GV to graduate over 1,000 during weekend commencement
Grand Valley State University will send off more than 1,000 graduates on Dec. 8 during the university’s commencement ceremony, hosted at the Van Andel Arena in downtown Grand Rapids.
Susan Ford Bales, daughter of former President Gerald R. Ford and Betty Ford, will be the ceremony’s keynote speaker. Ford Bales has held a number of public service positions throughout her tenure, acting as a global ambassador for the Susan G. Komen Foundation, the chair of the Betty Ford Center from 2005-10, a board member of the Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health, Betty Ford Alpine Gardens Foundation and the Bosque School in New Mexico.
“Grand Valley had a long-standing relationship with President Ford when he was alive as well as his entire family,” said Mary Eilleen Lyon, associate vice president of GVSU’s News and Information Services. “Susan Ford Bales is accomplished in her own right and has continued to support West Michigan, along with her many causes.”
Currently, Ford Bales is a trustee for both the Gerald R. Ford Historical Legacy Trust and the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation.
This year, for the first time, GVSU will recognize student veterans and active military members with patriotic recognition cords, something Steve Lipniki, assistant dean of students, said more colleges and universities in the U.S. have been utilizing in commencement ceremonies since the post-September 11 G.I. Bill benefits began in 2009.
“The recognition cords are distributed to identify current and former members of the U.S. Armed Forces, and to acknowledge their service and sacrifice,” Lipnicki said. “For the first time, GVSU will be making complimentary recognition cords available to graduating students, faculty and staff, with prior military services in the U.S. Armed Forces, who attend commencement.”
Lipnicki said about a dozen student vets will cross the stage during the commencement ceremony, which kicks off at 10 a.m. on Saturday.
GVSU will award Martin E. Marty, professor emeritus at the University of Chicago, an honorary doctor of letters to recognize his role in promoting religious and cultural understanding.
In addition, the Alumni Association will present Kathleen Underwood, director of GVSU’s women and gender studies program and associate professor of history, the Outstanding Educator Award. The Distinguished Alumni Award will go to Maryjean Schenk, vice dean for medical education at the Wayne Sate University School of Medicine.
For more information, or to watch the Dec. 8 live stream, visit www.gvsu.edu/commencement.