VP for enrollment development, longtime GVSU employee retiring
Lynn “Chick” Blue, vice president for enrollment development at Grand Valley State University, announced her intention to retire from the university at the end of 2018. Her retirement will conclude a 50-year journey at GVSU.
“I’ve lived my whole life here and (have) effectively (grown) with the university,” Blue said. “The university’s needs changed with each decade. I effectively matured with the school, trying to bring along all the good stuff and apply (it) going forward.”
One of Blue's biggest projects at GVSU involved taking cashiering from Lake Michigan Hall and combining it with records at the Student Services building to create the one-stop service areas. Her team also updated databases to increase convenience for students, and she helped implement Touch-Tone Registration, making GVSU the first university with an automated registration system before it was accessible online.
Yet, helping to improve the environment of student life never stopped her from looking at a student’s first priority: their education. Blue worked as an adviser for students who attended a new charter school in Detroit.
As the students she mentored began applying at GVSU, she became familiar with the Robert and Ellen Thompson Foundation stationed in Plymouth, Michigan. Blue and Ellen Thompson created a scholarship for Michigan high school graduates coming from working families. This year, Blue has brought 100 new freshmen to GVSU on the Thompson Scholarship. Next year, the scholarship will extend to 400 students.
Blue’s own scholarship, the Blue Working Family Scholarship, has already brought two freshmen to GVSU. Blue is from a working family herself, giving her firsthand knowledge of the working-family ethic.
“I’ve found it incredibly rewarding to help a person who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford to come to college,” she said.
Blue’s support of students has left an impression on other administrators, too.
“What I admire most about her is she will go to every length possible to support somebody who needs support in our community,” said Jesse Bernal, vice president for inclusion and equity. “Whether that’s a student, faculty, staff or even somebody (who is) a member of the community, she’ll do whatever it takes to support these individuals. Her compassion in those moments is something that I hope we can sustain once she is not in the role any longer."
As Bernal heads the search for GVSU’s new vice president for enrollment development, he is keeping an eye out for Blue’s admirable qualities.
“I’m really hoping we find someone who has the passion for our mission,” he said, "someone that understands what it means to be student-centered and someone who demonstrates going above and beyond to support individuals who need that support. ...
"Lots of people have that subject-matter expertise, but (it’s the) passion and dedication to the work (that) would be really important for the next person.”
As advice for her replacement, Blue suggests working outside the office.
“Get out there and learn,” she said. “Be with the people. To do the work I do, you have to know what’s going on. You can’t just be in this office sitting at this desk 100 percent of your time. ... You have to be with students (and) hear what faculty are saying because it changes and sometimes very rapidly.
"If you’re not connected with that movement, then I don’t think you can make especially good decisions. You have to know what’s going on.”
Although Blue’s plans for retirement are few, she looks forward to visiting family in the Upper Peninsula and on Beaver Island. Still, she will miss the connections she has made at the university.
“I’ve known hundreds and hundreds of people,” Blue said. “When you work someplace as long as I have, they come and go. I will surely miss my scholarship students. They mean a lot to me. Grand Valley has been a fine employer. I don’t think I could have picked a better business to be in than higher ed.
"Working with young people keeps you pretty young, and you always are in (the) know about what’s new, and it’s fun.”