Faculty, staff, recognized at first Presidents' Ball since 2020

Grand Valley’s Presidents’ Ball returned to Grand Rapids on January 27, reigniting a tradition that had been on a pandemic-related hold for the past two years.

Faith Kidd, Student Body president and President Philomena V. Mantella hosted the event, “The Night Time Stands Still,” at DeVos Place, where more than 3,500 Lakers made up for lost time by dining and dancing the night away.

Members of the campus community were presented with awards during a special ceremony:

  • Emily First, assistant dean of students, received the Staff Laker of the Year award
  • Yasmin Alemayehu received the Student Laker of the Year award
  • Michelle Miller-Adams,professor of political science, received the Student Award for Faculty Excellence
  • Jill Hinton Wolfe, director of the Secchia Military & Veterans Resource Center, was honored with the Presidents’ Appreciation Award.

Wolfe gave her acceptance speech in her military-issued combat boots, imploring her audience to “Know yourself, love yourself, and have a truth that you can pursue regardless of what tragedies may befall you.” She received a standing ovation. 

President Philomena Mantella places a hand on Jill Hinton Wolfe's shoulder while congratulating her before she gives her acceptance speech.
Jill Hinton Wolfe, Director of the Military & Veterans Resource Center, received the Presidents' Appreciation Award.
Image credit - Mason Whitaker
Student Ben Biermacher presenting the SAFE Award to Professor Michelle Miller-Adams.
Ben Biermacher, presented the Student Award for Faculty Excellence (SAFE) to Michelle Miller-Adams, Ph.D., professor of political science.
Image credit - Mason Whitaker
Yasmin Alemayehu, recipient of the Student Laker of the Year Award, gives her acceptance speech behind the podium.
Yasmin Alemayehu, GVSU student, received the Laker of the Year Award.
Image credit - Mason Whitaker

Attendees were also treated to a few live performances throughout the night. GVSU a capella groups Midnight Snack and Euphoria were featured during the program, with Midnight Snack performing “Valerie” and Euphoria performing “Feeling Good”. Mantella also took the stage for a surprise late-night number with the Laker Dance Team.

The Presidents’ Ball was co-sponsored by the Campus Activities Board, Office of Student Life, and Student Senate. First held in 1986, it is one of Grand Valley’s oldest traditions.

Members of Midnight Snack perform, all holding microphones and wearing ball gowns in different colors.
"Valerie" performed by GVSU a capella group Midnight Snack.
Image credit - Mason Whitaker
President Philomena Mantella smiles at the crowd while holding a magic wand above her head, and wearing a dark blue cloak over her dress.
Image credit - Mason Whitaker
Members of Euphoria perform, all holding microphones and wearing black and blue gowns and suits.
"Feeling Good" performed by GVSU a capella group Euphoria.
Image credit - Mason Whitaker


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