Cimitile names new vice provost for Graduate and Lifetime Learning

headshot: Kara Van Dam taken outside
Kara H. Van Dam will begin working as vice provost for Graduate and Lifetime Learning in early February.
Image credit - courtesy photo

Grand Valley's new vice provost for Graduate and Lifetime Learning brings more than 20 years of diverse experience to the role that will oversee the newly formed Office of Graduate and Lifetime Learning.

Provost Maria Cimitile announced on December 10 that Kara H. Van Dam will begin working at Grand Valley in early February and be responsible for expanding Grand Valley’s credit and noncredit programs for adult learners, including graduate programs, degree completion and micro-credentials.

Since 2014, Van Dam has held various roles at the University of Maryland Global Campus in Adelphi, Maryland, most recently as vice president and dean of the School of Arts and Sciences. Prior to that, she worked for Kaplan University in Chicago and served as vice provost and dean of faculty before leaving for Maryland.

"Dr. Van Dam brings over 20 years of experience in academic affairs, partnership-building, curricular and program design, and quantitative data-driven assessment," Cimitile said. "She is a collaborative leader who embraces the shared governance process."

Van Dam said the position encompasses many of her passions: serving adult learners, delivering academic programs via diverse modalities and building partnerships. Starting a new position on campus begins first with listening and connecting with people, Van Dam said.

"My first order of business is to connect: get to know people, listen to their experiences and hear their ideas," she said. "I will then take a broad and deep survey of the current and potential landscape, internal and external, identifying all the key areas that touch on lifetime learning opportunities, from program types to learning modalities, to student demographics, partnerships and more."

Van Dam earned both a doctorate and master’s degree in linguistics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She received a master’s degree in business administration from Kaplan University and a bachelor’s of general studies in French and linguistics from the University of Michigan. She grew up in West Michigan and is a graduate of East Grand Rapids High School.

Van Dam will lead the newly formed Office of Graduate and Lifetime Learning, and oversee several broad areas including Adult and Continuing Studies, the Graduate School, regional campuses, executive education and enterprise partnerships, and Alumni Relations focused on alumni engagement and lifetime learning. She will also work closely with Career Center staff members who are focused on lifetime learners.


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