To start those conversations, Waring began attending neighborhood
meetings. The John Ball Area Neighbors (JBAN) is an example; Waring
has been a JBAN member for more than 20 years, listening to concerns,
providing information and answering questions.
Those early meetings were awkward, to say the least. Waring said it
took years before JBAN members acknowledged her presence. They began
to accept Waring when she brought news that Grand Valley would not
expand west of Seward Street.
It was much the same with neighbors in the Belknap Lookout area,
north of I-196, where Raleigh J. Finkelstein Hall is located, she
said. "It was hard to tell the Belknap neighbors that things
would work out over time because there was disruption, asking people
to relocate," Waring said.
Having the City of Grand Rapids as a partner was key, Waring said. A
memo of understanding was created in 2016 to move the project forward;
it stated the three parties (GVSU, City of Grand Rapids and Belknap
neighbors) were committed to cooperatively developing the property
while keeping the needs of the neighborhood and those who lived there
at the forefront.
"Throughout all of this, Grand Valley always wanted to be the
community's university and work within the community. That memo of
understanding now serves as an example for other projects," she said.
Waring also played key roles in advancing relationships for Grand
Valley in Muskegon and Detroit. She continues to be a member of
Universities Link Detroit (U-LINK Detroit), government and community
relations executives of the public universities that have a physical
presence in Detroit. "We work to promote the value of higher
education in Detroit," she said.
President Philomena V. Mantella said she has benefited from Waring’s
knowledge of the university and the relationships she has nurtured
throughout her career.
“Pat was a wonderful guide to me when I began my presidency, and she
remains so,” said Mantella. “Her care for Grand Valley’s connections
within the region have provided opportunities for us to broaden our
reach in meaningful ways. She is a valued colleague to many of us at
the university, and we will miss her contributions, her warmth and
that great laugh.”
After retiring, Waring looks forward to spending more time with
family and volunteering. She has served on a range of boards,
including the Michigan Humanities Council, Junior League of Grand
Rapids and Camp Fire, a national youth development organization.
"Life progresses, I'm excited to get back to volunteering,"
she said. "I have had the privilege of working with four
presidents who have always supported the work I do in the community.
"My role started in events and moved into the community and that
role erupted because of the university's growth. It's been a pleasure
to engage with neighbors surrounding the university."