Former provost: personal interactions make GVSU unique

smiling Maria Cimitile at reception
Former Provost Maria Cimitile smiles at an August 26 reception held in her honor.
Image Credit: Kendra Stanley-Mills

At a reception held in her honor, former Provost Maria Cimitile told her colleagues and friends their personal interactions with each other and with students is what makes Grand Valley unique.

Cimitile announced in late June she was stepping down as provost and executive vice president after four years in that role. President Philomena V. Mantella and the Senior Leadership Team hosted a reception August 26 on the Allendale Campus.

"Grand Valley does have beautiful buildings, but what really makes Grand Valley the university that it is, is the people," Cimitile said. "All of you have such special talents, and it's been a pleasure to see you step into different roles."

Maria Cimitile greets President Emeritus Thomas J. Haas while President Philomena V. Mantella looks on.
Maria Cimitile greets President Emeritus Thomas J. Haas while President Philomena V. Mantella looks on.
Kendra Stanley-Mills
Cimitile hugs Sherril Soman, dean of the College of Education and Community Innovation.
Cimitile hugs Sherril Soman, dean of the College of Education and Community Innovation.
Kendra Stanley-Mills

Mantella said Cimitile embodies all of Grand Valley's core values. The first time Mantella met Cimitile was shortly after being named, but not yet appointed, president. 

"Maria spoke of all of Grand Valley's values and she spoke of her passion for the university," Mantella said. "I knew then it was the place I wanted to be."

Sherril Soman, dean of the College of Education and Community Innovation, recognized Cimitile's outstanding teaching skills and her ability to see transferable skills in other people. Soman also credited Cimitile's leadership during the past two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused a reduction in the university's overall budget.

Cimitile started working as a faculty member at Grand Valley in 1999 and held various administrative posts for 17 years, the last four as provost. She has earned numerous teaching awards, including the University Outstanding Teaching Award and the Pew Teaching Excellence Award.

Mark Schaub, dean of Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies, gives remarks.
Mark Schaub, dean of Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies, gives remarks.
Kendra Stanley-Mills
President Philomena V. Mantella gives remarks at a podium
President Philomena V. Mantella speaks at a reception to honor Cimitile.
Kendra Stanley-Mills

Her passion for faculty governance was highlighted in her remarks as well as those from other speakers. Felix Ngassa, professor of chemistry and chair of the University Academic Senate, began his tenure as chair the same year Cimitile was named provost.

"We said we were in this together," Ngassa said. "Those who value shared governance will agree with me that Maria is the biggest advocate for faculty."

Interim Provost Chris Plouff thanked Cimitile for being a mentor. 

"Not only has Maria helped me every step of the way, she does that with everybody she connects with, including the student workers in our office," he said.