Annual Presidents’ Ball draws crowd of students with masquerade theme

GVL / Emily Frye 
GVSU President’s Ball on Friday February 2, 2018.

GVL / Emily Frye GVSU President’s Ball on Friday February 2, 2018.

Jenna Fracassi

Snow and all, this year’s Presidents’ Ball drew a large crowd of Grand Valley State University students on Friday, Feb. 2, with the theme “A Night of Masqueraded Mystery.” GVSU students entered the DeVos Place masks-on and ready for a night of dancing. 

“It’s a celebration,” said Bob Stoll, associate dean of student life. “Grand Valley is a special place to be, and so this is hosted by the two presidents—the president of student government and the president of the university—and they come together and just celebrate a great university.

“I don’t know of any other schools that do anything like this, but for us to make that all come together, and Grand Rapids is a special place with a great facility for us to do that. … It’s one of those memories, I think, when you leave college that you remember going to the Presidents’ Ball.”

This year’s Presidents’ Ball, which was announced to have sold out on Thursday, Feb. 1, began with a cocktail hour at 5:45 p.m., with dinner being served around 6:15 p.m. after hosts Greg and Dan Ziegenfelder walked onto the stage and welcomed attendees. The dinner portion of the event featured live entertainment, with performances from a cappella group Euphoria, the GVSU Fencing Club, and two song performances by Jo Wei Yek and Olivia Brown, respectively.

The 2018 award recipients were also announced prior to the dance. This year’s awardees include John Martin, Laker of the Year; David Clark, Student Award for Faculty Excellence (SAFE); and Marlene Kowalski-Braun, President Appreciation Award. 

Once the dinner portion of the evening came to a close, the DeVos Place Ballroom transformed into a strobe-lit dance floor. DJ Mark Witz provided the music for the night, and students were able to tweet in song requests using #GvPresBall. On the top floor, GVSU’s Swing Dance Club offered a more mellow vibe. Here, both beginner and skilled swing dancers were embraced with open arms and live music to boot.

Stoll compared the event to a high school prom, saying that Presidents’ Ball sees the highest attendance rate of any campus event other than a football game. He recalled Presidents’ Ball first making its debut in the Kirkhof Center.

“You know it started off way back when here in the Kirkhof Center—I was actually here when we started it,” he said. “It’s grown from a couple hundred people to thousands, so it’s fun to see that and to watch all the energy and everybody.”

GVSU President Thomas Haas was able to see the success of the event firsthand, as he was enthusiastically greeted on stage with student senate president Jonathan Bowman. 

“Are there any Lakers in the house?” Haas shouted over the crowd of cheers. “We’ve got the best students, we’ve got the best faculty; did I say we have the best students—in America!”

He finished his speech referring to Presidents’ Ball as “Grand Valley magic.”