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Grand Valley to celebrate thousands of graduates at commencement

  • A photo of students at a past commencement ceremony.
  • A headshot of Raymond Bennett.
  • A headshot of Gary Peters.
  • A headshot of Teresa Weatherall Neal.
  • Photo of Angie Crouch and Barbara Hooper.

Posted on April 27, 2018

More than 3,000 Grand Valley students will participate in commencement ceremonies April 27 and 28 at Van Andel Arena in downtown Grand Rapids.

The April 27 speaker is Raymond Bennett, a Grand Valley alumnus and chief global officer for Marriott International Inc. The morning speaker on April 28 is U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, who has represented Michigan in the U.S. Senate since 2014; the afternoon speaker is Teresa Weatherall Neal, superintendent for Grand Rapids Public Schools. 

Grand Valley Commencement Ceremonies

Friday, April 27, at 7 p.m. 

Saturday, April 28, at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. 

Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids

NOTE: Skybox 101B is reserved for media. The skybox offers a mult box and an elevated, unobstructed view of the podium and platform. 

Ceremonies will be webcast live at

Awards and honorary degrees

The Alumni Association will present its Distinguished Alumni Award to Angie Crouch, '88, an Emmy-award winning journalist for KNBC-TV in Los Angeles. The Outstanding Educator Award will be presented to Barbara Hooper, assistant professor in the Kirkhof College of Nursing.

Robert Hooker, Judith Hooker (posthumously), Allen Hunting, and Donnalee Holton will receive honorary degrees. Robert Hooker is the retired president and CEO of Mazda Great Lakes and current director of the Grand Valley University Foundation. Robert's wife, Judith Hooker, was a kindergarten and first-grade teacher and a trustee for Grand Valley's Board of Trustees. Hunting is among the founders of Grand Valley. He led Stow and Davis Furniture Company for 30 years and was a director of the Grand Valley University Foundation. Holton, a supporter of Grand Valley, is a former member of the university's Board of Trustees and an advocate for education, health care and the arts. 

The April 27 ceremony will include the following colleges: Seidman College of Business, College of Community and Public Service and Padnos College of Engineering and Computing. The morning ceremony on April 28 will include: College of Health Professions, science programs in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and Kirkhof College of Nursing. The afternoon ceremony on April 28 will include: College of Education, Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies and liberal arts programs in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Notable student stories 

• April 28 will be a special day for John Records Landecker, who attended Grand Valley from 1965-1967. The Radio Hall of Famer dropped out of school in the ’60s, a handful of credits shy of earning a bachelor's degree. He was surprised with a Grand Valley diploma during a special presentation in February, making him a member of the Laker Class of 2018. He will make his bachelor's degree official when he walks across the stage April 28 at the 3 p.m. ceremony. Read about how he earned those last few credits: Landecker is available for interviews.

• Among the students graduating is a mother-daughter duo who earned their bachelor’s degrees together. Heather Vlieg and her daughter Amanda Martin will walk across the stage April 28 at the 3 p.m. ceremony. Vlieg will graduate with a bachelor's degree in history; Martin will graduate with a bachelor's degree in psychology. They are available for interviews and can be reached at

Learn more at