GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Davenport University announced that Paula Cunningham, state director of AARP of Michigan, has accepted the position of Chairman of the Board for Davenport University. Michelle Van Dyke, president of Heart of West Michigan United Way, has been named Vice Chair.
“Over the years, these two incredibly accomplished executives have contributed repeatedly to Davenport University’s work toward our 2025 vision,” said Dr. Richard J. Pappas, president of Davenport University. “We’re thrilled they’ve agreed to lead our Board of Directors, applying their business acumen to higher education.”
Cunningham has served on the Davenport University Board since 2015.
As State Director for AARP Michigan, a nonprofit, nonpartisan social welfare organization with more than 1.4 million members, Cunningham works to lead positive change and deliver value to all people 50 and older.
Prior to joining AARP Michigan, Cunningham was the CEO of Capitol National Bank. At the time, she was the only African American woman in the country to be president of a majority owned bank. Cunningham also served as President of Lansing Community College and the Administration Building on campus was named in her honor.
Cunningham’s dedication to education, small business and community has been recognized by many organizations. She has received numerous awards and recognition throughout her career, including the 2016 Michigan Black Caucus Trailblazer Award, being inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame, a former recipient of the prestigious Athena Award, featured in Ebony Magazine as a “Woman on the Move” and featured in Bridge Magazine as a woman who “Breaks Barriers”.
“I’m committed to Davenport’s Vision 2025 and its work to deliver a quality education to all students, regardless of circumstance,” said Cunningham. “I look forward to my new role as Chair and the work we have ahead.”
As Vice Chair, Van Dyke will be tasked with supporting Cunningham to deliver upon Davenport University’s vision. She currently heads the Board finance committee.
“It’s energizing to elevate my involvement with Davenport at a time when the university is experiencing strategic growth,” said Van Dyke. “I’m looking forward to helping shape the university’s path as we all move forward.”
Van Dyke joined Heart of Michigan United Way in 2016. Prior to that, she, too, was in the banking industry, serving as President and CEO of Fifth Third Bank, Western Michigan. She has a passion for children’s causes, working to fight poverty and bring hope to children throughout West Michigan. Van Dyke joined the Davenport University Board of Trustees in 2004.