Message from the Vice Provost 

Dear DSA Colleagues:

I cannot quite decide if the last couple of months have passed quickly, or feel more like a year. Perhaps a little of both. What I do know is they have been hard on all of us, and even harder on some of us. While the number of COVID-19 cases ebbs and flows, injustices against the Black community seem to just flow.  We must do more to defeat both. Even so, I remain hopeful because of your energy and that of our students and colleagues.  
The Division of Student Affairs, in particular, has been busy with coronavirus response and planning: answering numerous questions from students, families, and colleagues; representing GVSU in dozens of town halls and virtual conversations; participating in daily meetings with the Incident Management Team and its affiliated groups; creating forms, documents, and protocols to enable new policies and practices; drafting fall semester guidance for student organizations, event planners, and campus visitors; developing modified plans for Housing Move-In, Transitions Orientation, Club Sports, and other signature experiences. We formed 10 internal working groups to create everything from fall plans for student well-being and mental health, to best practices for student engagement and programming, to safe and healthy student culture and more (ask any member of the leadership for an update). All this, of course, on top of routine service to students and the university community. Other parts of this newsletter offer a few examples of these efforts from departments within the Division - consider it representative rather than exhaustive. I am grateful to you for your wisdom, work ethic, servant leadership, and courageous willingness to assure GVSU not only persists through, but thrives after, this COVID-19 period.

And, while our nation responds to what is called a novel coronavirus (novel,
meaning it had not previously existed), we must reckon with what some have called a racism virus that is not at all novel. Indeed, it is hateful, wrong, and has existed for a very long time - it is ingrained into banking policies, policing and prison systems, housing patterns, economic and health care disparities, and more. Although our Division Values reflect a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, we simply have not done enough. Indeed, noted author Patrick Lencioni believes an organization’s core values should be thought of as “deeply ingrained principles that guide all of a[n organization’s] actions; they serve as its cultural cornerstones...; they are inherent and sacrosanct; they can never be compromised.” Moreover, Dr. Walter Kimbrough suggests it is time for universities to move from “thin words to thick actions.” It is time for action and core values must guide our actions. We must no longer accept the status quo. This summer the Division’s leadership will develop a set of actions to accompany the university’s to move us from thin words to thick action. And, because action must be informed by personal commitment (including mine), I invite you start now by learning more so we can get better together. If you need ideas, please let me know and I will help. Join one of the “read and reflect” discussion spaces beginning this month using the book How to be an Anti-Racist (contact Melissa Baker-Boosamra: or Ryan Neloms: for information). Sign up for the free virtual event by its author.  
May we pledge to be more active in confronting both the novel corona-virus and the not so novel racism-virus.

Integrating mental health at GVSU during COVID-19

Holistic Student Well-being

GVSU student learning, persistence, and retention thrive when our student body is mentally and emotionally healthy. COVID-19 has presented new stressors for students, faculty, and staff as they experience change and uncertainty regarding the “new normal.” Although various reports (American Council on Education, 2020) suggest a possible increase in symptoms of anxiety, loneliness, and economic worry as students adjust to social distancing and online learning, the University Counseling Center (UCC) at GVSU, like most college and university counseling centers across the country, has not experienced a noticeable increase in requests for teletherapy or telecrisis services related to COVID-19. Many students are utilizing their natural supports such as family, friends, religion, or student groups versus accessing psychological services. Nonetheless, reducing the impact of COVID-19 and increasing protective factors remain at the forefront of our commitment to students' well-being and require a broad University response to student mental health and wellness needs.
The University Counseling Center encourages a public health mindset across the campus community to integrate mental health and well-being efforts throughout the student experience, but especially during times of stress. As it is important for students to take care of their whole selves, we embrace available supports and resources from campus partners that help students address their physical, mental, social, and spiritual needs. Programming for Fall will focus on a combination of student health promotion and mental health prevention to build awareness, increase resiliency, identify ways to intervene early on, and encourage greater peer support and faculty/staff connection. 
For those students seeking treatment, the UCC has been working diligently to adapt mental health services to telehealth formats. A range of services, including hybrid and remote teletherapy options, will be in place with COVID-19 related coping skills embedded into all programs and services. The UCC will utilize a short-term, stepped-care model focused on connecting students to the right level of care designed to provide targeted support, reduce wait-times, and adapt with the changing needs of students. Although COVID-19 has brought many changes to the campus community, the University Counseling Center's commitment to student mental health and well-being remains the same. Check out the UCC's website for additional updates, as well as resources below!

American Council on Education (ACE). (2020). Mental health, higher education, and COVDI-19 Strategies for leaders to support campus well-being. Prepared by Active Minds, American College Health Association, American Council on Education, Healthy Minds Network, JED Foundation, Mary Christie Foundation, and The Steve Fund. Retrieved from
photo of window

Housing & Residence Life 

has continued to serve students remotely by providing virtual programming opportunities and resources for current residents, former residents, and future residents. In addition, Housing staff have been holding a weekly virtual orientation Q&A session for new students, parents, and supporters. For the Fall, Housing & Residence Life is increasing cleaning, converting traditional style units to single occupancy, holding virtual programming, limiting the number of people allowed in common spaces, and will be posting messaging across campus about ways students, faculty/staff, and guests can protect themselves. 
student in hammock

Recreation & Wellness

We recognize the role that recreation and wellness programs play in promoting student well-being, inspiring a sense of community, and encouraging student development and learning.
In Fall 2020, Recreation & Wellness staff will be using risk assessment tools to ensure that all can return to participation safely. Program offerings will be adjusted to minimize transmission or contraction of COVID-19 while still promoting student engagement and fun. Plans include: 
  • Reducing risks for in-person programs and services and expanding virtual activities
  • Enhanced cleaning and social distancing measures
  • Additional education and training for staff and participants
  • Modified sport, fitness, and outdoor offerings based on national and state guidelines and recommendations.

New Changes!

GVSU Alcohol & Other Drugs Services Student Affairs
The Alcohol & other drugs Campus Education Services (ACES) office has been renamed Alcohol & Other Drugs (AOD) Services. ACES has been found duplicated in other prevalent causes. The goal of this name change is to ensure accurate representation and improved visibility within the GVSU Community. In line with many institutions, Alcohol and Other Drugs Services better conveys the range of services provided by this office. We continue with our mission of educating students to make healthy life-long decisions regarding substances. This mission is fulfilled through prevention, education, treatment, and recovery support.
For more information, visit the updated website at
Introducing the Office of Student Conduct & Conflict Resolution, restorative practices, social justice, education
Introducing the designation of a new office - The Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution, affectionally known as “OSCCR” (formerly known as Student Conduct within the Dean of Students Office). OSCCR, led by Anthony T. Williams Jr., is responsible for addressing all allegations of student, organizational, and academic misconduct. OSSCR also offers conflict resolution services, including but not limited to conflict coaching, shuttle negotiation, facilitated dialogues, circles and conferences, and mediations. Lastly, OSSCR offers a variety of interactive workshops for students, faculty, and staff.
For more information, please visit or email
student looking at laptop
The Career Center continues to provide a full menu of services to GV students and alumni virtually. The Virtual CareerLab is open daily from 2 - 4 p.m., where students can interact with a career advisor at a relaxed pace and ask questions related to resumes, internships, career exploration, the job search, and more. Longer form virtual appointments can be made via Handshake. The Career Center website remains a great resource for students with tools like a comprehensive resume guide and PathwayU for exploring students.

Additionally, the Career Center continues to serve and connect with faculty and employer partners. Career Center staff are available to present virtually to classes and provide career support to faculty as they teach students. Moving towards the fall, Career Center staff are working diligently with employer partners (the majority of whom are still hiring) to connect them with students through current internship and job postings, virtual information sessions, and virtual career fairs (all found on
GVSU class photo mosaic
The Office of Student Life has been busy on several fronts this summer. The Transitions Team researched several options to find the best fit for delivering the new student orientation curriculum virtually. The Office of Student Life purchased a license for Comevo, which will meet the needs of the program and provide opportunities for other departments to deliver virtual training. If your department is interested, contact Eric Stevens ( The search for a new Associate Director of Greek Life recently finished and will be finalized in the next few weeks. Students from the Community Service Learning Center assisted in planning this year’s Michigan Student Voting Summit which drew in 180 students from 43 campuses all over Michigan. The Event Services Team has been working diligently to rearrange the Kirkhof Center furniture and the building to adhere with social distancing guidelines. The Kirkhof Center is officially back open now.
This Fall, new students will have access to their class photo via a mosaic print. Students' ID photos will be used (with their permission) to re-create the traditional class photo on the football field. Opportunities are being developed for students to engage in conversations regarding civil dialogue and social justice and for parents to visit during Family Weekend. Campus Life Night will be held virtually, along with Greek recruitment. The Promotions Office is working with University Communications and Institutional Marketing in their launch of an updated events calendar and promoting Laker Hub (on-campus cable channel 46.3) to assist with less printing. 
Candice standing on a hill

Meet the Division:

Candice Cadena,
Housing & Residence Life

Title/Description: My name is Candice Cadena and I am in my fourth year as a living center director at GVSU. I oversee the day-to-day operations of a community of about 650 students living on-campus; supervise a staff of resident, desk, and graduate assistants; and ensure that students living on campus are supported and have access to resources they need to experience a safe and inclusive campus environment.

Share something about yourself that others may not know:
I am a member of a local dance group called the Pacific Island Dancers. We teach and perform traditional Hawaiian and Tahitian dances, and showcase our work at local festivals and events. 

Candice holding her dog
Reflect on what it has been like for you to transition to working from home: 
Being a live-in staff member during this time I think you feel the transition even more because we are accustomed to hearing/seeing students running through campus or our buildings, seeing them around campus at the different dining locations, and now we don't have much of that at all. It has been an emotional challenge, and I think that's something many of my colleagues can understand. All of a sudden I went from having weekly one on ones/staff meetings with my RAs and programming; to a huge shift in responsibility where I don't have any of those things to look forward to. It's challenging because building relationships is what led me to pursue student affairs, and there aren't the same opportunities to do that anymore. However, I now have the opportunity to build stronger relationships with my colleagues as we navigate this shift. We are having daily Zoom check in meetings, which have provided moments of uplift.

How do you keep your mind and body active during this remote transition? My dog has been really important for me to keeping physically active thanks to his love of walks. I also started the Couch to 5K running program which has been a fun challenge. To keep my mind active, I have been reading more. I recently finished reading White Rage by Carol Anderson, Ph.D., and am currently reading Teaching Race: How To Help Students Unmask and Challenge Racism. I am also working on Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad and the daily journaling prompts.
students smiling students walking on campus

Important Information & Events

Grand Valley State University
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