President Philomena V. Mantella also addressed the loss of Lyoya,
saying that while the full facts of this particular incident are not
known, systemic racism remains a persistent problem.
"We need improvements to our institutions, and leadership
demands we start at home," Mantella said. "At GVSU we
welcome the opportunity to elevate the voices of underrepresented
communities and appreciate the beauty of our diversity, not just in
moments of tragedy, but persistently and pervasively across our
institution. We will lead in inclusion and equity."
In additional remarks, Mantella also highlighted a Grand Valley
tutoring program introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic to support
K-12 students through learning loss that has since expanded to a
robust statewide network.
The program, K-12 Connect, is contracting with public and
charter schools to assist families across 56 Michigan counties,
Mantella said. K-12 Connect has provided more than 36,000 tutoring
sessions with 245 GVSU students from a variety of majors. In addition
to these student employees, more than 300 Grand Valley students,
faculty and staff members and alumni serve as volunteers.
"I am proud this initiative has been scaled by our GV NextEd
Co-Lab to accelerate K-12 to college educational pathways,"
Three people involved with the program also talked about its impact.
Wendy Miller, the GV NextEd Co-Lab director of targeted learning, said
representatives are taking a holistic approach to addressing
stagnating reading scores. One advantage of this program is that GVSU
students of all majors, not just those related to education, are
tutoring students and becoming literacy advocates.
Aanab Ibrahim, a legal studies major, told Board members that
connecting with the students has also helped support them in ways
beyond reading assistance.
"So many students don't have friends or are not brave enough to
make mistakes," Ibrahim said. "I think this is a privilege
to help kids and get to know them more."
Josh Theeke, who is majoring in international business and economics,
said it has been gratifying to watch the students come to love
reading. Theeke also mentioned the personal benefits of tutoring and
learning transferable skills.
"This work helps me in my classes and has solidified numerous
communication, organizational and leadership skills," Theeke said.