Writing the DU story

Faculty and staff gathered last week to celebrate their role in shaping the stories of Davenport University’s students at the annual DavenFest. View the photo gallery on Facebook.

Taking a role in DU’s story

DU Trustee Michelle Van Dyke spoke, sharing how each person in the DU community shares a part of the university’s story.

“We are all characters in this Davenport story — playing different roles — each as important as all the others,”  Van Dyke, president and CEO of Heart of West Michigan United Way. “We’ve got an intriguing plot: preparing and transforming students to achieve the highest levels of academic performance, leading them to excel and advance in their chosen fields. We are telling the story of a transformational journey.”

For the 40 percent of students who are the first in their families to attend college, Van Dyke says the impact is indelible.

We are helping them write or rewrite their story and changing the trajectory of the stories of their families for generations,” she said.

Changing a student’s fate

For recent alumna Kuana School, DU changed her life. School began her career at a health and fitness center when she was 18. When the career suddenly ended, she lost her car and home. She needed to rebuild her life from scratch. After gaining employment as a certified nurse aide, School decided to inquire about a nursing degree at DU.

“Some friends warned me not to try, that they thought it was too much for me to take on. However, these doubts were dispelled by the fact that there were a lot of changes I wanted to see in the world, and I still had much to give,” she said. “I decided that if I could believe in myself enough, I could find a way to become a nurse by age 40.”

School says completing her degree gave her the opportunity to change her fate. During her time as a student, she conducted academic research, presented at conferences, co-authored a scientific paper and mentored other students.

“I intend to use both my nursing degree and laboratory research experience towards assisting underserved populations on a more global scale of integrative health. My degree from DU started my path there. This is only the beginning,” she said.

Championing diversity, equity and inclusion

Brandi Melkild was given the 2018 DEI Champion Award. She was the mind behind the Panther Resource Closet.

Before its official opening in January 2018, the closet had already served 85 students with the distribution of 300 items of professional clothing and 200 food and hygiene items.

Since January:

  • Another 137 students have completed a visitor log indicating that they utilized the closet.
  • 88 clothing items, 134 food items and 255 hygiene products have been provided to visitors.
  • Over 30 DU faculty/staff and community residents have also donated to the PRC with an estimated value of their donations at over $3,700.

Recognizing excellence in teaching and customer service

Recipients of the Excellence in Teaching Awards were Kelli Baumgartner, Scott Guminey and Laura Harris.

GREAT awards were given to Suzanne Gut, Chris Marx, Jackie Andrade-DAvila, Kevin Tabler and Randy Mack.

Reaching milestones

DU also recognized employees who are celebrating milestones of service. 

Five years:

Erik Dane
Damon Gonzales
Robert Harris
Laura Harris
Louise Kidd
Donald Luy
Kathy Miner
Charles Ransom
Andrew Roman
Naim Saiti   
Jacob Vachon

10 years:

Christopher Allen
Matthew Arpin
Laura Ayotte   
Deborah Chenoweth
Colleen Coughlin   
Eric Cross
Karin Crowley
Patrick Czerew
Amy Doxtater 
Kriss Ferluga
Nora King
Mark McKinnon
Julie Milanowski
Burt Paddock
Micki Pitcher
Rebecca Prince
Shawn Raymond
McCall Salmon
Neil Shepard
David Sigsby
Wayne Sneath
Tammy Stachowicz
Mike Stodola
Todd Terry
Kevin Tidey
James Turner
Tamara VandenBerg
Shari Watanabe
Cari Weymouth
Jessica Wright

15 years:

Kathy Aboufadel
Suzanne Gut
Gerald Nyambane  
Jessica Powers

20 years:

Jean Balcer
John Hume
Tony McCutchen

25 years:

Deb Brondsema
Shubhadah Sagdeo

30 years:

Scott Stevens

35 years: 

Jeff Green

50 years:

Jack Daniels


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