GVSU celebrates second annual Founders Day

Ben Glick

Campus organizations are ready to celebrate the founding of Grand Valley State University, which turns 54 this year.

On Oct. 23, Laker Traditions will hold the second annual Founders Day celebration on the Allendale and Pew campuses.

The first Founders Day was celebrated in the fall of 2013 in observance of the day Bill Seidman met with 282 individuals to begin the process of forming a university in West Michigan.

Events are scheduled throughout the day and include a cupcake giveaway from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Kirkhof Center and Mary Idema Pew Library in Allendale, and downtown in the Seidman College of Business and the Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences.

Other events include a special performance by the GVSU marching band between noon and 1 p.m. at the Cook Carillon Tower, and a display of 282 flags on both campuses.

The day ends with Laker Remembrance, a memorial service in honor of students, alumni, faculty and staff that have passed away within the past year at 7 p.m. around the Cook Carillon Tower.

Many colleges and universities have long traditions of celebration on the date of their founding, a tradition that has been absent at GVSU until only last year.

LeaAnn Tibbe, assistant director in the Office of Student Life, helps students to organize the event.

“We’re such a young university,” she said. “We’ve just been peddling along for the first 50 years to establish ourselves, and now all of a sudden we’ve arrived and we need to recognize all those people who’ve helped us get here.”

Liz Collver, coordinator of student philanthropy, also helped alongside Tibbe in planning and organizing the event.

“It’s a cool tradition because it’s still finding its setting, seeing what Founders Day is going to be every year,” Collver said.

Tibbe said the impulse for starting Founders Day was inspired by the unveiling of the Seidman statue in front of the Mary Idema Pew Library in 2013.

“All of a sudden people realized that students don’t know who built this university and our history,” she said.

It is important, Tibbe said, that we recognize them for being the ones that led the way and got us to where we are today, and to determine where the university will go in the next 50 years.

“I think it’s always important for us to know our past, to know our history, because that really helps determine our future,” Tibbe said. “How are we going to use our time, our talent and our treasure to push forth what they started?”

Last year, both the Office of Student Life and University Development organized Founders Day in hopes of beginning a new student-led tradition at GVSU.

This year, responsibility for the event was taken over by student coordinator Alicia Arnold and Lois Rosinski.

“From my understanding, last year was driven more by staff, and this year we’ve had no role,” Collver said.

Tibbe said this says a lot about the students, and is confident that Founders Day will become a tradition that will last for years to come.

“Now it’s continuing, and now really students see the importance and the need for what they’ve done,” she said. “Their work is making this happen.”

Both offices, while taking a stance of noninterference, are excited for how it pans out Thursday.

“They’ve done a really great job, it’ll be a great day,” Collver said.

For more information on Founders Day, visit http://www.gvsu.edu/foundersday/.