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GRCC Provost Laurie Chesley tries podcasting to connect with faculty and students

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Provost Laurie Chesley, in the sound booth recording “The GRCC Provost Podcast.” Photo by Jonathan D. Lopez
Provost Laurie Chesley, in the sound booth recording “The GRCC Provost Podcast.” Photo by Jonathan D. Lopez

By Sean P. Mulhall – Editor-in-Chief

Grand Rapids Community College has entered the 21st century with the brand new “GRCC Provost Podcast,” hosted by Provost Laurie Chesley.

Chesley admits in the first teaser episode that not too long ago she had never even heard of podcasts.

“I didn’t know what a podcast was,” Chesley said. “I actually thought it was something like a YouTube video.”

To figure it out she phoned her former colleague and replacement as Assistant Dean of Arts and Sciences, Mike Vargo, who has a cameo appearance in the teaser.

“I called him up and I said, ‘What’s a podcast?’” Chesley said. “It’s absolutely the way it happened.”

It was during her time interviewing for the position, and talking to faculty and staff, that the idea of starting the podcast first formed.

“I tried in Arts and Sciences, the concept of a newsletter and the previous provost, Provost Gely, used her website and a blog to communicate,” Chesley said. “I …want to maintain the provost website and communicate periodically via email, but I also wanted to try something new.

“A number of people talked to me about the importance of communication … Which is particularly difficult in a large, complex organization like GRCC.”

Humor is one way Chesley will try to establish a strong following, whether that humor is intended or not.

“I’m trying to be funny,” Chesley said, laughing. “I’m trying. It’s not always funny, but certainly I mean for it to be lighthearted, while still conveying information that’s important. There are some kind of dry parts, but I’m trying to inject humor. (The producer) Noah (DeSmit) definitely helps me to make it humorous by doing special effects.”

Chesley used to greet people on campus or via email with the phrase, “greetings persons of quality.” Now it has become the opening line of her podcast.

“My husband used it first,” Chesley said. “He teaches English at Aquinas College and when he started teaching, he greeted every class, and still does, with, ‘greetings persons of quality.’ When I started teaching, I did the same, because I liked it, so I shamelessly copied him … I think it’s a nice way to say to audiences that I think they’re special.”

With one full podcast, featuring an interview with Eric Mullen, Associate Dean of Enrollment Management and Financial Aid at GRCC, already released, the future is undecided. As for a schedule, prospective interviewees or the idea of bringing back Vargo as a recurring guest, Chesley has decided to let whatever happens, happen.

“(Vargo) might be (a recurring guest),” Chesley said. “I will tell you that in the second podcast I have another I-didn’t-know-something-so-I-called-someone moment. I think there will be some recurring motifs … and one of them might be the phone-call-because-I-don’t-know-something.

“I don’t have a regular schedule … I don’t even know if I’ll keep a regular schedule. I want to make sure I have some things to say … I sort of work on a rough outline … I’m already thinking about things for the next podcast … I’m really new at it.”

To listen to Chesley’s podcast, click here.