At this year’s commencement, Grand Rapids Community College President Steven Ender will be honored with the GRCC Presidential Emeritus Award.
At their meeting today, the GRCC Board of Trustees surprised Ender with their proposal to honor him with the award, which was unanimously approved.
Ender will retire as president this month, and president-elect Bill Pink starts May 1.
“His time with us will be remembered as a time of skillful fiscal management, $60-plus million dollars of brick and mortar renovation and construction and annual student scholarships pushing over the $1 million mark for the first time,” said board chairperson David Koetje during the meeting.
With about two weeks until the transition, Ender said he’s ready for the next phase in his life.
“I’m a little apprehensive because I’m not sure exactly what that means,” he said, after the meeting. “But I’m kind of eager to find out.”
As he leaves, he said he’s happy with the position the college is in.
“I like where our budget is, I like where our physical plan is, we’re up to date on all our accreditations,” Ender said. “It’s just a very stable platform at the college. I feel like I’ve left this institution at a great spot for the next leader to grow from here.”
At the end of the board meeting, a couple trustees commented on Ender’s performance over the years.
“As a trustee, I’ve seen your work and your commitment and that’s why all of your work was so successful, because of your commitment to this college,” said Trustee Cynthia Bristol.
Trustee Bert Bleke has worked with Ender for the past five years.
“I’ve seen him do a lot of courageous things that have improved the quality of this institution by a tremendous amount,” Bleke said to the board. “And here were are, in the spring of 2017, with an institution that is poised to literally do … well at a very, very uncertain future. I would dare say that the vast majority of community colleges are not in that position.”
At the same time, Pink, dean of workforce development, is preparing to take the reigns as president on May 1.
“Dr. Ender has been awesome in this transition time,” Pink said. “I’ve been spending time with him, from an advice standpoint, from a making introductions to people that I haven’t met before – He’s been doing all that work with me these last several months … I feel like now, approaching May 1, that I am very excited and ready to run.”