Students, faculty, staff share attributes they want in next president
Posted on April 13, 2018
Members of the Presidential Search Advisory Committee heard from students, faculty, staff members and alumni during two listening sessions held April 12 and 13 on the Allendale and Pew Grand Rapids campuses.
John C. Kennedy, chair of the Grand Valley Board of Trustees, said a broad set of leadership criteria has been posted for the position, but input from the Grand Valley community would help narrow down the attributes desired in the next president of Grand Valley State University.
Tom Fitch, from the search firm Storbeck, Pimentel and Associates, asked participants to frame their thoughts by thinking of these questions: Why do you love Grand Valley? What makes Grand Valley unique? What are the top challenges and opportunities for the new president? What attributes should a candidate bring?
Fitch said after gathering comments, the nationwide search will launch in May with candidates being recruited through the summer and interviewed in the fall. Fitch said a successor should be named in December.
For more information, visit www.gvsu.edu/presidentsearch.
Below are some of the thoughts shared during the listening sessions:
• Brian Lakey, professor of psychology and member of University Academic Senate said, "If our goal is to be the best regional state university in Michigan, where do we go from here?" Lakey said one of Grand Valley's strengths is its strong undergraduate research program. He proposed Grand Valley could remain competitive by selecting a president who would direct more resources to high-level, faculty-student research groups.
• Ed Garner, interim state director and regional director for SBDC, has been at Grand Valley for less than a year but said he recognizes the university's integral role in West Michigan's economy as a partner and resource to many businesses and organizations. He advocated for a leader who would continue to work with area companies by advancing graduates who would fill the talent shortage.
• Rachel Siglow, executive assistant to the president, created a list of important qualities for a president that included being student-focused, willing to attend many events, mentoring students, being comfortable with a heavy travel schedule and being knowledgable with the Higher Learning Commission's accreditation processes.
• Danqing Yang, an international student from China, said President Haas hand-delivered her acceptance letter into the linguistics graduate program while he was visiting China. She said she hopes the next president is as caring as President Haas. "I love the diverse campus and that I can connect with people from around the world. I feel like I belong here, it feels like family," she said.
• Natalia Blanco, a junior majoring in public and nonprofit administration, said she hopes the new president will focus on strengthening alumni relations as well as diversity. "I'm here today because women of color encouraged me to stay. It helps to see women in administration who look like me and sound like me," she said.
• Steve Glass, acting dean of students, said he hopes the new president continues the special relationship President Haas has established with undergraduate students. Glass said he would like to see increased access for students with better ways to fund students to come to Grand Valley.
• Bob Schoofs, liaison librarian, said he appreciates faculty governance at Grand Valley and hopes the new president will support continuing faculty involvement.
• Bruce Ostrow, professor of biology, said: "The new president needs to be forceful and push the state for proper appropriations for Grand Valley; someone who knows that environment. This would help with access and retention."
• Debbie Morrow, liaison librarian, said the new president should believe in continuing Grand Valley's mission for offering a student-centered, liberal education.
• Mike Messner, assistant vice provost for student success, said, "We need to be sure we stay true to what we are — a great regional comprehensive university." Messner said priorities for a new president include increasing access and balancing enrollment.
• Chris Plouff, assistant vice president for Academic Affairs, said: "Some don't know the gem we have here at Grand Valley and the quality that it is. I hope we attract a candidate who has broad level experience with an institution similar to ours."
• Jonathan Hodge, director of the School of Communications, said Grand Valley is special because it is student centered, has an ethos of supporting success and has strong faculty governance. He said he hopes the new president will be a creative thinker and collaborator, and one who will continue to involve faculty when exploring options.