Campus News Summer 2015

Grand Valley appoints new vice president

Lynn McNamara Blue was promoted in late May to the newly created position of vice president for Enrollment Development.

Blue has been with the university for 47 years and had served as vice provost and dean for Academic Services and Information Technology.

President Thomas J. Haas said the new position fits into Grand Valley’s strategic plan, which addresses the need to manage enrollment for the future health of the institution. He also said Blue has the ideal resume and skillset to handle the growing complexities of enrollment management.

“I respect Lynn’s work and dedication to this university,” Haas said. “She’s been around nearly as long as Grand Valley has been in business. And she has the leadership and capacities it takes to make sure we anticipate and adapt to the pressures caused by changing demographics and dwindling state support. Enrollment development has become more complex, and I welcome Lynn’s presence on my senior management team.”

Blue started at Grand Valley in 1968 when one filing cabinet was sufficient to hold student records, including her own as she earned her master’s degree while working full time. She quickly grew in her chosen field right along with the university, and said she welcomes this new opportunity.

Lynn McNamara Blue

Lynn McNamara Blue

“It’s a bit of a challenge, and it’s also exciting,” Blue said. “This has been my life’s work, and it’s rewarding to be able to do it at a higher level. We must be strategic and we must adapt to a changing world, and I’m looking forward to working with the Board of Trustees, President Haas and the other vice presidents to ensure the continued success of Grand Valley and its students.”

Grand Valley has an enrollment of more than 25,000 students. Since the number of high school graduates is dwindling, Blue said the university must also look at retaining students and attracting transfer and graduate students to keep enrollment stable.

Summer program connects housing, interns to West Michigan

Students from across the country called Grand Valley home this spring and summer while they completed internships in West Michigan.

Nearly 100 students, including 80 non-Grand Valley students, representing 31 universities lived on the Pew Grand Rapids and Allendale campuses. The program was facilitated by the Career Center and Housing offices; it began two years ago with about five students.

“Our goal at Grand Valley is to introduce young professionals to West Michigan, so for us to be a part of that is important,” said Susan Proctor, employer development manager for the Career Center.

Proctor said the program was created because summer housing can be a challenge for companies that hire student interns from out of state. Amway was the first company to partner with Grand Valley. This year, 25 employers are participating, including Meijer, Van Andel Institute and Steelcase.

Molly Murray, corporate recruiter for Amway, said the company’s interns enjoy living in the same area and spending time in downtown Grand Rapids. “We don’t want our interns working from home or staying beyond their 40 hours because we want them to explore downtown and the beaches, so when we make them a full-time offer, the area is a selling point, not a detraction to their decision,” Murray said.

Mike Ashcraft, client services manager for Residential Camps and Conferences at Grand Valley, facilitates the summer intern housing program. He said Grand Valley accommodates many interns, including those who bring their families with them. “One man who lived at Winter Hall received a job offer after his internship and relocated his family to Grand Rapids. We’d like to think we had something to do with that,” said Ashcraft.

Shinsky to serve as interim dean

John Shinsky

John Shinsky

John Shinsky, longtime professor of education, was named the interim dean of the College of Education effective July 1.

Shinsky is taking over for Elaine Collins, who was named president of Johnson State College in Vermont. A national search is being conducted to find a permanent replacement.

Shinsky has served as an educator for 40 years; he came to Grand Valley as an associate professor of education in 2001. He served as a special education teacher, director of Special Education, and area administrator for Lansing Public Schools.

He earned a bachelor’s, a master’s and doctorate from Michigan State University. He was co-captain of the 1973 Michigan State football team, selected as a First Team Academic All-American football player and was given the President’s Award for leadership, academics and athletic performance.

Shinsky has received many awards for his educational contributions, including Grand Valley’s University Community Service Award and its Glen A. Niemeyer Academic Award. Shinsky has also received the Cesar E. Chavez Humanitarian Award, Dick Letts Community Service Award and the Paul Harris Fellow for International Service from the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International.

 As a former orphan, Shinsky has committed his life to serving the needs of abandoned, neglected, abused and orphaned children. He and his wife, Cindy, are co-founders of Ciudad de los Niños, the City of Children Shinsky Orphanage in Matamoros, Mexico. The orphanage has served approximately 100 children since 2009.


2 million visit library

 The Mary Idema Pew Library Learning and Information Commons has welcomed more than 2 million visitors since opening its doors in 2013, according to an annual University Libraries usage report.

Planned to be the intellectual heart of the Allendale Campus, the facility was completed and dedicated in 2013. In 2014, the library was awarded LEED® Platinum status, the highest of four possible levels of certification.
Highlights from the report include:

•      As of April, the library has had 2,050,418 visitors;
•      In the fall of 2014, approximately 44,000 more people visited the facility than in fall of 2013 for an 8 percent increase;
•      227 formal tours of the library, composed of more than 2,000 visitors, have been conducted since the facility opened;
•      Last year, visitors from all 50 states and 193 countries accessed content in ScholarWorks, Grand Valley’s open access repository of university scholarship. The repository contains 9,321 papers that have been downloaded more than 1.5 million times since 2011.


Organization raises awareness of hereditary cancers

Most people don’t associate cancer with college-age students, but a group of Grand Valley students hopes to raise awareness and support for students who are at risk of developing hereditary cancers.

“BRCAn’t Stop Me” is a student organization dedicated to spreading the word about hereditary cancers and the importance of getting tested. It’s the first organization of its kind on a Michigan college campus.

BRCA 1 and BRCA 2, or breast cancer genes 1 and 2, are the most well-known genes linked to breast cancer risk. BRCA gene mutations can be passed to children from either parent and can affect the risk of developing other cancers in women and men.

Members of BRCA'nt Stop Me

Members of BRCAn't Stop Me are pictured.
photos by Bernadine Carey-Tucker

Mollie Smith

Mollie Smith

“People don’t talk about breast cancer in their 20s. We like to talk about it at a younger age so we can be proactive,” said Mollie Smith, founder of BRCAn’t Stop Me.

While everyone carries the BRCA gene, women with the gene mutation, like Smith, are 60 to 80 percent more likely to develop breast cancer than the average person.

When Smith, a senior from Milford, came to Grand Valley, she said she felt alone so she began researching resources then started the student organization. “I formed this organization to meet and connect with people and gain a support system, as well as raise awareness of this gene mutation,” Smith said.

Bailee Orman, a senior from Climax, is the organization’s risk management officer. “I knew it was important for me to get tested in order to take the necessary steps for early detection and prevention of hereditary cancers,” Orman said.

BRCAn’t Stop Me also provides support to those who have or had a loved one with hereditary cancer or have a family history of hereditary cancers.

“Sharing your experience makes a big difference because you know you’re not alone,” Smith said.

Ingrid Johnson is an assistant professor of movement science and founder of Grand Valley’s Cancer Warriors. Johnson was diagnosed with breast cancer in March 2012 and was surprised to find at the time that the university did not house a cancer support group. With the help of Fred Antczak, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Sue Sloop, Work Life consultant, Johnson founded Cancer Warriors.

“We believe that it’s important for the Grand Valley community to not only have a support group to help deal with cancer but we also want to do outreach and education,” Johnson said.

Since the formation of Cancer Warriors, five other student organizations, including BRCAn’t Stop Me, have been established to educate students about the disease, as well as offer support to those affected by it through both meetings and philanthropic endeavors.


Trustees adopt budget, set tuition

Grand Valley’s Board of Trustees adopted the university’s fiscal year 2016 budget and set tuition rates for the academic year at its July 10 meeting on the Allendale Campus.

The tuition increase complies with the state’s tuition cap and keeps Grand Valley’s tuition in the bottom half of all Michigan universities. The budget passed by the trustees substantially raises financial aid in keeping with the university’s mission to provide access to Michigan’s students.

For more information highlighting Grand Valley's performance, visit For a chart detailing tuition at Michigan's universities, click here.


Trustees voted to increase tuition by $163 per semester, bringing the annual tuition to $11,078 for a full-time undergraduate Michigan resident. The budget includes $40.4 million in financial aid for students, an increase of more than $2 million to be awarded in the form of scholarships or grants. This results in financial aid increasing 6 percent, while tuition is increasing 3 percent.

“This budget reflects our deep concern for students searching for affordability and a quality education in the state of Michigan,” said David Hooker, chair of the Board of Trustees. “We know Michigan is depending on the educated workforce that Grand Valley is producing, and we also know we want our graduates to stay in the state, being productive immediately with little or no debt. To that end, we increased financial aid by a substantial amount and kept the tuition increase modest.”

In the fall of 2014, 64 percent of all undergraduate students received gift aid, and of the 2013-2014 graduates who earned a degree in four years or less, 33 percent had no debt.

The university is expected to receive $65 million in state funding, some of which is awarded based on Grand Valley’s performance in key areas such as retention and graduation rates. The university shows operational efficiency with administrative costs per student nearly $800 lower than the average Michigan university’s administrative costs. That results in $16 million of savings being given back to Grand Valley students and their families.

The state’s share of Grand Valley’s entire budget is 18 percent, meaning students and their families pay 82 percent. Trustees earmarked all of the funding from the state to student financial aid, debt service, maintenance and utilities for classroom buildings.


Gift allows continuation of DeVos Medical Ethics Colloquy at GVSU

Grand Valley will now host an established medical ethics speaker series thanks to a gift from the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation.

The DeVos Medical Ethics Colloquy was established in 2005 by Richard and Helen DeVos in response to a need for a forum where topics of medical and ethical significance could be discussed under guidance from experts.

The gift supports the continuation of the colloquy as part of the university’s efforts to provide outreach and education for students, the community and medical ethics centers worldwide. The series has tackled topics such as genetic testing, end-of-life care and health care reform.

Jean Nagelkerk, vice provost for Health, will oversee the series. She said the community and Grand Valley students will benefit tremendously from hearing experts discuss the ethical issues medical professionals and society are facing.

“This gift will allow health science students, health care professionals and community members to join innovative discussions in the context of delivering quality, cost-effective, patient-centered care in communities,” Nagelkerk said.

The biannual series is free and open to the public. It occurs in the spring and fall with the next one scheduled for October 26. The lecture, “Ethics of Resource Allocation across the Lifespan,” will take place at 5:30 p.m. in the Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences. The speakers are Mildred Solomon, president and chief executive officer for the Hastings Center, and Frederick Zimmerman, professor of health policy and management at UCLA. It will be moderated by the Rev. Julius Medenblik, president of Calvin Theological Seminary.

Richard and Helen DeVos said they are extremely pleased to transition the colloquy to Grand Valley to continue the important discussions that benefit the health professions, the academic institutions and the patients who are the ultimate beneficiaries.

Luis Tomatis, President Haas, Helen and Richard DeVos

Pictured are back row, from left, Luis Tomatis, director of medical affairs for RDV Corp., and President Thomas J. Haas; seated are Helen and Richard DeVos.
photo by Amanda Pitts


Students form soccer league with Special Olympians

Watch a video

Grand Valley students and Special Olympics of Michigan athletes teamed together to form a weekly soccer league in early summer.

The four-team intramural league, called Unified Soccer, is played on seven-player teams, with four SOMI athletes and three Grand Valley students together on each team.

The partnership is part of Special Olympics Unified Sports, an international initiative that promotes social inclusion through shared sports training and competition experiences.

“The new program provides SOMI athletes and students the opportunity to live a healthy lifestyle and create new friendships in an inclusive environment, which is the goal,” said Mackenzie Lucius, league organizer and Campus Recreation graduate assistant.

Grant expands Kaufman Interfaith Institute service initiative

Grand Valley’s Kaufman Interfaith Institute will expand its 2015 Year of Interfaith Service initiative after receiving a grant from the Grand Rapids Community Foundation.

Since the 2015 Year of Interfaith Service officially began in 2014, various West Michigan congregations have participated in community service activities.

Katie Gordon, Kaufman Interfaith Institute program manager, said the $50,000 grant will support interfaith efforts on local college campuses by funding student interns. The goal will be to provide students with opportunities to expand their interfaith leadership skills and apply them on their own campuses, and in the broader community. Students from Grand Valley, Aquinas College and Calvin College will be invited to apply for a spot on the institute’s inter-institutional committee.

“Since these campuses haven’t had student-driven interfaith efforts before, we’re excited to see what plans these student leaders will come up with to promote interfaith education and service on their campuses,” Gordon said. “Between our colleges and universities, we’ll have a meaningful project that calls us all to think about, and act upon, why we want to encourage interfaith understanding within our diverse community.”

With the grant, the institute will additionally be able to fund its Triennial Jewish-Christian-Muslim Dialogue Conference, as well as host Eboo Patel, founder of the Interfaith Youth Core, for a presentation. Both events will take place in October.

Page last modified August 20, 2015