GVSU names new vice president for University Development

headshot of Laura Aikens
Laura Aikens most recently served as senior vice president for CCS Fundraising, one of the nation’s most prestigious fundraising consulting firms.
Image Credit: courtesy photo

Laura Aikens has been named Grand Valley State University's vice president for University Development and executive director of the Grand Valley University Foundation.

President Philomena V. Mantella said Aikens brings rich fundraising experience and proven leadership skills to the position. Aikens most recently served as senior vice president for CCS Fundraising, one of the nation’s most prestigious fundraising consulting firms.

“Laura brings a unique blend of tactical and strategic experience to Grand Valley, and exposure to a wide variety of fundraising models, cutting-edge practice and direct experience with philanthropic communities locally and nationally," Mantella said. "She will provide an innovative and broad perspective that will help us achieve our goals for students and our community.”

Aikens will join Grand Valley's senior leadership team September 13, taking over for Karen Loth, who retired in June after 21 years at the university. 

Aikens is a native of West Michigan who earned a bachelor's degree from Hope College and a master's degree in social work from the University of Michigan. She spent 12 years with CCS Fundraising, working with nonprofit and higher education clients, including Trinity University, University of Texas at Arlington, Xavier University of Louisiana and the University of Windsor. 

Prior to CCS, Aikens served in various development roles including at Ann Arbor-based nonprofits Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, and the American Red Cross, Washtenaw County Chapter.

Aikens said she was attracted to the position because of Mantella's leadership and her strategic vision for the university, and Grand Valley's commitment to diversity, inclusion and social mobility.

"The trajectory of the university points up and there is such tremendous opportunity within the community for growth," Aikens said. "The value of higher education has come into question by some, but the value proposition Grand Valley offers to students has a direct correlation to their future success. I'm honored to be a part of this exciting university."