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Glass ceiling broke: Dr. Philomena V. Mantella era begins at GVSU

Dr. Philomena V. Mantella portrait


For the first time in history, Grand Valley State University will be under the leadership of a female, as today marks Dr. Philomena V. Mantella’s first day as President. Mantella comes from Boston, where she served as senior vice president and chief executive officer of the Lifelong Learning Network at Northeastern University. The new job in Allendale is a return to Michigan however, as Mantella earned her Ph’D in college and university administration at Michigan State.

President Mantella, or “President Philly” as some students and staff are already calling her, takes over for retiring President Thomas Haas. With the hire, Mantella becomes the fifth president and the first woman appointed president in GVSU’s nearly 60-year history, something she says, she does not take for granted.

“It’s absolutely humbling. I just feel so blessed, and a real sense of responsibility to carry this leadership role in the strongest possible way,” Mantella said. “Again, building on the shoulders of my predecessors but also as the first woman president. So I am just so pleased, and really grateful for the opportunity to bring my own leadership style which is certainly part of, my gender is a part of that as well to the University and hope it will be a wonderful experience for everyone to have a woman in leadership here at Grand Valley State.”

Mantella’s hiring comes after a national search which brought out dozens of applicants for the job. The university’s board of trustees vote on appointing Mantella as the university’s next president was unanimous.

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