President Mantella, students share vision of future student experience
Grand Valley President Philomena V. Mantella, along with six Grand Valley students, discussed financial literacy and college affordability at the February 7 Board of Trustees meeting held at the L. William Seidman Center on the Pew Grand Rapids Campus.
Before Mantella called on the students to share their ideas for the future, she addressed the events surrounding a former employee who resigned after making damaging remarks during a media interview.
Mantella said the event is an opportunity for education and the reaffirmation of Grand Valley's values of inclusion and equity.
"We will use this moment to work diligently toward institutional systemic change that creates a healthier campus climate for all," Mantella said.
An educational series is being planned that will cover various subjects, including the Holocaust and the impact of colonization on the Native American community.
Mantella then highlighted a design thinking workshop where students discussed peer mentoring and advising, and financial literacy and affordability. Students were asked what the GVSU student experience would look like in five years.
Stepha'N Quicksey, a senior and public and nonprofit administration major, said college can be overwhelming for first-year students and transfer students. He said those students could benefit from a peer-mentoring program with juniors and seniors.
"Not all students take advantage of orientation," said Quicksey. "Juniors and seniors could serve as mentors for other students and minorities to help them with their goals and connect them to campus resources."
Christa Fernando, a senior and biomedical sciences major, said all students could benefit from a program that requires meeting with a financial counselor. Students would meet one-on-one with a financial advisor in their first and third year of school to discuss loans, scholarships, internships and how to plan for studying abroad.
"I thought I knew money when I came to Grand Valley and then I found out I didn't," said Fernando. "Grand Valley has so many helpful resources that students need to discover."
The design thinking workshop and Mantella's Reach Higher Together engagement campaign received praise from the students, who said more students were able to participate in sharing opinions on how to improve the student experience at Grand Valley.
In other board action:
• The board approved a new bachelor's degree in applied food and nutrition in the College of Health Professions. The major will prepare students for managing food service operations and applying principles of medical nutrition therapy for clients and patients with basic, low acuity nutritional health care needs. The program is scheduled to begin in fall 2020.
• The board approved the sale of a 12-acre parcel from 18 acres of undeveloped land owned by the university at 3059 Lake Michigan Drive in Grand Rapids. A purchase agreement has been entered with a developer for a selling price of $1.5 million. The university will retain approximately six acres of the property.
• Students will see a modest increase in room and board rates beginning with the fall 2020 semester; the board voted to increase the rate by 1.6 percent. The average cost for living on campus per semester will increase by $18. This year's increase in room and board rates at Grand Valley is less than the five-year state average increase of 2.9 percent at public universities in Michigan.
• The board voted to approve the reauthorization of three public charter academies and schools, including: Byron Center Charter School (five years, Byron Center); Detroit Achievement Academy (five years, Detroit); Taylor Preparatory High School (seven years, Taylor); and the authorization of Fostering Leadership Academy (seven years, Redford). The board also voted to approve the appointment or reappointment of charter school board members to GVSU-authorized public school academy boards.