GVSU Faculty and Staff raise over 800K through Challenge Grant program


Through the Challenge Grant program, Patti Eisen (left), Daniel Giedeman and Kelly Machnik all earned special recognition in the Faculty and Staff Campaign

Kellen Voss, Print Associate Editor

Through the Challenge Grant program, 1,231 members of Grand Valley State University faculty banded together to raise $806,404 for the 2019-2020 academic year as part of the Faculty/Staff fundraising campaign.

With more than 30 campus departments having more than 75% participation, Heather Rowan, manager of campus philanthropy, said how proud she was of faculty and staff in the campaign.

“It really shows the commitment to students is the mission of the university” Rowan said. “Working at GVSU is more than just a job – faculty and staff want to do what they can to help students succeed, including giving time and money.”

For the first time as part of the fundraiser, a program allowed faculty and staff to achieve extra impact for an area on campus, as the Faculty Staff Campaign Advisory Cabinet created three $280 Challenge Gifts.

“The three recipients could direct the grant money to any fund of their choice at the university,” Rowan said. “The money will go to wherever the donor designated. This could be to a scholarship, or to a club sport, or to a specific department – there are many available funds to choose that support areas across campus.”

The Challenge Grant winners include administrative assistant Patti Eisen, economics professor Daniel Giedeman and assistant professor of occupational science and therapy Kelly Machnik.

Eisen and Giedeman put their winnings into the Professional Support Staff Endowed Scholarship and the Economics Department Faculty Scholarship, respectively, while Machnik chose to put the money directly into the school’s Occupational Therapy Fund.

While faculty and staff members have always given to GVSU, the campaign officially began in 1983 when the late GVSU staff member Mary Seeger initiated the first formal employee annual giving campaign.

She served in a campaign leadership role and, in her retirement, Seeger continued her dedication to faculty, staff and retiree giving as an integral member of the Advisory Cabinet for the Faculty and Staff Annual Giving Campaign.

Even though this is not the most money GVSU has raised as part of the campaign, Rowan is happy to see more staff members participate in an effort to give students more scholarship opportunities.

“It’s extremely gratifying and shows the commitment of faculty and staff to student success,” Rowan said. “The amount of money varies from year to year, but we focus on the participation level which is one of the highest in our history.”

To find out more about the campaign and learn how to apply to the new scholarships, visit the Faculty & Staff Giving page on GVSU’s website here.