Celebrating our graduates, Fall Start-up Meeting, staff updates, SAP, FLCs
Celebrating our graduates, Fall Start-up Meeting, staff updates, SAP, FLCs
Grand Valley State University
Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Newsletter May 2021
Headshot of Mark Schaub, Dean of Brooks College
Dean Schaub

Dean's Message

We might think we are nurturing our garden, but of course it’s our garden that is really nurturing us.
                                                        —Jenny Uglow
With the historic average “last freeze” date behind us here in West Michigan, we can confidently start to plan what we’ll be putting in the ground this year. What seeds can we get a quick start on? What greenhouse options might there be for that raised bed?
All GVSU students, faculty, and staff received an update on the Reach Higher 2025 process, and, more importantly, the new draft Mission, Vision, and Values statements. That message came at a very busy time in the last week of the academic year, so it’s understandable if you didn’t have time to take a closer look.
As we begin the Spring/Summer term, please take a moment to look at the “How We Got Here” tab that details the process and evolution behind the M/V/V. And please consider how the draft statements are shaping the futures of our students and alumni.
Brooks College has already been at the forefront in GVSU’s future—most notably in the realm of serving adult learners through the LEADS program. But our interdisciplinary programs and experiential learning opportunities are poised for even greater roles in living the next vision for the institution.
How might we in Brooks support student-run businesses on and off campus? How might we create even more project-based learning opportunities—especially across cultures and time zones? How might we engage with learners as alumni and alumni as current students?
Let’s plant some seeds. Better yet, let’s nurture those seedlings to reach their full potential.
And even though we may be working through the Spring/Summer terms, let’s also nurture ourselves by reflecting on the many ways our work is meaningful. I’m excited about how our work together will be just that in the coming year, the coming years.
Mark Schaub signature

Mark Schaub
Dean of Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies

Save the Date: Start-up Meeting on August 18

The Brooks College Fall 2021 Start-up Meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, August 18, 2021, 8:45 - 11:30 a.m. We will meet in person at the Seidman College of Business. Breakfast will be provided. Details and RSVP to follow.

Congratulations to the Class of 2021!

Congratulations to all the Lakers who graduated last week, including 1141 first-generation students and 18 LEADS students! During the Laker Graduation Celebration on May 1, there was a carnival-like atmosphere of joy on the Allendale Campus. Graduates and their guests were smiling, celebrating, and posing for photos around campus. At our Graduation Open Tent event, Dean Schaub and a group of faculty congratulated graduates and their families, handed out gift bags, and had fun playing games of cornhole on our new Brooks College boards. See more photos.
A graduating student holder her diploma A graduate poses with a dipolma and his young child. Dean Schaub and Shawn Bultsma play a game of cornhole
Naomi Silas headshot

Meet One of Social Innovation's First Graduates: Naomi Silas

Brooks College's first graduate program, Professional Master of Arts in Social Innovation, launched in January 2019. The program is now about to produce its first graduates. One of those students, Naomi Silas, presented her Master's Project in April and is in the final stages of her work. We spoke with Naomi about her story and experience in the Social Innovation (SI) program as she prepares to graduate.
Tell us about yourself and your background. I'm a first-generation college graduate and grew up in Gary, Indiana. I never imagined I'd have a bachelor's degree let alone a master's. That's just how it is growing up in a city like Gary. My bachelor's degree is in Graphic Design from KCAD. After I graduated I moved to Southern California and lived there for several years working and starting a family.
What drew you to the SI grad program? I moved back to Grand Rapids in 2015 and immersed myself in the community and started doing equity and inclusion work. I began to realize that in some rooms that I could not shake the label of "creative" or "designer." I decided to look for a master's program and in late 2018 I found the SI program at GVSU. It sounded like a perfect fit for me. It would allow me to use skills I already had and would allow me to grow and develop as a professional. I would also be able to do systems work, which is something I was interested in. There was a Bruce Mau exhibit I went to as an undergrad, and the tagline stuck with me: "It's not about the world of design, it's about the design of the world." At the time, this was mostly about sustainability, but that tagline would pop up in my head in community meetings and design thinking workshops over the years.
Has there been a particular SI class or instructor that most impacted you? All of the classes and professors have been impactful. I have mostly been impacted by my peers in the courses I've taken. The class discussions were so rich and everyone brought diverse perspectives and backgrounds to each discussion. Dr. Wendy Burns-Ardalino has been a wonderful mentor and advisor. The course, "Engaging Diversity through Social Innovation," instructed by Dr. Andrea Riley-Mukavetz, was a particularly impactful course. Learning about pedagogy and decolonization through the lens of BIPOC (black, Indigenous, and people of color) was an important class for me when it came to my graduate research project. So much so that I asked Dr. RM to be my advisor on my research project.
Has the program already benefited your life and career in any way? The program has been affirming for the work that I've done as a community organizer. I'm currently working at Urban Core Collective, which started as an internship for the program. I already had a relationship with the organization as a Transformational Leadership Program Alumni. I've been able to use the skills I've learned in my courses and drawing from my own experience and apply it in real-time.
What are your plans after graduation? There's something about Southern California that I love, and I'm excited to be headed back there. I've been interviewing for jobs in Los Angeles.

First LEADS Graduates Fit State Initiative to have More Residents with Bachelor's Degrees

It seemed like Grand Valley's accelerated degree program was designed specifically for Rachel Brilinski.
Like millions of other working adults, Brilinski was laid off because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pause in employment became an opportunity for her to finish a bachelor's degree.
"I had more than six years of college credits," said Brilinski, a Petoskey resident. "After the birth of my child and because of the pandemic, the desire to graduate with a meaningful degree became amplified." Read more on GVNext.
Mike Vrooman headshot

Mike Vrooman Returns to Home Department After Serving as Interim Chief International Officer

Mike Vrooman, associate professor of Spanish, will return to his home department in Modern Languages and Literatures after serving a two-year term as Interim Chief International Officer.
Vrooman said, "It has truly been a privilege to work alongside such a dedicated team of professionals in the Padnos International Center (PIC) for the last two years. I look forward to continuing to support them and the PIC Mission to engage the entire University community in meaningful international experiences that foster an appreciation and awareness of diverse people, ideas, and cultures."
Becca Hambleton, Director of Study Abroad & International Partnerships, said, "I think I can speak on behalf of my colleagues when I say that it has been an honor to have had an opportunity to work more closely with Mike these past two years. His commitment to international education is unwavering and was shown each and every day."

Volunteer at the SAP
this Summer

This summer, volunteer hours at the Sustainable Agriculture Project (SAP) are scheduled for:
  • Tuesdays and Wednesdays:
    9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
  • Thursdays and Fridays:
    12:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Learn more about volunteering on the SAP website. And read about the SAP's Earth Week event with New City Neighbors on GVNext.

Teaching Excellence Cohorts

During the Spring/Summer term, all Brooks faculty are invited to join one of two Faculty Learning Communities (FLCs) on how faculty can create and sustain inclusive, student-centered learning environments.
This FLC will use a five-module, self-paced edX course that offers an inclusive teaching framework with multiple entry points for reflection and exploration of the research on learning and diversity. Faculty should come with a course in mind to design or revise for inclusion. Dr. Dana Munk, Pew FTLC Faculty Fellow and professor of movement science, will facilitate the sessions.
The cohorts are scheduled for May 10 – June 22 and June 28 – August 9. Space is limited to 12 participants per cohort. Learn more and sign-up.

Fellowship Info Sessions for Students

The Frederik Meijer Office of Fellowships is hosting virtual info sessions throughout the summer on Thursday afternoons. The sessions will give students an opportunity to learn about fellowship opportunities and how the fellowship's office can provide support. The list of sessions and more information is posted on the Office of Fellowship's website.

Faculty and Staff Updates

Azfar Hussain, associate professor of integrative, religious, and intercultural studies, was appointed as interim director of the Social Innovation M.A. program beginning May 6.
Julia Mason, associate professor of women, gender, and sexuality studies (WGS), was appointed as interim chair of WGS for the Spring/Summer and Fall 2021 terms.
Amy McFarland, associate professor of environmental and sustainability studies (ENS), was appointed as interim director of ENS beginning May 6.
Crystal Scott-Tunstall, affiliate faculty member of environmental and sustainability studies (ENS), will serve as ENS internship coordinator beginning this summer.


Lynnette Keen, integrative, religious, and intercultural studies office coordinator, and her husband, retired U.S. Army 1st Sgt. Gerald Keen, were featured in a WOOD TV 8 story about their efforts to bring an Afghan interpreter and his family to the U.S.
Kim McKee, associate professor of integrative, religious, and intercultural studies and director of the Kutsche Office of Local History, was interviewed by the Los Angeles Times for a story about how adoptees experience anti-Asian discrimination and multiple other outlets, including KCBS Radio, for a story on trans-racial adoption and microaggressions.
Crystal Scott-Tunstall, affiliate faculty member of environmental and sustainability studies, was selected to serve on Kent County's Food Policy Council. Crystal was also a panelist on Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition's May Day Popular Education & Day of Action Webinar.
Naomi Silas, a social innovation (SI) graduate student, spoke with Shelley Iriwn on the WGVU Morning Show about her experience with the SI grad program.


Faculty Calendar

May 10: Classes Begin - 1st 6 and 12 weeks
May 10 – June 22: Teaching Excellence FLC (Spring cohort)
May 31: Memorial Day recess
June 28 – August 9: Teaching Excellence FLC (Summer cohort)
August 18: Brooks College Fall 2021 Start-up Meeting
Join our mailing list so you never miss a Brooks College newsletter.
View previous issues in our newsletter archive.
Twitter Facebook
Grand Valley State University and Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies combination logo
Unsubscribe from future emails.