GVSU President Thomas Haas welcomes freshmen onto campus with ice cream

McKenna Peariso

From Aug. 20 to 23, over 6,000 students moved onto campus for the 2018-2019 school year at Grand Valley State University. The incoming students were helped by hundreds of alumni, students, staff and faculty members. Many students were excited to see University President Thomas J. Haas and his wife Marcia passing out ice cream near Kleiner Commons on the Wednesday of move-in week. This is Haas’ final year as university president and he is happy to kick off his the new year with his annual traditions one last time.  

“This is our thirteenth year doing this,” Haas said. “It really is a great tradition that Marcia and I will continue to treasure.”

Each year Haas and his wife have passed out ice cream to the new freshman on campus. This is just one tradition that kicks off each school year. Haas was happy to meet students on Wednesday and express his hopes for their future at Grand Valley. 

“I want to see our students that are here starting today eventually walk across the stage in four years with that diploma and cap; that to me would be so satisfying,” Haas said. 

With his final year at Grand Valley already underway, Haas is preparing himself for a year of ‘lasts’. The president hopes it can be a year of celebration as he closes on a 35 year career as both an educator and a president. 

“This year coming up will be a lot of these last events and we’re going to look back and say we are very satisfied with all of the efforts that everyone is putting forward to help our students. That’s really the best part of this last year,” Haas said. 

On Friday, Haas gave his annual faculty address in the new Haas Center for Performing Arts prior to this year’s convocation ceremony. The address centered on the critical impact Grand Valley’s faculty have on the university’s students and future success.

“We have great support from the faculty, staff and others on the administration team,” Haas said. 

During the address Haas also introduced a new Student Success Partnership Network initiative that will have faculty mentors assisting first-year students. The president believes it is the university’s student-oriented focus that has helped students find their talents. 

“We have such talent from our students and I’m really proud of that,” he said. “Marcia and I hope students achieve what they came here for. That’s what we are about, we want to make sure students are successful.”

The president announced at the beginning of 2018 that he would be retiring following the 2018-2019 academic year. Haas has consistently credited his wife Marcia for helping him during his time at the university. 

“We will look back at the last 12 years with a great deal of satisfaction,” he said. “But this year in particular we’re going to celebrate.”