ALLENDALE – Philomena V. Mantella was named Tuesday as Grand Valley State University’s fifth president and the first woman appointed president in Grand Valley’s nearly 60-year history.

Mantella is currently the senior vice president and chief executive officer of the Lifelong Learning Network at Northeastern University, a private research university in Boston. Mantella will remain at Northeastern University through the academic year and begin work at Grand Valley when current president Thomas Haas’ retirement takes effect July 1.

Philomena V. Mantella

“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. West Michigan is a dynamic region, and Grand Valley is well positioned to extend its prominence, access and impact throughout the state and beyond. I am honored and thrilled to serve as president during this exciting next chapter in Grand Valley’s journey.”

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

Former Board Chair John Kennedy chaired the search advisory committee for the replacement of President Haas. Kennedy said the trustees recognized the importance of the search process in fulfilling their responsibility in selecting Mantella.  

“We had a strong pool of candidates we considered, and we want to thank and congratulate the members of the Presidential Search Advisory Committee for their dedication and judgment,” Kennedy said. “Many university community members shared their hopes for a new leader, and we are confident that Philomena Mantella will be an outstanding president.” 

Board Chair Mary Kramer said: “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. 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.”

The 18-member advisory committee was made of up of trustees, faculty, staff members, an alumnus and a representative from the community. In addition to Kennedy, the board was represented by trustees Kramer, Megan Sall and Kate Pew Wolters. 

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