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President Haas marks 10 years of leadership at Grand Valley

  • President Thomas J. Haas

Posted on October 12, 2016

President Thomas J. Haas is celebrating his 10th anniversary at Grand Valley State University. He became the university's fourth president in 2006 and led Grand Valley through a decade of growth and success.

Grand Valley just announced another year of record-breaking enrollment. Records were broken in total number, first-year students, students of color and those living on campus. Total enrollment now stands at 25,460. Grand Valley has been recognized for the last several years by Michigan's governor and legislature for its leading performance. The university is in the top three in graduation rates of all public universities in the state and in the top four in retention.

Haas credits Provost Gayle R. Davis and the rest of his experienced cabinet with providing seasoned counsel. He recognizes the integral role of faculty and staff and the engagement of a superior Board of Trustees for always pushing Grand Valley to the next level.

"Every single person on the president's cabinet, some have been here for 30 or more years, brings together the spirit of being a team," said Haas. "They have enabled me to be as effective as I have been. Our relationship with our faculty is key as well. They've embraced planning and creating relevant programs that students want and employers need. And the trustees have been critical in ensuring appropriate oversight for the public good. All of these people have contributed to the success of Grand Valley."

During his tenure, more than 30 new majors have been established and two million square feet have been developed on campus. Grand Valley has become a leader in sustainability with nearly 20 LEED-certified buildings, including the award-winning Mary Idema Pew Library Learning and Information Commons in Allendale.

Chair of the Board of Trustees John C. Kennedy said Haas has been an effective and able leader.

"Leading a university for ten years and counting is not common," Kennedy said. "Tom followed successful presidents at Grand Valley, and he's been able to put his own mark on the institution. He's successfully steering us through a time of declining state support for public universities and a decreasing high school population in Michigan. Despite that, the university continues to break enrollment records while attracting top-performing students, faculty and staff. He has gained the confidence of the campus as well as the larger community with his steady leadership. We know how fortunate we are to have him at Grand Valley."

Haas said the most rewarding part of his 10 years at Grand Valley has been developing a culture of strategic planning that sets the proper course for the future.

"If we have a plan forward and know the outcomes we want, then we can look for the number and the quality of students we want." said Haas. "We're the nation's smallest, large university because of the relationships we've created with our students and with one another."

In addition to strategic planning, Haas said he is most proud of the Grand Finish grant for seniors graduating in four years, elevating the inclusion and equity mission to a vice presidential position, and the university's first comprehensive campaign which resulted in raising almost double the $50 million goal.

"The beauty of being here at Grand Valley is that I've been able to be me," Haas said. "My wife Marcia is a remarkable partner. We can be ourselves as we engage with community leaders, faculty and staff and students. We did a 10-city tour with alumni last year that was quite rewarding."

The president the students have nicknamed "T-Haas" believes the Grand Valley culture is special, and he wishes to leave it that way for future presidents. "The look ahead is quite bright. I want to continue to ensure our culture of student success and our foundation in the liberal arts. By positioning our university for great things, future presidents will find what I have found — it's a very special place we call Grand Valley."

See Haas' full biography here.