Daughter of former president to address GVSU graduates

More than 1,000 Grand Valley State University students will participate in a commencement ceremony December 8 at Van Andel Arena. Students and their families will hear an address from Susan Ford Bales, daughter of President Gerald R. Ford and Betty Ford.

Ford Bales has had a career in public service, currently serving as a trustee for the Gerald R. Ford Historical Legacy Trust and the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation. Bales works to increase breast cancer awareness and was recently named global ambassador of the Susan G. Komen Foundation. From 2005-2010, Bales served as chair of the Betty Ford Center. She is also a board member of the Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health, Betty Ford Alpine Gardens Foundation and the Bosque School in New Mexico.

New to commencement this year is the addition of Veterans cords. Veterans attending the ceremony, including graduating students, faculty and staff members, will receive a red, white and blue cord to wear with their cap and gown to recognize their service to the military.

Also during the ceremony, Martin E. Marty, distinguished professor emeritus at the University of Chicago, will receive an honorary doctor of letters, recognizing his contributions as an author and presenter on religion and culture. After his retirement, the University of Chicago’s Divinity School renamed its Institute for Advanced Study of Religion to The Martin Marty Center in his honor. Marty is a frequent visitor to Grand Valley.

Grand Valley Commencement Ceremony
Saturday, December 8, 10 a.m.
Van Andel Arena, downtown Grand Rapids
The ceremony will live stream at www.gvsu.edu/commencement

MEDIA NOTE: Skybox 101B is reserved for media. The box offers a mult box and an elevated, unobstructed view of the podium and platform. For more information, contact Grand Valley News and Information Services at (616) 331-2221.

The Alumni Association will present two awards during the ceremony. Kathleen Underwood, director of the Women and Gender Studies program and associate professor of history, will receive the Outstanding Educator Award. Maryjean Schenk, vice dean for medical education at the Wayne State University School of Medicine, will receive the Distinguished Alumni Award.


About 10 student veterans will participate in this year’s ceremony, including Joe Hanley, who is graduating with a master’s degree in Business Administration and currently works as a financial analyst for CRI Consolidated Resource Imaging in Walker. He will be at the ceremony with his wife and three children.

Hanley served more than four years in the Airforce and was stationed in Germany, Kuwait and Kyrgyzstan. He said the biggest challenge after serving in the military was getting acclimated to civilian life again. “Grand Valley helped me choose a career path and provided direction,” he said.