New GV Provost Mili begins first full year on the job


Courtesy / Twitter (@fatmamili)

Grace Smith, Staff Writer

Dr. Fatma Mili began her first full academic year as the fourth provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs at Grand Valley State University at the beginning of the Fall 2022 semester.

Mili was chosen from a national pool of candidates and was among a group of three other finalists last February. Those who were able to listen to Mili’s speech may recall her deep-rooted passion for education and academic affairs.

Mili shared that she was drawn to GVSU for many reasons. However, she most emphasized her admiration of GVSU’s commitment to its students and the community.

“One of the aspects of GVSU that was appealing to me before I came was the genesis of this institution,” Mili said. “This institution was created by the community, so this is a community that understands and appreciates the value of education and understands the value of scholarship and sees it as an integral part of the growth of a community.”

A French native, Mili initially earned degrees from Universite Pierre & Marie Curie and Universite de Villetaneuse. She then moved to the United States and studied informatics and computer science along with mathematics and engineering.

Mili recently served as a professor and dean of the College of Computing and Informatics at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, one of the largest colleges of computing in the country, before coming to GVSU.

Currently, Mili said her primary focus is on achieving GVSU’s Reach Higher 2025 mission. Outside of academics, Mili said she enjoys surrounding herself with a vibrant community of scholars.

“I want to understand and help shape what the individual role of academic affairs is in this,” Mili said. “We have started meeting around this topic and focusing on the vision around academics and sustainability.”

Mili has wasted no time becoming acquainted with the faces of GVSU, saying that she has spent the last few weeks meeting with faculty and deans of the various colleges.

“I love to be surrounded by people smarter than me,” Mili said. “In my whole career, almost every single thing that I’ve done that I’m really proud of came from listening to others and getting ideas from them. There is no better place to be than a university, and I feel so privileged to be in such a place where you have that diversity of disciplines and expertise.”

Mili said she sees spending time with people around campus as a privilege and instrumental in being a lifelong learner, acknowledging that she learns something new each time she does.

She is an avid reader, enjoying mostly nonfiction books on history, philosophy, economics and societal reflections.

“Any time I’m struggling with a thought, I just start reading and jump from book to book until I find the right frame for me to think about that topic,” Mili said.

Mili also said that she enjoys running in her free time. Over the years, she has run three marathons including the Detroit Marathon.

President Mantella announced her excitement to welcome Mili to the GVSU community in a statement announcing the filling of the provost position last February.

“Dr. Mili is engaging and thoughtful, a careful listener, and is deeply respectful of the views of others,” Mantella said in the statement. “Her demonstrated commitments to academic quality, diversity and inclusion, and creativity will serve Grand Valley well.”