President's Message to Campus - February 8, 2019

Black History Month

The Office of Multicultural Student Services is celebrating Black History Month with multiple events scheduled throughout February. The feature presentation, a one-act stage play “The Meeting,” will be Monday, Feb. 18, at 5:30 p.m. inside the University Center Ballroom. The story depicts an imaginary meeting between Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, where they debate their varying approaches to social injustice and political activism. The month features a film series, discussions and more. For additional details on these, visit the Black History Month schedule of events. Thank you to the OMSS staff, the Black Greek Council and You Beautiful Black Woman for hosting and sponsoring this month’s activities.

VP for Administration and Finance Search

In December, Vice President for Administration and Finance Jerry Scoby announced his retirement later this spring. To assist in filling this position, we have assembled a search committee to help guide the process. The committee is chaired by Physical Plant Associate Vice President Michael Hughes, with committee support provided by Work Management and Building Services Manager Fonda Kuzee. Search committee members include: 

  • Bruce Borkovich, Director of Public Safety
  • Tia Brandel-Wilhelm, Head Volleyball Coach
  • Marie Delamater, Account Specialist, Arts & Sciences, Clerical Technical Association President
  • Sally DePew, Director, Budgetary Planning and Analysis
  • Mike Grandy, Associate Vice President for Finance
  • Gheretta Harris, Associate Vice President for Auxiliary Services
  • Arrick Jackson, Dean, College of Education and Human Services
  • Gayle Lopez, Professor of Management, Management Department Chair
  • Jim McIntyre, Building Maintenance, Physical Plant, AFSCME president
  • Bob Murray, Associate Vice President for Advancement
  • David Pilgrim, Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion
  • Miles Postema, Vice President for Governmental Relations and General Counsel
  • Joy Pufhal, Dean of Student Life
  • Alex Smart, Director of Facilities, Kendall College of Art and Design
  • Ralph Williams, Interim Head of Information Technology and Director of Enterprise and Application Services

The position is currently posted nationally, and the tentative schedule includes airport interviews in March with finalists coming to Big Rapids for on-campus interviews in April. Please join me in thanking these members for their willingness to serve the University through their work on this committee.

Festival of the Arts

This is the second week of the Festival of the Arts. Among the many events scheduled, I want to highlight The Grand Rapids Youth Symphony performance under the direction of John Varineau on Sunday afternoon, as several talented Big Rapids High School students will be performing. Here are more of this week’s events:

  • Friday, Feb. 8: “Lunar Ticks” Live in Concert, 9 p.m., Cranker’s Restaurant & Brewery
  • Saturday, Feb. 9: “Russian Romance,” Maxim Rubtsov, flute, and Sergei Kvitko, piano, 7 p.m., First United Methodist Church
  • Sunday, Feb. 10: “A Symphonic Celebration,” The Grand Rapids Youth Symphony, 3 p.m., Big Rapids High School Auditorium  
  • Monday, Feb. 11: “A Journey in Writing and Music,” presented by Bob Garrels, 7 p.m., Immanuel Lutheran Church - - Tuesday, Feb. 12: “The Art of Fermentation: Sauerkraut,” presented by Desiree Winans, 5:30 p.m., Red Fox Market; “The Mikado,” presented by Big Rapids Gilbert and Sullivan Troupe, 7 p.m. (also Wednesday, Feb. 13), Immanuel Lutheran Church
  • Thursday, Feb. 14: “Wine and Canvas Date Night,” 6 p.m., Artworks Creative Education Center; “Zentangle a ‘Valentine’
  • With Heart!,” presented by Marjorie Goosen, 7 p.m., Artworks Chemical Bank Lower Gallery

For more information or to view the complete schedule of events visit


The Strategic Planning and Resource Council will meet on Tuesday, Feb. 12, from 3 to 5 p.m. in UCB 202. With recent planning authorization received from the legislature on our capital outlay proposal, the Center for Virtual Learning, information and next steps will be shared on this project. Mandy Seiferlein, Jeff Ek and Kristi Haik will give an update on the status of our preparation for Higher Learning Commission reaccreditation. Finally, David Pilgrim and Spence Tower will provide an update on the development of our 2019-2024 strategic plan. SPARC is open to all, and you are invited to attend. Please come and share your thoughts and ideas.


This weekend both hockey and basketball are home. Our men’s hockey team hosts Bemidji State on Friday and Saturday. The puck drops at 7:07 p.m. both nights. Our men’s and women’s basketball teams host Wayne State on Saturday, with the women at 1 p.m. and the men at 3 p.m.

David L. Eisler, president