By Sean P. Mulhall Editor-In-Chief
Grand Rapids Community College kicked off its 100th anniversary celebration at last week’s convocation.
Full-time faculty and staff members got out their caps and gowns for festivities that were held at Fountain Street Church. Master and Mistress of Ceremonies, Steve Abid and Laurie Foster, got the program started with a moment of silence following the National Anthem, led by Music Department Head and Program Director Kevin Dobreff.
The two key speakers were GRCC President Steven Ender and former GRCC Provost Gilda Gely. Ender spoke first and decided it would be poignant to sing “Happy Birthday” to the college, even though the school’s birthday is not until Oct. 14. Ender called on Victoria Janowiak, Executive Director of Operational Planning, to lead the chorus in an awkward rendition of “Happy Birthday.”
“We’re currently searching for a new provost,” Ender said. “I want to say thanks to Patti [Trepkowski] and David [Anderson] for their help in the interim period.”
Patti Trepkowski, the interim Provost, led the procession in to Fountain Street Church, but Gilda Gely, who is the new Provost of GRCC’s sister college, Aquinas College, spoke after Ender. The native of Puerto Rico delivered a moving speech about the legacy of her former institution.
“How many epic storytellers would it take to tell the story of this college?” Gely asked. “How many muses are involved in the recounting of the many adventures of the community of Grand Rapids, in the course of 100 years?… How rich is the history of those of us in this room today?”
Gely went on to liken the story of GRCC to Homer’s odyssey and challenged those in attendance to contemplate their experience at GRCC and reflect on the many stories that will be told in the future.
Before the service was over, awards for Excellence in Education were awarded to Tom Neils and Mary Kay Bethune. Snacks and beverages followed the service on the Juan R. Olivarez Student Plaza.
The entire faculty and staff met back there at 3 p.m. for a group photo and an open bar mixer immediately followed in the Applied Technology Center.