eight students standing in two rows outside the Kennedy Hall of Engineering

Students from HBCU learn more about GVSU's graduate programs during campus tour

Students from Saint Augustine’s University in North Carolina visited campus November 1-2 to learn more about Grand Valley master's degree programs in engineering and computer science.

Administrators from Grand Valley and Saint Augustine’s signed an agreement September 20, giving SAU students opportunities to earn master's degrees in STEM fields in as little as five years. Saint Augustine’s is the second Historically Black College/University to sign an agreement with Grand Valley, following an April signing with Fort Valley State University in Georgia. 

Seven FVSU students are currently enrolled at Grand Valley. B. Donta Truss, vice president for Enrollment Development and Educational Outreach, said these HBCU and Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI) agreements help create a diverse workforce and aid Grand Valley's strategic plan of attracting a more diverse student population. 

"Inviting SAU students to Grand Valley gives them an opportunity to get their questions answered, and see the campus and area in person," Truss said. "We went to Saint Augustine's to sell them on this plan, now we bring them here to close the deal and, hopefully, the students see what an easy transition it will be."

Dean Paul Plotkowski gives a tour in an engineering building for SAU students
Dean Paul Plotkowski gives a tour in the Kennedy Hall of Engineering for SAU students.
Valerie Hendrickson
A SAU student takes a phone photo looking out windows at the Eberhard center over the Grand River
The tour stopped in the Eberhard Center to show downtown Grand Rapids to SAU students.
Valerie Hendrickson

President Philomena V. Mantella greeted students in Zumberge Hall and discussed the university's strengths, adding its strong STEM master's degree programs would complement the education they receive at Saint Augustine's.

"The surrounding community is very supportive of Grand Valley's programs and its talent," Mantella said. "It's most important for us to create conditions that you find would be a good fit for your graduate studies."

The first day of their two-day tour was largely spent in engineering facilities. 

Paul Plotkowski, dean of the Padnos College of Engineering and Computing, led the SAU group through the engineering facilities, noting students in the college have access to labs and buildings 24 hours a day, giving them time to work collaboratively on projects or finish assignments.

"You will remember there was an adjustment from high school to college," Plotkowski said. "There's also a large jump from an undergraduate program to a graduate program, and you will need to learn how to manage your time. These spaces, because they are open 24/7, give you flexibility to do that."

The workload did not deter SAU student Richara Baine, a senior majoring in biology who is originally from the Bahamas. Baine has plans to go to medical school and said enrolling at Grand Valley to earn a master's degree could put her on that path.

"The campus is beautiful and I like the enthusiasm of the staff we met," Baine said. "You naturally want to go to a place where you are wanted."

President Mantella gestures with her hands while Vice President Truss stands behind her
President Philomena V. Mantella and B. Donta Truss, vice president for Enrollment Development and Educational Outreach, are pictured.
Kendra Stanley-Mills
President Mantella speaks to SAU students seated around a large table
President Philomena V. Mantella greets SAU students in Zumberge Hall.
Kendra Stanley-Mills