By Jacquelyn Zeman – Chief Web Editor
On March 23 Grand Rapids Community College will be welcoming the first official vice president and dean for workforce development. Bill Pink, vice president for academic affairs at Oklahoma State University will be stepping into the role.
Pink will be serving in a new leadership role that was created during the search for the new provost, a position that is now occupied by Laurie Chesley.
“He has responsibility for all the credit and non credit, customized training, job training programs…all the people of those programs will report to Dr. Pink,” GRCC President Steven Ender said.
Pink said he believes the position he is taking on is necessary for helping with Michigan’s workforce.
“I see this position as being a very fun, yet important role to the business industry sectors of West Michigan,” Pink said. “In making sure that as a higher education institution that we are doing our job to provide…relevant training and relevant academic programs.”
He said it is about doing what is best for the Grand Rapids community and looking into the future.
“We not only need to be focused on what those workforce needs are,” Pink said. “But that means we need to be focused on our students, and make sure that those students are prepared.”
Pink said the original position he applied for, the provost, was brought to his attention by some friends of his in Oklahoma City.
“I was very impressed with what I saw in terms of what the college has already accomplished in the last 100 years…a lot of that raised my curiosity,” Pink said.
Pink said his first plan once he starts his work at GRCC is to learn as much as he can about the workforce development program.
“Job one is making sure I can learn as much as I can, and not only about GRCC, but also about Grand Rapids and West Michigan, in terms of workforce needs,” Pink said. “Making sure I am as fully informed about our academic programs in the school of workforce development….I think it is highly important to spend time with faculty, and learning more about those programs…you also spend time with students to see what (the) student voice is saying.”
Pink earned his associate’s degree from York College in Nebraska, a bachelor’s degree from Oklahoma Christian University, a master’s degree from University of Central Oklahoma and doctorate from the University of Oklahoma.
Pink said he has taught at least one class each academic school year, even while being on administration. He plans to continue to do this even as he transitions to a new position at GRCC.
“I started my career as a faculty member…teaching to me is of high importance,” Pink said. “We as administrators can do all we want to in terms of how we lead, but if we do not have a good grasp on what its like in the classroom, we are shooting at a target that we are not familiar enough with.”
Pink also plans to implement a program that he tested in Oklahoma, a program in which the institution would bring students to campus in late elementary school and early middle school to inspire them to attend college later in life.
UPDATE 2/13/15: While Pink does plan on implementing similar college visit programs at GRCC, he did not create those programs at OSU.