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President Ender surprises faculty and staff with Opening Day address six days after surgery


Grand Rapids Community College President Steven Ender unexpectedly arrived to give the traditional Opening Day speech only six days after gallbladder surgery.

Provost Gilda Gely was scheduled to deliver the speech normally given by Ender.

“The school year wouldn’t seem right if I didn’t come to Opening Day,” Ender said.

In his address to faculty and staff, he reviewed major ongoing issues and shared projects and concerns for the coming year.

After mentioning GRCC’s restructuring of values, strategic plans, and framing documents, he noted the failure to pass the bond and his motivation to move on to Plan B.

He mentioned administrators’ ongoing effort to redefine “college” as it relates to dual enrollment and middle college—the ability for students to receive college credit in high school classes— and consider the concern attached, but emphasized that quality of education will not be compromised.

Though Ender hopes to add 39 tenured staff, he said the hiring freeze will remain in effect until budget determinations can be reached.

He also said that GRCC has been chosen for a follow-up site visit Sept. 10-13 regarding its application for the Michigan Quality Award.

“This recognition of a visit distinguishes GRCC as perhaps a model institution,” Ender said. “We should be proud of this accomplishment.”

In closing, he shared his thoughts about taking a day out of his recovery.

Diane Sparks’ family watches as she hugs Provost Gilda Gely after being awarded the Excellence in Education Faculty Award.

“This is opening, and opening is a special day, and it’s important for me to be connected to this institution and all of you, and I really felt like I needed to be here for me,” Ender said.

This year’s Excellence in Education Faculty Award went to Diane Sparks of the Education and Child Development program.

“I’m completely honored and completely amazed,” Sparks said. “It’s a wonderful place to work.”

The Excellence in Education Staff Award went to Michael Kidder of the culinary program.

“It’s great to be recognized by your peers,” Kidder said. “Probably the best recognition you can get.”

To view the entire event, click the link to the YouTube video below.


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