Peer Mentor Program, Alumni Serve at Blandford, Making Waves, and more!
Peer Mentor Program, Alumni Serve at Blandford, Making Waves, and more!
Grand Valley State University

Message from Acting Dean
Mark Schaub

In my former office on the ground floor of Lake Ontario Hall, I was afforded a wonderful view of the pine and aspen groves just north of this still-new structure. I’d occasionally consider the educating that’s taken place here on the lip of this ravine long before us. Many generations of Odawa, Ojibwe, and Potawatomi educators preceded this decades-old project of Grand Valley State Colleges. In one sense, educators here in this place have always focused on making the lives of the next generation better. And the stakes have always been high.
Education is still about survival and about making things better for the future. That’s why four years ago (specifically, on 2 April 2015) terrorists bent on stifling education stormed the dusty campus of Garissa University in northern Kenya and murdered 148 students and faculty. They saw education as a threat. The result of that massacre was the end of the dreams of a better future for 148 families—families who no doubt sacrificed so much to send their children to Garissa for vocational training so that their futures would be brighter.
All of us in the Brooks College are educators, teachers, on some level. Support students and their families in moving to a better future. A future, period. There are so many important things to teach: welding or engine maintenance, gender equity or writing, race relations or climate change. On 2 April, remember that this noble profession of teaching has a proud history. Your history. Teach like your lives depend on it.

Provost Meets with Brooks College

On March 15, Provost Cimitile met with Brooks College faculty and staff for a town hall meeting. The Provost and acting dean Mark Schaub shared their vision for Brooks College, including plans to continue in the direction set by the College's Strategic Plan and emphasizing Brooks as a leader of interdisciplinarity at Grand Valley. The Provost said Mark Schaub is expected to serve as acting and interim dean for two years while a national search is conducted for a new dean.

Peer Mentor Program Makes Impact in Pilot Semester

Student responses to the LIB 100 Peer Mentor Program,
a new retention strategy, indicate that it is making a positive impact in its pilot semester. Designed by Jen Jameslyn, director of the Office of Integrative Learning and Advising, to bridge co-curricular and classroom content, the mentor program ran its pilot semester in Fall 2018. The program features a team of student employee peer mentors who host short discussions following LIB 100/201 campus events, lead service-learning events and host tours of campus resources such as the Knowledge Market and University Counseling Center.

 Designed by Jen Jameslyn, director of the Office of Integrative Learning and Advising, to bridge co-curricular and classroom content, the mentor program ran its pilot semester in Fall 2018. The program features a team of student employee peer mentors who host short discussions following LIB 100/201 campus events, lead service-learning events and host tours of campus resources such as the Knowledge Market and University Counseling Center.
During the Fall 2018 semester, the inaugural team of 5 peer mentors hosted 86 co-curricular events on campus and connected with more than 100 students at those events. Mentors also led 5 service-learning trips with 88 students, including 52 first-year students and visited 5 classes with 127 students. According to an assessment survey which was distributed to all LIB 100 students, 89% of students learned about new resources when a mentor presented to their class. Following a service-learning trip, 94% of students said they were more committed to their role as an active citizen in the community and 97% of students indicated an increased awareness of perspectives different than their own.
The Peer Mentor Program is continuing this semester with four peer mentors: Nokomis Clarey-Schultz, Chavala Ymker, Anna Szalay and Julia Ervin. For more information, visit the Office of Integrative Learning and Advising website.

Alumni Serve at Blandford Nature Center

On March 23, 10 Brooks College alumni volunteered at Blandford Nature Center in Grand Rapids, MI. The group helped put on the 49th Sugarbush Festival. The event was part of Grand Valley's Community Outreach Week.

Making Waves Initiative Seeks Water-related Courses

Are you scheduled to teach a water-related course? The Making Waves About Water initiative is compiling a list of all water-related courses to feature on its website. Peter Wampler, professor of geology, faculty-in-residence in the Honors College and Making Waves co-leader, said listing all water-related courses on one website makes it easier for students to find a class. Wampler said “water-related” can be physical, metaphorical, symbolic, as well as aesthetic aspects of water. Making Waves will begin in the 2019-2020 academic year and create opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration, resources and activities. To add a class to the list, please complete this online form

Grand Valley Named a Top Gilman Producer

Grand Valley has been named a Top Producing Institution for the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship program in Michigan, as well as the top producer of award recipients who are student veterans. The University was also recognized as having the greatest growth among students who have a disability. The recognition was recently shared by the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, in collaboration with the Institute of International Education, who compiles the list. Congratulations to the 11 GVSU students—including 3 students from Brooks College—who were awarded prestigious Gilman Scholarships in the 2018-2019 academic year, which help fund study abroad opportunities. Congratulations and thanks to Elizabeth Lambert and Lauren Presutti in the Office of Fellowships for their efforts to support students.

Faculty & Staff Introductions

Rosalynn Bliss, Mayor of Grand Rapids, has been named the new Frederik Meijer Endowed Chair in Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the Frederik Meijer Honors College. Bliss will teach one class per semester, focusing on developing skills for leadership, innovation and creative problem-solving. She will also host "Fireside Chats" with area community leaders who are committed to social responsibility and provide students with opportunities for hands-on learning experiences. Students who enroll in Bliss' course, a junior-level seminar course, will learn about theories of leadership with the goal of making a positive impact on the organizations and communities they work and live in. Bliss follows Linda Chamberlain in the position, who has served since 2015.
Julie Guevara, professor of social work, will assist acting dean Mark Schaub in the transition during the Winter 2019, S/S 2019 and Fall 2019 semesters. An experienced GVSU faculty member, unit head, and long-time Associate Vice President in the Provost’s Office, Dr. Guevara brings a great deal of experience and expertise in all areas of faculty work. She will help out the Brooks Dean's Office on an “as needed” basis and may be visiting departmental meetings, assisting the acting dean with meetings with faculty and unit heads, and other activities to support the work of the College during the transition before a national search is conducted.
Michael Vrooman, associate professor of Spanish, began serving as acting chief international officer on March 11. Mike joined the Modern Languages and Literatures Department in 2003 after earning a doctoral degree in Hispanic linguistics from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He has participated in multiple programs at Grand Valley’s international partner universities and helped establish the program at the Universidad del Bío-Bío in Chile. Mike is the president of the Michigan World Language Association and has worked with Michigan Department of Education committees on curriculum issues related to internationalization. Mike is very passionate about promoting the life-long transformative experiences that study abroad provides.

Diane M. Wright, professor of modern languages and literatures (MLL) and Inclusion Advocate, will serve as the interim chair of the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Department beginning May 2019. A former chair of MLL (1997-1999) and most recently Spanish section coordinator (2016-2018), Diane teaches courses on Spanish language, culture and literature as well as a first-year interdisciplinary course in the Frederik Meijer Honors College. Her publications include topics concerning the interaction of oral and written modes of discourse, uses of rhetoric and memory, and the construction of the female speaking subject. Her current research project examines the representations of the Spanish female warrior. Diane follows Anne Caillaud, who has served as interim chair of women, gender and sexuality studies since 2018.

Faculty, Staff & Student Recognition

Three students from Brooks College were awarded Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarships to study abroad in Summer 2019. They are listed with their hometown, major(s) and minor(s), and country of study:
  • Chance Colter, Wyoming, MI; mathematics and applied linguistics in the Honors College; South Korea
  • Capriana Calvachi, Traverse City, MI; anthropology and biology in the Honors College; United Kingdom
  • Richard Vegh, Haslett, MI; philosophy and English with minors in women, gender and sexuality studies and applied linguistics in the Honors College; Peru
Danielle Lake, assistant professor of liberal studies and coordinator of the Accelerated Leadership Program, received the Jane Addams Prize from the Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy. The Jane Addams Prize recognizes excellence in feminist scholarship in papers presented at the annual meeting on issues in feminist thought as they occur in American philosophies, including their intersections with race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, (dis)ability and age, etc.
Andrea Riley-Mukavetz, assistant professor of liberal studies, presented on two panels at the College Composition and Communication Conference in Pittsburgh, "Decolonizing the Discipline of Rhet/Comp," and, "Performing, Storying, Surviving: Developing and Listening to Indigenous Forms of Critique," and facilitated an all-day workshop, "Developing an Indigenous Scholarly Practice: An Indigenous Rhetorics Research and Writing Retreat." She also wrote a land acknowledgment for the conference. Andrea serves on the new Diversity and Inclusion Committee for the Grand Rapid's Children's Museum where she was also a featured reader during Literacy Week. On March 29, Andrea will speak at the Native American and Indigenous Studies Symposium, "Survivance Stories: Indigenous Struggle, Resistance, and Innovation," hosted by the Five Colleges Consortium.
The Office of Sustainable Practices' Sustainability Champion Awards recognizes individuals who, by practice and belief, support the ideals of sustainable practice and using a triple-bottom-line approach to problems and issues. Congratulations to the following Brooks College faculty, staff and students who were named 2019 Sustainability Champions: Samuel Afoakwa, Anita Benes, Karen Gipson, Libby Jawish, Jennifer Jameslyn, Julia Mason, Amy McFarland and Kelly Parker.

Upcoming Events

L’dor v’dor: Oral Histories of the B’nai Israel Congregation

Wednesday, April 3, 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Mary Idema Pew Library, Multipurpose Room
Marilyn Preston will discuss her Community Collaboration Grant project, “L’dor v’dor: Oral Histories of the B’nai Israel Congregation,” which documents the histories of congregants at the B’nai Israel Synagogue in Muskegon. B’nai Israel has been in operation for nearly 130 years and the congregation has been shrinking in the last three decades. As membership ages, the temple is at risk of closing.

Unpacking Privilege at GVSU

Wednesday, April 3, 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Kirkhof Center, Room 2266
This event will be facilitated by the students in the culminating seminar in Intercultural Competence (ITC 495). Students will share stories of coming to consciousness and understanding as well as introduce concepts of power, privilege, and intersectionality by dialoguing in small groups. We hope that you come prepared to reflect, learn and think about how power and privilege take place at Grand Valley and that you will leave with an awareness and understanding.

Design Thinking Open House

Join David Coffey, director of the Design Thinking Academy, for an open house and update on all things Design Thinking at GVSU. Please invite colleagues and students. Light refreshments provided.
  • Tuesday, April 9, 5:00 - 10:00 PM
    Au Sable Hall, Room 1112
  • Wednesday, April 10, 5:00 - 10:00 PM
    Au Sable Hall, Room 1112

Faculty Conversations with the Provost

Provost Cimitile will host two final open conversations for faculty during the Winter semester. Please join the Provost to discuss what's on your mind. Mark your calendar and attend one or both sessions.
  • Tuesday, April 16, 9:00 - 10:30 AM
    DeVos Center, U-Club Room - Pew Grand Rapids Campus
  • Wednesday, April 17, 2:00 - 3:30 PM
    Zumberge Hall, Room 3000 - Allendale Campus

Celebration to Honor Anne L. Hiskes

Tuesday, April 16, 4:00 - 5:30 PM
Kirkhof Center, Thornapple Room (0058)
Please join acting dean Mark Schaub and the faculty and staff of Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies at a reception to honor Anne L. Hiskes. We will celebrate her many contributions and years of service as she leaves her role as dean and retires from Grand Valley State University. Brief remarks will begin at 4:30 PM.
Please contact managing editor, Alex Priebe, to submit stories for future issues.
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