Across Campus

October 5, 2015


New U.S. citizens take oath at DeVos Center

Sixty-three people from 34 different countries were sworn in as new American citizens during a naturalization ceremony held September 28 at the DeVos Center.

Polly Diven, professor and director of International Relations, said it was the first time the ceremony was held at Grand Valley. The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum is the typical site, but because it is serving as an ArtPrize venue officials from the Detroit office of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services looked for a new location.

Elizabeth Gnesotto said the DeVos Center was the perfect location. Gnesotto is an immigration services officer who graduated from Grand Valley with a degree in international relations in 2009.


New U.S. citizens take the oath of allegiance during a naturalization ceremony at the DeVos Center September 28.

Photo by Bernadine Carey-Tucker
New U.S. citizens take the oath of allegiance during a naturalization ceremony at the DeVos Center September 28.

"I'm honored to be here for you on the most important day in your lives at this campus, which is so important to me and which gave me so many opportunities," Gnesotto said.

After a roll call of the 34 countries represented, each new citizen had their name called and received a certificate.

Gayle R. Davis, provost and executive vice president for Academic and Student Affairs, welcomed participants and said she, too, was glad the event was held at Grand Valley as it presented a good learning opportunity for students about the value of citizenship.


Brandsen named new director for TRIO Upward Bound

Josh Brandsen was named director of the TRIO Upward Bound program. He had served as associate director.

Brandsen takes over for longtime director Arnie Smithalexander, who held that position for 37 years. She is entering a phased retirement and will serve in a TRIO specialist role for the College of Education.

Josh Brandsen

Josh Brandsen

Brandsen is beginning his 12th year in the TRIO Upward Bound office. One of Grand Valley's federally funded TRIO programs, Upward Bound serves 100 Grand Rapids Public high school students, providing year-round programming to ensure a successful transition into college.

Upward Bound students are often the first in their families to attend college, as was Brandsen. "I do talk with them about my path," Brandsen said. "This job is so much more than teaching, it's getting to know the students personally."

Beginning in the winter semester, the College of Education will take on administration of the TRIO SSS Teacher Preparation program and collaborate with the Upward Bound program. Smithalexander and Brandsen wrote a grant that will serve 140 students who are pursuing bachelor's degrees with teacher certification. The application process to be admitted into the program will begin soon, she said.

Smithalexander said she is leaving the administration of Upward Bound in good hands with Brandsen at the helm.

"He has the dedication to students that is necessary to this position," she said.

Brandsen earned bachelor's and master's degrees in education from Grand Valley.


Grand Valley, colleges create specialized rehab clinic

A new clinic that provides a variety of neurological services for patients in need of continued care has opened in partnership with Grand Valley, Calvin College and Western Michigan University. 

The 4,500-square-foot clinic will provide speech pathology, audiology, social work, and physical and occupational therapy services for children and adults with Parkinson's Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, head and neck cancer, sensory integration issues, autism and traumatic brain injuries. 

A public open house took place September 29 at 1310 East Beltline, Grand Rapids.

Barb Baker, associate professor of physical therapy at Grand Valley and part-time physical therapist at the clinic, said there's no other clinic like it in Grand Rapids. 

"It's interdisciplinary, it's intercollegiate and it will serve the underserved population in the area," Baker said. "There is great excitement in the Grand Valley Physical Therapy Department over this venture."

The clinic will provide hands-on learning experiences for students at each institution, including students enrolled in the physical therapy program at Grand Valley. 

"This clinic is meeting an enormous need in educating students because neurological placements for students are limited," said Baker. 

The space includes a waiting area, a group therapy room, seven clinical rooms, two soundproof audiology booths and a physical therapy gym, complete with a treadmill, hand bike, rock climbing wall, therapeutic swing and other donated equipment.

Steven Vanderkamp, director of the clinic, said, "we will all be working very closely together to make sure all of the clients’ needs are being addressed under one roof. We have top-notch health professionals and faculty from three universities on board to provide specialized services."

Click here for more information.


Lightboard one of many innovations available to faculty

Justin Melick, digital media developer, stands behind the lighboard in the Digital Studio in the Kindschi Hall of Science.

Photo by Christi Wiltenburg
Justin Melick, digital media developer, stands behind the lighboard in the Digital Studio in the Kindschi Hall of Science. Melick helps faculty members create videos using the lightboard.

A reorganized Information Technology team has new space in the Kindschi Hall of Science to become a one-stop-shop for faculty members who incorporate innovative technology in their classes or teach online/hybrid courses.

The space for the eLearning and Emerging Technologies team has also allowed the technology to grow by adding new resources to the Digital Studio. For example, the lightboard — a tool that allows faculty to write on glass while facing students — expanded three times its former size to 9.25 square feet.

Matt Hart, associate professor of chemistry, uses lightboard videos of himself to explain core concepts visually, while also being able to give verbal and non-verbal cues that are important for student learning. The videos are created by Justin Melick, digital media developer, and show Hart working through formulas while facing the camera. Hart said it provides a unique opportunity to increase instructor presence in courses.

He added that the ability to pause and replay is crucial. "Students found them useful on my Blackboard when studying and enjoyed the ability to pause and rewind to look back at material they might struggle with," he said.

Melick, who built the lightboard, said more than 50 lightboard videos have been created at Grand Valley since it was built on campus last year. Eric Kunnen, associate director of eLearning and Emerging Technologies,said it's one of only 30 lightboards at institutions across the country. “There is tremendous potential in technologies like the lightboard that help make Grand Valley distinctive while empowering faculty to create engaging instruction," Kunnen said.

The eLearning and Emerging Technologies team can also digitize VHS tapes, cassettes and film, and help faculty create interactive digital content. Vince St. Germain, eLearning and Instructional Technology Specialist, highlighted a recent video tour of IT's server room and data center for introductory computing courses, rather than scheduling classes for building tours.

The team also encompasses staff members from Instructional Design for eLearning, Blackboard and the Atomic Object Technology Showcase, which is housed in the Mary Idema Pew Library. Kunnen said team members support faculty through workshops or individual consultations and online resources on their website.

More information about eLearning and Emerging Technologies is online at


Students can apply for AWRI internship

The Annis Water Resources Institute, in Muskegon, is accepting applications from students who want to apply for the Herbert L. VanderMey Internship.

The internship is open to undergraduate students in the winter semester. The deadline to apply is November 6; details and criteria needed to apply are online at