GVPD chief to take part in HerStory series

GVL/Kevin Sielaff
Police Chief Renee Freeman

GVL/Kevin Sielaff Police Chief Renee Freeman

More than 40 female leaders from across the university have taken part in the HerStory series at Grand Valley State University since 2002. This week, the Women’s Commission and the Women’s Center are hosting their 51st guest: GVSU police chief Renee Freeman.

Freeman has worked with the campus police department for two years, previously serving for almost 28 years with the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety.

She will speak about her experiences as a female police officer.

“In 30 years, I’ve seen a few things change: who’s in law enforcement and how they are doing it,” Freeman said. “I am hoping that my perspective on leadership and management in this type of environment will shed some light on who I am and how I function in the university setting.”

The HerStory series, Freeman said, can help colleagues learn about each other.

“Their struggles have allowed them to become who they are and hold the position they have,” she said. “It fits into the education component of higher education. It creates a sense of appreciation and enrichment.”

Kristen Evans, chair of the women’s commission, coordinates all of their traditional programs, including HerStory. Evans said the Commission met over the summer to discuss their options for this year’s series.

In the past, they have hosted speakers such as the dean of university libraries, director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs and even first lady Marcia Haas.

“Last year, we featured our 50th installment of HerStory, which provides the GVSU community an opportunity to hear the story of the personal and professional journey of various women leaders across campus,” Evans said.

Additionally, Evans said the events are held to raise awareness about the tradition of male-dominated higher education institutions.

“GVSU has several prominent women leaders at all levels of the university, and the HerStory series brings those stories of success – and struggle – to the greater GVSU community,” she said. “HerStory answers the question ‘Who is this woman? How did she get here?’”

Although the main audience for the event is faculty and staff, students are also encouraged to attend. Evans said the event benefits students because the stories are often inspiring.

“It makes a leader on campus ‘real.’ You learn about where she came from, what struggles she faced, what she likes to do when she’s not at work,” she said. “What students gain – and not just students, but faculty and staff that attend gain – is acknowledgement of the varied paths that lead to success, many of them long journeys with many twists and turns and significant challenges and I think that sends a message to the community that leaders are real people, not perfect heroes.”

Renee Freeman is speaking Tuesday at noon in Room 2204 of the Kirkhof Center. The HerStory event is LIB 100 approved.

More information about the HerStory series is available at www.gvsu.edu/wcommission/herstory-43.htm.