Haas, Losey reflect on 50th anniversary

GVL Archive / Nicole Lamson
Students signing Grand Valleys 50th Birthday Card

GVL Archives

GVL Archive / Nicole Lamson Students signing Grand Valley’s 50th Birthday Card

Derek Wolff

Although the 50th anniversary has concluded at Grand Valley State University, one year later the celebration lives on.

The celebration lasted from July 2010 to June 2011 and brought accomplished personalities from many fields to campus, such as former MLB player Doug Glanville and noted filmmaker Ken Burns, with the 50th Anniversary Lecture Series. Over 100 events centered on learning and culture filled the list as GVSU students, faculty, alumni and the surrounding community members were offered the chance to see history in the making.

A commemorative book celebrating the rise of GVSU from a series of cluster colleges in the 60’s to the thriving university of more than 24,000 that it is today was also created to give students, faculty, alumni and community members a unique opportunity to take in more of the university’s history.

While the administration set out with the goals of enhancing the schedule of events on campus and keeping costs down, the 50th anniversary celebration accomplished much more, said GVSU President Thomas J. Haas.

“From all reports on and off campus, we hit the mark,” Haas said. “Those who made it happen had the notion of, ‘Sure, let’s get it done, always with a smile’. Teri Losey [Chair of the 50th Anniversary Celebration Steering Committee] deserves a lot of credit for her leadership.”

Haas cited the President’s Ball, the 50th at Noon lecture series, the GVSU Music Department’s rendering of George Frederick Handel’s Messiah and the GVSU LipDub, which has over 200,000 views on YouTube, as his favorite events.

For Losey, the dedication and commitment of the 50th anniversary committee allowed them to go above and beyond their initial goals for the celebration.

“The 50th anniversary committee accomplished all that it set out to do and more,” Losey said. “In addition to accomplishing everything on the committee’s list, we also hosted a few extra events that we thought of along the way. One of these was the book-signing events where people could have their copy of the 50th anniversary book signed by three presidents [President Emeritus Don Lubbers, former President Mark Murray and Haas]. They were fun events.”

Both Losey and Haas were also pleased with the participation and enthusiasm that GVSU students, faculty, alumni and the surrounding community met the 50th anniversary celebration with.

“Each of the events was very well attended,” Losey said. “In fact, for several of the events we had overflow crowds.”

The anniversary celebration also allowed GVSU to launch its first comprehensive fundraising campaign, entitled Shaping Our Future. As of June 30, $96.4 million was raised by over 17,000 donors over five years, exceeding both the program’s initial goal of $50 million and the expanded stretch goal of $75 million. The funds will be used on a multitude of multi-year projects to expand programs, buildings and scholarships on both the Allendale and Pew campuses.

Of the donations, $40 million will go toward the L. William Seidman Center within the Seidman College of Business. The 110,000- square foot, 4-story building will house a state-of-the-art trading room that can accommodate 42 students as well as several study areas and a multipurpose room with seating for over 200 people for lectures.

While the last 50 years have seen GVSU grow rapidly and quickly become a thriving university, Losey is hopeful that the next 50 years will continue to attract bright young students to GVSU’s halls.

“My hope is that we maintain that friendly, helpful campus that prides itself with personal attention to students, no matter what our size or focus,” she said. “When I talk with students or parents, that is the culture that keeps them at our university.”

The 50th anniversary commemorative book is still available for sale at the university bookstore or online at the bookstore’s website.

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