Athletics' Walter Moore shaping GVSU's equity, inclusion efforts

Walter Moore, associate director of athletics for student athlete welfare and development, smiles for a photo
Walter Moore, associate director of athletics for student athlete welfare and development, played a large part in the department's SEA of Change initiative.
Image Credit: Amanda Pitts

Walter Moore’s career in the Grand Valley Athletic Department has stretched for nearly 20 years. As associate director of athletics for student athlete welfare and development, he serves student athletes in a variety of ways.

But, before joining Grand Valley, he said it’s his five years as a foster care case worker which instilled the qualities — compassion, empathy, altruism — he’s found most beneficial as a Laker.

In particular, he said he transferred that knowledge to the department’s SEA of Change initiative, which has helped incoming first-year and transfer student athletes recognize the value of diversity, equity and inclusion. 

“When Director of Athletics Keri Becker said she’d like to put together a program to help student athletes grow and learn respect and empathy,” said Moore, “I took the opportunity to utilize those skills I learned as a foster care case worker.”

Moore points to Becker as the catalyst for the initiative. Moore said she was deeply affected by the summer of social protests arising in 2020.

“She felt a sense of urgency to rise up against the systemic inequities and acts that we were seeing and enhance diversity, equity and inclusion within the athletic department and the university,” said Moore. 

A committee was formed to determine the best path forward. Student athletes were surveyed. External consultants provided advice. All of these actions led to the SEA of Change program.

“Walter helped bring this project to life by taking the initiative to collaborate across campus on delivering the SEA of Change event to our new student athletes,” said Becker.

The initial workshop met in August. The second workshop, entitled Wave of Change, was split into two sessions, the first of which convened in January. The second Wave of Change session is scheduled for the end of February and will partner with the Office of Multicultural Affairs and the Gayle R. Davis Center for Women and Gender Equity.

The final session is slated for April and will focus on mental health.

Walter Moore, associate director of athletics for student athlete welfare and development, smiles for a photo
"We are on our way to providing student athletes with a lot of great information in the diversity, equity and inclusion world," said Moore. "I would like to see our student athletes be agents of change — that's my goal."
Image Credit: Amanda Pitts

What SEA of Change is trying to accomplish becomes even more poignant for Moore during Black History Month. He confessed he needed to further educate himself on the accomplishments of the Black community and its history.

“People suffer when they don’t have a history to draw back on,” said Moore. “For me, Black history is vitally important as well as the histories of the Native American, Irish, women and LGBT community. We need to learn about and respect everyone.”

Moore sees the future of SEA of Change expanding and employing a tiered approach — welcoming the next class of student athletes while reconnecting with the program’s class during their sophomore year.

As Becker points out, Moore is tasked with developing additional initiatives to complement SEA of Change for the benefit of student athletes.

“Walter’s work in this space continues as he is now chair of the Laker Inclusion Team where more initiatives are being developed to ensure Grand Valley Athletics creates a strong sense of belonging and inclusion for all staff and student athletes,” said Becker.

If Moore’s vision comes to fruition, SEA of Change will provide the foundation for Laker student athletes to make a difference in their community.

“We are on our way to providing student athletes with a lot of great information in the diversity, equity and inclusion world,” said Moore. “I would like to see our student athletes be agents of change — that’s my goal.”