Campus News Winter 2017

Finkelstein Hall will support nursing, health professions

The new building to expand Grand Valley’s health campus in Grand Rapids was named for area business leader Raleigh J. Finkelstein during a groundbreaking ceremony November 22.

With more than 300 people in attendance, officials from Grand Valley, the City of Grand Rapids, and Neighbors of Belknap Lookout broke ground for Raleigh J. Finkelstein Hall, located at 500 Lafayette. The five-story, 84,000-square-foot building will include classroom, laboratory and office space to support the College of Health Professions and Kirkhof College of Nursing.

woman at microphone wearing white lab coat

photo by Jess Weal
Nicole Schafer, a physician assistant studies student, speaks at the groundbreaking ceremony.


During the groundbreaking ceremony, President Thomas J. Haas spoke of the imperative for Grand Valley to expand its health campus.

“As the leading provider of health care professionals in West Michigan, we need additional and enhanced laboratory, classroom and collaborative workspaces so that we can continue to attract highly talented students, faculty and caregivers to our region,” Haas said.

Joseph D. Jones, second ward city commissioner in Grand Rapids, said officials from the city, university and Belknap neighborhood came together to do something that has never been done before.

“We came together to dialogue, negotiate and come to a mutual understanding that is beneficial to everyone involved, including local residents,” said Jones. “The agreement will mean a new building for Grand Valley, but also new, affordable, quality housing as part of the development. This agreement is a model for collaboration.”

Health campus groundbreaking



Current CRP selection highlights national issues

For more than a decade, Grand Valley’s Community Reading Project has provided the campus and West Michigan communities with good books that focus on relevant, cultural issues.

The current selection, The True American: Murder and Mercy in Texas, by journalist Anand Giridharadas is no different. In fact, it became more relevant after the presidential election. CRP organizers expect the book and author visit to have tremendous impact on campus as it deals with immigration, white nationalism and Islamophobia.

“These issues surged in national discussions during the election,” said Jennifer Jameslyn, director of Integrative Learning and Advising and coordinator of the CRP committee.

Giridharadas, New York Times columnist, has appeared on MSNBC, CNN and other national outlets before and after the election. He is scheduled to give presentations on campus March 23 and in Holland on March 22.

book jacket next to author photo

Anand Giridharadas will give presentations in Holland and Allendale in March.

His book is the true story of Raisuddin Bhuiyan, an immigrant from Bangladesh, and Mark Stroman, an avowed “American terrorist,” who nearly kills Bhuiyan in Dallas a few days after September 11, 2001.

Learn more at

High school students take college courses at their school

About 25 Rockford High School seniors are taking college courses within Grand Valley’s health professions program without leaving their school.

The partnership between Grand Valley and the school district was announced in April and the first group of students to take advantage of the program began taking classes in August.

RHS students who are interested in health care careers can apply to enroll in the two courses — Medical Terminology and Introduction to Health Care— in the Allied Health Science bachelor's degree program that are offered at the high school.

Jean Nagelkerk, vice provost for Health, said it works to a student's advantage to take college credits early.

“This gives high school students an opportunity to explore health as a career and to get a leg up on their first semester of college, with six credits,” Nagelkerk said.

Senior Ginger Dean has aspirations to become a pediatric nurse and said she enrolled in the program to gain a general understanding of medical terminology.

high school students, teachers in class

photo by Amanda Pitts
Rockford High School students enrolled in the early college program are pictured with Grand Valley faculty members Chad Sutliffe and Julie Alles-Grice, and their teacher, Rick Folcik.

“People who are working in health care who I have talked to about this said they wish they could have done this in high school before they got to college,” Dean said.

The courses are taught three days a week by faculty members Chad Sutliffe and Julie Alles-Grice, with support and discussion sessions led by RHS teacher Rick Folcik.

Sutliffe, who lives in Rockford, said the first year of the program is going well. “In addition to learning college-level material, the students are getting exposure to a wide variety of health care careers,” he said.

The early college program is supported by the Rockford Education Foundation.

Damstra, Wolters named to Board of Trustees

Gov. Rick Snyder announced the appointment of Randall S. Damstra and the reappointment of Kate Pew Wolters to Grand Valley’s Board of Trustees. The eight-year terms began January 1.

Damstra is the senior managing director and head of global private equity at RDV Corporation in Grand Rapids and a Grand Valley alumnus. He earned a master’s degree from the University of Iowa and a bachelor’s degree from Grand Valley. He replaces David L. Way, whose term expires at the end of 2016.

Wolters was on the Grand Valley board from 2005-2012 and then was appointed to serve out the remainder of a term that ran 2013-2016. She is president of the Kate and Richard Wolters Foundation and chair of the Steelcase Foundation. She earned a master’s degree from Michigan State University and a bachelor’s degree from Aquinas College.

Laker overcomes adversity to graduate

woman next to man dressed in cap and gown

photo by Rex Larsen
Bryce Gould participated in commencement December 10, nearly a decade after a car accident left him with severe physical and mental injuries.

Nine years ago, a doctor told Bryce Gould that he would never be able to attend college after he suffered extensive physical and mental injuries in a car accident.

Gould proved that doctor wrong when graduated December 10 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology.

“Commencement was a surreal experience for me and I was ecstatic to finally graduate after the long road I have taken in my life,” said Gould, from Byron Center.

Gould and two of his friends were leaving a Byron Center neighborhood in 2007 when the car he was driving was T-boned by two other vehicles.“Police officers told us they have no idea how Bryce survived,” said his mother, Sarah VanOeveren. “The car basically looked like it was cut in half. There was nothing left, and he had to be intubated while he was stuck in the car.”

About two weeks later, Gould awoke in a hospital bed after being in a coma; his mother was by his side. The accident left Gould with some memory loss and multiple external and internal injuries. He spent six months with therapists, learning how to walk, talk and swallow again.

While Gould said there were many struggles and challenges throughout his rehabilitation, and throughout his life since the accident, the experience gave him a sense of purpose. Gould wants his Laker Effect to be helping other people who are going through similar situations.

He got a job working for an organization that helps individuals with disabilities discover their potential, and will help facilitate the skill-building program at Indian Trails Camp in Grand Rapids.

The Dizzies of DII

Fort Dizzie protects 40-year-old tailgating tradition

by Dottie Barnes
photo by Bernadine Carey-Tucker

The Dizmal Dozen, a group of alums oozing Laker pride, is much more exciting and upbeat than their name may indicate.

Better known as “The Dizzies,” the group began as an intramural sports team in 1967; members were well-known on campus and recruited for their athletic ability.

Over the years, the Dizzies turned into more of a social group with dozens of members, and they have been tailgating before Laker football games for more than 40 years.

The five core members of the Dizzies are Bill MacDermaid (Mac), George Zoerner (Z), Dave VanPortfleet (Port), Dave Parsons (Par) and Mark Adams (Chet). Some were roommates and all have had a deep sense of Laker pride from the very beginning.

group of people at football tailgate party

Members of the Dizmal Dozen tailgate before the October 15 homecoming game.

“Grand Valley was so young when we came; it was brand new,” said Parsons, ’73, a native of Grand Haven. “Going to college was very significant back then because many people didn’t go. We were very proud to attend Grand Valley. We all became best friends and stayed around the area.”

It would be safe to say the Dizzies were the very first to tailgate before Laker football games. “We were out there back when Grand Valley first had a football team of any sort,” said Parsons. “There were just a couple of us with a Grand Valley flag on a pole, hoping to attract other people. Eventually, others started arriving before the start of the game.”

MacDermaid, who played football for Grand Valley in 1970, remembers tailgating before Lubbers Stadium was built in 1972. Football became a varsity sport at Grand Valley in 1971.

“A hi-lo was used to bring bleachers out of the Fieldhouse. They would be set up next to the football field,” said MacDermaid, ’72. “There wasn’t a fence or admission — you just walked up and sat in the bleachers. On a good day, there were 500 people.”

For the past 20 years, the group’s popular tailgating spot in the Irwin parking lot has grown into what’s known as Fort Dizzie. It can be easily spotted with its multiple tents, 12 flags flying on telescopic flag poles, multiple grills, burgers, brats and even giveaways.

MacDermaid said Homecoming brings members of the Dizmal Dozen from around the country home. Some come from as far away as Colorado and the Dominican Republic to make a stop at Fort Dizzie.

“Anyone is welcome to come by,” said MacDermaid. “We have former players stop by, classmates from back in the day and folks like Tim Selgo (former athletic director) and President Haas. We were invited to the president’s box to watch the game this year. That was such an honor for us.”

The Dizzies are hard at work long before the Homecoming game each fall. The group attends spring workouts in April to assess the team, and holds a pre-season tailgater in August to talk about players, stats and strategy.


“There were just a couple of us with a Grand Valley flag on a pole, hoping to attract other people. Eventually, others started arriving before the start of the game.” Dave Parsons

“We set up all of our equipment on the front lawn of one our houses,” said Parsons. “We put up the flagpoles and tents, you know, to be sure it’s all working. Then we get out our notes and talk team strategy.”

The Dizmal Dozen said their Laker Effect extends beyond football pride. The group has contributed to the university in various ways over the years, including purchasing a bench for the Alumni House when it was under construction, and donating to the football endowment fund.

“Our pride and loyalty comes from what we learned, experienced and shared at Grand Valley,” said Parsons. “We grew up with Grand Valley, and now, we’re growing older with Grand Valley.”

Page last modified March 9, 2017