Why Do We Need to Change?

The urgency behind reaching higher. Now.

GVSU has and continues to do great things, especially in high-quality undergraduate liberal education fused with strong professional education. Our dedication to traditional-aged undergraduates and excellent professionally oriented graduate programs will not falter. The changes we need to consider and embrace do not include a reduction in effort at what GVSU has done so well, for so long. The changes, rather, reflect the changes required of higher education in general, and required by our regional context. Our impact as a university is proven. And strong. We just need to expand that impact, to larger segments of students, and in important ways that serve those students and communities.

The RH 2025 Steering Committee is sharing here a bibliography of recent (i.e, in past 1.5 years) articles and thought pieces on current/future trends in higher education. These articles have some common “through lines” for us in terms of what we need to consider and act on in a post-pandemic GVSU. We are particularly keen on the summary/overview by higher education journalist and thought leader, J. Selingo. His summary video is worth the time: The Post-Pandemic U. - Higher Ed in the Decade Ahead.

The number of annual Michigan high school graduates will decrease by a further 10% over the next 15 years

The number of annual Michigan high school graduates will decrease by a further 10% over the next 15 years.  This chart shows a sustained decline in Michigan high school graduates from 2017 to 2037.  Source: Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, Knocking at the College Door: Projections of High School Graduates, 2020, www.knocking.wiche.edu.

Bibliography

The Student-Centered Syllabus
Supiano, B. (November 22, 2021). The Chronicle of Higher Education

Openings: Higher Education’s Challenge to Change in the Face of the Pandemic, Inequity, and Racism
Bass, R., et al, (2021, January), Georgetown University Graduate Program in Learning, Design, and Technology.

The Problem-Solving Generation
Casap, J. (November 2, 2020). GVSU Fireside Chat with President Mantella.

Building an Equity-Minded Campus Culture. In From Equity Talk to Equity Walk: Expanding Practitioner Knowledge for Racial Justice in Higher Education.
McNair, T.B., Bensimon, E.M., & Malcom-Piqueux, L.E. (2020). Jossey-Bass, a Wiley Brand.

Why Higher Education Is Failing to Close the Racial Wealth Gap
Mintz, S. (2021, September 13), Inside Higher Ed.

On Innovation in Higher Education. In Alternate Universities: Speculative Design for Innovation in Higher Education.
Staley, D.J. (2019). Johns Hopkins University Press.

How to Transform Higher-Education Institutions for the Long Term
Boggs, H., Boroditsky, R., Krishnan, C. & Sarakatsannis, J. (2021, March 9).

A Crisis of Legitimacy: Today's Toughest Global Challenges are Unintended Consequences of Yesterday's Success. If Our Prevailing Institutions Can't Adapt, They Could Lose the Right to Lead.
Sheppard, B., & Droog, C.A. (2019, June 5). Strategy & Business.

The Future of Gen Z: How COVID-19 Will Shape Students and Higher Education for the Next Decade
Selingo, J.J. (2021). The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The Future Learners: An Innovative Approach to Understanding the Higher Education Market And Building A Student-Centered University
Selingo, J.J. Pearson.com.

Urgency Behind the Strategies

Empowered Educational Experience

At Grand Valley, we center students in everything we do. Education is an intrinsic value for the public good. We consider each and every member of our educational community a learner, each one of us at different stages in our educational pathway. We are committed to helping students to discover their passion and guide and support them along the way.

Leading that effort are our talented faculty, who develop the curricula that our students need for mastery of their chosen academic pathways.

At Grand Valley, we will center students in everything we do. Education is an intrinsic value for the learners themselves as well as the public good for the wider communities of which we’re a part. We will consider each and every member of our educational community a learner, each one of us at different stages in our educational pathway. We are committing to helping students discover their passion and guiding and supporting them along the way.

Leading that effort will be our expert faculty members, who develop the curricula that our students need for mastery of their chosen academic directions.

Strategy: Student agency and success will always drive our collective work. We will demonstrate this by prioritizing:

  • Continued moves away from a “one-size-fits-all” approach to students and toward an understanding of their individual needs, motivations, and goals that is actively supported by faculty and expert staff
  • Expanded flexibility for students to learn when, how, and where they learn best; this will be coupled with appropriate support for faculty and staff to be able to adapt to those changes while continuing to provide quality educational opportunities
  • Providing students with flexibility to learn when, how, and where they learn best; supporting faculty and staff to be able to flex with those changes while continuing to provide quality educational opportunities
  • Relevant programs full of learning opportunities that can be applied to the pressing concerns and problems of communities and the world
  • Deeper and broader experiential learning for all students that includes internships, practica, cooperative placements, global learning, and more
  • Strong integration of liberal education with professional education; this fusion will particularly reflect students’ digital literacy, technological proficiency, and leadership development
  • Collaborative research, scholarship, and creative expression between students and faculty members that brings them together in partnership and models lifelong learning and pursuit of new knowledge
  • Personalized assistance to students to identify and develop a network of mentors and advisors from among the faculty, staff, employment supervisors, alumni, and community members that form the extended GVSU learning community
  • Community engagement practices that demonstrate reciprocity of learning
  • Progressive expansion of high-demand programs that are rigorously designed and reflect the integration of liberal education and professional education

On first blush, this strategy seems focused on the long view, and it is. But our students coming this year, let alone next year, will not benefit from our efforts unless we start building, pushing, questioning today. Many have said these hallmarks of our success (e.g., high-touch liberal education and experiential learning) are already robust. They’re half-right. The competition is working hard and our students (our students right now) deserve even better. GVSU—like so many large comprehensive universities—is not a nimble or maneuverable vessel. That rudder should be already hard a-starboard.


Lifelong Learning

From our first encounter with learners, we will strive to provide innovative curricular, co-curricular, and experiential learning opportunities. At GVSU, our approach to teaching and learning integrates liberal and professional education in both disciplinary and interdisciplinary ways, and is directly relevant to the communities and world our graduates will shape. The liberal education approach of the undergraduate curriculum provides a foundation for how to learn, and how to apply that learning, in leadership roles and amidst diverse communities.

With our support and guidance, lifetime learners will shape those communities while they are students as well as across the rest of their lifetime. Our faculty will model the passionate pursuit of lifetime learning through cutting-edge research, scholarship, and expression. We will pursue reciprocal relationships with alumni and community partners to create sustainable and supportive learning networks. Concurrently, our programs and educators will encourage students to generate ideas on how they can be enterprising in their learning, especially in ways that enhance their communities and workplaces.

From our first encounter with learners, we will strive to provide innovative curricular, co-curricular, and experiential learning opportunities. At GVSU, our approach to teaching and learning will continue to integrate liberal and professional education in both disciplinary and interdisciplinary ways, and will be directly relevant to the communities and world our graduates will shape. The liberal education approach of the undergraduate curriculum will provide a foundation for how to learn, and how to apply that learning, in leadership roles and amidst diverse communities.

With our support and guidance, lifetime learners will shape those communities while they are students as well as across the rest of their lifetimes. Our faculty will model the passionate pursuit of lifetime learning through cutting-edge research, scholarship, and expression. We will pursue reciprocal relationships with alumni and community partners to create sustainable and supportive learning networks. Concurrently, our programs and educators will encourage students to generate ideas on how they can be enterprising in their learning, especially in ways that enhance their communities and workplaces.

Strategy: Design and leverage learning opportunities for students of all stages in their lives and careers, meeting their needs where they are. We will succeed at this through:

  • Championing a strong foundation of liberal education that engenders the mindset and skills to advance students’ education across a lifetime; the liberal education will always be integrated with experiential, practical, and professional educational opportunities that propel all in our learning communities to positive effect in society and the larger world
  • Developing beneficial and supportive connections between and across all those in the larger GVSU learning community, including future and currently enrolled students, alumni, faculty, staff, and community members
  • Increasing flexibility for students in terms of pace and engagement with curricular components; this may include additional terms across the calendar year, more summertime, online, low-residency, and on-demand selections
  • Attracting our traditional-aged FTIAC student population and supporting them in learning across their lifetimes while also providing more and attractive options for adult learners
  • Building strategic institutional partnerships to scale our impact, expand our reach, and better serve diverse groups of learners (e.g., community colleges, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, Historically Black Colleges & Universities, etc.)

With about 130,000 alumni who are essential to this strategy, and to aid in the development of educational networks for every Laker, we all need to pitch in on this one. Connecting with alumni in meaningful and reciprocal ways is not just the job of our handful of colleagues in Alumni Relations; it takes all of us. It takes all of us in fostering a Laker-for-a-Lifetime mentality in current students, as well. Our liberal education approach is the foundation for fostering a lifetime of learning. What have you and your unit done on this front…this week?


Educational Equity

We embrace our role as a leader in urgently advancing equity for all learners. Together, we ensure that our community serves as a catalyst towards a more just and sustainable world -- both on our campuses and beyond. We work to eliminate disparities and obstacles for student success, especially those that have historically been along lines of race, gender, class, and social structures.

We will embrace our role as a leader in urgently advancing equity for all learners. Together, we will ensure that our community serves as a catalyst toward a more just and sustainable world -- both on our campuses and beyond. We will work to eliminate disparities and obstacles for student success, especially those that have historically been along lines of race, gender, class, and social structures.

Strategy: Center equity and inclusion for a more diverse learning community. We will achieve this through:

  • Removing systemic barriers to educational access, retention, and persistence
  • Developing and establishing university policies, practices, systems, and culture that will demonstrate our institutional accountability to diversity, equity, inclusion, access, and total well-being for all community members
  • Recruiting, empowering, and retaining a diverse student body, faculty, and staff
  • Appropriately acknowledging that GVSU exists on the land of the Anishinaabe peoples—the Ojibwe, Odawa, and Bodéwadmi —and commits to increasing the visibility of Anishinaabe people among its students, faculty and staff, its curriculum, and its cultural programming
  • Incorporating environmental, human and economic factors toward global and societal vitality that advance beyond our current award-winning sustainable practices
  • Implementing all additional sub-population Strategic Enrollment Management Plan (SEMP) priorities
  • Executing all additional recommendations from the Network of Advisors for Racial Equity

“Is this just more lip service?” is a version of the question that came up during each and every 2019 Grand Huddle, 2020 RH2025 huddle, or 2021 forum. That wariness was vocalized clearly by white students, students of color, faculty, staff, and community members. Folks are impatient. We want society to change, and fast, and we want GVSU to be more inclusive. And fast. Lives and futures depend on it.