President Haas addresses Student Senate

GVL / Eric Coulter
President Thomas Haas recites an oath for the members of the Student Senate

Eric Coulter

GVL / Eric Coulter President Thomas Haas recites an oath for the members of the Student Senate

Sarah Hillenbrand

President Thomas J. Haas stopped by the Student Senate general assembly meeting Thursday, reminding senators of the importance of their role as the collective voice of the student body at Grand Valley State University.

“Thanks for taking on the leadership roles that you have,” Haas told senators. “It’s important to get your voice to influence our policies and the life you have here at GVSU.”

Student Senate plays a vital role in the university community, Haas said, because it represents the diverse population that makes up the entire student body.

“Diversity is very broad, from traditional students to working adults,” Haas said. “You are all a part of a university that respects differences in different student communities. The job of the university is to fulfill promises that GVSU made in its mission statement, and that is what Student Senate does. People want to know there is a future after Grand Valley and we need to demonstrate there is one.”

Haas also opened up the floor for questions, like what impact moving administrative offices downtown might have following the remodling of Zumberge Library next fall.

“One year of disruption will lead to many years of great stability,” Haas said, saying the impact won’t be too jarring, since he and other members of the senior management team will have perching offices in Allendale.

He said the administration is determining what future projects they will embark on after the new library and business building are completed based on student needs.

A new lab sciences building for the Allendale Campus is in the planning stages, and other goals include improving the pool in the Fieldhouse and giving more support to the communications and performing arts programs.

“Bricks and sticks are only an enabler to the education that’s going on here,” Haas said.

Another point of discussion was GVSU’s physicians assistant program, which receives about 380 applications for 48 spots. Haas that he wants to increase the program to have 60 spots available.

“We’re guiding towards what’s important to our students and their success,” Haas said.

Apart from addressing details of the university’s future, Haas discussed his personal role and experiences at the GVSU. He said his favorite part about his job is his interactions with the students, including going with the students to football games, plays like “Richard III” and other on-campus activities.

“The beauty of it is every student and every group we have is different and they are supportive of one another,” Haas said. “I look at all we’re doing and I feel truly blessed to be interacting with students here and faculty and staff who are so committed to student success.”

Finally, Haas reminded the senators that the decisions they make as a body affect the entire GVSU community.

“Your work is very important because the decisions you make do affect all the students you represent,” Haas said.

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