Stoll’s tenure set the bar high, created a new GV culture

Stoll’s tenure set the bar high, created a new GV culture

Lanthorn Editorial Board

While it is often an overused saying in yearbooks, there is a quote from legendary American poet Maya Angelou that perfectly encapsulates Associate Dean of Student Life Bob Stoll’s reputation at Grand Valley State University.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

When it comes to being the face of student organizations at GVSU from an administrative position, it’s not just about making sure clubs follow the rules or making sure dues are paid on time for fraternities – it’s about making students feel welcome from campus when, especially for freshman,  when it’s often the first time they are away from home.

The retirement of Bob Stoll reminds us that GVSU’s Office of Student Life will be facing a massive shift, but there will be a “Bob Stoll” effect in place for years to come. 

While the conversation around mental health is often stigmatized with older generations, Stoll did the opposite. He was always willing to check on students to make sure they were feeling okay before handling the paperwork.

Back in January this year, this very newspaper made international headlines after a former football coach said he admired the leadership strategies of a dictator who was responsible for the death of over six million people.

That was a stressful time for the Lanthorn, from its leadership to reporting staff. 

The article with the initial quotes had volatile comments underneath praising Berger and attacking us for publishing. We had to keep the door to our newsroom locked at all times. Our sports editor at the time and current associate print editor, Kellen Voss, received anonymous phone calls from people claiming that they knew where he lived and would get “justice for Coach Berger.”

Being that some of the people at the center of the controversy were young college kids, they were rightfully stressed out with how to handle everything. It was a situation seldom seen, nevertheless experienced by a student organization on campus. 

Stoll was one of the people that helped ease that stress. Before members of our editorial staff had to speak to University officials regarding the quotes and the situation, Stoll met with leadership personally to make sure we were feeling okay about the media tornado going on around us. 

It was a human moment that put the students before the university. While we were characters in a spiraling situation to many, we were students that were overwhelmed, but doing their best when confronted with questions from administrators and media. But Stoll saw students first, as he always did. 

He made sure to always be available for our leadership team to make sure they were feeling comfortable, getting enough sleep and had good mental health for the ever-growing situation.

That’s what GVSU will be missing the most with Stoll’s departure: a man who truly cared about the wellbeing of all students at this great university. 

But during Stoll’s impressive tenure at GVSU, he has set a precedent for how University leadership should interact with students. 

While it would be cliche and oversimplified to say that Stoll’s replacement has big shoes to fill, what’s even more important is that they foster the culture that Stoll left behind.