Liberal Studies Renamed, Faculty & Staff Updates, Upcoming Events, & more!
Liberal Studies Renamed, Faculty & Staff Updates, Upcoming Events, & more!
Grand Valley State University

Message from Acting Dean
Mark Schaub

One of GVSU’s athletic coaches repeated to me the adage that “champions are created in the offseason.” I guess this applies to all of us, whether as students, faculty, or staff. I know, I know: many of us are teaching heavy loads over the Spring/Summer term, are anxiously working hard to meet a book deadline, or are on 12-month contracts. We’re actually living another thing our coaching colleagues tell us: “There is no offseason."
But summertime is different. We can—I hope—find time to do the work of stepping away from the academic year treadmill. Ideally, we can, for a while at least, unplug. Or read. Or just think.
I’ve been thinking about the Brooks faculty. Trite, but true. Some of you have great news on publication success or grant success. Others of you have been, or still are, outside the USA with GVSU students. Many of you have been rocking your courses online, or even on the Allendale campus.
I’ve been thinking about our students. I run into many of them here on campus, holding down the fort in quiet campus offices, trimming campus bushes in the heat, or juggling two or three jobs to cover tuition bills. They’re working hard to be in your courses on August 26.
I’ve been thinking, too, about our future students. Three boys in particular. J., H., and G. were 6th graders this past year at Westwood Middle School. I’ve not seen them since we parted ways at the close of the school year, at the end of the 2018-19 “Side-by-Side” Mentoring program run through the Challenge Scholars program. More specifically, my thinking about them is really more like worry. I fret about how they’re faring during this “offseason” of their education. Their families are not in a position to get them to athletic or educational camps, to take them to the museums or the zoo, or other experiences. Yet these guys are, I hope, our future students.
We all have a stake in the future of these middle schoolers, of course. And you as Brooks faculty and staff are doing what you can to support them: as voters, as taxpayers, as educators. More information can be found on this GRPS flyer or by reaching out to the project coordinator, Rebecca Back. I know they really need mentors.
Gather up the last rosebuds of summer. See you at the startup meeting on August 16!

New Names for Liberal Studies Program & Department

The Liberal Studies program and department have brand new names! On July 12, the Board of Trustees approved changing the name of the Liberal Studies program to Integrative Studies. This change was initially proposed by faculty and alumni who suggested it would more clearly convey the core aims of the program and appeal to undergraduates looking for an interdisciplinary, flexible program that can be customized to meet their individual interests, needs, and goals. Additionally, the Provost approved changing the name of the Liberal Studies Department to the Integrative, Religious, and Intercultural Studies Department (IRIS) to reflect the multiple academic programs that are housed within the Department. These include the Integrative Studies major (BA, BS), Religious Studies major (BA, BS) and minor, Intercultural Competence Training certificate and badge, and the Social Innovation Master’s Degree Program.

“This is a terrific opportunity for us as faculty and as members of Brooks College to reintroduce ourselves to the university community,” Department Chair Melanie Shell-Weiss reflected. “These changes highlight our faculty’s range of scholarly and pedagogical excellence and make it easier for students to see the relevance of our curriculum. Check out the department’s new website for more information at
Screenshot of the new IRIS homepage.

4 Ways You Can Support Students and Retention

As we kick off the 2019-2020 academic year, here are four ways you can support our students:

Per Diem Travel & Expense Changes

Please review the updated travel and expense guidelines, effective July 1, 2019. For more information and for updated forms, visit the Travel & Expense Reimbursement website.

Labor Day Recess Is Shorter This Year

This year, Labor Day Recess covers Sunday, September 1 through Monday, September 2. Classes will be in session on Tuesday, September 3. This deviates from previous years as Fall Break (October 20-22) is being implemented for the first time in Fall 2019. See below for a list of other important dates.

Catching Up with Jen Cathey

There are two places on campus where you're likely to run into Jen Cathey: in the General Education office serving as office coordinator, or in the front row of a workout class at the Rec Center. An avid athlete and runner, Jen completed the Boston Marathon earlier this year—her 15th marathon overall! We recently caught up with Jen to hear her a bit about her story with running.
How many races have you competed in? 80+ races ranging from 5Ks to marathons. Most were at the half-marathon distance. 15 were full marathons.

How did you first get started running? I started running in college as a way to get healthy. I wasn’t going fast or far but I was out there. When I landed my first teaching job in 2002, I started running with some fellow teachers. Two days before the Riverbank Run they talked me into running the 25K. I had only ever run 7 miles at once. I did the race and hurt so bad afterward but I loved every second of it and never looked back.

What has been most challenging and most rewarding about running marathons? The most challenging is doing all the right things in regards to training but still having a bad race. You can work hard for 16+ weeks of training but if everything isn’t on point on race day, then the race is difficult. The most rewarding is all the people I meet along the way. From random strangers at races to people who just like to run and become my training partners. I met a woman at the Boston Marathon who lived in California. We became friends and she offered me the use of her home in Massachusetts for future Boston marathons. I also met a woman on my flight home from Boston a few years ago who became a great friend a training partner…not to mention she was a fellow Laker! It is always fun.

Faculty & Staff Updates

Amanda Buday was hired as an assistant professor of sociology and environmental and sustainability studies. Amanda completed her Ph.D. in sociology at Southern Illinois University in 2016, where she studied community-based environmental and anti-fracking activism. Welcome to GVSU, Amanda!
Aubrey Dull started a new role as office assistant in the Brooks College Dean's Office on June 3. Aubrey manages the dean's and associate dean's calendars, oversees college-wide event planning, supports Civil Discourse, and much more. We're grateful to have Aubrey utilizing her exceptional administrative and organizational skills to serve Brooks College.
Aaron Eddens was hired as an assistant professor of area and global studies. Aaron completed his Ph.D. in American Studies at the University of Minnesota. His research theorizes the political-economic landscape of contemporary Western-led agricultural development efforts aimed at transforming African agriculture in the context of climate change. Welcome to Grand Valley, Aaron!
Ginele Johnson was hired as the office coordinator for Brooks College Office of Community Partnerships & Student Professional Development. A GVSU alum and previous employee in Grand Valley's Athletic Department, Ginele is excited to return to campus. Most recently, she served as the building secretary at Coopersville Area Public Schools for seven years. Welcome back, Ginele!
Danielle Lake, assistant professor of integrative studies and coordinator of the Accelerated Leadership Program, accepted a position as director and associate professor of design thinking at Elon University in North Carolina. Danielle served Grand Valley since 2014 and we wish her great success at Elon.
Sharon Munksi, office coordinator for the Office of Sustainability Practices, retired on June 27. Sharon was a champion of sustainability during her 5+ years at Grand Valley, and we wish her all the best as she begins this new chapter of her life.
Justin Pettibone, affiliate faculty member of integrative studies, will serve as the interim coordinator of the Accelerated Leadership Program for the 2019-20 academic year.
Melanie Rabine-Johnson, writing center specialist at the Fred Meijer Center for Writing and Michigan Authors, accepted a new position as Digital Student Experience Specialist in the GVSU University Libraries. Melanie worked with the Writing Center for over 7 years. Congratulations, Melanie.
Dawn Rutecki was hired as a tenure track professor of integrative studies. Congratulations, Dawn!
Courtney Sherwood, office coordinator for the Kutsche Office of Local History, accepted a new position as the McNair Scholars Program Office Coordinator in the Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarship. Courtney has supported the Kutsche Office since 2014, and while she'll be greatly missed, we congratulate her on this new role at the University.

Faculty, Staff & Student Recognition

David Coffey, director of the Design Thinking Academy (DTA), facilitated two design thinking workshops for business leaders at a Michigan Small Business Development Center’s conference in May. Four DTA students, Abigail Cooper, Drew Craven, Kayla Lett, and Amanda Moy, assisted with the workshops.
Denise Goerisch, assistant professor of integrative studies, wrote a chapter, "Doing Less with Less: Faculty Care Work in Times of Precarity," for a book, Intersectionality and Higher Education: Identity and Inequality on College Campuses; and wrote an article, "Operation Thin Mint: Popular Geopolitics of Care and Post 9/11 Girlhood," published in Young Nordic Journal of Youth Research. 
Cáel Keegan, assistant professor of women, gender, and sexuality studies, was interviewed by TIME for their story, "For the Trans Community, Snapchat's 'Gender-Swapping' Filter Is Complicated."
The Holland Sentinel wrote an article about the Kutsche Office of Local History’s recent exhibit, "Contemporary Stories of Summer" in partnership with the Saugatuck-Douglas History Center & Saugatuck High School.
Kayla Wheeler, assistant professor of African/African American Studies and digital studies, received the Trailblazer Award from the Black Muslim Psychology Conference for her #BlackIslamSyllabus.

Upcoming Events & Important Dates

August 6 - Semester in Grand Rapids Showcase
August 16 - Brooks College Fall 2019 Kickoff*
August 20 - Pre-Conference Workshop: Supporting First-Year Students*
August 20 - GVSU Faculty & Staff Picnic*
August 21 - 25th Annual Fall Conference on Teaching and Learning*
August 23 - Convocation*
August 26 - Classes Begin
September 1-2 - Labor Day Recess
September 15-21 - Making Waves Initiative: Big Splash Week of Events
September 18 - The World's Greatest Minstrel Show Under the Stars
September 20 - Peace Pole Rededication Ceremony
October 7-11 - Mid-term Evaluations
October 15 - Mid-term Grades Due from Faculty
October 15 - Study Abroad Fair
October 15 - 4th Annual Lunch with the Kutsche Office*
October 20-22 - Fall Break
November 1 - Global Laker Celebration*
November 6-7 - Teach-In: Power, Privilege, and Difficult Conversations
November 19 - Civil Discourse Symposium*
November 27 - December 1 - Thanksgiving Recess
December 9-14 - Examination Week
December 14 - Semester Ends
December 17 - Grades Due from Faculty
*RSVP Required
Please contact managing editor, Alex Priebe, to submit stories for future issues.
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