Grand Valley State president secured until 2029

DETROIT, Mich. -- The Grand Valley Board of Trustees voted to keep President Philomena V. Mantella in her position until June 2029. The trustees’ unanimous vote came during the board’s November 4 meeting at GVSU’s Detroit Center.

Mantella, who is the first woman and the fifth president of the university, has been in her role since 2019. The trustees were obligated to act on the president’s employment by June of next year, and Acting Chair Megan Rydecki said she is pleased the board could work together before that deadline to offer stability for the university by ensuring Mantella could continue leading Grand Valley.

“The Board of Trustees has full faith and confidence in President Mantella, not only because of her vision, pragmatism and generative mindset, but also because of her demonstrated leadership,” Rydecki said. “She has developed innovative partnerships, maintained healthy enrollment levels and spearheaded a game-changing strategic plan in Reach Higher 2025, all while navigating a global pandemic.

“We have emerged a stronger university, with our eyes on the prize of maximizing student success at every level.”

Board Chair Susan M. Jandernoa was not in attendance because of overseas travel. She sent a letter of support to be entered into the minutes. Speaking of Mantella, it read in part:

“Her visionary leadership in the development of our strategic plan, Reach Higher 2025, the hiring and onboarding of the extraordinary new members of our senior leadership team, including our new provost, Dr. Fatma Mili, the focus on enrollment, retention, the health and well-being of our students, and sound financial management, are affirming of our intent.”

Mantella said the vote of confidence in her leadership allows our university community to continue our collective work on behalf of Grand Valley, its students and the state of Michigan.

Portrait of President Philomena V. Mantella
President Philomena V. Mantella's contract was extended until 2029

“I want to thank the trustees for giving me the opportunity to lead this tremendous university, and I am grateful for the dedicated faculty and staff at GVSU who work tirelessly for our students and their futures,” Mantella said. “Together, we have shaped and embraced an ambitious vision of an education that serves over a lifetime, relates to each individual and urgently advances equity for all learners.

“The contract you offer me today gives us the gift of continuity to build our future. It is a contrarian move in a world that is littered with distrust and disruption. It demonstrates once again that GVSU forges its own path, aware of its responsibilities to serve generations of Michiganders.” 

Mantella’s new contract increases her salary by 4.2 percent from $480,000 to $500,000 on July 1, 2024. The contract expires June 30, 2029.

Vice Chair Beth Emmitt said the trustees believe the increase is appropriate given Mantella’s performance and the size of the institution.

“We value President Mantella’s dynamic, innovative, and steady leadership of the fourth largest university in the state,” said Emmitt. “We are excited for our future — and make this decision on behalf of our learners, faculty, staff, supporters and communities. We are so pleased to extend this contract during a time when the market for top talent is so competitive.”


In other Board of Trustees news:

  • Board members heard more about GVSU’s efforts to build upon its success in Southeast Michigan. B. Donta Truss, vice president for enrollment development and educational outreach, noted Wayne and Oakland counties continue to be top sources for first-year students. The number of first year students from Oakland and Wayne county grew by 22 percent this fall. Truss outlined work being done by the Southeast Michigan Ambassador Team. That work includes the inaugural Detroit Senior Send Off, a program for graduating seniors preparing to go to Grand Valley, and calling campaigns that will allow ambassadors to engage with prospective and incoming students. Truss also outlined two new Upward Bound grants received by TRIO programs at Grand Valley designed to serve 120 Detroit high school students who would be first-generation college students from limited- or low-income families. The programs provide fundamental support to participants in their preparation for college entrance.
  • The Board approved a new degree program designed for students who completed an associate of applied science (AAS) degree and want to strengthen their academic skills to take the next step in their careers. The new Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) degree program will be jointly housed in the Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies and Padnos College of Engineering and Computing. Starting in the Fall 2023 semester, students in the BAS program can choose from four majors: leadership and business fundamentals, professional innovation, technology project management, and web design and development.
  • Trustees approved a capital outlay plan that prioritizes the development of a classroom/lab building for students in all academic programs to learn and develop essential digital skills and knowledge. The proposed Blue Dot Lab would serve all students to help develop proficiency in digital literacy, and to support growth in graduates in computing, data, AI, and related fields. It would also expand applied research and business support between GVSU and business and corporate partners. It would include spaces for enhanced teaching, digital production, laboratories and the opportunity for use by entrepreneurs and enterprises. The capital outlay plan is an annual requirement by the Office of the State Budget for colleges and universities.
  • Trustees approved a resolution for a name change of two charter schools authorized by Grand Valley. Covenant House Academy Detroit and Covenant House Academy Grand Rapids requested name changes to Covenant Schools Detroit and Covenant High School Grand Rapids, respectively. Trustees also approved the appointment or reappointment of charter school board members.


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