Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019 was a monumental day for the Grand Valley State University community with the announcement of the university’s new president, Philomena V. Mantella. Mantella’s appointment as the university’s fifth president and first ever appointed woman has the GVSU community beaming with pride, and rightfully so.
Current charismatic leader, Thomas J. Haas, has rallied around the new appointed president and emphasized how her experience and expertise can be beneficial to the smooth transition of leadership. Haas’ reputation as president has earned him a unique adoration from students and a lasting legacy at the university. ‘T. Haas’ smiles’ have been jokingly said to fuel GVSU, with his ability to woo the community shaping his presidency to be overwhelmingly positive. The strong adoration for Haas could be intimidating for incoming leadership, but just as Haas has predicted, President Mantella’s background and character will help her take on the new fanbase.
“Her background is impressive, and her passion for education and her warmth as a person are obvious,” Haas said. “I look forward to working with her and others to ensure a smooth transition to her leadership.”
Mantella’s background is indeed impressive, with a PhD in college and university administration from Michigan State University and current position as senior vice president of the Lifelong Learning Network at Northeastern University. Her master’s and bachelor’s degrees in social work from Syracuse University also show a deeper side to the new president, dedicated to service, integrity and creating stable relationships. Her experience and education in university operations already qualify Mantella for her new role, while her temperament and kindness will win her the hearts of the GVSU community.
Following the unanimous vote by the Board of Trustees to appoint her, Mantella met with students and faculty across campus, including the Lanthorn staff. Not only was the newly appointed president friendly and sociable, she demonstrated a genuine interest in the students of her new university. This attentiveness to the individual ‘Laker effect’ is to be expected of current president Haas and is reflected effortlessly in his replacement. Mantella’s ability to see the ‘grandness’ of GVSU is what brought her to the university and will likely continue to assist her in the presidential role.
“I am impressed and energized by the strength of Grand Valley State University,” Mantella said. “I’m also inspired by the opportunities it has in today’s educational and economic landscape. I am honored and thrilled to serve as president during this exciting next chapter in Grand Valley’s journey.”
GVSU’s appointment of the first woman president hopefully sets a shining precedent for future equality and representation in the leadership at the university. While the community prepares its goodbyes to the university’s most charming president, solace can be taken in knowing that there is someone “grander” just around the corner.