By Jacquelyn Zeman – Managing/News Editor
The current dean of Grand Rapids Community College’s School of Arts and Sciences, Laurie Chesley, has accepted the position of the college’s new provost.
“It seems a little bit unreal to me, and it is exciting,” Chesley said. “I feel a great sense of responsibility in this role. It is an important role (and) it is a great institution. Right now I just feel a strong sense of responsibility to do well and to serve the faculty, staff, and students.”
Chesley was one of three finalists selected for the position, and was GRCC’s only internal candidate. The provost serves as the executive vice president for academic and student affairs, and reports directly to the president. She will act as a guide to all aspects of teaching and learning in support of student success at GRCC.
“I know it is going to be a really hard job,” Chesley said. “I am eager for the challenge… I am really looking forward to getting to see an even broader scope of the work we do at the college. I love to learn new things.”
GRCC’s President Steven Ender was pleased to make the announcement public.
“At the end of the day after revealing the finalists…it was clear to me that Dr. Chesley was the right person to lead our academic and student affairs program,” Ender said.
Chesley has 14 years of leadership experience in higher education, and she has served in her current position at GRCC since 2010.
AGB Search was hired to help GRCC select a new provost when the position was opened in May when Gilda Gely became Aquinas College’s provost.
Patti Trepkowski, GRCC’s associate provost and dean of instructional support and interdisciplinary studies, has been filling the provost position on an interim basis. She will return to her previous position in January.
Chesley said while she definitely has some plans she would like to adopt into the student success system at GRCC, she understands it will take a little while before she can make all the changes she would like to.
“In my first semester in this position I want to start the conversation with campus stakeholders about those ideas, about what that looks like, and how they see those things unfolding,” Chesley said.
In addition to selecting Chesley for provost, Ender also asked Bill Pink, another provost search finalist, to take on a vice presidential position at GRCC that will be working with economic development and workforce training. Pink’s official title is yet to be determined.
“It is my expectation that he is going to have great leadership,” Ender said. “Linking our workforce program…which will lead students directly to a job in their region.”