Laker Lifetime Learning Account kicks off May 2020


Courtesy / GVSU

Audrey Whitaker, Staff Reporter

During Grand Valley State University President Philomena Mantella’s inauguration on Friday, Nov. 15, the university president announced five commitments that she will take on during her five-year term. These include evolving GVSU’s liberal education foundation, creating an unparalleled educational model, expanding experiential learning, supporting more students at different stages of life and investing in alumni through the Laker Lifetime Learning Account program.

In her speech, Mantella announced perhaps her most tangible promises, the Laker Lifetime Learning Account, which is coming May 2020, and the establishment of a talent epicenter.  

“The Laker Lifetime Learning Account will be available for Lakers to reduce costs and improve access to badges, certificates and advanced degrees at Grand Valley,” Mantella said during her speech. “The promise of our future demands these changes, investments and our collective fortitude. The commitments I’ve outlined today will ready Grand Valley, and those who partner with us, to create and shape our future as a 21st-century education leader.”

Mantella said that these five commitments reflect the university’s mission statement and support the idea of becoming a Laker for a Lifetime.

“Our mission statement focuses on students who are shaping their personal life, professions and society,” Mantella said.  “All of these commitments are about students being able to show their full potential, and to have Lakers be able to fulfill leadership roles in order to make the kind of impact we need in our country.”

By recognizing the unique features and supporting the needs of the university and its community, Mantella said GVSU will continue to grow into the “breakout university” she spoke of during her inauguration.

“It makes me excited about Grand Valley’s agility as a university to change and evolve that always builds and gets stronger over time,” Mantella said. “It’s from that bridge that I believe that we can take yet another substantial step towards being recognized as a state and national leader.”

Alexandra Murarescu, Vice President of Diversity Affairs for Student Senate, said that the five new commitments Mantella announced show her commitment to success for the university as a whole.

“I’ve attended some events throughout the course of the year where President Mantella has spoken and even faculty and staff have spoken about similar goals,” Murarescu said. “I think it goes to show her commitment to accomplishment, and it’s very concrete, like when she talks about what a lifelong learner is and how we can make a degree from Grand Valley accessible to more lifelong learners.”

Student Senate President Eric-John Szczepaniak said that Mantella’s leadership, commitments and projects like the Laker Lifetime Learning Account will bolster what it means to be a Laker for a Lifetime.

“Right now, when I think of how I am going to be a Laker for a Lifetime, I think about engagement with the university and giving back and volunteering, but what the president realizes is that also means we really need to incorporate that lifelong learner aspect into it,” Szczepaniak said. “Not only is Grand Valley committed to building all students into lifelong learners, but President Mantella would also like to see Grand Valley be that resource for when we need to go back to work.”

Szczepaniak said that Mantella’s drive to include the GVSU community in conversations about the university’s future is something he is excited to see in the new president.

“Her whole intention is to include every stakeholder every time in every discussion so that everyone has that sense of belonging,” Szczepaniak said. “I think what’s really great to see in a president is that she also sees herself as a student, not like going to classes, but she sees herself as a learner and sees all the other people around her as learners that all have so much room to grow, and that they all bring something different to the table to share.”