Message from the Vice Provost & Dean

2020:  Historic... difficult... emotional... instructive... 

It was certainly these things, and more. We have now lived with this pandemic for 10 months. Given that on January 31 Vice Provost Jean Nagelkerk and I sent our first campus letter about a novel coronavirus being monitored internationally, let’s just go ahead and call it a full year. And, what a year it has been.

Regardless of how long you have worked in higher education, this is likely the most challenging year of your career, as it has been for mine. Yet, through the social isolation of working from home (or WFH - as I learned this year!); the pain of racial reckoning; the emotion of an election; and the challenges of loss, economic upheaval, and the ups and downs of real life made harder by this pandemic, we learn and we grow.
“When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate. And when life is bitter, say thank you and grow.”
(Shauna Niequist)

Indeed, I have learned so much this year. I learned that I am responsible for social justice and the systems that suppress it. I learned that young people are more resilient than given credit for. I learned that colleagues’ lives are more complicated than we see only at work. I learned that I take for granted what can quickly disappear (sports, relationships, rituals, concerts, stores... toilet paper!). I learned that crises reveal a great deal about both character and capability. And, that I sometimes merely endured the “bitterness” of the year without giving thanks for what it is teaching me. Chief among these teachings is my appreciation for your character and capability. 

You worked so very hard to connect students to GV and each other; you personally supported students impacted by the pandemic; you engaged employers, colleagues, and alumni with messages of continuity and hope; you cared for others’ children and family members so they could focus elsewhere; and you collaborated with faculty, staff, and me as we did our best to muster the very courage and resilience we cultivate in our students. 

Yes, I have grown a lot this year. You have been my heroes, role models, and teachers. I admire you, appreciate you, and wish you a restful break and an optimistic 2021.


student holding GVSU Votes! sign

RecWell Invests in Diversity, Equity, and


Through involvement in a racial equity challenge and department efforts that occurred as a result, Recreation & Wellness has leaned into dismantling racism and strengthening their commitment to action. While there is much work yet to be done, staff are encouraged and inspired as they look ahead to the future.  
Racial Equity Challenge
Five full-time staff members participated in the 21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge, hosted by NIRSA, leaders in collegiate recreation. As part of the challenge, participants were provided content focused on the Black American experience, including "a background of systemic racism that advanced through to allyship and making progress towards being an effective, positive ally," described Mike Przydzial, Interim Director. The topics were widespread, reaching further than recreation and included leadership, office spaces, structures, and systems. The best part: it’s an ongoing challenge with ways to continue the conversation and put the content into practice moving forward. 

“The NIRSA 21 day challenge encouraged professionals to not only learn and be more aware, but also to be more accountable in our work. We need to be intentional about the action steps that we can take to help build greater allyship and how we can create change," stated Amy Campbell, Interim Senior Associate Director.

The challenge took people outside of their comfort zones and encouraged leaders to be more confident when talking about racism. “It opened doors for discussion outside of work. Most of the learning didn’t happen from the challenge, but from the conversations that took place with roommates and friends,” added Malia Brooks, Fitness and Wellness Program Coordinator. “I was more willing to have those conversations after learning the background and seeing from a different perspective than my own.” 

Read the full RecWell news article to learn more about their department-led discussions, student employee involvement, and next steps. 
Virtual Water Coolers Shared Learning Space: Film Series
Upcoming Division of Student Affairs Shared Film Series discussion:

Co-hosted by JaJuan Collins & Valerie Guzman

December 16, 12 - 1 p.m.

Upcoming Division of Student Affairs Virtual Water Cooler Series:

Managing Multiple Agendas: Caring for Staff while Managing Administrative Mandates 
Facilitated by Latrece McDaniel & Pamela Miller

January 21, 12 - 1 p.m.

The Statement

The Student Code: Statement of Students Rights and Responsibilities (the Statement) goes into effect January 4, 2021. Please take time to review the Statement. Pay close attention to the academic and general misconduct sections so that you know the standards that our students are being held accountable to and the procedures the university must follow to address alleged misconduct.

See the video below for an introduction of the Statement by Anthony T. Williams Jr., or view the Statement on the Office of Student Conduct & Conflict Resolution website.
Video for student statement

Winter Programming in the Career Center

Preparations are underway for winter programming in the Career Center. The Work Like a Laker Conference will take place March 8-18, 2021 and will include pre-conference preparation sessions, professional development opportunities and industry specific workshops – please save the dates. The Work Like a Laker Conference sessions are tailored to help prepare students for the Virtual Career, Internship & Summer Job Fair that will take place on Thursday, March 18, 2021 (hosted in partnership with Student Employment).
The Career Center is seeking to partner with faculty and staff from across the University on programming for the Work Like a Laker Conference. If you have an idea for a program collaboration or topic you’d like to see presented, please contact Lisa Orlando ( no later than February 5, 2021. 
Please note that the career fair and preparation activities will be held in March instead of February. This will allow students more time to prepare for the conference and fair following a delayed start to the winter semester. The delay also provides employers more time to solidify hiring needs amidst a global pandemic that has severely impacted the job market. 
screen shot of zoom meeting with new staff

DSA New Staff Welcome

As with everything else this year, welcoming new staff to the Division of Student Affairs looked a bit different, but definitely did not stop the coffee or laughter! New staff to the division were invited to a virtual coffee chat with Vice Provost for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, Loren Rullman, to get to know each other and ask questions about the division, the university, and West Michigan.
We are truly lucky to be welcoming such an experienced, eclectic, and fun group of professionals. Be sure to say hi and welcome them next time you are zooming!

New staff pictured starting at top right: Lisa Orlando (Assistant Director - Career Center), Chris McQueen (Associate Director of Fraternity & Sorority Life), Kyle Boone (Director of Housing & Residence Life), Amy Schuster (Career Advisor), Maha Baalbaki (Coordinator of Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives - University Counseling Center), Katie Perschbacher (COVID-19 Outreach Coordinator - Dean of Students), Jonathan Richards (Residence Life Coordinator)   
New staff not pictured: Sonya Barrett (Career Center Clerk - Pew Campus), Valerie Palmer (Student Life Assistant), Cindy Driesenga (Secretary - Office of Student Life), Bethany Disher (Scheduling Coordinator - University Counseling Center), Kathy Hunter (Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner - University Counseling Center) , Michelle Stahl (Coordinator of Referrals - University Counseling Center), Abby Galaviz (Lead Teacher - Children's Enrichment Center), Paige Emerson (Conflict Resolution Facilitator - Office of Student Conduct & Conflict Resolution)
Laker Involvement Fairs (virtual Campus Life Night)
Thank you, from the Office of Student Life, to all of our partners— we appreciate all of the support and collaboration!

While much is still being planned for next semester, we can confirm that Campus Life Night will be virtual on Sunday, January 31 from 6-8 p.m. Information about signing up will be shared directly through LakerLink. Contact Eric Stevens ( if you have any questions.

If you haven’t yet, please consider submitting a congratulatory message for our December graduates, which will be shared on the Commencement website.

DSA & University Resources

Grand Valley State University
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