From cluster college to state university

Courtesy Photo /
Lynn Chick Blue, Vice Provost and Dean of Academic Services and Technology

Courtesy Photo / Lynn “Chick” Blue, Vice Provost and Dean of Academic Services and Technology

Marcus J. Reynolds

Throughout 50 years of transformations, challenges and identity changes, one person has served the campus and lived the adventures since 1968.

Presenter Lynn “Chick” Blue spoke about how Grand Valley State University developed from cornfields and multiple campuses of its early years in the Wednesday installment of the 50th At Noon Lecture Series.

Blue started her work at GVSU 43 years ago in the Registrar’s Office.

“My first job was to know catalogs,” Blue said. “The first catalogs were only 35 pages long, and we offered only 12 courses at the beginning. The real trick was to recruit students about what was to come.”

Blue reminisced about simpler days, “Ozzie and Harriet days,” before the era of campus police disciplining students for playing cards in the library. Blue traced her experiences to before Zumberge Library when the books were housed in the “pink farmhouse.”

Blue took part in many transformations and solutions to make life easier for students. For a period of time known as “the cluster college years,” GVSU was a compilation of five different colleges.

“Every college on campus wanted to be unique, but this opened up issues,” Blue said. “Things were very complex. Every college had their own registration office and 21 different grading computations with no computers.”

The crowd laughed as it felt her pain, but the issues were serious.

“At that time we were losing enrollment numbers,” Blue said. “We were focused on the internal and not the external. Internal offices were pitted against each other, and we were spending all of our time on ourselves versus on our external identity.”

By the 1980s, things for GVSU and Blue started to come together. The division of the different colleges ended, and common grading and transcripts began.

With the late ’80s and early ’90s came the technology that made her job easier than the years of registering students by hand in the Fieldhouse.

“Our office made it a point to go back and scan and index every one of the 2,345,600 transcripts that we had in our possession,” Blue said.

Today, Blue is the vice provost for Academic Services and IT.

Throughout the slideshow, the audience members were awed by the early states of GVSU and the longevity of the speaker.

“I see GVSU has come a long way and I’m proud to be a part of it,” said Keenan Benning, an Information Technology major. “I believe that GVSU has many things to still fix, but I see progress.”

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