Campus News Spring 2017

Women’s Center, new scholarship named for retiring provost

Provost Gayle R. Davis received surprise announcements during two retirement celebrations April 18 and April 20. During the April 20 reception at the Kirkhof Center, it was announced that the Women’s Center will be named in her honor.

President Thomas J. Haas said the naming of the Gayle R. Davis Center for Women and Gender Equity aligns with Davis’ commitment and passion for inclusion and equity. She was called a champion for diversity who demonstrated her ideals throughout her 15 years of service as provost and executive vice president for Academic and Student Affairs.

five women standing

Staff members from the newly named Gayle R. Davis Center for Women and Gender Equity stand with the retiring provost (at center). (Jess Weal)

Davis was surprised by colleagues at the April 18 reception at the L. William Seidman Center, where a scholarship fund was announced in her name.

The Gayle Davis First Generation Endowed Scholarship will be awarded to a junior or senior who is the first person in their immediate family to pursue a college degree. The scholarship’s goal is to reduce the financial pressure on students and their families and make a Grand Valley education accessible to students from all backgrounds. To give, visit

During her tenure, Davis was responsible for a major reorganization of the university’s colleges, and oversaw major growth in enrollment and significant success in retaining students through graduation.

Haas said Davis’ areas of influence touched sustainability, interdisciplinary studies, design thinking initiatives, and the internationalization of the university.

Cimitile named provost

President Thomas J. Haas announced his selection of Maria Cimitile as provost and executive vice president for Academic and Student Affairs. Her three-year term of service in the position will begin on July 1 with the opportunity for an extension.

Currently Grand Valley’s associate vice president for Academic Affairs, Cimitile joined Grand Valley as an assistant professor in philosophy in 1999. She earned a doctorate from the University of Memphis, a master’s degree from Villanova University and a bachelor’s degree from College of the Holy Cross, all in philosophy.

“Dr. Cimitile’s keen judgment and her commitment to student success make her well suited to serve in this position,” said Haas. “She has excellent experience and has demonstrated leadership in all the positions she has held at the university. Maria is widely admired by faculty, staff and students, and I am confident she will perform well in her new appointment.”


Maria Cimitile


Regional impact: $816 million

The annual economic impact that Grand Valley has on the region is estimated at $816 million. Grand Valley issued its annual tri-county economic impact report during its April 28 Board of Trustees meeting held at the L. William Seidman Center on the Pew Grand Rapids Campus.

The economic impact report covers Kent, Ottawa and Muskegon counties and used 2015-2016 data. Grand Valley employs more than 3,600 people and enrolls more than 25,400 students who spend money and pay taxes in the region. Other report highlights are below; the entire report is online at

New construction and renovations pumped more than $83 million into the local economy in 2016, creating more than 1,760 trade and construction jobs.

Grand Valley alumni now number more than 106,000 and nearly half are living or working in West Michigan’s tri-county area.

Construction of the $37.5 million Raleigh J. Finkelstein Hall will be finished in May 2018; on the Allendale Campus, a $20 million addition to the Performing Arts Center will add 44,000-square-feet of additional space to the existing building.

University partners with Detroit Promise

three men at table, two shaking hands

President Thomas J. Haas shakes hands with Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan after signing paperwork making the university a partner in the Detroit Promise, and making it easier for more Detroit high school students to attend Grand Valley. At far right is Sandy Baruah, CEO of the Detroit Chamber. (Elizabeth Lienau)

Grand Valley made it easier for more Detroit high school students to become Lakers. President Thomas J. Haas signed documents in Detroit February 10, making the university a full partner in the Detroit Promise.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan; Sandy Baruah, CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber; and Peter Remington, president and CEO of the Michigan Education Excellence Foundation, participated in the signing ceremony at the GVSU Detroit Center, following a Grand Valley Board of Trustees meeting.

The Detroit Promise is funded by the foundation and administered by the Detroit Regional Chamber. It ensures that Detroit students graduating from a high school within the city will have a tuition-free path to a college degree.

“Grand Valley is an outstanding university and we are happy to continue to send Detroit’s talent to GVSU,” Duggan said. “This partnership is one of the most important things we have done in the city to help our top students pursue education at a four-year university.”

Medical school enhanced opportunities

Also during the Board of Trustees meeting in Detroit: Leaders from Grand Valley and Wayne State University School of Medicine signed a partnership agreement that provides Grand Valley premedical students enhanced opportunities for admission.

Jean Nagelkerk, vice provost for health, said the early assurance program reserves up to five medical school spots for qualified Grand Valley students. Recruitment has started for students who would be admitted to medical school in 2018.

Richard S. Baker, M.D., vice dean for medical education and professor of ophthalmology at WSU, said the program also acts as a recruitment initiative that supports groups who are underrepresented in medicine, including students from underserved high schools or those who are first-generation college students.

Research delves into leadership advancement for women of color

Invisible ceilings

• 75% are motivated to lead because of being a difference maker

• 65% may hold an assistant or mid-level job title, but were doing the job of director

• 57% said being the first and only woman of color in a group is a barrier to advancement

• 55% said they feel like an outsider

The full report is available at

Women of color who are in leadership positions in West Michigan do more work than their titles indicate, and reported feeling like an outsider in their workplaces or volunteer groups.

Statistics and stories of area women of color were shared during two events in March at Grand Valley, led by two alumnae who conducted research about race, gender and leadership in West Michigan.

Shannon Cohen and Patricia Sosa VerDuin surveyed 120 female leaders of color as part of their fellowship with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation Community Leadership Network.

Cohen said there is a lot of quantitative data available about numbers of women leaders. What is missing, she said, are their stories. “Without narratives, you lack a complete picture of the walls, ceilings and floors that restrict movement of women of color,” said Cohen, a  principal of Shannon Cohen Inc.

They surveyed 120 women of color, ages 30-60, then followed with focus groups to learn more about their successes and struggles at work and home.

They shared recommendations, including widening the job candidate pool by connecting with area affinity groups, and rethinking pipeline programs and relational portals that lead to hiring.

Tickets on sale for GVSU Night at Comerica Park

Comerica Park in Detroit could turn Laker blue during a special Detroit Tigers game night created for the Grand Valley community.

“GVSU Night at Comerica Park” on July 26 is a special opportunity for Grand Valley students, faculty and staff members, alumni, friends and family to join as a community and celebrate the university at the Tigers game.

The first 1,500 fans who purchase tickets will receive a special co-branded Tigers/ Grand Valley hat; supplies are limited.

Fans can reserve a seat on a bus for $15 per person; it will travel from Allendale and Grand Rapids to Detroit, returning after the game. RSVP for a space online at

baseball cap

Game details

Wednesday, July 26, 7 p.m.; Detroit Tigers host Kansas City Royals: $5 from each ticket purchased via will support the Grand Valley Scholarship Fund, a general fund dedicated to supporting students through scholarships.

Ticket prices and stadium sections are listed below; prices include a $5 donation to the scholarship fund.

• Lower Baseline Box (Sections 112-114 & 141-143) $49
• Upper Box Infield (Sections 321-337 rows 1-10) $39
• Upper Reserve Infield (Sections 321-337 rows 11-20) $34
• Mezzanine (Sections 210-218) $29
• Upper Grand Stand (Sections 338-343) $26.

Book highlights Alten’s life, art

A new project spotlights the life and artistic works of Mathias J. Alten, who called the city of Grand Rapids his home for much of his career. Grand Valley owns the largest known single public collection of Alten’s works and papers in the world.

The book, Mathias J. Alten: An Evolving Legacy, is a hard cover monograph that includes color illustrations and scholarly essays exploring Alten’s artistic legacy.

Book jacket, inside pages

Alison Christensen, Galleries and Collections project manager who led the development and creation of the book, said it celebrates the ongoing gifts to the university of Alten paintings by individuals from around the U.S., and by lead donors George and Barbara Gordon.

Often referred to as the “Dean of Michigan Painters,” Alten spent his career painting in Europe and across the U.S., but always returned to Grand Rapids, his professional base of operations and home until his death in 1938.

To supplement the release of the book, the Gordon Gallery was restructured in 2016 to mimic the organization of the publication. Grand Valley’s George and Barbara Gordon Gallery currently displays 96 pieces of Alten’s work.

Mathias J. Alten: An Evolving Legacy is available for purchase, $59.95 ($75 with slip case), at both Laker Stores on the Allendale and Pew Grand Rapids campuses.

Haas-chaired commission makes recommendations

Michigan’s 21st Century Education Commission, created by Gov. Rick Snyder, released a report on March 10 of recommended solutions for improving educational opportunities for all Michigan students.

The 25-member commission — including educators, business leaders, labor representatives and nonprofit professionals — was chaired by President Thomas J. Haas.

Highlighted recommendations follow.

• By 2025, 70 percent or more of 25-year-olds will have completed a college degree, certificate, or formal skill training;

• By 2025, the high school graduation and postsecondary enrollment gap between low-income and middle-income children will have disappeared.

• By 2025, Michigan children will score in the top 10 among U.S. states on the biannual National Assessment of Educational Progress in reading, math and science.

The full report is available online at

Page last modified July 3, 2018