Grand Valley State University

Nick Nelson, Director of Enterprise Applications at Grand Valley State University (GVSU) cares deeply about the student experience, and as a result, spends serious time gathering feedback from students on how technology impacts their day-to-day. What was the single biggest issue identified in 2022?

Students were clear they were completely overwhelmed by the multitude of systems, content and resources existing across the school’s tech-stack. This situation adversely affected GVSU students’ capacity to learn — and Nelson and his team sprung to action.

“We heard a lot of feedback from students and faculty about the different systems people need to log into, which they need to access on a day-to-day basis,” Nelson said. “There wasn’t really a central way for us to get information out to students.”

About GVSU

Grand Valley State University empowers learners in their pursuits, professions and purposes. The university prides itself on enriching society through excellent teaching, active scholarship, advancement of equity and public service. 

Finding the Goldilocks Solution

The first component to solving this problem was identifying a system that would tie together GVSU’s critical digital investments, including systems like Banner, Blackboard, Office 365 and G Suite. The second critical factor was the solution must provide access and feature parity on any device. As an extension of this, Nelson identified students challenges in engagement with traditional forms of school communication. For that reason, multi-channel and multi-device messaging was considered paramount. 

“We looked for something giving us some communication abilities we don’t currently have,” Nelson said. “We wanted the ability to push notifications and alerts both on the desktop and the mobile app.”

And the Winner Is!

Nelson and his team engaged with the top three solutions on the market — CampusM, Modo Labs and Pathify. After a lengthy evaluation process, Pathify proved the only solution capable of delivering true web-mobile parity.  

“We found there’s a lot of really great mobile apps out there, but we wanted something that really worked across all devices…It really stood out to us as something we thought was better,” Nelson said. “The other solutions we looked at seemed to focus on one or the other and didn’t really have that full experience as much as Pathify did.”

Integrations also proved a huge differentiator in the process, with Pathify’s Recipe Library becoming another powerful clincher. And Nelson wasn’t interested in being a test case for critical source system integrations, including Modo Labs planned Banner connector.

“We were looking for something already there and built, which other institutions use,” Nelson said. “We don’t want to be the first ones using a Banner integration.”

We were looking for something already there and built, which other institutions use. We don’t want to be the first ones using a Banner integration.

Nick Nelson, Director of Enterprise Applications, Grand Valley State University

Finally, GVSU’s decision went beyond the nuts and bolts. The team valued collaborative relationships, responsiveness to feedback and continuous improvement when it came time to choose a vendor. Between strong customer references and demonstrable proof throughout the sales process, Nelson and the team felt confident in how Pathify truly partners with customers.

“When we did reference calls, every single person we called said without prompting that Pathify is a great partner,” Nelson said. “They’re always listening, they’re always great at getting feedback and they always build new stuff we asked for, so it was evident to me a relationship was there for everyone who’s current customers.”

GVSU plans to fully launch in January 2024.