Mili, Student Senate discuss collaboration, potential improvements to GV


GVL / Annabelle Robinson

Camryn Snider, Staff Writer

Grand Valley State University Provost and Executive Vice President for the Division of Academic Affairs, Fatma Mili, addressed the university’s Student Senate at their meeting on Oct. 20. During the meeting, Mili introduced herself and discussed possible ways to improve the university with senators.

One concern raised by Student Senate Executive Vice President, Justin Frappier, was how to provide more of a connection between GVSU’s Allendale and Grand Rapids campuses.

“It’s more than just connecting student to student, I’d love to see the academic side of things connected in that way as well,” Frappier said. “There’s a lot I can learn from my peers that are studying things that are different than me, but I think it can be really hard to cross paths.”

Mili said that connecting the GVSU community across the campuses is also a topic the university would like to address.

“We have a master plan, this is where architects, urban planners and university leadership look at what they want the university to look like 10 years from now and how do we renovate our spaces so that we can fit that,” Mili said.

A part of the plan that Mili described was an expansion of the downtown campus to include more pedestrian areas, and something similar to the area at the center of the Allendale campus, to provide more opportunities for students to connect.

“We have to be an adaptive organization,” Mili said. “If we are not changing, there is a problem.”

Mili said she believes her work at other universities gave her the experience she needs to have a profound impact as GVSU’s provost.

“By nature, I have always been multidisciplinary, I really love to work in the intersection of disciplines,” Mili said. “So, the role of provost really was a great fit for me.”

Mili earned her doctorate from the Universite Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris France. She previously worked at Oakland University as the acting associate dean of the School of Engineering and as chair of computer science and engineering. Mili also was the department head of Computer Information Technology at Purdue University. She then worked for the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, as a professor and dean of the College of Computing and Informatics.

“The role of education is not to just get you ready for a job, but also to allow you to pursue other things you may be interested in,” Mili said. “The other aspect of this is all interesting problems we face as a society never fit fully into one discipline and having that cooperation and the ability to cross the boundaries of a discipline is what the future demands and is part of why I’m such a strong believer in interdisciplinary studies.”

Mili said she loved the story of William Seidman, one of the founders of GVSU, that had attended the University of Michigan, Dartmouth and Harvard.

“He wanted to create a university for West Michigan where they make the excellent education that he knew about from the universities he went to, accessible to everyone, and that remains part of the genes of GVSU,” Mili said.

Frappier said he greatly appreciated Mili taking the time to attend the Student Senate meeting.

“With all the incoming leadership to Grand Valley, I’m really looking forward to all of the positive changes coming in the future, even though I’ll be graduating soon,” Frappier said.