Grand Valley mourns death of former GVU Foundation director, dedicated philanthropist

portrait of Joyce Wisner holding an open book
At 91, Joyce Wisner was a second-generation philanthropist and generous university supporter.
Image Credit: courtesy photo

Leaders at Grand Valley and in the West Michigan community are mourning the death of Joyce Wisner, a longtime supporter of the university. Wisner died July 14 at age 91.

Wisner served on the Grand Valley University Foundation Advisory Cabinet and had a passion for philanthropy and education, continuing a family legacy of philanthropy that her father, Leslie E. Tassell, started. 

“Joyce Wisner left a significant impact on Grand Valley,” said President Philomena V. Mantella. “Her family legacy lived on through her gifts to the university and will continue to impact generations of Grand Valley students.”

Joyce and her late husband, Thomas Wisner, gave generously to both the Keller Engineering Laboratories and the Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences. They were also honorary chairs for the Shaping our Future comprehensive campaign.

Together, the Wisners created two scholarships: the Wisner Doctor of Physical Therapy Scholarship benefits graduate students and the Thomas and Joyce Wisner Engineering Scholarship Endowment benefits engineering students.

For their generous dedication to Grand Valley and its students, the Wisners received the 2009 Enrichment Award. 

Jim Brooks, co-chair of the GVU Foundation, said Wisner believed giving back to the community was important. 

“As a second-generation foundation director, Joyce played a particularly important role in continuing the family’s involvement with Grand Valley,” Brooks said. “Joyce was a dedicated philanthropist whose support made a difference not only for Grand Valley students, but also the entire community. She will be missed.”