Education and Human Resources

GVSU names first female president

January 22, 2019
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Philomena Mantella
Philomena Mantella. Courtesy GVSU

Grand Valley State University has selected its next president.

The GVSU Board of Trustees unanimously voted today to hire Philomena Mantella as its fifth president and first female in the role.

She will remain at Northeastern University through the academic year and begin work at GVSU when current President Thomas Haas retires on July 1.

Mantella is SVP and CEO of the Lifelong Learning Network at Northeastern University, a private research university in Boston. She began at the university in 2000 and has held her current role for the past 10 years.

She was previously EVP for enrollment management and student life at Pace University and associate VP for enrollment management at Fairleigh Dickinson University.

She has also served as VP of student affairs for the State College of Optometry, State University of New York, as well as assistant dean for enrollment services and director of scholarships and financial aid at Ferris State University.

She has held a variety of other roles and board memberships and authored numerous professional papers.

She holds a doctorate in college and university administration from Michigan State University and master’s and bachelor’s degrees in social work from Syracuse University.

“This was a unanimous vote, because the trustees saw a finalist with experience in key areas, from enrollment management and student life, to an entrepreneurial approach, to building lifelong learning opportunities,” GVSU Board Chair Mary Kramer said. “Dr. Mantella has the right combination of experience in higher education and will shape a strategic vision to lead Grand Valley in the years ahead.”

Former GVSU Board Chair John Kennedy chaired the 18-member president search advisory committee, which consisted of trustees, faculty, staff members an alum and a representative from the community.

“Many university community members shared their hopes for a new leader, and we are confident that Philomena Mantella will be an outstanding president,” Kennedy said.

Mantella said she looks forward to extending GVSU’s “prominence, access and impact” during her tenure.

“I am impressed and energized by the strength of Grand Valley State University,” Mantella said. “I’m also inspired by the opportunities it has in today’s educational and economic landscape. Michigan and our nation need breakout universities like Grand Valley that carry the promise of a degree and a path to prosperity for learners from all backgrounds.”

Haas announced his retirement last February.

He took the role in 2006 and has since added nearly 50 academic programs and 2.5 million square feet in buildings.

“The trustees have made a wise choice in their selection of Dr. Mantella,” Haas said. “Her background is impressive, and her passion for education and her warmth as a person are obvious. I look forward to working with her and others to ensure a smooth transition to her leadership.”

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