Mass. university exec next Grand Valley State president

Kim Kozlowski
The Detroit News
Philomena V. Mantella

Philomena V. Mantella, an executive with a private research university in Massachusetts, was named the fifth president and the first female leader of Grand Valley State University, following a unanimous decision Tuesday by the Board of Trustees.

Mantella — who earned her PhD in college and university administration from Michigan State University — is the senior vice president and chief executive officer of the Lifelong Learning Network at Northeastern University, a private research university in Boston. 

She will begin her post on July 1, when Grand Valley President Thomas J. Haas retires.

While there was a strong pool of candidates, trustees pointed to Mantella’s experience in strategic planning, global market expansion and in the evolving ways successful institutions are delivering education. 

“Many university community members shared their hopes for a new leader, and we are confident that Philomena Mantella will be an outstanding president,” said former board Chair John Kennedy, who chaired the 18-member search committee. 

Added board Chair Mary Kramer: “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.”

Mantella said she is confident about Grand Valley’s future.

“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," she continued, "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.”

Mantella has been married for 40 years to attorney Robert H. Avery. She has three sons and four grandchildren.