Home Featured News New Board Member Sworn In At August’s Board Meeting

New Board Member Sworn In At August’s Board Meeting


Grand Rapids Community College’s newest board member, Deb Bailey, was sworn in by 63rd District Chief Judge and GRCC graduate Sara Smolenski at the August board meeting Monday evening.“We’re both Raiders, we both have a love of this great college”, Smolenski said before the ceremony.
“I have large shoes to fill”, Bailey said, adding, “I’m confident with the support of the board members, president, faculty, staff and students, we will be able to do much good together.”

Bailey replaces Terri Handlin, who announced her resignation in May 2013. With previous experience serving on the boards of both Aquinas College and Western Michigan University, as well as various management positions at Haworth, Herman Miller and Steelcase, Bailey brings a wealth of knowledge to GRCC.

Handlin, who served on the 1991 founding Board of Trustees, was repeatedly re-elected and served in various capacities, including treasurer and secretary of the board.

Smolenski swears in Bailey
Smolenski swears in Bailey

“No matter what kind of arguments we had”, said Gary Schenk, former Board of Trustees member and Chair, “I never forgot the beacon that Terri presented to her unwavering commitment to this community, and this community’s college, and the students here”.

The Board of Trustees also voted to rename the Bostwick Commons the Dr. Juan R. Olivarez Student Plaza. Olivarez served as President of GRCC from 1999 through 2008, and now serves as the president of Aquinas College.

“My entire career has been focused on students, so to have my name on this outdoor space, where students congregate, is personally significant”, Oliverez stated in a news release.

“I enjoyed my work with Juan the 10 years he was at the college… he’s very deserving of this”, said Secretary of the Board Olivia Margo Anderson.

The motion passed unanimously, with Trustees Richard Ryskamp, who joined the Board in 2009, and Richard Stewart, who was elected in 2011, abstaining.

“I haven’t heard input from anyone other than the committee that would like to rename, and you on the board,” Ryskamp said, citing a policy on renaming that requires them to determine the degree of support from the internal and external community, “I don’t think we have done our due diligence”.

The cost of the renaming is going to be covered by the committee that presented and pushed for the renaming.

Gilda Gely, Provost of Academic and Student Affairs, presented the results of the 2013 Community College Survey of Student Engagement, a tool GRCC uses to gauge student involvement and satisfaction with the college. GRCC students from randomly selected classes took a multiple page survey during the winter 2013 semester, and the results were combined into five categories: Active and Collaborative Learning, Student Effort, Academic Challenge, Student-Faculty Interaction and Support for Learners.

Last time the survey was given, in 2011, GRCC’s scores did not meet national benchmarks and lowered in all five categories. In 2013, GRCC showed slight improvement in Student-Faculty Interaction, and no change in Support for Learners. GRCC’s lowest score is in Student Effort.

“The results from full-time students only, put us actually above benchmark in two areas,” reported Gely, adding, “We do need to find out what we need to do different for our part-time students”.

Part-time students make up about 68% of the enrollment at GRCC, and it effects the bottom line. During President Steven Ender’s enrollment update, he said current headcount is down 4.6%, and that being 6.1% down in billing units points to a growing part-time student population as well.

“We have no real budget concerns… our Vice President of Finance(Lisa Freiburger) wisely set up a budget stabilization fund to handle these kind of issues”, Ender said.
Final enrollment numbers will be tallied September 5.

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