Grand Rapids Community College President Steven Ender updated the full-time faculty and staff on construction, dropping enrollment, changes in the Board of Trustees and plans for the GRCC’s centennial year in his yearly convocation speech.
“There has been a tremendous amount of rebuilding going on across the campus this summer”, Ender continued, updating the faculty on the recent construction. College Park Plaza, the 4th and 5th floors of Cook Academic Hall, and most of the 2nd floor of the Main Building are all slated to be finished by the time classes start on Monday.
“Our institution is becoming modernized, energy efficient, and safe”. Ender said.
Work around the campus will continue throughout the academic year to complete all $43 million in planned projects by the end of summer 2015.
“Just in time to celebrate our centennial year, and hopefully kick off a complete renovation of our music building and the construction of a new early childhood and preschool teaching-learning laboratory” Ender said.
Enrollment and recruiting were also featured in Ender’s speech, as he encouraged each faculty member to represent and promote GRCC to the community.
“This is important to remember as we start this semester with enrollment numbers a little lower than we anticipated when preparing our budget for this year”, he said, “We had actually prepared for a 3 percent drop in enrollment it looks like we’re going to be [down] 4.5 to 5 percent”.
Ender believes there are a few factors influencing this number, including a drop in high school graduation rates, the improving economy sending people back to work, and few students abusing the financial aid system.
“Fewer students are enrolling at our college just to pick up a financial aid refund check”, he said.
A delayed disbursement schedule for financial aid refunds was implemented last year.
“As a result of the faculty’s commitment and our effort to document student attendance we reduced our bad debt… by $350,000”, Ender reported.
Ender also introduced new Board of Trustees member Deb Bailey, who was sworn in at August’s board meeting to replace Terri Handlin, who announced her resignation in May.
“In a 22 year history of board service, she has been a significant presence”, Ender said of Handlin.
Ender announced that the HVAC, automotive technology, preschool, culinary arts, dental assisting, dental hygiene and police academy programs all received extensions of their accreditation during the last year.
“Additionally, our medical assistant program received initial approval by the commission on accreditation of allied health professionals,” Ender said, “This recognition means that our students in this program are now eligible to take both the Registered Medical Assistant Certificate Exam, and the Certified Medical Assistant Exam”.
Ender announced several plans for the 2014-2015 academic year as well.
“The concept is to celebrate students, faculty, and staff of the past and today,” he said.
An anniversary book is being written by retired GRCC English professor Walter Lockwood.
“In fact, or history is so rich and our position so pivotal, I’m hoping that the commencement in 2015 might even host the President of the United States”, Ender announced. An invitation to GRCC’s centennial commencement has been extended to President Barack Obama.
The Excellence in Education Award was also presented to Judy Jankowski and Nancy Guigue. Check back for the full story.