GVSU sets direction for future

President Philomena V. Mantella, wearing a mask, looks on at the Board of Trustees meeting.
President Philomena V. Mantella, foreground, and Board of Trustees Chair Megan Rydecki
Image credit - Amanda Pitts

Grand Valley State University is reaching higher as it sets strategies for the complex and challenging future. The university’s Board of Trustees voted to approve the Reach Higher 2025 strategic plan that President Philomena V. Mantella presented at the board meeting held on the Allendale Campus February 18.

Mantella told trustees that since her arrival in 2019, the university community has worked together to design the future of Grand Valley through its Reach Higher 2025 plan. A 45-member steering committee led open discussions with groups throughout the campus, and faculty, staff and student members who participated were featured in a video shown at the meeting talking about the bold plan for Grand Valley’s future.

Mantella told trustees that the visionary plan builds on the university’s strengths and is focused on the commitments that will strengthen the university and its role in the vitality of the region and to the people it serves

“GVSU is resolute in addressing the challenges of our current times, equipping our students to deal with the challenges of their times – throughout their lifetimes,” Mantella said. “GVSU is capitalizing on its strong liberal education that produces students who are educated, forward thinking and flexible. It’s expanding as a talent producer, graduating students in fields that are driving the future of Michigan and the transformation of the economy.

“Reach Higher 2025 firmly positions GVSU as an institution dedicated to equity and systemic change in education and unrelenting in addressing the inequities of the status quo.”

The co-chairs of the Reach Higher 2025 committee told trustees the shared vision for the future contains three clear commitments from the university: an empowered educational experience, a lifetime of learning and a culture of educational equity.

Mark Schaub, dean of Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies; Janet Winter, associate dean of Kirkhof College of Nursing; and Tara Bivens, senior benefits manager in Human Resources all discussed how a large contingent of the university community provided comprehensive input that shaped the plan.

Mark Schaub gestures with his hands while talking and looking at Janet Winter, center, and Tara Bivens
The co-chairs of the Reach Higher 2025 Steering Committee spoke at the meeting. They are: Mark Schaub, left, Janet Winter, center, and Tara Bivens, right.
Image credit - Amanda Pitts

Prior to the board presentation, the plan was endorsed by the University Academic Senate, the Student Senate and the Administrative Professional Committee. 

Board Chair Megan Rydecki joined Mantella in thanking the university community for the diligent work that had been underway for more than a year. 

“A campus community of 25,000 people means 25,000 different opinions, and this doesn’t even include the 133,000 alumni and many more community partners,” Rydecki said. “This moment builds on Grand Valley’s strong history and foundation of education excellence and takes us to the next chapter.”

When presenting the resolution, Mantella said the strategies and commitments illustrate GVSU’s “expressed goal of providing a better future for all who seek knowledge, expertise and excellence from Grand Valley State University.”  

In other board action, the trustees:

  • Approved a project to expand and renovate the Fieldhouse Arena to support athletic, academic and wellness activities. The 22,280-square-foot addition will provide space for classroom instruction and practice and competition areas for student groups, including varsity wrestling, dance, cheerleading, STUNT, martial arts and the police academy. The addition also includes an enlarged, relocated athletic training room. The 3,900-foot-renovation will enhance the Student Academic Advising Center as well as several areas supporting student-athletes, including study space and the welfare and development program office. The $14.1 million project is scheduled for completion in August 2023.
  • Named Daniel C. Vélez as the new associate vice president and director for Admissions and Recruitment. Vélez is currently the vice president for Student Affairs at Baltimore City Community College. B. Donta Truss, vice president for Enrollment Management and Educational Outreach, said Vélez brings extensive leadership experience at diverse institutions and with underrepresented student populations.
  • Approved the reauthorization of seven public charter academies and schools, and the appointment or reappointment of charter school board members. The board also voted to approve a site addition and grade expansion for Covenant House Academy Detroit.


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