Gayle Davis updates student senate about new provost search

GVL/Mackenzie Bush - Provost Gayle Davis speaks during a Student Senate meeting Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016.

Mackenzie Bush

GVL/Mackenzie Bush – Provost Gayle Davis speaks during a Student Senate meeting Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016.

Jess Hodge

Each year, Grand Valley State University’s provost comes to a student senate meeting to talk about new initiatives and plans for the upcoming year.

This year, however, Gayle Davis talked to the student senators Thursday, Sept. 22 about her position and the importance of students in the decision for the new provost.

Davis, GVSU’s provost and executive vice president of academic and student affairs, is not involved in the search for her replacement, but she did have some words of wisdom and advice she wanted to share with the senators.

“What is going through my mind this semester and next semester is how to get ready for the next person in my position to have a smooth transition here,” she said. “What I do want to do is in this last year be sure that as the new person comes in, they are (met with a) well-informed student body.”

To help the senators determine what they should look for in the next candidate, Davis explained her job on campus and the various roles she plays on campus.

Being the executive vice president for academic and students affairs puts her in charge of things on an academic basis and all things related to student affairs and services. Additionally, she is in charge of policies, curriculum, grievances, complaints and reports.

“I’m a person you don’t see a lot necessarily but I’m that person behind the curtain who has the final responsibility on all the things that affect your life as students,” Davis said. “You want a person who cares about students in this job. Don’t let anyone come in and forget to mention students in their conversations with the campus.”

A large part of her job is advocating for students and new ideas presented that have the opportunity to improve GVSU. She works with President Thomas Haas, the president’s cabinet and other vice presidents to make sure decisions made are the best ones for the students.

“I’m in charge of making sure your classes are at the highest level of quality and consistency that your voices are heard in terms of student evaluation of classes,” she said. “When you have new ideas for Grand Valley, I’m the person, one of many, (who) lends an ear to those ideas and helps advocate for them with the rest of the university and the board.”

Davis expressed her care for the students at GVSU and the importance of having the next candidate share that same passion.

“I just really like students and I hope the next person in my position also has the same commitment to the well-being of our whole student body as well as each individual student as they come through Grand Valley,” Davis said.

Her role as the provost places her as President Thomas Haas’s right-hand woman, If Haas was unable to fulfill the duties as president, Davis would step in as acting president.

“This dual role means I have a lot of avenues in which to advocate for you, to fund your ideas, to make appropriate and hopefully beneficial changes to what’s going on at Grand Valley,” she said.

Student senate President Ella Fritzemeier said Davis has always been crucial in advocating for students’ interests at faculty and administration meetings.

“I didn’t even have to speak on behalf on students, she was already saying ‘well is that really the best decision when it comes to our students?’” Fritzemeier said. “She is our biggest cheerleader and we cannot thank her enough for everything she’s done for us.”

Noelle Milad, student senate vice president for public relations, asked Davis what other traits are important to look for in candidates.

“I think the keys to listen for are how much do they care about and actively engage in decisions based on your future when it comes to our curriculum on Grand Valley’s campus,” Davis said. “We need to be positive that we don’t ask for lightening of expectations, but rather real interest in the rigor and usefulness of what you get out of your years here.”