President Bill Pink’s Investiture as the 10th President of Grand Rapids Community...

President Bill Pink’s Investiture as the 10th President of Grand Rapids Community College

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President Bill Pink and his mentor, Natalie Shirley (Oklahoma's Secretary of Education) posed for the camera after the ceremony - Harrison DiCocco

Grand Rapids Community College faculty, staff, and many elected officials and community leaders celebrated Bill Pink’s Investiture as the 10th President of Grand Rapids Community College today at  Fountain Street Church. This afternoon event included remarks from a number of individuals about their first encounters with Pink and the continued partnerships they hope to build on to benefit GRCC students and the community.

State Rep. Winnie Brinks, D-Grand Rapids, was the first person to speak at the Investiture.

“Strong educational institutions that are responsive to the needs of both students and the employees are vital to the success of our state,” Brinks said. “Today I am very pleased to see Dr. Pink become Grand Rapids Community College’s new president. It is clear that he personally invested in seeing the young people of West Michigan succeed and in seeing our community thrive. I know that under his leadership he will continue to make Grand Rapids Community College an excellent and affordable option for both higher education and career and technical training. Education is key to the growth and the reinvention of Michigan and I would like to give my heartfelt thanks to Dr. Pink and Grand Rapids Community College for working to make Michigan a better place to live, learn and play for generations to come.”

Next, Cale Merdzinski, President of GRCC Student Alliance, stepped to the podium to speak on behalf of GRCC students.

“When I first met President Pink, almost immediately I knew he cared about making us, the students, the leaders of tomorrow,” Merdzinski said. . “He motivates our staff and students into action, and he is a educator for leaders across the nation. His expeditious responses to any opposition that faces our students exemplifies the qualities that makes good leadership. He undoubtedly will bring recognition to Grand Rapids Community College for more years to come.”

Grand Rapids Community College has played a huge role in West Michigan for over 100 years. For many in the audience, it was the gateway that got them to where they are now in their lives. This tradition is something Pink plans to uphold.

“I can not list all of the ways in which our staff create a welcoming and affirming campus,” Provost Laurie Chesley said. “Dr. Pink having served as Vice President and Dean of Workforce Development here at GRCC you know what is in the heart of this staff and what we are capable of accomplishing. On this day of your formal Investiture we also want you to know that we recognize that you, a leader of integrity, that we remain committed to serve and that with the eyes of the community upon us, we stand ready to support you and your vision for this great institution and its students.”

Grand Valley State University President Thomas J. Haas was the last person to give remarks about Pink and his accomplishment and noted that the relationship between Grand Valley and GRCC will remain strong.

“As President at Grand Valley State University, I know how critical our partnership is with Grand Rapids Community College,” Haas said.“Bill we depend on each other, our two institutions are a team, we know that Dr. Pink knows how to work hard, how to motivate, and how to be successful to make outcomes that are necessary for student success. He is a leader with vision and I stand here today recognizing our local higher education committee to congratulate you and Grand Rapids Community College for this achievement. We will all remain your steadfast partner, on a joint educational mission of creating and delivering the talents needed for our future.”

Next, Kathryn Mullins, GRCC’s Vice President for College Advancement, presented Pink with an Investiture Grant worth $1,000 to go to the school’s food pantry.

President Pink then went on to receive his Presidential Medallion by Board of Trustee Chairman, David Koetje. After receiving his Medallion, Pink was introduced to the podium for his speech by Ellen James, founding member of the Board of Trustees.

Before he began his speech Pink spent more than 10 minutes thanking a long list of people who he credited with helping him along the way.

“I wouldn’t have been able to have done this without my family,” said an emotional Pink. He went on to acknowledge the two most important people in his life, his mother and father. Pink’s parents passed away and he left two seats reserved in their honor. “But I also realize that there are two chairs that are empty, those were for my mother and father, who I know aren’t here right now but they’re here in spirit and those chairs are for them. I’m appreciative of them and I am appreciative of all of you.”

After his opening acknowledgements, Pink went on to begin his speech.

“Making sure that GRCC stays relevant to our students is the most important thing,” Pink stated during his speech. “We also want to stay relevant to each other, relevant and responsive. What each other means, proving to each other that I am here for you, it’s what family is all about, it is why I talk about the GRCC family. By you all being here today you are a part of the GRCC family, you are all a part of this journey we are on right now, that’s what relevant and responsive is all about when it comes to each other. That we are all here for each other in a relevant and a responsive manner.”

President ended his remarks with a quote by John F. Kennedy.

The gardener objective was that the tree was slow growing and would not reach maturity for 100 years, the marshal replied in that case there’s no time to lose, plant it this afternoon. Therefore a world of knowledge, a world of cooperation, a just and last in peace might be years away but we have no time to lose, let us plant our tree this afternoon.”

Pink went to paraphrase the quote and related the same message for the GRCC community.

“Today in a world of cooperation, a world of sensible discourse, a world of complete stability across different races, ethnic and cultural minds, a world of peace, GRCC family we have no time to lose, let’s plant our tree this afternoon.”

The crowd stood up and gave President Pink a loud applause as he walked off the podium. Following the Investiture President Pink reflected on what this day meant to him.

“It is inspiring to be in this official capacity as the leader of this college because there’s so much this college has to offer and the potential of offering more,” Pink said. “It’s amazing to be the president.It’s also an honor to get to work with the people I get to work with, everyone has been so embracing with me being their leader. It’s honoring, it’s humbling and really cool.”

Those close to Pink are not surprised by his success. This includes his mentor from when he was at Oklahoma State University.

“We would sit in my office and plan how we was going to help the next generation of students every day and every night,” said Natalie Shirley, President of Oklahoma State University, Secretary of Education for the state Oklahoma.“I never doubted for a moment that this is where he would be because he is just an extraordinary individual.”

Pink elaborated on what being the President means to him and what it would mean for his parents.

“To be able to be in this position and to be able to have had this as a career long goal, it’s overwhelming,” he said. “It’s such a honor because when you are able to reach your goals, it’s comes with a lot of responsibility but it’s such an honor.”

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