GVSU adapting to student needs with new majors

GVSU adapting to student needs with new majors

The economy and workplace are constantly evolving, and understandably, students’ educational needs and desires evolve with them. Grand Valley State University has stayed consistent with meeting students’ needs, adapting its programs and financial accessibility to accommodate both undergraduate and graduate students.  

One example of this is the Board of Trustees’ recent approval of two new majors at GVSU. The board approved the Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies’ request for a Master of Arts in social innovation, as well as the College of Health Professions’ request for a new Bachelor of Arts in communication sciences and disorders on Friday, Feb. 2. Neither program is currently open to enrollment, but they are anticipated to be open by January 2019. 

The master’s in social innovation—which will incorporate six required, graduate-level courses, in addition to electives from the schools of business, social work and other related disciplines—is designed to prepare students for work across different sectors and will have a strong focus on leadership skills, according to Anne Hiskes, dean of the Brooks College.

On top of adding new majors, GVSU has also restructured many colleges/programs in an effort to best serve students’ needs. For example, GVSU’s School of Communications underwent reorganization in the fall 2017 semester. The changes included the theater program becoming part of the music and dance department, and photography (along with film and video production programs) joining the art and design department. This change was meant to bring new opportunities for GVSU students in the respective majors, as well as to bring new visibility and focus to the various programs. 

These program, major and college changes exemplify GVSU’s consistent willingness to evolve—an important feature for a university to have. On a related note, as tuition continues to increase, more and more students are finding themselves with an overflow of debt or completely unable to afford college. To help students from working families afford college and avoid taking on such an absurd amount of debt, Lynn (Chick) Blue, vice president for enrollment development at GVSU, has developed the Blue Working Family Endowed Scholarship. 

This scholarship—one of 500 donor-funded scholarships available to GVSU students—will assist students who have graduated from Michigan high schools and would be unable to attend college otherwise because of economic reasons. The Blue Working Family Endowed Scholarship will be available for incoming GVSU freshmen for the fall 2018 semester and will be renewable for four years.

Between the cost of attending GVSU and other financial requirements, such as rent, meals and books, many students who come from working families are left with few resources for attending college. Even if these students want to come to a university like GVSU, economic factors can rule out the opportunity for them to attend entirely. That’s why scholarships like this are so important: They offer possibilities where they didn’t before exist.

Evident in these different initiatives is GVSU’s cross-disciplinary commitment to providing students with opportunities and resources. As a university, GVSU has to constantly evolve to adapt to students’ changing needs, and from what we are seeing, they are doing a pretty good job of it.