversity here,” he said. “And, I must say the cold weather made me study; a warmer place would have offered distractions.”

Remengesau, who graduated in 1979, addressed students, faculty and staff members November 1 as part of three-day trip to campus. He visited West Michigan October 30-November 3 to address the World Affairs Council of Western Michigan and discuss what his country is doing on an international scale about global warming.

He said global warming and preserving the island of Palau for future generations are among his biggest concerns and challenges.

“The issue of global warming is beyond debate and discussion,” he said. “It’s time for leadership and action. Let’s look at the science so we can plan. Let’s look at the cause of the rising sea levels.”

President Tommy Remengesau and students from Palau pose in Lake Ontario Hall next to a traditional woodcarving from the country.

President Tommy Remengesau and students from Palau pose in Lake Ontario Hall next to a traditional woodcarving from the country. Remengesau graduated from Grand Valley in 1979. (Amanda Pitts)

Remengesau is leading a government that is in the center of not only climate change, but U.S.-China relations and outside threats to an ocean economy. He said while roughly 20,000 people live on the island, more than 200,000 tourists visit each year. He said Palau is a large ocean state with a responsibility to take care of the ocean.

“Big or small, you have a role to play; every nation matters,” he said. “The world relies heavily on marine issues. We can contribute to issues like marine life protection, climate change and sustainability.”

Professor leads research on Parkinson's disease cure

A team of researchers from Grand Valley, Van Andel Research Institute and Rush University received a $500,000 grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke of the National Institutes of Health to test a possible cure for Parkinson’s disease.

The main targets of neuronal loss in Parkinson’s disease are dopamine neurons, and this research project will test if the introduction of a modified protein, known as PM-Nato3, will protect those neurons from the toxicity of the disease.

The patent-pending technology that will be used in the research was developed by Grand Valley alumni Nicholas Huisingh, Jordan Straight, Daniel Doyle and Douglas Peterson while they were undergraduate students.

Merritt DeLano-Taylor, associate professor of biomedical sciences, will serve as one of three principal investigators for the research. He said his team hopes that the results will indicate potential for the technology to be translated into a product that meets the needs of researchers and clinicians.

Merritt DeLano-Taylor

Merritt DeLano-Taylor

Dean recognized for talent development

Paul Plotkowski, dean of the Seymour and Esther Padnos College of Engineering and Computing, received the MFG Talent Champion Award from the Michigan Manufacturers Association (MMA).

The award was presented to Plotkowski at the MFG Excellence Awards Gala November 9 in Lansing.

It is given to an individual who advocates for the critical need of attracting the next generation workforce to manufacturing careers in Michigan.

MMA President Chuck Hadden said Plotkowski’s development of a manufacturing engineering program prepares students to meet the needs for careers in manufacturing.

“Paul has worked tirelessly to champion the industrial-academic partnership in West Michigan and through engagement with more than 250 businesses, manufacturing’s future success owes a debt of gratitude to this industry champion,” said Hadden.

three men standing

Paul Plotkowski, center, received the MFG Talent Champion Award from the Michigan Manufacturers Association.

Page last modified March 2, 2018