Mantella addresses GV community in virtual State of the University Address


Courtesy / Olivia Fellows

Audrey Whitaker, News Editor

In her State of the University Address, Grand Valley State University President Philomena Mantella looked ahead positively despite the challenges of the 2020-2021 academic year.  

The State of the University address was the first in recent memory, according to the Office of the President.

“Prior to President Mantella’s arrival, the president would give a faculty/staff address at the beginning of the academic year and then address the students at Convocation,” Mantella’s office said.

Mantella addressed over 700 GVSU community members via zoom on Wednesday, April 28. The virtual address touched on the success of the past year as well as GVSU’s position moving forward.

Mantella began the address with a thank you to each member of the GVSU community. She acknowledged the hard work of cleaning and facilities workers, faculty and staff, as well as students who have continued to pursue their education despite the circumstances.

Mantella said that GVSU successfully navigated the COVID-19 pandemic by putting people first, working together for the greater good, focusing on equitable solutions and continuing to innovate and create opportunities for students.

As a result of the financial challenges for the university due to the pandemic, the budget for the 2022 fiscal year is not expected to increase. The university will continue to offer financial support to students, especially those who have dealt with financial and health struggles.

According to Mantella, GVSU is also anticipating a larger and more diverse group of incoming students. 

“We are in a position where we have a 16% increase in admitted students with much greater diversity than ever before and with a similar academic profile,” Mantella said.   

The university will continue to align its work with its mission moving forward. This includes becoming more diverse as a campus community, providing leadership opportunities and equitable solutions, as well as social justice work. 

 Mantella said that GVSU has a lot to offer to the state of Michigan, as well as the nation. Moving forward, GVSU can serve as a model for accessible higher education.

Provost Maria Cimitile spoke briefly about the importance of liberal education for students beginning their careers in the wake of the pandemic.

“We’re helping students to understand the relevance of liberal education after a pandemic when they’re very concerned about getting a job,” Cimitile said. “We have to help them understand how liberal education is the key to doing that, along with their career-building curriculum.”

Mantella concluded the address by thanking students for their perseverance over the last 12 months.

Following the address, senior leadership hosted breakout room question and answer sessions regarding the university, including Plan for Racial Equity, Budget and Capital Planning and the Reach Higher 2025 Strategic Plan.