Virtual office hour, committes, new bathroom, inclusivity, staff goodbyes
Virtual office hour, committes, new bathroom, inclusivity, staff goodbyes
Grand Valley State University
Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Newsletter September 2020
Headshot of Mark Schaub, interim dean of Brooks College
Interim Dean Mark Schaub

Dean's Message

Shake those hands, shake those hands
Give me the thing I understand
Shake those hands, shake those hands

                                        -Peter Gabriel, “I Have the Touch”
It’s hard to tell if someone wearing a mask is smiling. If you get up close, you can sometimes tell by the crinkles around the other person’s eyes. I fear that on campus we’re not greeting one another—especially greeting strangers—as we normally would.
Similarly, it’s not easy to gauge others’ reactions and moods and body language on larger zoom meetings. The squares are too small, the microphones are muted from audible sighs or snickers, and the chat-text chatter is distracting.
Finally, the era of fistbumps, collegial hugs, and handshakes may be over. There are perhaps good reasons to celebrate the demise of workplace contact, and by that, I don’t mean actual physical contact. Rather I’m thinking of the professional intimacy of physically being present in workspaces together. The upsides might include accessibility, less exposure to colleagues’ noises (or smells), and less potential for intimidation or harassment. The downsides might be that virtual and remote collaboration can still manifest accessibility concerns and bullying and annoyances.
The pandemic and our shifts in teaching modalities have both forced us and enticed us to individually and collectively “up our game” in virtual teaching skills. That will be useful to our students in the future. It will be useful to our future students, and our current students who’ll engage their work lives in more virtual settings.
Patrick Johnson (Director of the Meijer Writing Center here in Brooks College) recently described how the foundation of that unit’s work—individual one-on-one peer consultations—has had to be reconsidered, without the possibility of two minds literally huddling over a text. There have long been virtual consultations by the writing center, and writing centers have been “online” for nearly three decades. But even as recently as early 2020, the virtual huddle was often understood as a substitute for the in-person variety. We may never return to that as the “normal” mode again.
As we strain to maintain and even foster positive working relationships with one another and our students, we are finding some ways to facilitate learning that were better than before. We can remember that we don’t miss those finger-crushing handshakes or fake hugs. We can keep, maintain, and even improve our focus on relationships and our humanity.

Drop-in Virtual Office Hour with Interim Dean Schaub

All faculty and staff are invited to another drop-in Virtual Office Hour with Interim Dean Mark Schaub on Thursday, September 17, from 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. No RSVP needed. Drop-in as you wish.

Limiting Committee Meetings Reminder

All faculty governance committees, at all levels (unit, college/libraries, and university-wide), should work on only those items that are essential. Topics and projects that can be delayed for a year should be postponed. Only items that must be completed for the continuity of unit, college/libraries, or University-wide work should be considered for discussion or action. For more information, visit the Provost's website.

Gender-Neutral Bathroom Now Open in Lake Ontario Hall

A new gender-neutral bathroom is now open on the first floor of Lake Ontario Hall. The bathroom is located in room 176, near the Innovation Lab.

Inclusivity Training Hosted by LGBT Center

The Milton E. Ford LGBT Resource Center will host a two-part inclusivity training for Brooks College faculty and staff. This is a two-hour training split into two, one-hour sessions:
  • Friday, September 11, 2020, 10:00 - 11:00 a.m.
  • Friday, September 25, 2020, 10:00 - 11:00 a.m.
The training is facilitated by Brooks College, but it is open to all GVSU faculty, staff, students, and alumni. Submit your RSVP to receive the Zoom meeting link.

Zoom Etiquette and Best Practices

The Brooks College dean's office has created a guide for Zoom etiquette and best practices to support an inclusive and respectful environment. Faculty are welcome to share the link with students if they wish. The guide is available at
Crystal Scott-Tunstall headshot

Meet Sarah King, New Director of ENS

These are exciting times in environmental and sustainability studies (ENS)! The program is growing quickly and has recently hit 140 majors, thanks to the superb work of our faculty and staff team and of the former director Kelly Parker. ENS also welcomed its first full-time affiliate faculty member, Crystal Scott-Tunstall, who joined the program in Fall 2020. Like all programs, ENS faces many challenges related to the pandemic, including finding creative ways to continue our experiential, community-engaged, and team-based pedagogies in times of physical distancing. Sarah King, the new director of ENS, said her focus will be on supporting students, faculty and staff, and leading the program's continued growth during this period of uncertainty.
Sarah is an environmental philosopher and anthropologist of religion whose interdisciplinary research explores how culture and religion shape people’s relationships to the natural world. Her published works include Fishing in Contested Waters: Place and Community in Burnt Church/Esgenoopetitj (University of Toronto 2014) and, most recently, “What We’re Talking About When We’re Talking About Water: Race, Imperial Politics and Ruination in Flint MI” in The Wonder of Water: Lived Experience, Policy, and Practice (2020). Sarah is the co-director, with Amy McFarland, of Growing Diversity, a grant-funded project developing experiential pedagogies for cultural and religious diversity at the SAP. Sarah has served on the ENS Advisory Board and the SAP Advisory Committee since her arrival at GVSU in 2012, and she is jointly appointed as a faculty member in ENS and IRIS.
Crystal Scott-Tunstall headshot

Pandemic Forces Some International Students to Start Fall Semester in their Home Countries

Grand Valley's international students truly reflect their global roots as some new students are starting fall semester classes remotely from Mexico, Tanzania, Ghana, and other countries.
Kate Stoetzner, director of international student and scholar services, said more than 250 international students are enrolled at Grand Valley for the fall semester; of that number, 34 new and returning students remain in their home countries as the COVID-19 pandemic has closed embassies in some countries and delayed issuance of student visas. Read the full article on GVNext.

Gary VanHarn's Retirement Celebration

In 1962, an 8-year-old Gary VanHarn was hiking the ravines with a group of other boy scouts when they came across a few piles of dirt in the middle of a cornfield. When questioned, the scout leader told them they were planning to build a college here – to which Gary and the other boys replied by laughing and saying, ‘What a stupid idea!’
Nearly 60 years later, Gary VanHarn works in Lake Ontario Hall, overlooking those same ravines. But his journey at GVSU didn’t begin here. Gary was an undergraduate student at GVSC from 1973-1976 taking classes in art, history, philosophy, or, as he puts it, "basically anything I thought was interesting." He was taking classes for $11 per credit hour and remembers being scandalized when the cost went up to $19. His professional journey at GVSU began in the fall of 1997 with a 6-week temp position working at the downtown bookstore. Within the first week, Gary was hooked on university life, reflecting that “I loved working at the University. I loved the energy. I loved being surrounded by bright and curious people. And I decided right then, I was going to make myself indispensable.”
Gary has been making himself indispensable ever since. That 6-week position turned into a full-time job as the textbook manager for the downtown campus, before transitioning to his current role at the Padnos International Center.
Gary’s legacy at GVSU includes his work and advocacy within the LGBT+ community. In the early 2000s, as the University was embroiled in a public debate over domestic partner benefits, Gary and his late partner Milton Ford, sought to shift the focus to student support. Together they founded the GVSU LGBT Student Scholarship, one of the first of its kind in the nation. With the support of many faculty at GVSU, the scholarship was endowed within a year, and two more similar scholarships have been created since. Gary recalls that he and Milton hosted social events in their home for ‘Out and About’, the first LGBT student organization at Grand Valley. Gary served as the chair of ‘Allies & Advocates’ for many years and strategized with Milton to create what became the Milton E. Ford LGBT Resource Center in 2008.
For those who know and love Gary, this moment is bittersweet. We are excited for Gary to spend more time on his many passions, from jamming on the drums with his friend David Lehker, taking care of his beloved ’65 Volvo sport coupe and ‘68 Corvair convertible, biking, or being with his partner Mel, his children Clayton, Meredith and Ellen, and his grandchildren. But we will miss his smile, his patience, and his ability to make each person he comes into contact with feel important and valued. Reflecting on his time at Grand Valley, Gary said he felt, “Lucky. My world got a lot bigger at GVSU. I got the chance to kick the doors off my life and really start living.”
Gary VanHarn's Farewell Parade and Retirement Celebration
Wednesday, September 16, 2020
At 3:45 p.m., we will meet in our vehicles in Lot O (by the Calder Art Center - GVSU Allendale Campus). At 4:00 p.m., we will drive together to Lot M in front of Lake Ontario Hall. Feel free to bring signs or balloons to help us celebrate Gary VanHarn's retirement!
Kelly arriving in Santiago

Kelly McDonell's Next Adventure

A message from Kelly McDonell, Senior
Honors Academic and Enrichment Advisor
Dear colleagues, I’m writing today with both exciting and bittersweet news. As you may have heard, on September 4, I left my advising role at GVSU for a new adventure in Spain.
My connection to GVSU, and Honors, first began in fall of 2001 when I enrolled at GVSU as an Honors student, living in the old Niemeyer the year it opened (now re-named North C). Things have certainly changed over the years, and it’s been a pleasure and a privilege to work with some of my former faculty, as well as many other wonderful faculty throughout the university.
I was fortunate enough to take time off last summer to walk the Camino Frances, a 500 km trek of the Camino de Santiago in northern Spain. While there, I fell in love with the country, and am lucky enough to have the opportunity to return to Bilbao on a permanent basis this fall as English teaching support in a high school. I will sorely miss my wonderful colleagues, as well as the talented, committed, and engaged students I’ve had the privilege to work with during my tenure as staff at GVSU. However, I’m also excited for the new adventure that awaits me. If you ever make it to northern Spain, feel free to reach out!

Welcome to the World, Søren!

On August 23, Denise Goerisch, assistant professor of integrative, religious, and intercultural studies and IRIS assistant department chair, welcomed Søren Louis Goerisch into the world. Søren arrived at 9 lbs and 21.5 inches. Both he and Denise are doing well and getting some much-needed rest. Congratulations to Denise, and welcome to to the world, Søren!

Faculty Recognition

Jeremiah Cataldo, associate professor of history, Meijer Honors College, published an article, "Lamenting Loss: A New Understanding of Trauma in Lam 1," in the Scandinavian Journal of the Old Testament 34, no. 1 (2020). 
Jeff Kelly Lowenstein, Padnos/Sarosik Endowed Professor of Civil Discourse and assistant multimedia journalism professor, was a co-author on an investigative project published in USA Today detailing how reverse mortgages in Puerto Rico are failing at nearly double the U.S. national average. Grand Valley was a partner on the analysis done by USA Today and the Centro de Periodismo Investigativo, with support from the McGraw Center for Business Journalism and the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.
Peter Wampler, professor of geology, Meijer Honors College, spoke about the Making Waves initiative and safe and sustainable water in Haiti on the SustainabiliME podcast.

Calendar and Deadlines

Join our mailing list so you never miss a Brooks College newsletter.
View previous issues in our newsletter archive.
Twitter Facebook
Unsubscribe from future emails.
Subscribe to our email list.