Grand Valley State University

Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies

Dean Anne L. Hiskes

BRRR! snowflakes

Message from the Dean

As the Fall 2017 semester draws to a close with grading exams and submitting the last reports of the year, it is easy to forget why we do what we do at GVSU. The Honors College Recognition Ceremony on Friday December 8, the Brooks College Fall Commencement Breakfast the next day, and the GVSU Commencement Ceremony each serve as effective reminders. The demonstrated learning and achievements of the graduating students, their deep gratitude towards faculty and staff, the beaming pride of parents and friends, and the jittery excitement of the graduates as they each begin a new chapter of their life armed with the skills and insights of a high quality liberal, interdisciplinary education speak volumes about the meaning and value of serving as faculty and staff at Grand Valley State University and in Brooks College.
The first annual Brooks College Distinguished Alumni Panel and Reception held on October 26, 2017, served as another reminder of our ultimate mission and purpose as an institution of higher learning. Four Brooks College alumni, selected by their programs or departments for this honor, returned to campus to encourage and advise current students, affirm the positive impact of Brooks College faculty, staff, and programs on their lives, and show the relevance of their education to their chosen professions. The four alumni selected for 2017-2018 were Adriana Almanza, Ross Argir, Mark Wilson, and Kirsten Zeiter. 
Adriana Almanza (Latin American Studies and International Relations, class of 2010) has worked at the Hispanic Center of Western Michigan, taught ESL courses to migrant farm workers, and participated in the Americorps program. After earning a Master’s degree in Education at GVSU, Adriana is back at GVSU as Associate Director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs. She continues to volunteer with groups such as Advocates for Immigration Reform and the Oliver Wilson Freshman Academy. Ross Argir (Religious Studies and History, class of 2014) had just received his J.D. degree from Cornell University Law School when he returned as a distinguished alumnus.  At the time, he was looking forward to beginning a position as the staff attorney for the Pine Tree Legal Services’ field office in Machias, Maine. A primary focus of his position will be enforcing the civil rights of residents of the Passamaquoddy Indian Reservation. Equally impressive is Mark Wilson (Liberal Studies in Traverse City, class of 2014) who is currently a Councilman on the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians Tribal Council. Mark chairs the Grand Traverse Band Natural Resources and Environmental Committee and serves on the Board of Trustees for the Great Lakes Fisheries Trust. In 2014, he was named by the Traverse City Business News as one of the most influential persons under the age of 40 in the area. He also holds a Master’s of Public Administration degree. Kirsten Zeiter (Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Political Science, class of 2011) served in the Peace Corps in Morocco after graduating from GVSU, later earning a MA from Tuft University’s distinguished Fletcher School for Law and Diplomacy where she also organized the School’s first annual conference on Gender and International Affairs. She is now a Program Officer for Gender, Monitoring, and Evaluation in the Gender, Women, and Democracy team at the National Democratic Institute.
The spirit and values of GVSU and Brooks College are evident in the lives and work of these distinguished alumni: commitments to life-long learning, public service, diversity and equity, and social justice. Playing a role in shaping the lives of individuals such as Adriana, Ross, Mark, and Kirsten and learning of their successes are some of the greatest rewards of a career in higher education.
In the spirit of holiday celebrations, I toast our newest alumni, the alumni of years past, and the good work of GVSU faculty and staff who guided these individuals on their learning journeys.  Best wishes for a relaxing semester break and wonderful new year. 

- Anne L. Hiskes

Upcoming Events 

  • The Brooks College will kick off the Winter 2018 semester with our annual BRRR! (Big Reunion to Reenergize and Reconnect), which will be held on Monday, January 22, from 12:00-2:00 p.m., Kirkhof 2204 (Pere Marquette).

Faculty, Staff, and Student Successes

  • Leslie Bateman, Director of Professional Development Partnerships in the Center for Adult & Continuing Studiesspoke with WGVU's Shelley Irwin about professional development programs.  To access the interview, click here.  
  • Craig Benjamin, professor in the Frederik Meijer Honors College with a specialization in Big History, wrote a book, Empires of Ancient Eurasia:The First Silk Roads Era 100 BCE-250 CE.  The book has been accepted for publication by Cambridge University Press and is expected to be released in March 2018.  

    Craig also presented at the Globalistics 2017 Conference in the Faculty of Global Studies at Moscow State University (where he was previously inducted as an Honorary Member of the International Faculty).
  • The Center for Adult & Continuing Studies in Traverse City hosted a successful Fall Kick-Off event to welcome students back to campus.  Over 80 students participated in the event which featured games of corn-hole & ping pong, raffles of donated prizes by Traverse City area businesses, and a surprise appearance by Louie the Laker!
  • Lindsay Ellis, Director of the Lake Michigan Writing Project, co-published a peer-reviewed article titled, "Which helps writiers more, receiving peer feedback or giving it?" in English Journal, 106(6).

  • Laurence José, Director of Digital Studies, interviewed with WGVU's Shelley Irwin about the Digital Studies minor.  Click here to listen to this interview.

  • Sarah King, associate professor of Liberal Studiesgave a lecture titled, "Saving the World with the Liberal Arts: The Role of Interdisciplinary Humanities in Understanding and Confronting Environmental Catastrophe" at Barrett, The Honors College at Arizona State University.

  • Judy Whipps, professor of Liberal Studies, wrote two pieces  accepted for publication: “A Historical Introduction: The Three Waves of Feminism” Hay Carol, editor. Philosophy: Feminism. Macmillan Interdisciplinary Handbooks: Philosophy series, 2017; and co-authored "Design Thinking Accelerated Leadership: Transforming Self, Transforming Community,”  with Danielle Lake and Mike Ricco, accepted by The Journal of General Education, 2017.

    Judy Whipps, Danielle Lake, and Mike Ricco were also featured in a podcast titled "Leadership and Civic Engagement" on Philosophy Bakes Bread Podcast.  

  • Karen Zivi, associate professor of political science in the
    Frederik Meijer Honors College , served on the planning committee for and introduced a speaker at the Hauenstein Center's Women's Governors Conference.

    Karen presented a paper, "Claiming the Right to Human Dignity: Menstruation, Activism, and Embodied Vulnerability" at the American Political Science Association meeting in September.

    Karen also became Chair of the Board of the Progressive Women's Alliance of West Michigan in June.

    Student Successes:
  • Boren Scholar for 2017/18 (Fall Semester): Shelly Greendyk, ’18, Middle East Studies minor, Jordan (+ Honors)
  • Freeman ASIA Scholarship: Haoyu Guo, ’18, Chinese studies minor, China (Summer 2017)

  • Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Fellowship 2017/18, (first GVSU recipient, granted by German Government/US Congress/US Dept of State)Cullin Flynn, ’17, Environmental Studies minor (+ Honors)
  • GILMAN ScholarsSummer 2017
     -Mandy Wallstead, ’19, Lib Studies/Art Therapy, Ireland
-Kambriana Gates, ’18, African-American Studies minor,
           South Africa
-Haoyu Guo, ’18, Chinese Studies minor, China
-Courtney Holland, ’19, African-American Studies minor,
          South Africa
-Brandon Thompson, ’19, Middle East Studies minor,
  • Fall 2017+ Critical Language Enhancement Award: Ashley Godin, ’18, Human Rights/Arabic minors (+ Honors) to Morocco

Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies logo
Unsubscribe from future emails.
Subscribe to our email list.