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Blue announces retirement from Grand Valley after 50 years

  • Lynn "Chick" Blue
  • Lynn "Chick" Blue

Posted on March 12, 2018

When Lynn "Chick" McNamara Blue was hired at Grand Valley State University as a clerk typist in 1968, she was put on a six-month probation. Her performance must have been acceptable because she is now a vice president and will break the record for the longest-serving employee when she passes the 50-year mark in September. While she noted she is definitely a Laker for a Lifetime, Blue announced she will stop showing up at the office each day at the end of this year. 

Blue worked every position in the records office and started with one filing cabinet that held the records of all 1,729 students at Grand Valley. Academic record-keeping kept evolving and becoming more automated. Blue is credited with being part of developing Grand Valley's innovative one-stop service center for students to register and pay bills.  She steadily moved up the ranks, being promoted to vice president for Enrollment Development by President Thomas J. Haas in 2015. Enrollment now stands at more than 25,000 students. She said she never had to leave Grand Valley to change jobs because the university kept changing around her, but the one thing that has never changed is her commitment to students.

"Our rapid enrollment growth made my work innovative, fascinating and exciting," Blue said. "I found ways in each of the positions I held to connect positively with students. Over the years, I've been able to impact how we, as a university, intensify our focus on students and their Grand Valley experience. The work I've been able to do matching scholarships with students and guiding them through to a degree has been transformative. I'm incredibly grateful for 50 years on the job and for the students and my colleagues who make Grand Valley such an extraordinary place. I'm going to breathe in every last minute until my retirement on the last day of the year."

Haas said a half-century of service, in the integral roles that Blue has held at Grand Valley, has truly changed the fabric of the university.

"Chick has given her heart and soul in service to our students and to our university community," said Haas. "She is an amazing example of someone who puts the student experience and success front and center. From overseeing technical innovations to personally committing to many students, Chick has led by example. She's smart, practical and a steadfast champion of students. An era is coming to a close with the retirement of a person with her character, work ethic and devotion to students. Her contributions will live on in the spirit of how we serve students at Grand Valley."

Blue's 1968 appointment letter ended with this prescient sentence: "I am looking forward to your contributions to the college, and I wish you success and happiness in your work here." The letter was written by former vice president, then personnel officer, Ronald VanSteeland.

Although Blue remains on the job for nine more months, Haas said the university will immediately begin looking for her replacement with a search committee chaired by Vice President for Inclusion and Equity Jesse Bernal.