Grand Valley State University’s second Reach Higher Together 2025 huddle took place Monday, March 1, via Zoom. The first of the huddles took place Feb. 25, and included perspectives from students on how GVSU can be improved for future students. The second huddle invited students, staff and faculty to share their thoughts and insight into making improvements.
The goals of the huddle in phase two included discussing refining GVSU’s mission, vision and values. Currently, the draft mission statement highlights transforming lives, professions and communities through active inquiry across inclusive learning environments, and the current draft values statement focuses on the university being a leader in learner-driven experiences that integrate liberal and professional education to achieve a lifetime of growth and purpose.
Tara Bivens, who works in Senior Manager Benefits in GVSU’s Human Resources department, said that this new phase will continue to expand upon the goals of the statements that GVSU leadership wants to highlight.
“As we begin to continue moving forward with our strategic planning, we recognize that work still needs to be done on our draft mission, vision and values, which is what this second phase will focus on,” Bivens said. “We will continue to work on synthesizing the feedback that everyone has offered thus far, and we want to begin moving into phase three so we can begin drafting strategies to make these goals a reality and make GVSU a top choice for future students.”
Currently, the values that the huddles have brought into focus are that of inclusivity, equitability, inquiry and innovation. The huddle expanded on these ideas through zoom in a group setting, and also broke attendees into breakout rooms to discuss more specifics for feedback.
With over 80 participants, there were many members of faculty and staff in attendance, and faculty representation included members in the biology, history, mathematics, university libraries, continuing studies departments, among others.
Karyn Rabourn, Director of the M.Ed. in Higher Education Program, Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership and Counseling, said that including discussions on why students and faculty choose GVSU is important in knowing ways to improve what the university offers and how it can garner even more attention from prospective future students and faculty.
“One thing that several of our group’s members shared that was central to why they came to and stay at GVSU: there is opportunity to grow here, and there is opportunity to grow with students here,” Rabourn said. “I think this is really important to share — and a great asset to the community/culture here on campus for staff and faculty (no students in our group).”
While the attendees included a number of faculty, there were also students who shared their thoughts on how the university could be improved from their perspectives. One such student, Breezy Rusher, said that encouraging and focusing on fostering creativity in higher education is important to a lot of students.
“The quality of what we’re teaching can’t just be all these new programs, and not thinking them through and making sure everything is properly implemented, the other bigger caveat of it all too is creativity,” Rusher said. “We are in a very hyper-competitive situation, the world is getting progressively smaller, and if all of us are doing the same implementations and strategies, what we should focus on is why people are choosing our school and how to create new reasons for them to come here.”
As the initiative enters its new phases, following finalizing the mission, vision and values statements, the university will begin looking at concrete ways to implement the goals and suggestions discussed in each of the sessions. Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to provide additional feedback to the initiative via their webpage to provide further insight.