College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to host alumni speakers on campus

GVL/Hannah Zajac-- Dorie Sullivan, Junior and Psycology major, talks to multiple schools about grad school requirements in Henry Hall on Wednesday 25 Oct 2017.

Hannah Zajac

GVL/Hannah Zajac– Dorie Sullivan, Junior and Psycology major, talks to multiple schools about grad school requirements in Henry Hall on Wednesday 25 Oct 2017.

Arpan Lobo

Learning is often characterized as something that never truly stops. Applying material taught in college classrooms can be incomparable to hands-on experience that only comes after graduation.

To serve as a bridge between the classroom and the work room, Grand Valley State University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) is holding a series of lectures hosted by the Distinguished Alumni-in-Residence Program. Speakers from 13 CLAS departments will be on GVSU campuses Thursday, Oct. 26, and Friday, Oct. 27, to share their experiences as Laker alumni.

With the exception of one presentation being given on GVSU’s Muskegon campus, each discussion will be taking place in Allendale. Topics range from working in international relations to chemistry to the classics. The series offers students an opportunity to hear firsthand accounts from individuals who were in their same position in the recent past.

“We want to help current and former students form relationships and build networks,” said Donovan Anderson, CLAS assistant dean for strategic planning, accreditation, assessment, and faculty and staff development, via email. “It’s not just about bringing alumni back to GVSU: It is about connecting current students to those alumni and to the world.”

Due to the unpredictable nature of life after graduation, Anderson believes that those who attend the discussions can gain an understanding of how to deal with their professional lives after completing their time at GVSU.

“It is difficult to visualize how things will change after graduation and to understand how the different aspects of your college education prepare you for the future,” he said. “Our alumni can connect the dots and tell that story.”

The Distinguished Alumni-in-Residence Program has been a CLAS function since 2005 when the college began to invite alumni back to campus. Transitioning to post-graduate life and entering a field is something CLAS hopes those in attendance will learn about.

“These alumni talk compellingly about how a liberal education has contributed to their success as professionals and as engaged members of their communities,” Anderson said. “These insights are extraordinarily meaningful for our students.”

Certain discussions are open to GVSU students only, while others are open to the public. The speakers include current GVSU professors, researchers and business professionals from graduating classes from 1997 to 2012.

Anderson believes that inviting GVSU graduates back to Allendale to discuss their professional lives, as well as the work that some are currently doing, is something that CLAS students can benefit from.

“We want alumni to come back to campus and share their journey with our current students,” he said. “How are they making a life for themselves after college? How did they manage that transition?”

Anderson thinks the stories the alumni will share will be well worth the listen for current students.

“I think the greatest benefit (for students) comes from simply talking to these alumni about their story,” he said. “They are an amazing resource.”

For more information about the Distinguished Alumni-in-Residence Program, visit