Reach Higher 2025 hits milepost with draft Values, Mission and Vision for university

Beckering Family Carillon Tower framed by blossoming trees
Image credit - Valerie Hendrickson

Reach Higher 2025 has hit a significant milestone by sharing with the GVSU community the proposed values, mission and vision statements designed to serve as the underpinning of the university's strategic plan.

In an April 26 email to the GVSU community, the co-chairs of the Reach Higher 2025 Steering Committee -- Tara Bivens, Mark Schaub and Janet Winter -- outlined these draft statements as well as the process in place since 2019 to develop them.

"These statements are GVSU’s public declaration of why we exist as an institution, and for whom," the co-chairs said in the email. "They state what animates our work now and in the future, and signal our priorities for improvement."

The co-chairs said the update was timed to provide an important update on the process as well as give the GVSU community a chance to reflect on the proposed language. The drafts will be further refined until the final version is presented in November to the Board of Trustees for approval.

Tara Bivens, Mark Schaub and Janet Winter
Tara Bivens, Mark Schaub and Janet Winter

"This was our timeline. We promised people that we would have at the end of April the refined mission, vision and values and we delivered that on time," Schaub said. "We also wanted to be sure folks, especially the students and faculty before they scatter for the summer, had a chance to see this and internalize it and think about it." 

Listing the draft language for the university's values before the mission and vision was an important feature of the announcement because those values are foundational, the co-chairs said.

Winter said the language in the proposed Mission and Vision statements is necessarily succinct in its messaging and is crafted to resonate with the Grand Valley community as meaningfully as the identified values.

“The Steering Committee realizes that it may be taking people to a different understanding of what a mission and vision statement can look like when leading through our collective values,” Winter said.

She noted the proposed values offer an affirmation of what people appreciate about Grand Valley, though she and the other co-chairs pointed out that the strategic elements are ambitious and highlight the work that remains for the university community.

“As we move forward, we will stay committed to not resting on our laurels. We must proceed with patient urgency,” Winter said.

Work on emerging strategies will take center stage as the strategic planning process continues. But even as they eye what's next, the co-chairs emphasized another important element of the email: the backstory of how the draft language was developed.

The backstory underscores the engagement of the campus community since 2019 through huddles, input to the Reach Higher 2025 website and other collaborative efforts, they said.

"It's important for us to tell you we appreciate you taking the time to do this -- and look at what those efforts turned out to be," Bivens said.

That appreciation includes student representatives on the Steering Committee whose efforts and input were a key part of the process in drafting the language, the co-leads said.

Britney Terrell
Britney Terrell has served as a student representative on the Reach Higher 2025 Steering Committee

Student representative Britney Terrell said it was important as a student to be active and get involved in the changes being created.

"Being part of this process has strengthened my love for Grand Valley as a whole," Terrell said. "The love, dedication, commitment, and work toward keeping students first, along with the value of education, has shown tremendously throughout this process. The amount of compassion and grace presented throughout the process has made me, an African American woman, feel valued as a student, human, and member of the larger society."


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