Success Stories

WISE housing offers support

Students review papers in Koeze-Weed Living Center, home to the WISE program / Photo by Bernadine Carey-Tucker

Laurie Witucki, associate professor of chemistry, was the first in her family to attend college. She earned a scholarship to Cedar Crest College in Pennsylvania, a women’s liberal arts college.

"In high school, I was scared of math and chemistry," she said. "But I soon gained confidence by watching and talking with the women -- both upperclass students and faculty -- who became my role models."

Now as faculty director of WISE, Witucki will likely serve in that capacity for some Grand Valley students.

The Women In Science and Engineering Program (WISE) is an academic living and learning community for female first-year students majoring in science, mathematics, engineering or computer science. New to Grand Valley, it opened in August in the Koeze-Weed Residence Hall.

Witucki said opening WISE was a collaborative effort from many campus departments. The Padnos College of Engineering donated equipment for a computer lab; the Advising Resource Center established in-house tutorial times; Housing worked to renovate the building; and support has come from numerous academic departments and the Dean of Students office. WISE fits well with the university’s efforts to retain women in the sciences and Grand Valley’s Claiming a Liberal Education initiative, Witucki said.

More than providing living space, WISE is a community for its 46 residents, Witucki said. During orientation week, the group conducted water sampling on the D.J. Angus, one of Annis Water Resources Institute’s research vessels, and took a campus tour. They have a book club and opportunities to visit with faculty members who have office hours in the living center.

Successes have already been noted. "The students report that what they like best about WISE is the academic and social support they receive through living together," said Diana Pace, associate dean of students.

by Michele Coffill