The urgency behind reaching higher. Now.

GVSU has done 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 of what GVSU has done so well, for so long. The changes, rather, reflect the changes required of higher education in general and as 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 Reach Higher 2025 Steering Committee is sharing 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 postpandemic 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,


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.

Urgency Behind the Strategies

An Empowered Educational Experience

At Grand Valley, we 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 are a part. We consider each and every member of our educational community a learner, each one of us at different stages in our educational pathway. We commit to helping students discover their passion and guide and support them along the way. Leading these efforts are our expert faculty members, who develop the curricula our students need for mastery of their chosen academic directions.

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.

A Lifetime of Learning

From our first encounter with learners, we strive to provide innovative curricular, co- curricular, and experiential learning opportunities. At Grand Valley, our approach to teaching and learning continues to integrate liberal and professional education in both disciplinary and interdisciplinary ways, and it is directly relevant to the communities and world our graduates 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 within diverse communities. With our support and guidance, lifetime learners shape those communities while they are students, as well as across the rest of their lifetimes. Our faculty model the passionate pursuit of lifetime learning through cutting-edge research, scholarship, and expression. We pursue reciprocal relationships with alumni and community partners to create sustainable and supportive learning networks. Our programs and educators encourage students to generate ideas on how they can be enterprising in their learning, especially in ways that enhance their communities and workplaces.

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?

A Culture of 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 toward a more just and sustainable world – on our campuses and beyond. We work to eliminate disparities and obstacles for student success, especially those that have historically been along lines of color, race, socioeconomic status, sex/gender, including gender identity and expression, and sexual orientation.

“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.

Page last modified February 24, 2022