100,000 strong

GVL/Spencer Miller
Dale Paul Boteker, Grand Valleys 100,000th graduate, stands with President T. Haas after recieving an award during the 2015 GVSU commencement ceremony on Saturday, April 25.

GVL/Spencer Miller Dale Paul Boteker, Grand Valley’s 100,000th graduate, stands with President T. Haas after recieving an award during the 2015 GVSU commencement ceremony on Saturday, April 25.

Hannah Lentz

Each year, commencement looks to honor the most recent graduates from Grand Valley State University. This year, the 100,000th alumni of GVSU was honored with a surprise acknowledgement from the university.

“Just imagine, 100,000 Lakers making a difference,” said Thomas Haas, president of GVSU. “It’s a remarkable milestone for the university and for any university for that matter and we also recognize that each one of you have your own incredible milestone today.”

This university-wide milestone and accomplishment was celebrated at the afternoon commencement ceremony April 25 in the Van Andel Arena in downtown Grand Rapids. Throughout the day, over 3,000 students walked across the stage during the two ceremonies.

Dale Boedeker a health communications major and advertising and public relations minor was announced as GVSU’s 100,000th alumni. He was given a $1,000 check and various items from the GVSU Alumni Association. Additionally, Diane Paton, a 1967 alumna and the first ever accepted student at GVSU was there to take part in the ceremony and see how much the university’s population has grown since her time at GVSU.

“I still can’t believe it,” Boedeker said. “When I went up there and they stopped me and all the stuff went down I though maybe it was a joke and then they said I was the 100,000th (graduate) and I still kind of don’t believe it.”

This is also an important milestone for GVSU as enrollment continues to grow and more than 5,600 students received a degree during the 2014-2015 academic year, setting a record for number of graduates.

According to Haas, the university will reach 200,000 graduates in much less time than it took to get to the first 100,000 alumni.

Michael Jandernoa, former CEO and current board member of Perrigo Company, spoke at the morning ceremony, and Paula Kerger, president and CEO of PBS, was the speaker in the afternoon.

“I want to urge you to be more,” Kerger said to the new graduates. “Be more flexible, be more open to possibilities, be more engaged, connected and involved. Be the generation that solves problems and builds a better future. Be more.”

At the ceremonies, the GVSU Alumni Association presented its Distinguished Alumni Award to Noreen Myers, who graduated in 1972, and its Outstanding Educator Award to Brad Wallar, an associate professor of chemistry at GVSU.

David Hecht and Bea Idema received honorary degrees. Hecht is a current trustee for the GVSU foundation and is president of the Charles W. Loosemore foundation. Idema was one of the largest donors for the Mary Idema Pew Library Learning and Information Commons at GVSU.