Awards recognize students, faculty

By Andrew Justus | 4/18/12 9:55pm


Courtesy Photo / News and Information Services
Senior Natalie Cleary accepts an award from Dean of Students Bart Merkle

by Courtesy photo / Grand Valley Lanthorn

All students at Grand Valley State University work hard to accomplish their life goals, but some go well beyond what is expected of them. At Monday’s Venderbush Awards Ceremony, 102 undergraduate and graduate students came to be recognized for being among the best in their degree program.

Recognizing academic excellence is important at a school so widely known for its athletic prowess.

“It really represents what the institution stands for,” said Glenn A. Niemeyer, GVSU Provost Emeritus. “This is first and foremost an academic institution, it’s what we’re all here for.”

High academic achievement takes patience, and at the same time determination and grit. Many of the student awardees expressed their gratitude as well as the joy of having their countless hours of humble coursework publicly acknowledged.

“It’s great to be recognized for hard work, and an honor to be surrounded by GVSU’s greatest minds,” said Casey O’Guinn, a senior who earned departmental honors for marketing.

For Senior Mike Cousins, the award was more about being a productive member of a team of talented broadcast students he works with every week for his CBR 484 news production class.

“It’s a great honor because I worked hard each week to make my professors and my class proud,” Cousins said.

At least one non-traditional student also won a departmental award. Sherry Bouwman, who works at GVSU News and Information Services, earned departmental honors in behavioral science in her 12th and final year at the university.

“For any student it’s great to be recognized, and I have worked at this a really long time,” Bouwman said.

Bouwman enrolled at GVSU in 1999 at the urging of her oldest son, who had just graduated from high school and would also be attending the university. Bouwman’s time as a student at GVSU was long enough for two of her sons to graduate from the institution.

Parents of some award recipients were also present.

“If you come to GVSU and apply yourself and take advantage of opportunities lots can happen,” said movement science professor John Kilbourne, whose daughter Zoe received a departmental award from the Frederick Meijer Honors College.

Other students were recognized for their leadership efforts and outstanding academic contributions. The climax of the night was the awarding of the Glenn A. Niemeyer Awards for outstanding undergraduate and graduate students and for outstanding professors. Two people were awarded in each group.

Management and business professor Ashok Kumar was one of two faculty members to receive a prestigious Glenn A. Niemeyer award for outstanding faculty. Kumar has taught at GVSU since 1992 and is a Fulbright Distinguished Chair.

“Everyone from top to bottom said I deserved [the Niemeyer Award], it means a lot,” Kumar said.

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