GVU Foundation elects new directors, cabinet members

GVL / Courtesy - gvsu.edu

GVL / Courtesy – gvsu.edu

Anne Marie Smit

Once a year, the Grand Valley University (GVU) Foundation elects new directors and cabinet members. This annual election took place Wednesday, Sept. 27, when five new directors and six new advisory cabinet members were selected for the 2017-18 academic year.

When the terms for existing directors and cabinet members are about to expire, GVU Foundation directors recommend a candidate who they think fits the role. The membership committee then meets to assemble a list of candidates for current directors to review, and during the annual meeting, new directors and cabinet members are chosen by popular vote. 

The GVU Foundation has been a part of Grand Valley State University since its beginning. The non-profit organization was initiated by Lewis William Seidman, a businessman in Grand Rapids who sought to establish a state-supported institution of higher education in West Michigan.

Karen Loth, executive director of the GVU Foundation and vice president for university development, elaborated on the main priorities of the organization. 

“Our goals are to increase student scholarships, expand student-support programs and invest in keeping our academic programs and the learning environment at Grand Valley relevant for students and their future employers,” she said via email. 

In June, the foundation announced the start of the “Laker Effect” comprehensive campaign, a multi-year campaign that raises the funds necessary for GVSU to be an institution of opportunity, achievement and relevance.

Through financial aid, academic merit scholarships and need-based scholarships, students are given the opportunity to pursue an education that might otherwise be out of reach. According to the GVU website, the foundation currently offers 450 donor-funded scholarships to 1,400 students and hopes to double that amount in the future, helping thousands more students pay for their tuition. 

In addition to increasing the number of students able to attend GVSU, the foundation aspires to increase the number of students completing their degree. It recognizes the diligence and drive students need to graduate, as well as the skills they will need to develop to be successful in their careers. The Laker Effect campaign aims to maximize student support by emphasizing leadership development and experiential learning, especially among first-generation and at-risk undergraduate students. 

On top of helping finance students’ college education and providing them with the support they need to graduate, the foundation strives for relevant growth through the construction of new academic facilities and the improvement of existing ones, matching the demand of the workforce. Currently, the foundation is looking to expand the health campus and the Padnos College of Engineering and Computing, as well as improve other academic programs and centers.

Loth explained that many directors are active with students at GVSU, as well as the surrounding community, enabling them to gauge the help that is needed and how the foundation can continue to invest in student success.

“Foundation directors play an essential role because they advocate for the financial needs of the university and they also ensure that Grand Valley is aware of the needs of the communities we serve so we can better meet them,” Loth said.

With the election of new directors and cabinet members, the GVU Foundation continues to bring its main goals into focus, giving students the means to go to college, the support they need to graduate, and academic centers and programs that are up-to-date with the demands of the workforce. 

To learn more about the GVU Foundation, visit www.gvsu.edu/giving.