The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

GV Board of Trustees meeting addresses campus renovations, expansion, hears student concerns

GVL / Mason Cordell

Grand Valley State University’s Board of Trustees (BOT) met Friday, Feb. 23 to discuss the relocation of the GVSU Police Academy, a new program for adult learners, adding a Laker Store in downtown Grand Rapids and the campus housing 10-year plan. 

The BOT meeting addressed projects to increase visibility for GVSU and many long-term education and infrastructure plans that aim to support students.

GVSU President Philomena Mantella began the meeting by talking about the newly implemented management system Workday which now houses financial, operational data for the university and serves other managerial purposes. Mantella and the board members acknowledged the challenges faced in the process of importing 20 years’ worth of data to a new system. However, they said it will ultimately “revolutionize” the way GVSU operates.

Mantella also praised the GVSU community for winning the 2023 GameDay Football Zero Waste Touchdown Challenge in the Waste Minimization Per Capita category in her opening remarks. 

The university president additionally announced the plans to build a new Laker Store in the Grand Rapids Art Museum next to Rosa Parks Circle. She declared that this action of “planting our flag” increases GVSU’s Grand Rapids presence as a “hometown university.”

Another subject of discussion was how the university could expand “educational access and equity” to “lifetime,” adult learners. Kara Van Dam, Vice Provost and Leader of the Office of Graduate and Lifetime Learning housed at the GVSU Battle Creek Regional Outreach Center, stressed the importance of postsecondary education. Van Dam said proximity is a major factor for adult learners, because “76% of adult learners said they would only choose a school within 100 miles of their home.”

As a result, GVSU is working on an adult learning program called the GVSU Omni program. This program is designed to help adult learners advance their education with flexible and accessible learning. The delivery model combines online and in-person learning through statewide GVSU campuses. Currently, Michigan is ranked 34th out of 50 in college attainment for individuals over 25 throughout the country, according to research by the Citizens Research Council of Michigan and Altarum. The university is hoping the GVSU Omni program can help change that. 

At the meeting BOT approved the relocation of the GVSU Police Academy. To meet the demands for education and training, GVSU plans to move the academy to the Meijer Campus in Holland, Michigan. Renovations to classrooms, a multi-purpose room and an exterior driving course are included in this approval.

One of the largest planned renovations is to campus housing. Due to increased-enrollment this year, campus housing had overcrowding, with more students sharing a room than usual, and placing students in overflow off-campus housing. As a result, the GVSU Department of Housing and Residence Life has released an updated 10-year master plan in hopes of addressing these problems. The plan includes new residence halls, apartments and a new multi-use dining center, along with various improvements to existing buildings.

In her report, Mantella said the university is prepared to continue leasing off-campus apartments if needed. Currently, some students who requested on-campus housing are living, through the university, at Campus West, an off-campus housing complex.

Mantella also noted that “mental health needs are at an all-time high.” Additionally, she said the lasting effects of the pandemic on education must be addressed. She called for increased support for student needs. Mantella ended her report with a quote from the film “A League of Their Own.”

“It’s supposed to be hard,” Mantella said. “If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard… is what makes it great.”

To conclude the meeting, the BOT heard 11 public comments, many of which came from one GVSU student organization. The Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA)/Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) brought attention to a variety of student concerns, including housing, on-campus student wages and labor conditions and the humanitarian crisis in Palestine.

“We really had like three platforms we wanted to push,” said YDSA/SDS President Jessica Koerkel. “There’s the ‘raise student wages’ issue, which we pushed for a lot last year, there’s the Palestine issue, which the university has still been silent on and then there’s the housing crisis that many of us are tackling right now.”

The group said it is important for students to voice their concerns and said GVSU BOT meetings should be more accessible for student attendance, with some members of YDSA/SDS having to skip class to be present. 

The next GVSU BOT meeting is scheduled for April 26, 2024.

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