August 2023 Newsletter
August 2023 Newsletter
Grand Valley State University
Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies Newsletter Header August 2023
Headshot of Mark Schaub, Dean of Brooks College

Dean's Message

Lemons, tomatoes, peaches, zucchini: some crops are like this. Tended correctly, what fruits they produce, if they produce any, will seem, to most of us, like overwhelming plenty.
                                                                 --Camille T. Dungy 

Recent high school graduates by the thousands are preparing to start their higher education adventure at GVSU in a couple weeks. They and their families are filling boxes of belongings to move into GVSU student housing—residence halls that will have their capacity tested like they haven’t been in years. Online sections are full. In person sections are full. We’ll be busy this academic year with more students than we’ve seen in a while. I know you’re already working hard to ensure we’re ready.

Testing our capacity is not going to be without its challenges. We have only so many hours in the day and can only provide the level of support we aim for to just so many students in an online or in-person section. But what a good challenge for us to have! Many Michigan institutions are looking GVSU’s way—with envy.

Here in the Brooks College, many of us are preparing for our first year in the context of a new academic entity: the School of Interdisciplinary Studies (SIS). Some of our colleagues, particularly our PSS colleagues and the SIS leadership of Jack Mangala and Justin Pettibone, have been at it all summer. There are now two large interdisciplinary units within the college: one school within the college (SIS) and one college within the college (The Frederik Meijer Honors College). The curricula of both depend on a multitude of disciplines being used in new ways to address big, important, timely issues. Both require extensive coordination and communication and healthy professional relationships. Both are staffed by talented teacher-scholars and support staff. Both center on student success and tending our intellectual gardens for the future.

Congratulations on providing this bounty of all of these attributes. Congratulations and thank you for what you’re doing, today, to support our students this coming academic year. 

Mark Schaub signature

Mark Schaub
Dean of Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies

Brooks College is gearing up for the new academic year!
The Fall 2023 Startup for Brooks College will be held on Friday, August 18, at the Seidman Building on the downtown Pew campus, in room 1080 from 8:15 - 11:30 am.  
In addition to the Brooks College startup, there will be two events specifically for faculty and staff of the new School of Interdisciplinary Studies (SIS).  There will be a retreat held for SIS faculty following the Brooks College startup, from 1:00 - 3:00 pm, also at the Seidman Building on the Pew campus.  
On Thursday, August 17, from 5:30 - 7:30 pm, the SIS Welcome Picnic will be held at the Grand Ravines North Park Lodge at 9920 42nd Avenue in Jenison. This event is to welcome new faculty and staff, as well as celebrate the launch of the new School of Interdisciplinary Studies.  
We look forward to another great year for Brooks College!  
Brooks College Advising Center  
Tips for Supporting Student Success!

By Jen Jameslyn 

The start of fall semester offers so many opportunities for supporting students as they transition to college or return to campus. We know that students have complex needs related to academics, mental health, navigating campus and GVSU expectations, and meeting basic needs for housing, food, and financial stability. It can seem overwhelming—but in fact, GVSU offers so many resources if we can just help students make connections early on to remove the barriers to their success in our classrooms and on campus. Here are some strategies you may want to consider as we begin the 23-24 academic year:

1.) Get familiar with campus resources! Know what resources might be important for students across all your courses, and what resources might be particularly important for students with specific needs, or in specialized courses. The list at the bottom should help you get started!

2.) Identify campus resources relevant to your course and share them with your students to normalize resource use early on, before students are at a make or break assignment or exam. List resources in an easily accessible spot so students can find them when they need them. Consider integrating a consultation with the Writing Center or Knowledge Market into the process for completing an assignment early on in the course so all students can practice using the resource and get comfortable with the process.

3.) Frame your resource referrals as an affirmation of your belief that students can succeed: focus on the importance of effort, persistence, goal-setting, and resource use as part of the work all successful students do in college. A referral doesn’t mean you’re a failure as a student: it means we believe you are capable of developing the skills and knowledge you need to do well in the course.

4.) Tutoring and success coaching take time to be effective. Encourage students to make those connections early. Don’t wait until midterms! It’s much easier to cancel a tutoring appointment when you’re doing well than it is to initiate a successful tutoring intervention when you’re already failing.

5.) Know the dates that students can drop with 100% refund, 75% refund, W and late W and the processes to do so. Be as transparent as you can be about individual grades and how the course grading process aligns with university deadlines for adjusting registration. Help students understand how they can positively affect their grades and when it’s too late to expect to be able to improve a grade. Refer to academic advising when students need to consider dropping a course. 

6.) If a student is struggling and needs support beyond what you can offer, or isn’t responding to your outreach, make a referral:
  • CARE Reports are for mental health, basic needs (including access to technology like a laptop), substance abuse, traumatic events, and health care.
  • Navigate Alerts are for academic concerns like missing assignments or attendance issues.
  • Navigate Tutoring Referrals are to refer a student for tutoring in a specific course.
  • Professional Academic Advisors are assigned by major. Students can connect with their assigned advisor to explore majors and possible major changes, build an academic plan, discuss campus resources, and help a student through processes for late withdrawal, complete withdrawal, academic forgiveness, and other university procedures. Advising appointments are scheduled in Navigate.


    Basic Needs, including Replenish (GV’s student food pantry)

    University Counseling Center (individual and group counseling, including same day appointments for urgent needs)

    Writing Center and Knowledge Market (support for writing, speaking, research and data across all courses and programs)

    Tutoring and Reading Center (Drop in and appointments, one time or ongoing, for course and subject-specific academic support)

    Faculty Resources

    Student Resources

    SASC Success Coaching (Holistic academic support through one on one coaching for time management, stress management, study skills, and procrastination)

Sustainable Agriculture Project Update
This fall, the Sustainable Agriculture Project (SAP) farm stand will be at the Cook Carillon Tower on Wednesdays from 10:00 am through 2:00 pm, beginning on August 30. They will have seasonal produce available such as tomatoes, peppers, kale, and more.  Cut flowers will also be available.  There be pumpkins in the later part of the farm stand season, which will run through October 11. 
The farm will have volunteer hours once the fall semester begins.  You can volunteer on Wednesdays from 9:00 am - 12:00 pm and Fridays from 12:00 - 3:00 pm, weather permitting. To volunteer, just complete this form from their website.  
Also consider making a group volunteer trip or educational trip with your class to the SAP! Staff are able to accommodate volunteer groups of 10 people or less. Make sure to complete the form at least one week in advance of your group visit, and email the farm manager Harold Thommen, to coordinate a day and time for educational visits.  
Farm shares are sold out for this growing season, but new shares will be available in Winter 2024.  
Volunteers harvesting farm produce at the SAP
The SAP said a fond farewell to Michael Hinkle, and welcomed Harold Thommen as the interrim farm manager!
Volunteers harvesting farm produce at the SAP
Inaugural Water in the West Trip
Professors Peter Wampler and Peter Riemersma led the inaugural Water in the West trip in May. After 26 days spent exploring issues facing water systems in the western United States, participating students and faculty returned to Allendale on June 7.  The trip followed the Colorado River and featured stops at several impactful geological sites.
This unique interdisciplinary experience empowered students to explore the drought issues facing our country in a very personal way. Their assignments were based around the field study nature of the experience. Students kept field journals and notes as they travelled to each new location.  They participated in research sessions, listened to speakers, read books, and wrote reflective essays at the conclusion of their experience.  
The students were challenged to a photo contest during their trip. The resulting photos range from hilarious to awe-inspiring. Explore all the photos, including the winners, in the photo gallery for the Water in The West Program.
Read more about the experience and view more breathtaking photos of the trip in this article in GV Next
School of Interdisciplinary Studies Update
As the School of Interdisciplinary Studies (SIS) has officially launched, we encourage you to explore the new website at, where you’ll find info about the School, an organizational chart, faculty/staff directory, and other resources.

Social media accounts for the School have also been created. Connect with us @GVSUSIS on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

The School is able and ready to help promote the events and activities organized and sponsored by SIS programs! To assist us in sharing this information on social media, please follow these guidelines.  If you have any questions regarding SIS social media, contact Justine Kibet.  

Catching up with a Brooks Graduate in the Field
Joe Guzman III is a former student of the Environmental and Sustainability Studies Program.  Joe has been promoted to Lakeshore Food Rescue Volunteer & Technology Coordinator at Community Action House. He was recently visited by Professor Crystal Scott-Tunstall and gave her a tour of the facility.
Community Action House provides area families and individuals with food, clothing, shelter, and the opportunity to build necessary skills to achieve a stable and prosperous life.
Joe has been working for Community Action House since his internship with the non-profit. Joe is striving to make a difference in the local food system and he desires to connect with other stakeholders in this work. Congratulations to Joe! We wish him great success and are happy to see him making a positive impact on our local community.  
Fall 2023 Convocation
Convocation is a time-honored tradition that symbolizes the beginning of the academic year. Convocation is significant for incoming students as it marks a time of intellectual discovery and the beginning of their academic endeavors.  Fall 2023 Convocation will be held on August 24, at 7:00 pm on the GVSU Allendale campus, in the Field House arena.  
convocation at GVSU
GVSU in the summer
Summer Shares
We wish you a very enjoyable summer!  Make sure to snap pictures to capture the fun moments, and if you would like to share them with your colleagues in Brooks College, please email the pictures to Maureen Strand at  We will feature the summer shares in the September issue of the newsletter!
GVSU in the summer


August 17: School of Interdisciplinary Studies Welcome Picnic 5:30 - 7:30 pm
August 18: Fall 2023 Brooks College Startup 8:15 - 11:30 am
August 18: School of Interdisciplinary Studies Retreat 1:00 - 3:00 pm
August 30: The Rainbow Social 3:00 - 6:00 pm
*New events are posted regularly.
Stay up to date on Brooks College Events by checking the event calendar on our website.

Faculty Calendar

August 4: Classes End - 2nd 6 and 12 weeks
August 7-8: Exams - 2nd 6 and 12 weeks
August 14: Grades Due from Faculty by 12:00 pm
August 21: Academic Leadership Council Meeting 9:00 am
August 28: Fall 2023 Classes Begin
September 3-4: Labor Day Recess
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