Lakeland’s new first lady impressed with Lakeland and ready to implement innovative ideas

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Lakeland’s new first lady impressed with Lakeland and ready to implement innovative ideas

Michelle Fromm

Lakeland College's First Lady Nancy Grandillo with her boxer mix Tipper

Michelle Fromm, Managing Editor

In all the excitement of inaugurating Dr. Michael Grandillo as Lakeland’s 15th president on Oct. 15, let us not forget his wife of nearly three decades, Mrs. Nancy Grandillo, and all that she has done for Lakeland College.

Mrs. Grandillo said that the inauguration of her husband was designed to be “a celebration of the college…in no way a celebration of our arrival and our presidency.” She recognizes the uniqueness and quality of Lakeland as a college and wants others to appreciate it too.

Mrs. Grandillo is certified by Heidelberg University in Tiffin, Ohio to teach grades one through eight. She did some graduate work at Tiffin University, and also has a degree in communication and theatre arts. About a year ago, Grandillo left her job as a teacher of grades four through six and couldn’t be happier to be here now at Lakeland College.

Upon learning of the opportunity given to Dr. Grandillo to serve as Lakeland’s next president, Mrs. Grandillo says that she and her family “were very ecstatic, really excited.” The timing was also perfect for the Grandillos as their son Vincent had just graduated from college and their daughter Gina was preparing to start at Ohio Northern University.

Mrs. Grandillo admits she hadn’t heard of Lakeland College before her husband’s potential job was on the horizon, but when the time came to make the move, she expected to find a campus similar to what they were leaving behind in regards to Tiffin University, where Dr. Grandillo had worked for the past 17 years. She describes it as “a small, private church-related school with division three sports, an active student body, and an anchored, strong faculty.”

Upon their arrival, Mrs. Grandillo says she and her husband were “pleasantly surprised” at the strength of Lakeland’s faculty. “I think the president’s mission…is to elevate the faculty. The faculty is too good to have so few students on campus,” said Mrs. Grandillo.

The Grandillos were also impressed by the student involvement on campus. “We appreciate that [students] show up for events that are on campus,” said Mrs. Grandillo. “[There are] good crowds at sporting events. It was also a pretty exciting week of Homecoming, with lots of activities that [students] participated in. And that’s what we want; we want [students] to stay on campus on the weekends and enjoy the programming that’s provided.”

Mrs. Grandillo is also excited to be bettering the college in her new position as the first lady. “We have to celebrate Lakeland,” she says. “I don’t try to butt in, but I do try to be helpful, and I have tried to find my own initiatives that will enhance anything that [President Grandillo] is trying to do. …We are here to elevate Lakeland College.”

Dr. Grandillo has indeed found his wife’s support helpful, as evidenced by the way he sang her praises during his inaugural address. “Nancy, I’m deeply indebted to the many roles and many sacrifices you have given,” said Dr. Grandillo in his address, “not only to enhance my life but the institutions where we’ve worked together. …She’s going to make a great first lady, and her deep commitment to the campus community is already evident.”

Indeed, the evidence of this can be found in Mrs. Grandillo’s numerous initiatives. “One of them is a recycling effort,” said Mrs. Grandillo. Her dream is to see everyone on campus recycling items as if it were their second nature.

Another desire of Mrs. Grandillo’s is to see more local food eaten on campus. While the farmers markets that have been held on campus are a step in the right direction, Mrs. Grandillo says, “if we can grow some of our own food, that would be amazing. …[Director of Dining Services] Mark [Wagner] has been very supportive of that.” Could it be that Lakeland’s 150th anniversary will see a hearkening back to the days when the seminary grew nearly all of its food on its own farm?

Lakeland College is and has always been affiliated with the United Church of Christ. Mrs. Grandillo would like to “strengthen and champion the role that the United Church of Christ plays with the college.” What this may look like in the near future is a few meetings between the presidential family and students who belong to the UCC in order for the Grandillos to learn from them how Lakeland can increase the enrollment of UCC students.

To further increase Lakeland’s chances of higher enrollment, Mrs. Grandillo plans to “get to know the [high school] guidance counselors within a 50 mile radius.” She believes that, as it stands now, many are still unaware of the “jewel” that Lakeland is in their community. Mrs. Grandillo hopes that the guidance counselors will channel more students to Lakeland once they understand the quality it has to offer.

One of Mrs. Grandillo’s more whimsical hopes for the campus involves beekeeping, of which has been a hobby of hers for the past four years. She says that beekeeping is still a little unpredictable for her so “we’ll see how it goes” when she starts out with two beehives in the spring.

Mrs. Grandillo is keeping herself busy with these projects for the first year, but is more than willing to take on other tasks as needed.

“If I’m able to help, I’ll certainly jump in,” said Mrs. Grandillo. “I do not have to seek outside employment [at least for the first year], so I really can lend my volunteer services to the college, and I do that very willingly. …It’s all about the school, the students, and student success.”


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