Karen Loth reflects on 20 years with GVSU

Kylie Elwell

After 20 years employed with Grand Valley State University as Vice President of University Development,

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Karen Loth is set to retire this year in June. She was appointed as the VP of Development in May 2012, as well as also serving as the Executive Director of the Grand Valley University Foundation. Prior to her current position, she served as the Assistant Vice President of Development for 12 years. 

“My most memorable moments are the special times with our donors,” Loth said. “Working with them on the impact they want to make for our students and our university has been extremely gratifying. The fundamental goodness of people and their generosity give me great confidence in our future. I have built many relationships over the years that I highly value. Matching their passions with our projects has been a joy.”

Since 2000, she has led many campaigns and projects to help raise money for the university. She has led 17 campaigns and been involved in 12 capital projects, all of which have raised over $265 million dollars for GVSU in the past 19 years.

The most recent initiative that she has been involved with is the Laker Effect comprehensive campaign. It exceeded the university’s goals, raising $132 million, with a new record of 35,000 donors. With this campaign, they were able to complete GVSUs Health Campus by adding two necessary facilities at a time when frontline workers are in such high demand for the community. 

“I’m also very pleased that in my final year at Grand Valley we are on track to have the most successful giving year in our history which is a credit to our loyal and committed donors who kept giving despite all the turmoil this past year,” Loth said. 

In addition to growing the physical campus to accommodate increasing enrollment, generous donors from the community have created more than 525 donor-funded scholarships benefiting thousands of students. These donations have also expanded academic programs and created academic centers like the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies and the Robert B. Annis Water Resources Institute. University Development has also provided support for students through providing them with internships, research opportunities, tutoring, and mentoring.

When asked about what direction she sees the University going in the future, Loth said GVSU is proving to be a model university.

“Under President Mantella’s leadership, I believe Grand Valley is going to be a national model for educational innovation and leadership,” Loth said. “Learners will be well served whether they are coming directly from high school, or returning to enhance their education later in life. We will increasingly provide access to under-resourced populations, and we will continue to be the talent pipeline for this region and this state, anticipating employer needs and being ready to provide the education they require. Our alumni will look to Grand Valley to supplement and enhance their skills throughout their career as lifelong learning partners. Our donors will be totally on board with all of this.”