Commencement celebrations detailed during town hall; staff meeting addresses return to campus

outside President Mantella's office, showing her nameplate
President Philomena V. Mantella conducts a virtual town hall for the campus community from her office in Zumberge Hall.
Image credit - Valerie Wojciechowski

During a town hall for students on April 14, President Philomena V. Mantella announced details for a virtual celebration and in-person commencement ceremonies for 2020 graduates.

The town hall followed an announcement to students, in which Mantella said a Graduate Celebration Watch Party will be held Friday, April 24, at 7 p.m. via Grand Valley's YouTube and Facebook accounts. 

The rescheduled traditional commencement ceremonies are planned for October 10 at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids. Graduates may also choose to participate in the fall commencement ceremony held in December. Additional details about commencement will be posted online at as they become available.

It was one of two town halls on April 14; information about the staff town hall is below. A series of Laker virtual meetings is scheduled for members of the campus community; visit this site to view future dates. 

Loren Rullman, vice provost for Student Affairs and dean of students, shared information with students who need to retrieve belongings from their on-campus room, asking them to check their email and Housing and Residence Life website for dates. Rullman added this would happen only after the state's stay-at-home order is lifted. 

Greg Sanial, vice president for Finance and Administration, said tuition, room and board should be stable for next year and not to expect large increases. Sanial said Grand Valley remains financially strong because of contingencies in place, adding federal stimulus money will help shape next year's budget.

In the staff town hall, Mantella and other university leaders addressed re-opening campus after the stay-at-home order is lifted, emergency resources for students and the role staff members have in recruitment and retention.

Sanial said allowing employees to return to their campus offices will be done slowly and will follow state and federal health guidelines.

"When we ramp up, we will be in control," Sanial said, adding employees will be notified well in advance of their return to campus. Faculty and staff members who have health concerns or family considerations should connect with their supervisor or appointing officer.

Karen Loth, vice president for University Development, said faculty and staff have generously given to the Student Support Fund, pushing the total to more than $46,000. This fund aids students who are facing economic hardships.

Lynn "Chick" Blue, vice president for Enrollment Development, asked staff members to connect with their student employees. "If a student is in a hardship, they need to get to the Financial Aid office," Blue said. "We can't help if we don't know who they are. I would like to ask staff members to connect with student employees."

Mantella said she was pleased with how university employees have adapted to working remotely, adding efforts will make Grand Valley stronger and perhaps positively impact enrollment for the fall.

"I have full confidence that this university is the kind of university people will want to be affiliated with," she said. "Our super power is relationships, that's what people want and this is the place where they will want to be."


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