Four people seated at two tables, signing document papers

GVSU leaders sign second agreement in HBCU pipeline program

Caption for top photo: From left are Dean Paul Plotkowski; Vice President B. Donta Truss; Janita Patrick, SAU associate vice president of student success; and Josiah Sampson, SAU provost.


Leaders at Grand Valley signed a second agreement with a Historically Black College/University, giving students at Saint Augustine’s University in North Carolina opportunities to earn master's degrees in advanced computing or engineering fields in as little as five years.

Representatives from GVSU and SAU met September 20 in North Carolina to sign the agreement. In April, Grand Valley and Fort Valley State University, in Georgia, signed a similar agreement and created a pipeline consortium to recruit other HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges/Universities) and HSIs (Hispanic Serving Institutions). 

President Philomena V. Mantella said the consortium aligns with the university's strategic plan to attract a more diverse student population and also responds to the needs of West Michigan employers.

"We are so pleased to welcome students from Saint Augustine’s to Grand Valley soon," Mantella said. "They are set up for success by having a strong STEM educational foundation. At GVSU, they will find support and resources to continue their education and then begin their careers."

President Philomena Mantella standing next to a window
President Philomena V. Mantella said adding to the HBCU-HSI consortium aligns with the university's strategic plan to attract a more diverse student population.
Image Credit: Amanda Pitts

SAU President Christine Johnson McPhail said the university was proud to partner with GVSU. “This collaboration aligns with our vision to reimagine SAU as a premier, learning-centered, private HBCU that emphasizes academic excellence; student success; and workforce, economic, and community engagement with a particular focus on STEM education and careers," McPhail said.

B. Donta Truss, vice president for Enrollment Development and Educational Outreach, said this agreement gives students from SAU opportunities to find meaningful careers in fields like cybersecurity, applied computer science or biomedical engineering, for example.

"Grand Valley is not competing with the rich tradition of HBCUs," Truss said. "This is a collaboration to give Black and African/American students who come from SAU or a similar institution the resources and support they need to earn competitive jobs in disciplines not offered at their colleges."

Dean Paul Plotkowski gives a tour in an engineering building for Fort Valley State University students
Dean Paul Plotkowski gives a tour for Fort Valley State University students who visited GVSU in the spring. A similar agreement was signed September 20 with Saint Augustine's University.
Kendra Stanley-Mills
Vice President Truss speaks in a microphone in front of a room during a presentation
B. Donta Truss, GVSU vice president for Enrollment Development and Educational Outreach, said the agreement gives SAU students opportunities for meaningful careers.
Kendra Stanley-Mills

SAU students can enroll at Grand Valley beginning in the Fall 2022 semester. There are six FVSU students currently enrolled at GVSU. 

Paul Plotkowski, dean of the Padnos College of Engineering and Computing at GVSU, said the continuum of support provided to FVSU students from faculty and staff members at both institutions has helped ease their transition to Grand Valley. And he expects similar support for SAU students.

"The FVSU students have naturally reached out to their existing advisors in Georgia, as well as new advisors, for help as they navigate the differences between institutions, academic programs and expectations," Plotkowski said. "One student is now a resident advisor at a GVSU living center, and I think they have all enjoyed this recent stretch of Michigan's warmer weather."

SAU students will have access to scholarship and financial support, student support and retention services, Michigan in-state tuition rates, and opportunities to visit GVSU before enrolling.