Every year since it was founded in 2018, the Vice Provost Advisory Board (VSAB) seeks out students from different years, programs, organizations, and demographic representations to offer their perspectives and experiences as a part of the Grand Valley State University community.
“I established VSAB three years ago because I thought it important for me to hear regularly from a wide cross-section of students about their needs, concerns, and experiences,” said Loren Rullman, Vice Provost for Student Affairs and Dean of Students (VPDoS). “There are many ways students can influence the university, but the VSAB’s sole purpose is this, without obligation of other agendas, tasks, or distractions.”
VSAB exists to connect the opinions and voices of students to Grand Valley State University’s upper administration. Many who served on the board found it to be not just a chance to improve the student experience as a whole, but a personal opportunity to learn important skills related to critical thinking and discussion.
“My experience on VSAB has introduced me to a network of both faculty and students,” said Kylie Beaudoin, a third-year and member since the Winter 2019 semester. “It has also shed light on different student perspectives on various topics like wellness, diversity, and student life. It’s sharpened my skills in student collaboration and learning how to navigate tough conversations. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed learning about other student’s experiences while attending GV, and how our university works to tend to the variety of our student body needs.”
The student advisory board is a place for open and honest conversation, and each monthly meeting features a new topic worthy of discussion.
“The conversation is robust, although sometimes the conversations can be sensitive in nature, there is a standard of respect that is always maintained,” said Kaylin Zocharski, a second-year and member of the board during the Fall 2020 semester.
The board is comprised of the VPDoS, the Student Retention and Special Projects Coordinator and Dean of Students Office, Liz Chase, and 10-15 students dedicated to using conversation as means to display their campus experience.
“As a student, I often found myself being an ideological minority drowned out by the mainstream culture of Grand Valley student’s philosophy of thought,” said Evan Sanders, a second-year and member of the board during the 2020-2021 academic year. “Serving on the Vice Provost Student Advisory Board has allowed me to leverage my position in order to elevate the voices of those who would not get an opportunity to reach the administrative level otherwise. It is for this reason that I take pride in my work in serving on the advisory board.”
It isn’t just the students who feel like they are a part of something great. For Rullman and Chase, the experience is also fulfilling.
“It has been an absolute joy for me to get to know the students each year on the board,” said Chase. “The board is a small group, so we truly get to know each other fairly intimately and we work through, at times, difficult conversations or topics, which brings the group closer. This board has taught me so much about the student experience at GVSU, and has helped me be a better student affairs professional.”
Students are asked to prepare for each session by reading, watching, and taking notes on important topics, both as a way of educating themselves and of taking stock of their opinions and insight. Rullman values this information as an impact on his decisions and work.
“I ask students to be very honest, and take seriously what I learn from them,” said Rullman. “It not only helps me better serve GV on behalf of students, but I often use what I learn to help other staff and faculty know what students are experiencing.”
Would you like to have an impact on the GVSU community through a student advisory board membership? Applications for VSAB are open until March 15th and the initial membership is for one academic school year with the opportunity to prolong your membership. To learn more about VSAB and application information, visit their page at gvsu.edu/studentaffairs.
“We intentionally seek diversity of perspective, experience, and identity,” said Rullman. “We are looking for students who are selfless, critical thinkers can hear diverse perspectives, and are willing to think together about how to keep improving GVSU.”