Q&A: Philomena Mantella

GVSU gains new leadership in President Philomena V. Mantella.
Philomena Mantella
Philomena Mantella. Photo by Michael Buck

Grand Valley State University is gaining a fresh perspective with new President Philomena V. Mantella. Following the retirement of former President Thomas Haas, or “T. Haas,” any successor would have some big shoes to fill.

Mantella is the first woman appointed to the GVSU presidency, and she has been quick to get to work.

Before becoming president of GVSU, Mantella worked in higher ed in Boston at Northeastern University. There, she was the senior vice president and CEO of the Lifelong Learning Network.

Mantella previously lived in Michigan, obtaining her Ph.D. in college and university administration from Michigan State University.

Although Mantella said she always dreamed of becoming president of a university, Grand Valley was the first institution to really stand out to her, mainly because of the people.

Mantella said she envisions a Grand Valley that reaches a wider circle of people across the state and the nation. Although she has a lot of ideas, Mantella has spent much of her first months as president taking in all the amazing things Grand Valley has to offer.

Specifically, Mantella said she admires GVSU’s entrepreneurial spirit and the university’s commitment to remaining student oriented. She loves how deeply the university is embedded into the city of Grand Rapids and how this relationship benefits the advancement of each.

Do you have a vision for Grand Valley? I have a lot of ideas and a passion for being sure that this institution is better when I leave it, but it will be “our vision,” rather than “my vision.”

What has been the best experience exploring Grand Rapids so far? Walking the city with my family … I was able to combine the beauty of the city with a gorgeous summer day and some great exercise, which is a lot of what I enjoy.

What feature of Grand Rapids are you the most excited to check out? Definitely the food. I’m a total foodie.

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