U.S. Education official tours GVSU, visits with students
When third-year student Lauren Gutierrez first came to Grand Valley, she wasn’t sure what she wanted to study. But, in her time as a tutor through the GVNext CoLab’s K-12 Connect program, she found her calling in speech therapy.
“It’s really impacted me,” Gutierrez said. “I’m really passionate about working with kids, and I would really like to continue doing that as a speech therapist after I graduate.”
It’s stories like Gutierrez’s and Grand Valley’s success in implementing programs like K-12 Connect that elicited a visit from U.S. Department of Education Under Secretary James Kvaal on August 30.
Kvaal met with President Philomena V. Mantella, members of the Senior Leadership Team and students who have participated in GVSU initiatives like REP4, the HBCU/HSI Consortium and K-12 Connect. Kvaal said his visit was prompted by Grand Valley’s reputation for innovation and delivering value for students.
“As I travel, I want to visit places that are doing special things and try and learn about the innovative programs that higher ed is trying,” Kvaal said.
A point of pride for Grand Valley is that faculty play a holistic role in supporting students, Mantella told Kvaal.
“My whole career has been in higher ed, and I would say the conversations here about the students go very deep,” Mantella said. “It’s very clear that those relationships are as important to faculty as whatever it is they teach.”
After his visit to the Allendale Campus, Kvaal headed to the DeVos Center for Interprofessional Health in Grand Rapids for a discussion on the Kirkhof College of Nursing’s partnership with the BHSH System to tackle the nursing shortage and the College of Education and Community Innovation’s partnership with Muskegon Heights Public School Academy System to address the teacher shortage.
At the DCIH, Kvaal met with Sherril Soman, dean of the College of Education and Community Innovation; Amy Schelling, associate dean of the College of Education and Community Innovation; Arnetta Thompson, superintendent of Muskegon Heights Public School Academy System; Lola Coke, former acting dean of the Kirkhof College of Nursing; and Tina Freese Decker, president and CEO of the BHSH System.
His visit at the DCIH concluded with a tour through the Simulation Center.
“Grand Valley is an institution that’s really focused on delivering value for students, helping students graduate and helping them find jobs, while remaining affordable,” Kvaal said. “That’s a huge challenge that our higher education system has.”
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