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August 11, 2022

Past colleagues endorse future SVSU president

George Grant Jr. and Vicki Rupp

The Saginaw Valley State University Board of Control has selected George Grant Jr. to serve as the next president of the university. Those who have worked with Grant praised his vision, his values and his character, and they have every confidence that he will be effective in his new role.

“He has a clear compass to help whatever program or institution he's involved in,” said Mark Murray, who previously served as president of Grand Valley State University and as CEO of Meijer.

At Grand Valley, Grant served on the social work faculty before becoming dean of the College of Community and Public Service, serving in that role from 2008 to 2020.

Murray described Grant as an excellent listener and decisive leader.

“If you're not listening to multiple voices, you're doing the organization a disservice,” Murray said. “If you're paralyzed by fundamentally different points of view, you're also doing the organization a disservice. You need to listen. You need to synthesize, and then you need to bring your best judgment forward for what is the best decision and course of action. George is adept at that, and it's part of his make up to want to do that.”

Grant is currently the chancellor at Pennsylvania State University-Berks, a role he has held since January 2021.

Madlyn Hanes previously served as senior vice president for Commonwealth campuses and executive chancellor for Pennsylvania State University. She saw Grant’s ability to engage the campus and surrounding community right away.

“Upon assuming his post as chancellor of Penn State Berks, George was quick to make in-roads into the community and positively engage with local business and organizational leaders, alumni, elected officials and donors. In his brief time as chancellor, he demonstrated rather remarkable ability to navigate the complexities of a large, multicampus university,” Hanes said.

“He also began a number of strategic initiatives focused on student recruitment and retention which were well received by the campus community.”

Sherril Soman arrived at Grand Valley State University in 2000 and currently serves as dean of the College of Education and Community Innovation. She saw Grant build great relationships beyond campus.

“He was extensively involved in the community, partnering with other educational institutions,” Soman said. “He had a really good relationship with Grand Rapids Public Schools and Grand Rapids Community College.”

Soman described Grant as someone who cares for others and leads by example.

“His priority will be educating the students that come to the university, and not just preparing them for their professions, but preparing them for a life of service in whatever field they're in. He models that,” Soman said, adding that Grant made a point of being visible to under-represented groups.

“At Grand Valley, we are a predominantly white institution,” Soman said. “He showed up in the spaces for the students of color we had. He knew it would make a difference for them. He always made a point to be present. He cared about students and he showed that in his actions.”

Murray expects the SVSU community to embrace Grant.

“George is the kind of person you'd want to have as your neighbor, your coworker, or your boss,” Murray said. “He's just a fine human being. Saginaw Valley is fortunate to have found him and to make the decision to ask him to lead.”

Grant will begin his duties as president of SVSU on December 1.