In Winter 2021, President Philomena V. Mantella charged an inclusive steering committee with leading the development of the Reach Higher 2025 strategic framework. Tara Bivens, benefits manager, Human Resources, Mark Schaub, dean, Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies, and Janet Winter, associate dean, Kirkhof College of Nursing, were appointed as co-leads. The committee included eight representatives from the University Academic Senate, student and staff representatives, presidential fellow appointees, and liaisons to the enrollment, digital, and equity parallel planning efforts. Chris Plouff, interim provost and executive vice president for academic and student affairs, and Jesse Bernal, chief of staff to the president and vice president for inclusion and equity, served as executive sponsors.

Reach Higher 2025 represents the complex aspirations of Grand Valley’s faculty, staff, students, and community partners. These stakeholders asked for a plan that respected our foundation while driving toward bold new opportunities. The planning process included 24 steering committee meetings; 18 student, faculty, staff, and alumni huddles; and 8,000 engaged stakeholders, which resulted in more than 150,000 total comments received.

The work of the steering committee concluded with the endorsements of the University Academic Senate, Student Senate, and AP Committee in January 2022.


Tara Bivens

Tara Bivens
Benefits Manager, Human Resources

Mark Schaub

Mark Schaub
Dean, Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies

Janet Winter

Janet Winter
Associate Dean, Kirkhof College of Nursing

UAS Representatives

  • Majd Al-Mallah, Modern Languages and Literatures (College of Liberal Arts and Sciences)
  • Ana Gonzalez (Seidman College of Business)
  • Courtney Karasinski, Speech Language Pathology (College of Health Professions)
  • Amy McFarland (Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies)
  • Paul Murphy (College of Liberal Arts and Sciences)
  • Jared Moore, Computer Information Science (Padnos College of Engineering and Computing)
  • Lisa Perhamus (CECI, and Padnos/Sarosik Center for Civil Discourse)
  • Joel Wendland-Liu (Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies)

Student Representatives

  • James O’Neil, Student Senate executive vice president
  • Julian Sanders, at-large student representative

Staff Committee Representatives

  • Tami John, APSS vice president (Facilities Services)
  • Karen Matchett, lab instructional coordinator (Chemistry Department)
  • Mike Stoll, academic advisor (Kirkhof College of Nursing)

At-Large Committee Members

  • Jennifer Drake, dean (College of Liberal Arts and Sciences)
  • Jennifer Schick, university budget director (Finance and Administration Division)
  • Aaron Turner, director of development (WGVU)

Ex-Officio Committee Members

  • Philomena V. Mantella, president
  • Chris Plouff, interim provost and executive vice president for academic and student affairs

Parallel Planning Liaisons

  • Donta Truss, vice president for enrollment development and educational outreach (enrollment plan)
  • Miloš Topić, vice president and chief digital officer (digital plan)
  • Alisha Davis, assistant chair and allied health sciences program director (equity plan)

Presidential Fellows

  • Kristin Meyer, user experience librarian, Steelcase Library
  • Chasity Bailey-Fakhoury, associate professor of education, College of Education and Community Innovation

Operations Team Members

  • Jesse M. Bernal, chief of staff to the president and vice president for inclusion and equity
  • Board Relations: Cori Kahler, project specialist for presidential initiatives and board relations (Office of the President)
  • Engagement Specialist: Elizabeth Doyle, special associate for presidential initiatives, inclusion and equity (Office of the Vice President for Inclusion and Equity)
  • Event Support: Jill Craig, director of special events, Office of the President
  • Administrative Support: Cameron Jones, executive assistant to the vice presidents for university relations and inclusion/equity/presidential initiatives
  • Website and Communications: Alex Priebe, office coordinator (Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies)
  • University Communications Liasion: Peg West, communications specialist

Page last modified February 16, 2022