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Longtime university supporter helps Grand Valley students succeed

  • photo of woman holding a book

Posted on April 25, 2018

 Grand Valley students now have an even greater opportunity to stay and succeed, thanks to a generous gift from community philanthropist Beatrice "Bea" Idema.

Idema established three new scholarships to benefit students who are majoring in criminal justice, physics, and nursing.

"We were brought up to give rather than to take," Idema said. "Being able to give is a gift, so I just feel good about doing what I am doing." 

• Idema established the Philip Peter Versluis Criminal Justice Endowed Scholarship in memory of her brother-in-law, Philip, to continue his philanthropic legacy and assist students studying criminal justice.

• The William "Bill" W. Idema Physics Endowed Scholarship honors Idema's late husband by continuing his legacy and helping students who are studying physics. 

• The Beatrice "Bea" A. Idema Nursing Endowed Scholarship is an expression of her passion for personally investing in helping others; it will help nursing students who often accrue extra costs associated with the program. 

Michelle Rhodes, director of Financial Aid, said scholarships can be the difference in whether a student continues to attend classes, or drops out of college to work. More than 90 percent of Grand Valley students receive some type of financial aid.

"We want to encourage students to focus on finishing their degree and these scholarships go a long way to help alleviate some of that financial burden," Rhodes said.

Idema has supported Grand Valley for decades, providing leadership and service to the university and Grand Valley University Foundation. She played important roles in the campaigns for the Mary Idema Pew Library Learning and Information Commons, and the Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences. 

Idema's loyal support has created opportunities for thousands of students. Her latest gift is part of the Laker Effect campaign, which is transforming the lives of students and enhancing the West Michigan community. Learn more about the campaign at