Niemeyer Award, 4+1 REL Partnership, Interdisciplinary Salon, and more!
Niemeyer Award, 4+1 REL Partnership, Interdisciplinary Salon, and more!
Grand Valley State University

Message from Acting Dean
Mark Schaub

The choices we make this time of year are both wonderful and agonizing. For students: do I spend the balmy evening spending more time on that due-tomorrow paper or head down into the ravines to see if the hepatica or trout lilies or Dutchmen’s breeches are blooming? For faculty: do I spend this balmy evening with my child or walk the dog or get to that grading? For staff and administrators: do I check out the presentations by Professor Chamberlains' students in “Design Thinking to Meet Real World Needs” class or those by Professor Lake’s ALP students downtown? One simply cannot make the wrong (or right) choice.
The staff and faculty of the Brooks College don’t just make those choices during this end-of-year frenzy, but throughout the academic year. They continually invest their time and energy in the things that bring them joy. Fortunately for our students, they most often choose the student-orientated route. Each of those choices represents a sacrifice. I want to acknowledge that sacrifice, and thank you for it.
Even attending the commencement ceremony this weekend is a sacrifice of sorts: leaving the grading behind to fight the traffic to get to the venue downtown. Finding a parking spot. Enduring the tightly packed seats on the arena floor. But the experience of celebrating our students’ learning and achievements also represents what we’re all doing here.
Thanks for all you do to make the students’ graduation happen. May your Spring and Summer terms be filled with easier choices—choices that bring you joy.

Liberal Studies Student Receives Niemeyer Award

Benjamin Scott-Brandt, a Liberal Studies major in the Frederik Meijer Honors College, has received the prestigious Glenn A. Niemeyer Undergraduate Student Award. Named for the first Provost of GVSU, the Niemeyer Awards honor faculty and students who strive for excellence in all aspects of a well-rounded academic experience. Students selected for the Niemeyer Awards are well-rounded individuals with demonstrated excellence in both the classroom and extra-curricular activities.
Specializing in the study of sacred spaces, Ben is also a songwriter, hairstylist and intern at GVSU's Campus Interfaith Resources. Ben is a first-generation college student graduating this spring, and he hopes to continue exploring the role of sacred space here in West Michigan. Congratulations, Ben!

New 4+1 Religious Studies Partnership with Western

Graduating religious studies senior, Austin Avison, will be the first Grand Valley student to take advantage of a new partnership between GVSU and Western Michigan University. The two schools are offering a new 4+1 program to allow students to obtain a Master of Arts or Masters of Science in Religious Studies from WMU. GVSU students will be able to acquire up to 12 credits that can be applied toward a master's degree from WMU.
Melanie Shell-Weiss, chair of the Liberal Studies Department, said, "this agreement is a tribute to the hard work of the Religious Studies faculty to increase opportunities for GVSU students. The REL Program offers a range of opportunities for undergraduates whether they are pursuing careers in professions like Nursing, Business, or Education where knowledge of religions or religious perspectives may be directly applicable to their work or for those who may someday want to teach at the post-secondary level or pursue scholarship full-time. The 4+1 partnership with Western Michigan University expands students’ options and helps them to get the most out of their investment in their undergraduate studies. We are thrilled to see this collaboration move forward."

Traverse City students build aquaponic system in class

With some up-cycled materials and a goal to reduce food miles, four students from Grand Valley's Traverse City Regional Center built a small-scale aquaponic system to grow food. An aquaponic system uses excrement from fish or other aquaculture as fertilizer for the plants growing in a fish tank.
As part of the course, Wicked Problems of Sustainability, taught by Kate Fairman, a part-time liberal studies faculty member, students Brittany Bolger, Autumn Anderson, Chelsea Cooper and Sunny Charpentier built an aquaponic system to grow basil, lettuce and strawberries. The students shared their project with local distributor Cherry Capital Foods, and hope to connect with area restaurants. “One of the big takeaways is these small experiments can have a ripple effect in not only their lives, but also their community,” she said. Read the full story on GVNow.

Interdisciplinary Salon Funds Three Events

Three projects received funding from the Interdisciplinary Salon program:
  • The Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGS) department partnered with the African/African American Studies program on a funded application to host a student workshop called “Solutionary Acts: Mobilizing Intersectional (Afro)Futures” with renowned speaker Mel Michelle Lewis from Goucher College. WGS brought Dr. Lewis to campus to participate in their anniversary celebration.
  • The Environmental and Sustainability Studies (ENS) program was awarded funds to host three special “Meet the Faculty” events in March and April. The purpose of these events was to build community among existing ENS faculty and students and to generate interest among additional faculty and students, in preparation for launching the new ENS major in Fall 2019.
  • The Padnos International Center partnered with the Bringing the World Together student organization on a funded application to host daily open-house conversations between international students, exchange students, and domestic students. Called the Global Café, this program will begin in Fall 2019.
For more information about funding, visit the Interdisciplinary Salon website.

Brooks College Study Abroad Scholarships

Three Brooks College students have been awarded scholarships for faculty-led, service-learning study abroad experiences on the African continent this summer:

WGS major Amarri Smallwood was awarded $2000 for the WGS South Africa program, based in Cape Town.  In addition to her WGS major, Amarri is pursuing minors in AAA and LGBTQ Studies and plans to go to graduate school in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies.   

Honors students Katherine Foy and Taylor Segorski were each awarded $1000 for the Ghana Honors Service Learning and Cultural Exchange program. Katherine is majoring in Health Communications and is excited about a future career as a Child Life Specialist. Taylor is majoring in Biomedical Sciences and plans to attend medical school.

Chamberlain Recognized for Four Years of Service as Endowed Chair in Honors

Linda Chamberlain was recognized by the Frederik Meijer Honors College for her four years of service as the Meijer Endowed Chair of Entrepreneurship & Innovation.
Roger Gilles, director of the Honors College, said, "Linda Chamberlain brought amazing energy and dedication to the job, helping us to establish design-thinking as a regular offering in our curriculum. We have benefited greatly from Linda's professional experience and perspectives."
Rosalynn Bliss, Mayor of Grand Rapids, has been named the next Endowed Chair in Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the Frederik Meijer Honors College. 

Faculty & Staff Updates

Anne L. Hiskes, Dean of Brooks College, will step down from her role as dean at the end of the Winter 2019 semester. Dean Hiskes was named dean of Brooks College in 2012. She joined Grand Valley after serving as interim associate dean for interdisciplinary programs and faculty development at the University of Connecticut. Dean Hiskes will retire from Grand Valley at the end of the Fall 2019 semester.
Ed Baum, professor of chemistry in the Honors College, will retire at the end of the Winter 2019 semester. Baum has served Grand Valley for 35 years.
Judy Whipps, professor of liberal studies, will retire at the end of the 2018-19 academic year. Whipps has served Grand Valley for 20 years.
Marilyn Preston, assistant professor of liberal studies, will be serving as the acting director of Kutsche Office for Local History during the Fall 2019 semester while director Kim McKee is on maternity leave.

Faculty, Staff & Student Recognition

Jae Basiliere, assistant professor of women, gender, and sexuality studies, received the PRISM award from the Milton E. Ford LGBT Resource Center for making a positive impact on the LGBTQIA+ community. Jae will also serve as a mentor for the 2019 Student Summer Scholars Program.
Krista Benson, assistant professor of liberal studies, received the Faculty Engagement Award from the Milton E. Ford LGBT Resource Center for making a positive impact on the LGBTQIA+ community. Benson, Cáel Keegan, assistant professor of women, gender, and sexuality studies and liberal studies, and Laurence José, associate professor of writing and director of digital studies, received Teaching Innovation Grant from the Pew Faculty Teaching and Learning Center for their project, "It's Not Just a Game: Effective Video Game Pedagogy."
Chelsea Best, digital studies minor, won the Outstanding Undergraduate Intern of the Year award from the GVSU Career Center for her work with GVSU Human Resources Health and Wellness.
Miranda Bryan, a double major in religious studies and political science with a minor in women, gender, and sexuality studies, received the Jean Enright Scholarship for the 2019-2020 academic year.
Jen Cathey, office coordinator of the general education program, completed the Boston Marathon on April 15th. This was Jen's 5th Boston Marathon and her 15th marathon overall. Go Jen!
Abhi Ghosh, assistant professor of religious studies and liberal studies, received a Catalyst Grant for Research and Creativity from the Center for Scholarly and Creative Excellence for his project, "Bhaktivinoda, Christianity, and Western Philosophy."
Carol "Griff" Griffin, director of the General Education Program and professor of biology; Wendy Burns-Ardolino, director of the Master's Program in Social Innovation and professor of liberal studies; and Ellen Schendel, assistant vice president for Academic Affairs and professor of writing, gave a presentation, "Striving for Inclusive Excellence in a General Education Program: Examining Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Student Learning," at the American Association for Colleges and Universities' conference on Creating a 21st Century General Education.
Alexis Hansen, a double major in psychology and biomedical science with minors in LGBTQ Studies and chemistry, received the 2019 Outstanding LGBTQ+ Paper/Project Award for her project, "Developing a Transcartohistoriography.”
Elizabeth Kilbourne, part-time faculty of liberal studies, gave a presentation, "Moving Adventures for Design," at the Interaction Design School at Umea University in Umea, Sweden.
Sarah King, associate professor of liberal studies and religious studies, and Amy McFarland, assistant professor of food and agricultural studies in the Honors College, received a $30,000 grant from the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion for their project, “Growing Diversity,” which will connect the Sustainable Agriculture Project and teaching religious diversity.
Cameron Jones, Frederik Meijer Honors College student, was selected as a finalist for the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Award, the nation's most prestigious domestic award for undergraduate students. Jones, Grand Valley's second-ever Truman finalist, was selected from among 840 applications from 346 colleges and universities.
Tova Jones, Accelerated Leadership Program student, was awarded a scholarship from Positive Black Women at the annual Women's Commission Awards Ceremony.
Chelsea Ortiz, '17 (women, gender, and sexuality studies), received the Outstanding LGBTQ+ Graduate Award. Ortiz is pursuing a Master of Education in College Student Affairs Leadership. She also currently serves as a graduate assistant in the Milton E. Ford LGBT Resource Center. 
Ruth Ott, a double major in women, gender, and sexuality studies and political science, received the Academic Excellence Award in women, gender, and sexuality studies. She also served as president of Iota Iota Iota National Honor Society. Ruth has been admitted to the University of Michigan’s Master of Science in Information Program for next year.
Bonnie Peterson, Accelerated Leadership Program student, received the Unsung Hero Award from the Women's Commission at the Celebrating Women Awards. Bonnie positively impacts Grand Valley State University and the surrounding community from behind the scenes, as well as improves the lives of others through generous acts of kindness.
Marilyn Preston, assistant professor of liberal studies, was selected to serve as a mentor of the 2019 Student Summer Scholars Program.
Santos Ramos, assistant professor of liberal studies, received a Laker Extramural Proposal Development Fund from the Center for Scholarly and Creative Excellence for his project, “Mexican Food from Michoacán to Michigan."
Melanie Shell-Weiss, chair and associate professor of liberal studies, wrote a chapter, “The Power of Narrative: A Practical Guide to Creating Decolonial, Community-Based Projects,” published in the book Intergenerational Relations and Intergenerational Education. She also wrote an article, “Good Intentions: Grappling with Legacies of Conflict and Distrust Surrounding a Native American History Project One Generation Later,” published in Oral History Review.
Ellen Siemon, Accelerated Leadership Program student, received the Liberal Studies Academic Excellence Award at the Student Awards Convocation. 
David Stark, professor of history and coordinator of Latin American Studies, wrote an article, “A Professionalizing Priesthood: The Cathedral Chapter of San Juan, Puerto Rico, 1650-1700,” published in Catholic Historical Review.
Kayla Wheeler, assistant professor of area and global studies, received a Catalyst Grant for Research and Creativity from the Center for Scholarly and Creative Excellence for her project, "Fashioning Black Islam: Race, Gender, and Belonging in the Ummah."
Brynn Wilfong, women, gender, and sexuality studies major and LGBTQ studies minor, received a Student Summer Scholars Grant through the Office of Undergraduate Research for their project, “The Hidden Cost of Gaycation: Queer Cross-Class Contact in Rural Resort Towns." Brynn also serves as a student assistant in the shared WGS/ENS Office.

Upcoming Events

Making Waves: Confluence

Thursday, April 25, 9:30 AM - 2:30 PM
Grand Ravines Park (9920 42nd Ave, Jenison, MI 49428)
An informal gathering about the Making Waves initiative featuring food, fun and hiking along the Grand River. Peter Wampler and Kate Remlinger will be available to talk about the initiative and how you can get involved.

Liberal Studies & Religious Studies Senior Showcase

Thursday, April 25, 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Kirkhof Center, Room 2270
A presentation of senior projects by students in the Liberal Studies and Religious Studies Programs. Highlights of the event include short single slide presentations by students as well as announcement of the Winter 2019 recipients of the department's Senior Project Awards: the Wendy J. Wenner Outstanding Thesis in Liberal Studies, Religious Studies Outstanding Thesis Award, and the Stanley Krohmer Outstanding Senior Project Award. Refreshments will be served and all are welcome.

Making Waves: Just Add Water

Wednesday, May 1, 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
GVSU Annis Water Resources Institute (740 West Shoreline Dr, Muskegon, MI 49441)
Explore ways to incorporate water into your classes with your colleagues:
  • 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM - Curriculum Design Discussion
  • 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM - Lunch
  • 3:30 PM - 6:00 PM - M/V Jackson Lake Cruise
Open to all GVSU faculty and staff. RSVP at the Making Waves website.

Save the Date

  • Friday, August 16, 2019 - Brooks College Start-Up Meeting (aka KOAGY)
  • Thursday, October 24, 2019 - Brooks College Outstanding Alumni Panel
  • Tuesday, November 19, 2019 - Padnos/Sarosik Civil Discourse Symposium

Share Your Thoughts

Brooks College Dean's Office has created a Communications Survey to gauge the quality and effectiveness of our website, newsletter, and social media presence. Please take a few minutes to share your feedback to help us improve our communications. Take the survey by May 1 for a chance to win a $20 gift card to GVSU campus dining!
Please contact managing editor, Alex Priebe, to submit stories for future issues.
Unsubscribe from future emails.
Subscribe to our email list.