Layna and Andrew Buthker are pictured on the Pew Campus downtown Grand Rapids.

The bottom line: great value

Layna, '13, and Andrew, '13, Buthker

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Layna, '13, and Andrew, '13, Buthker both earned master's degrees in taxation and work for Plante Moran. The public accounting firm is one of many corporations that match employee gifts.

Tell us a little bit about yourselves. Where are you from? What brought you to Grand Valley?

Andrew: I was born and raised in Muskegon and Layna grew up in Owosso. Layna knew she wanted an master's degree in taxation and GVSU was the best option. I was smitten enough with her to consider that an OK idea.

Tell me about your jobs at Plante Moran.

Layna: Taxes! But this is where we really branch out on our own. Andrew specializes in wealth management tax and deals with estate/gift taxation (shout out to Seidman professor Mike Yuhas!) as well as high net worth individuals. I deal more with entity taxation in the international realm. We both work for Plante Moran and Andrew's claim to fame is that he received a referral bonus for recruiting me.

Plante Moran is a regional public accounting firm, with offices in Michigan, Ohio, and Illinois. It's going on 20 consecutive years as one of "Fortune's Best Companies to Work For." At the end of the day, taxes are taxes.

What are your favorite memories from Grand Valley?

Layna: Grand Valley is where we planned our wedding and got our first taste of real-life public accounting. We met amazing people and fell in love with Grand Rapids. We knew we were here to stay and we wanted Grand Valley to be a huge part of our lives.

How were you involved at Grand Valley as students, and now as alumni?

Andrew: We were involved in the Graduate Student group and various campus events, but honestly, our involvement has really grown since we graduated. Our graduate program was only a year long, but now we have a lifetime to find events we enjoy and different ways to stay connected. Layna has been closely involved with the Young Alumni Council as a past chair and a current member. Every year we look forward to the Enrichment Dinner, football games, and various work-related Grand Valley events.

How did Grand Valley help prepare you for life after graduation?

Layna: The knowledge we gained at Grand Valley is something we use every day. The master's in taxation program has helped make us into the tax professionals we are today, and Grand Valley's accounting recruitment program is what got us hired into our first big-kid jobs.

How and why did you set up the employee gift match?

Andrew: Plante Moran matches gifts for employees who are alumni at campuses they recruit at, like Grand Valley. Given the strong recruits Plante Moran receives on an annual basis from Grand Valley, it is a no-brainer. Seeing our company support the university that means so much to us is huge. It adds value to our degree to see our company so invested in our university and helps us pour our gifts into something we love.

Why does Plante Moran participate in gift matching?

Layna: Plante Moran sees great value in the graduates GVSU produces. It is a go-to for recruitment and company leaders feel it makes sense to invest in a school whose graduates fill their offices. Beyond its employees, Plante Moran also knows what Grand Valley means to our community and clients.

Why do you think it's important to give back to Grand Valley?

Layna: Being involved with Grand Valley has brought us so many amazing opportunities. We give back because the work the university is doing is important and has directly influenced our lives. We also see how Grand Valley has been able to do great things with the gifts it has received. That makes it easy to give, knowing it will be spent to impact future students in the ways we were impacted.

What difference do you hope to make with your gift?

Andrew: School can be stressful and the price tag adds to the stress. We can't give someone a full ride or put our name on a building, yet. But we can give to a book fund or add to a scholarship.

A huge part of Grand Valley was the people we met and the experiences we had. We know our gift matters. We don't need someone to change the world with our gift; if they do, that's great, but we are also realistic. We just want someone to make a friend and get some time to enjoy all Grand Valley and this community have to offer.

Icon made up of a gift and plus signs to represent matching gifts

Matching Gifts

Matching gifts through an employer can sometimes double or even triple your gift; to find if your company matches gifts, visit: or call (616) 331-6000.

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