Parents and Families  

eNewsletter: November 2011

From the Desk of the Dean Aquinas College Integrative Campus Health Services
Aquinas Add Men's Ice Hocky to its Intercollegiate Athletic Lineup New Healthy Options in the Corner Café
2010 ArtPrize Winning Entry, Cavalry, to be Placed on Long-Term Loan at AQ Exam Cram: Fall 2011
Campus Diversity & Inclusion Programming The SAAP Program
From the Desk of the Dean 
By: By Brian Matzke, Dean of Student Services
Habitat for Humanity

Each year upon graduation, Aquinas College sends many students into various student affairs graduate programs and professional entry level positions.  Recently the Dean of Students office coordinated a "Day on the Job" program for students to experience what it is like to be a student affairs professional. There was a brief application process and nine students applied and were selected to take part in the program.  We had quite a day. 

Our morning started with breakfast and introductions of our student affairs staff as well as our student participants. Students learned that there were a large variety of undergraduate degrees among our professional staff including chemistry, biology, business and even medieval history, just to name a few. They also learned that the next step is graduate

school where one starts to specialize in student affairs, management and higher education. For the rest of the morning, students job shadowed our professional staff.  Students attended meetings, saw student/staff interaction and got a chance to ask questions of their student affairs mentors.


When we all got back together for lunch, we were able to hear from a special guest. Eric Mullen '97 talked about his experience in student affairs both at Aquinas, where he formally served as the Director of Campus Life, and at Grand Rapids Community College where he currently serves in a similar capacity. The afternoon provided more time for students to experience a day in the life of student affairs.


The day ended with a late afternoon service learning experience as part of our "Into the Streets" service learning program that falls within student affairs. Because some students had late afternoon classes, 13 of us went to the Habitat for Humanity headquarters in Grand Rapids. We were greeted and learned that two of the three Habitat leaders had Aquinas ties.  One was a current student and one was a mother of a current student. Giving back to the community is truly in our blood! After putting in a few fun-filled hours of sanding and painting, we left our Habitat friends and returned to campus. Then we all went home. It was just another day in the life of our hard-working student affairs team.

Aquinas College Adds Men’s Ice Hockey to its Intercollegiate Athletic Lineup

Aquinas College is pleased to announce expanded athletic opportunities for current and future students as the College will begin to offer Men’s Ice Hockey starting in 2012-13 school year.


The men’s ACHA Division III hockey program will be led by Mark VanVliet, who brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the position.  Coach VanVliet has been involved with the West Michigan hockey community for over 35 years as a player, official, and coach. Most recently VanVliet served as an Assistant Coach at Davenport University.  Duane Ambrose, a professor in the HPER department, will assume the assistant coaching duties. >Read More

2010 ArtPrize winning entry, Cavalry, to be placed on long-term loan at Aquinas College

College officials recently announced that Cavalry, American Officers, 1921, Chris LaPorte’s 2010 ArtPrize®-winning entry, will be moved to the Grace Hauenstein Library on the campus of Aquinas College. Target date for the move is December 2010.

LaPorte is a 1996 graduate of Aquinas College, and this past fall, was hired on full time as Visiting Assistant Professor of Art. He has also recently opened an art studio, The LaPorte Studio, which is located at 401 Hall Street SW, Suite 413, Grand Rapids.

Campus Diversity & Inclusion Programming
Campus Diversity & Inclusion Programming

The diversity efforts of the College have expanded this school year when we welcomed La Tonia Plunkett to the Aquinas College community.  La Tonia has a background in Counseling and Higher Education & Student Affairs. La Tonia will serve as the Campus Diversity Programmer and a Student Support Services Program Specialist.  Her efforts include working with students on a holistic perspective with an individual emphasis. She will serve as an additional resource to students on campus.


Campus diversity & inclusion programming this semester has featured the Multicultural Student Welcome Brunch in September which hosted over 30 attendees. Game Days have been hosted that have given students the opportunity to connect. The Diversity Initiatives

Office assisted the Admissions Office with recruitment of multicultural students at the Detroit Public Schools Fair this fall. Salsa Magic, an interactive Latin dance party, occurred during Homecoming with over 100 attendees and gave students the opportunity to learn all the latest Latin Dance moves. Michael Jacobs will be coming to campus on Thursday, November 10 at 11:30 a.m. in the Wege Cafeteria. Jacobs is a Cherokee recording artist who will share his insights about the Native American culture and his passion of the world’s human issues through the power of music.

A workshop series on student financial planning programming was developed with Student Support Services this semester as well. The first workshop was hosted in October on budgeting. The next workshop will take place on November 16. A representative from PNC Bank will be available to discuss savings opportunities at 10 a.m. in the Private Dining Room of Wege Cafe. The third workshop will take place later that day at 2 p.m. in the Library room 302, on Couponing 101. Collaboration with Kids Food Basket, a local nonprofit focused on attacking childhood hunger in Grand Rapids, has provided students an opportunity to participate in a service project in the Cook Carriage House on Saturday, November 12 at 1:30 p.m.

Alumni have returned to campus to help develop a new Retention Committee focused on Diversity and Inclusion efforts at the institution. November 30 at 6 p.m. in the Loutit room of the Wege Center a panel of representatives from the committee will present to students a panel, to assist them in their academic journey, titled “Students to Success.”  Dinner will be provided for participants. This committee has developed a series of programs to assist students through the completion of the school year on developing mentor relationships, business etiquette, and networking. The Aquinas College Black Alumni Society (AQBAS) hosted a reception at Homecoming this year that had over 70 attendees. This reception allowed current students to showcase their talents and network with AQ Alumni. The AQBAS and cultural based student clubs and organizations also participated in the inaugural festivities of the College’s new President, Dr. Juan Olivarez.

In the Residence Halls there is a staff of five students who serve as Diversity Assistants (DAs). These students serve as Resident Assistants (RAs) and focus their programming on diversity and ensuring that the Residence Halls are fostering an inclusive environment. Students have the opportunity to attend the programs that the DAs host as well as contact them with any concerns they have in the Residence Hall as it pertains to Diversity.

Aquinas College Integrative Campus Health Services

By: Veronica Beitner, Manager of Integrative Campus Health Services

As a child, I always found this time of year so exciting. The Christmas gift list would long be in the development phase as I anxiously awaited the first snowfall. Some things don’t change too much even as an adult. I have the pleasure of speaking and working among your students and I can tell you that their enthusiasm and excitement for the “holidays” is still very much alive!  If you have the chance, please take the chance to come to campus in the coming months as the campus is truly beautiful in the winter season. 


This time of year also brings the flu season.  Perhaps one of the best things you can do to protect yourself against the Influenza virus according to the Centers for Disease Control is to get immunized. This vaccine is available in the clinic and is billable to your

Health & Wellness

insurance plans with no copay.  We offer both the traditional vaccine as well as the Flu mist which is a diluted version of the live virus.  This vaccine lasts for one year in your system and best of all does not require a needle.  The prices are the same and they both will help keep your student healthy.

In the clinic we have already seen many viruses afflicting students, faculty and staff. Not only do we share the excitement of reuniting with family and friends for Thanksgiving, but we all share the mounting stress of the semester. Stress can lower our immune systems as can the continued exposure to others that may be ill.  Your students will also hear the continued message of “covering your cough,” washing your hands frequently and be diligent to maintain good sleep and nutritional habits.  Keeping physically active can also help to boost our immune systems. If your student feels there is nothing to do on campus, remind them to look to the daily events calendar or the Health and Wellness website for the recreational fitness classes available. These are fun outlets that can serve as a needed study break in the coming weeks. 

Our staff has also been busy reviewing forms for those students traveling for a service learning trip or a semester abroad. It is always a good idea to review your immunization history on an annual basis to ensure that all vaccines are updated. Perhaps the most common one to review is the tetanus vaccine. It is strongly recommended that every adult receive one pertussis booster as an adult. This can be given in conjunction with the tetanus vaccine and is commonly known as the Tdap vaccine. Remember that the clinic can update most vaccines allowing our students the convenience of not having to schedule off campus.

East Paris Internal Medicine continues to provide our medical staff. As a staff, we continue to meet regularly to discuss today’s trends in Higher Education and how this may affect our students. It can be confusing to receive statements from two organizations that function on the same campus. Although the student may be seen on campus, the billing is done through their main office.  If you have any billing questions, please feel free to contact East Paris Internal Medicine directly.  I am always available as an additional resource in understanding any explanations of benefits. I can be reached at or (616) 632-2458.

Soon your students will be on a well-deserved break.  For many students, this semester has proven to be a very transitional phase in their lives.  This is true not only for our first year students but for those about to embark on a new study adventure or those about to graduate. These changes can be so tumultuous. Sometimes it is hard to remember those days and the deep insecurity it can bring. I encourage you to access your free issue of Student Health 101 - the Parent issue for insight into what your student may be experiencing.

I first came to Aquinas as a student in 1984 and still find beauty and peace here every single day.  As I prepare to head home to my own family for Thanksgiving, I am reminded of all that I have to be grateful for and that includes the opportunity to work with each and every student. Thank you for sharing them with us.

New Healthy Options in the Corner Café
Healthy Options at the Corner Cafe

For the 2011/2012 school year, Campus Dining remodeled the Corner Café to the new and improved retail outlet called The Corner. The Corner has a more upscale ambiance with healthier options on the menu. Many of the fried, processed items were replaced with more chef prepared offerings. The students were the reason for the change and the increase in healthy options.  It is a trend to be healthy and with the big push on campus, Campus Dining recognized they are one of the biggest departments that need to make changes.  Hummus & pita chips, sandwiches, salads, dried fruits, yogurt & granola, veggies & dip, house made guacamole are all on the menu. The veggie burgers, signature Corner chips are house prepared as well as the pasta bowls. The French fries are made from whole potatoes that are cut in house and fried when ordered. These items are not the frozen, processed product you typically see.

The first day back there were comments like “no more tater tots?”  but that was just a couple days.  Now students realize they are getting a whole potato sliced daily and fried for them, versus taking a frozen item that may have been frozen for months and fried.  The new healthy concept has caught on quickly.  The students appreciate the non-processed food options created before them.  Campus Dining truly believes they are an important part of the education process in a student’s life.  Many eating habits are being formed in a young persons’ life.  We can educate and offer the best products possible, but it is up to the student to make good choices.
Exam Cram: Fall 2011

Mark your calendars because Exam Cram Fall 2011 is coming.  It will be held Saturday, December 3 through Monday, December 12.  For those of you who do not know, Exam Cram (which started in spring 2008) is a concentrated effort to offer academic support to students the week before final exams.   The support comes in the form of one-on-one tutoring, moderated study sessions, research assistance and writing help.  But wait, there's more!  As well as addressing critical issues of the mind, EC also addresses your students' holistic and physical needs.  Programs include nightly refreshments, holistic massage, oxygen bar, yoga and wellness tips.  Most of the activities take place in and around the Grace Hauenstein Library and the Moose Cafe. In addition, Student Senate is sponsoring 5 overnights in the Grace Hauenstein Library. That's right; the library will be open

Exam Cram

for 24 hours from Saturday, December 3 through Wednesday, December 7. Exam Cram culminates in the Exam Breakfast, Monday, December 12 at 10 p.m. in the Wege Cafeteria. The breakfast is free to all students through the sponsorship of Campus Life.

Exam Cram is brought to you through the combined efforts of the following departments:  Student Development, Student Support Services, Student Senate, Residence Life, the Grace Hauenstein Library, Academic Achievement and Health and Wellness Services.

The SAAP Program

When addressing concerns of substance abuse with students, Aquinas College takes a proactive, holistic approach. Aquinas offers a Substance Abuse Awareness Program (SAAP) for students who have violated college policy and/or state law regarding substance abuse. SAAP was development through a collaborative partnership between Residence Life, Campus Safety, and Career and Counseling Services.
Students are required by sanction to attend this three-hour class in order to learn about the importance of making healthy decisions, learning the risks of dangerous drinking habits, and what the appropriate uses of alcohol are, utilizing the methods of educational, social norming, and judicial responsibilities. The class is not intended to be a punishment, but instead a consequence of one’s behavior that is not in agreement with the policies and rules of Aquinas College and/or the laws of the State of Michigan.

Enrollment is completed by contacting Dee Wagner at (616) 632-2171. For more information about the SAAP program, as well as the dates and times of the classes for Fall 2011, please check out the Career and Counseling Services website.