Alumni Giving Summer 2017

‘Just Do It’ and give back to community

Story by Amy Bross, ’00

Jim Corby, ’87, and his family embody the Laker Effect through their loyal philanthropic support, volunteerism and commitment to the West Michigan community.


Why did you choose Grand Valley?

I was a nontraditional student. I lived at home, worked full-time, and had to find a college I could commute to that had a good business program. Grand Valley filled those needs for me and my brother, who also attended GVSU.

How do you spend your free time?

My daughter, Marti, played four years of soccer on the Laker varsity team and had games all around the U.S. I love traveling around North America watching my children play sports. We also spend a lot of time doing outdoor activities at our cottage in Ludington.


What are your children doing now?

We are thrilled two of our children attended Grand Valley. Marti earned a bachelor’s degree in exercise science and Trent will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.

Brenna (25) is a Spanish teacher at Grand Ledge High School; and Reid (18) graduated from Forest Hills Central High School and plans to attend Grand Rapids Community College in the fall.

About Jim Corby

DEGREE: Bachelor’s of business administration, 1987

FAMILY: Wife, Julie; children: Brenna, Marti, Trent and Reid

WORK: Steelcase as an account manager in the Direct Sales department; 32 years

HOBBIES: Traveling, spending time at cottage

FUN FACT: Julie’s family donated the Beckering Family Carillon Tower on the Pew Grand Rapids Campus

What is your best Laker pride moment?

That’s easy! It was when my daughter played in, and helped her team win the 2013 NCAA Division II soccer national championship. She scored the winning goal. What a rush! The team won two more championships but that first one was so special. Go Lakers!


What’s your favorite quote?

It may sound corny, but it would be, “Just Do It!” Too many times we talk about things when we could have the task completed if we started it.


How do you give back to the community?

As a loyal, annual donor to Grand Valley for 29 years, I am proud to be a part of the Lubbers Society and support my alma mater and its students. I participate in the United Way Day of Caring, and I also volunteer when I can for Grand Valley’s alumni events, like Freshman Move-In in August. I used to coach YMCA and AYSO basketball and soccer when my kids were younger.


Why is it important to you to be a member of the Lubbers Society?

Being a member of the Lubbers Society, to me, shows commitment to our great university and the West Michigan community by investing in our future.


What is your favorite memory of Grand Valley?

I only attended part-time and worked 40-plus hours a week early on, so I had very little interaction with my fellow Lakers. During my junior year, I was accepted into the Delta Sigma Pi business fraternity, which introduced me to new friendships and business connections. That really helped give me more of a college experience without living on campus.

family on porch

From left to right in the front row: Julie, Brenna and Marti; back row: Jim, Trent and Reid. (courtesy photo)

Why did you choose to start giving back financially to Grand Valley?

I am proud to have graduated from GVSU, and Steelcase supported me through a tuition reimbursement program.

Since I had those benefits given to me and the financial ability after graduation, I wanted to give others the opportunity for an education. My daughter earned a scholarship, which added to the incentive to give as Grand Valley supported our family, too. My wife’s family has supported Grand Valley for years; they donated the Beckering Family Carillon Tower, so I learned from their example.


What is your advice to someone interested in giving back?

Give what you can now, and get in the habit of giving each year. If you have a passion, learn more about where your dollars go and direct the funds to an area you care about. Giving back feels good and we can all truly make an impact.

The Laker Effect

The Corby family understands the Laker Effect and the “power of what can be.”

Learn more about how you can participate in the Laker Effect Campaign by visiting

What impact do you hope your gifts will have on students?

I hope that my giving will do two things: have an impact on a student in need or area in need of funds; and lead by example to influence others to give back to Grand Valley.


What impact do you see Grand Valley students having on West Michigan?

They are a core resource to all West Michigan companies. I see that expanding all the time with my work. I call many Lakers colleagues.


What is your Laker Effect?

Lead by example, get involved and give back to Grand Valley!

Page last modified August 21, 2017