Haas hosts virtual office hours for public

GV / Emily Frye
President Thomas Haas

GV / Emily Frye President Thomas Haas

Drew Howard

Students, faculty and staff were given the opportunity to talk with Grand Valley State University President Thomas J. Haas during his virtual office hours on Thursday, March 19.

During the 90 minutes provided, Haas was questioned on a variety of topics, including sustainable land use, university athletics, environmental studies and the future of GVSU, among other issues.

In response to a question concerning GVSU’s potential Division I status, Haas explained that it’s in a student’s best interest to stay in Division II.

“Division II is the right place for us to be because of the proper balance between academics and athletics,” Haas said. “Being in Division II also helps hold down your tuition cost.”

Another community member took the chance to question Haas about what steps GVSU is taking to reduce sexual assault on campus.

“Preventing sexual assault is everyone’s responsibility, and we have invested significant resources in education, training and support programs,” he said. “Please join us by encouraging your peers to become educated and be active bystanders. GVSU continues to be ranked as one of the nation’s safest college campuses.”

On a more personal note, Haas shared an experience from his college career in which he was falling behind in his studies due to a case of pneumonia.

“In my sophomore year at the Coast Guard Academy, I had pneumonia, putting me woefully behind in all my coursework, worried I could not catch up,” he said. “However, classmates of mine rallied and, because of the friendships I had, I was able to overcome the challenge. These friendships have now lasted a lifetime.”

In contrast to the more serious questions, Haas also revealed his favorite show is The Big Bang Theory and that his ideal meal consists of his wife’s homemade apple crumb pie with a hot cup of coffee.

Andrew Plague, president of the Student Senate at GVSU, assisted Haas in answering questions during the virtual office hours. Plague said Haas takes very seriously the feedback he receives from the campus community.

“Prior to his career here, Haas was a professor who had open office hours, so for him, this is really a way to continue that,” Plague said. “He keeps a record of the concerns and the compliments and lets the appropriate person know about it. I do think he takes it seriously.”

Plague added that the virtual office hours provide a space where people feel more comfortable to talk directly about the important topics.

“I think people may have more courage online, and that they may be a little more to the point,” he said. “I feel the questions really do reflect what people are talking about, and they’re usually very timely.”

Haas said one of the best parts about the virtual office hours is the opportunity to build relationships with students, staff and faculty.

“I like the description that we are the smallest large community, and I think that’s because of the relationships between students and staff,” he said. “People on the chat are very respectful, and I think it shows the value of GVSU in how they understand these opportunities are important. I’ve never been disappointed.”

To read the full transcript of the virtual office hours, go to www.gvsu.edu/virtualofficehours.