Venderbush nominations now open

GVL / Courtesy - News and Information Services 
Former student Natalie Cleary accepts an award from Dean of Students Bart Merkle

GVL / Courtesy – News and Information Services Former student Natalie Cleary accepts an award from Dean of Students Bart Merkle

Allison Ribick

The Kenneth R. Venderbush student leadership award nominations close on 5 p.m. this Friday. Any student, faculty or staff member can nominate a GVSU senior for this top leadership award.

Dr. Kenneth R. Venderbush was the Vice President for Student Affairs at Grand Valley State University from 1969 to 1973. He was an advocate for student leadership and participation, seeing these as learning opportunities for students.

All finalists will be invited to the Annual Awards Celebration, and the winner will be presented with the award by the dean of students.

“We are often faced with having a number of very deserving nominees that we have to make some really tough decisions about,” said Bart Merkle, vice provost for student affairs and dean of students. “It is very gratifying to know that we have so many outstanding students here at Grand Valley. It’s always a pleasure to give these awards to the recipients.”

The Annual Awards Celebration includes the presentations of other awards like the Academic Excellence awards for outstanding undergraduate and graduate students in each program at GVSU, the Glenn A. Neimeyer awards for undergraduate and graduate students and faculty members for their outstanding academic achievements and the Thomas M. Seykora award for outstanding contributions to student life.

The Annual Awards Celebration will take place on Monday, April 16 in the Eberhard Center on the Pew Campus in downtown Grand Rapids.

“I think it helps those students as they transition into careers and go onto graduate and professional school,” Merkle said. “Those kinds of recognitions underscore their potential and abilities. When you see that somebody has received a top award, that says something.”

Danielle Meirow won the Kenneth R. Venderbush award in 2014. She graduated from GVSU with majors in Biomedical Sciences and Women and Gender Studies and a minor in Chemistry.

Meirow was a resident assistant for three years, a member of Student Senate for three years and vice president of Senate Resources her senior year, a Women’s Center Ambassador, a tutor in the cadaver lab and a site leader for Alternative Breaks. She was also a member of the honor societies Sigma Alpha Lambda and Triota.

“I think there are definitely a lot of great leaders on campus and in a lot of different organizations that don’t always get the recognition,” Meirow said. “If more students would nominate (other students), we’d have a wider pool and greater spectrum of students that are getting recognized for the hard work they do on campus.”

She also won the Glenn. A. Neimeyer Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award and the award for Outstanding Student in the Women and Gender Studies program.

Meirow realized she loved working on a college campus through her involvement at GVSU and has plans for getting a master’s degree in higher education.

“I really appreciated that people noticed, because you don’t always realize that when you’re doing the work,” Meirow said.

Meirow encouraged people to nominate students, especially those that may not have a leadership position in an organization but still put in the effort and try to get everyone involved.

Candidates must be a GVSU senior enrolled in the fall and/or winter semester and in good academic standing. Candidates must have significantly contributed to student life through demonstrating their leadership in volunteering, student organizations, residence halls or athletics. Candidates are only eligible to receive the award once.

Individuals interested in nominating a student should fill out the online form, print it out and place it in an envelope marked “confidential.” They should then visit the dean of students office in Room 202 of the Student Services building to turn in the nomination form.

Finalists will be selected by a committee of faculty and staff selected by the dean of students. All finalists will be interviewed by the selection committee in March and will tell their decision to the dean of students in early April.

To nominate a student, visit