Nominations for Venderbush Award open through January

GVL/Mackenzie Bush - GVSU Student talks with family and friends. The Student Awards Convocation Ceremony was held in the Eberhard Center Monday, April 10, 2017.

GVL/Mackenzie Bush – GVSU Student talks with family and friends. The Student Awards Convocation Ceremony was held in the Eberhard Center Monday, April 10, 2017.

Sarah Hollis

In Hollywood, there are Oscars for actors and Grammys for musicians, but at Grand Valley State University, there is the Kenneth R. Venderbush Student Leadership Award for one outstanding senior who demonstrates academic success as well as leadership skills. 

“It’s an award that is named after former Vice President of Student Affairs Kenneth Venderbush,” said Stephen Glass, acting vice provost for student affairs and dean of students at GVSU. “It recognizes a senior who has demonstrated an exceptional blend of academic achievement and shown leadership and contributions to the campus community.” 

The award has a long history at GVSU, dating back to the 1980s.

“We started it in 1983, and it honors someone who was in leadership at Grand Valley,” said Marlene Kowalski-Braun, assistant vice president for inclusion and student affairs. “He served as an associate professor and acting dean of the William James College from 1969 to 1973. The reason it was named after Venderbush is because he was a really strong advocate of student leadership participation as a learning tool.” 

There are several criteria that a student must meet in order to be nominated for the Venderbush Award. 

“You must be a senior enrolled fall and/or winter semester, you must demonstrate significant contribution to campus community, you must excel academically and show how you can balance your academic work with your extracurricular involvement, and you must be sponsored by a GVSU faculty or staff member,” Glass said. 

To be nominated or to nominate someone for the Venderbush Award, you must fill out a nomination form. The form is comprised of student information only, but the most important part of the nomination process is a letter of support. The letter, according to Glass, typically comes from a faculty or staff member.

After nominations close, students who have been nominated will be asked to fill out a nominee response form. The form requires two reflective essays based on the award criteria. Glass added that the link for the response form will be open in February.

“A big part of it is reflection, asking what you’ve been involved in and what you think your contributions have been,” Kowalski-Braun said. “That’s the spirit of it.”

The award recipient will be invited to receive their award at the annual GVSU Student Awards Convocation in April. 

“There is an actual committee of faculty and staff that review the nominees, and then the award recipient goes to our GVSU Student Awards Convocation in April, and then they receive an award, like a plaque of recognition,” Glass said. 

Those interested in learning more about the Venderbush Award can visit the Dean of Students Office website, where the nomination form will also be available. The nomination form will be closed at the end of January. 

“With an award like this, what you’re doing is you’re recognizing leadership,” Glass said. “Our goal of course is to have students graduate who not only are strong academically in their field but also are prepared to contribute to society. So, we want to recognize excellence in those areas.”