Presidential Fellows

In 2019, President Philomena V. Mantella initiated the Presidential Fellows initiative to provide enhanced leadership development for faculty and greater engagement of faculty with university leadership. The initiative is open to all tenured faculty members at Grand Valley State University. Presidential Fellows focus on one or more focus areas that advance university priorities. Fellows also serve on the President’s Council.

Current Presidential Fellows

Merritt Delano-Taylor

Merritt Delano-Taylor

Interim Department Chair, Geology & Professor of Biomedical Sciences (CLAS)

Term: 2023-2025

Karyn Raybourn

Karyn Rabourn

Associate Professor and Director of the M.Ed. in Higher Education program (CECI)

Term: 2024-2026

Presidential Fellows - 2021-2023 Cohort

Lindsay Corneal

Lindsay Corneal

Presidential Fellow for Learner Pathways
Associate Professor of Product Design & Manufacturing Engineering, College of Engineering and Computing

Alisha Davis

Alisha Davis

Presidential Fellow for Inclusion & Equity
Assistant Vice President for the Social Justice Centers & Director of Office of Multicultural Affairs

Kristin Meyer

Kristin Meyer

Presidential Fellow for Reach Higher 2025
Associate Dean, University Libraries 

Robert Talbert

Robert Talbert

Presidential Fellow for the Advancement of Learning
Professor of Mathematics, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

2023-2025 Fellows

The 2023-2025 application closed on January 13, 2023.

Presidential Fellows Details

Presidential Fellows work closely with the president and other senior leaders in an area of focus that advances university priorities. This extended learning experience enables Fellows to observe how senior administrators lead the institution and deal with change. As part of the learning experience and working with the president, Presidential Fellows will focus on one or more domains – an issue, topic, and/or project that will contribute to the university’s capacity building. Faculty may propose a range of areas of interest for work on behalf of the university. Faculty are encouraged to identify an area of interest that expands their current work or research and/or provides development opportunities to engage in innovative and new spaces. Areas with clear opportunities to advance Reach Higher 2025 commitments are encouraged. Some areas for possible consideration include digital planning and transformation; implementing strategic plans and measuring progress; innovation and the future of learning; inclusion and equity; curriculum innovation; faculty development; student success; communications, messaging and engagement, external relations; or other areas of interest as proposed by the applicant. In 2023-2025, five additional areas of the university are interested in appointing Presidential Fellows: Enrollment Development, Information Technology, Communications/Public Affairs, Inclusion and Equity, and the Provost's Office. Final assignments will be refined with the selected fellows and President Mantella.

  1. PVA Assessment & Debrief: Each applicant will be allowed to participate in the Pondera Work Preference Assessment (PVA), a research-based tool providing insight into individual and team preferences about motivation, operating style, and modes of learning. Each participant will be offered an individual debriefing session with a trained facilitator to discuss the results. Results may be used during the interview process to help guide questions.
  2. University 101/201: The fellows' cohort will participate in an intensive onboarding leadership training designed to provide specific knowledge related to leadership roles and operations of the university. A two-day program will be facilitated by members of the Senior Leadership Team and other university leaders during summer 2023. Additional sessions will be scheduled throughout the fellows’ tenure as important topics and trends arise.
  3. Mentorship: Presidential Fellows are assigned one or more mentors from senior management or President’s Council. The mentorship components will be determined collaboratively by the mentor and fellow. Through direct experience and guidance from leaders, these components should seek to cultivate skills and systems-level thinking needed to be successful in higher education administration.
  4. Shadowing: Presidential Fellows will work with vice presidents to schedule a day or more of shadowing to gain deeper insight into specific functional areas while also learning about the various aspects of leadership roles and decision-making processes. This can provide Fellows with additional professional development, exposure to leadership, and the chance to acquire a broader understanding of leadership and the university.
  5. President’s Council: Presidential Fellows serve as members and play an important work in facilitating discussions during meetings.
  6. Senior Leadership Team: Presidential Fellows are invited to relevant SLT meetings, which provide an inside look into discussions and decision-making. This can provide Fellows with additional opportunities to gain valuable insight into leadership at GVSU. Fellows are also invited to present on relevant topics to SLT.
  7. Individual Professional Development: The program supports focused professional development and/or training for each fellow, determined in consultation with the president and senior leadership team. The experience intends to advance individual skills and knowledge or provide unique new experiences for the fellow.
  8. Shared Professional Development: Each cohort of fellows will work with the president and chief of staff to determine a shared professional development experience that supports new and experienced higher education leaders to learn more about innovative strategies, trends, and best practices. For 2023, fellows will participate in the Leadership in Higher Education Conference on October 12-14.
  9. Program Alumni Networking: Former Presidential Fellows are asked to coordinate twice-year convenings of fellows to engage in networking and information-sharing. Program alumni are invited to continue participating in various university initiatives and events to allow for ongoing personal development and contributions to the university.
  10. Fellows Cohort: Regular cohort meetings with fellows to share insights, strategies, and challenges and receive support.

As part of the learning experience, Presidential Fellows will focus on one or more domains – an issue, topic, and/or project that will contribute to the university’s capacity building. Each applicant will provide up to three learning objectives and leadership traits they would like to explore/develop if selected as a Presidential Fellow. Objectives will be refined with the president and senior leadership team assignment.

Presidential Fellows work closely with the president and other senior leaders in an area of focus that advances university priorities. As part of this work, the fellow will work on a signature project to capture the fellow’s experience and learning while contributing to university activities. The project will be showcased in a Presidential Fellows Symposium in November/December of the program's second year.

The Presidential Fellows Program is intended to provide university experience to faculty interested in exploring higher education administration. Following the program, fellows may return to their department or explore administrative career opportunities at GVSU. Fellows will also be encouraged to work with the president and other senior leaders to determine opportunities for continued project-based work. It is expected that fellows will remain at GSVU for at least two years following the fellowship.

Only tenured faculty are eligible for these positions. Presidential Fellows also serve on the President’s Council. Applicants must have the support of their department chair and dean to participate (if applicable, funding will be provided to departments/colleges to backfill teaching loads).

New fellowships will begin Fall 2023, and are expected to continue through Winter 2025 with a review after the first year. Spring/Summer semester assignments are negotiable. Those able to engage in Spring/Summer 2023 will be able to do so.

The contribution of the Faculty Fellow will be approximately 10 hours per week. The faculty member will utilize significant focus and be supported through a stipend per semester or course release (determined by the college) during the fall and winter semesters. An additional stipend is available for Spring/Summer terms, which is optional. If departments/colleges provide a course release to fellows, adjunct pool funding will be provided to backfill.

Application & 2023-2025 Deadline

**The 2023-2025 application closed on January 13, 2023.

Interested faculty should submit a letter of interest and current CV here. The letter of interest should identify a proposed area of focus – an issue, topic, and/or project that will contribute to the university’s capacity building. The letter should also address how the fellowship fits with professional interests and/or career goals and qualifications relevant to the area and role and may address any of the following:

  • How will the area of focus advance Reach Higher 2025 commitments?
  • What leadership skill(s) do you hope to develop/strengthen during the fellowship?
  • How could you contribute to the overall cohort? Consider your institutional role, disciplinary training, and other leadership characteristics.
  • From the experience, how could your high-level leadership skills/abilities serve the needs of GVSU or higher education? Consider potential immediate contributions following the fellowship and those in the next five to ten years.

Faculty seeking to develop or expand their skillsets, and get involved in university-level leadership, are encouraged to apply. 

All applicants will be invited to a brief meeting with President Mantella to discuss their submitted materials and interest. Applicants are encouraged to obtain and submit an acknowledgment of the application and consent from their unit head and dean along with their materials. At least two fellows will be selected and notified of acceptance by March 2023.


If you have questions or would like to discuss potential areas of interest, please contact Jesse M. Bernal at [email protected].

2021 Faculty Associates

Chasity Bailey-Fakhoury, associate professor of Educational Foundations, was the Presidential Fellow for Strategy Development and Outreach. 

Aaron Lowen, professor of economics and finance department chair, was the Presidential Fellow for Enterprise Learning & Development.

Bailey-Fakhoury worked with Mantella and members of the Senior Leadership Team on university strategy and will assisted in operationalizing initiatives across the university. She will had a special emphasis on supporting faculty innovation as the faculty lead for the Innovation Fund planning and review team.

Lowen worked with the president, the Provost's Office and a team of faculty and staff to strengthen and advance enterprise relationships and expand outreach. This included organizing and leading a business development team to identify and visit target companies for initial business-to-business outreach. It also included engaging faculty and staff experts for their input on making educational offerings more visible and accessible.


Associate Professor, Educational Foundations
Director of Engagement for Education and Community Innovation
2019-2021 Presidential Fellow


Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs, Provost's Office
Professor of Economics
2019-2021 Presidential Fellow

In 2019, the University Leadership Development (U LEAD) Task Force of the University Academic Senate issued several recommendations for leadership development at Grand Valley State University. In response, President Mantella began a faculty fellows program supporting at least two part-time fellows to work with university leadership in advancing key initiatives over a two-year experience.

Page last modified July 24, 2023