Grand Rapids Community College presidential finalist L.Joy Gates-Black took some time Tuesday morning to field questions from the student body at the Applied Technology Center.
The Q & A was hosted by Student Alliance and gave students the opportunity to ask Gates-Black questions by writing down their thoughts on a notecard. Gates-Black talked about what inspired her to come to the college, as well as how she wants to create outlets for students to become engaged and successful.
“I believe in communication and collaboration,” Gates-Black said.
Gates-Black said that one of the main things that drew her to GRCC is the number of different pathways that are available to students, no matter their goal.
“There’s lots of innovation at this college,” Gates-Black said. “You have to be the kind of institution today that can be flexible and adapt to the needs of your students, and your business community.”
When asked about a short term project that would affect the student body long term, Gates-Black touched on the topic of supplemental instruction, or SI, which is a form peer assisted tutoring.
“I have worked with SI at three or four institutions and so I know the huge benefit it can have on the success of retention and completion,” Gates-Black said.
Gates-Black also stressed the importance of building relationships with the students, staff, and faculty members. She believes that it is also important to make students feel “that you’re accessible and can engage with them at any time.” She added that to her, it is crucial to get student input on the future of the college. If selected, she plans to help GRCC strive for a higher rating, in both academic success and enrollment.
The session then moved on to give the student body the opportunity to ask the presidential finalist some questions. Students asked questions from a range of different categories, from how to help older students make the transition back to college, to non-academic clubs, and more.
“Everyone is a part of this community and is entitled to attend this college,” Gates-Black said.
When asked about non-academic clubs, such as the student gamers or anime clubs, she said that there is no club that she values over another. She believes that all clubs give students an opportunity to be engaged.
Gates-Black went on to discuss her goals if she is selected as president, and how she plans to create the best learning environment for all students.
She added that she’s grateful that the student body is so interested in who will become the next GRCC president.
“(The students) asked some really important questions,” Gates-Black said after meeting with students. “You can tell that they’ve given a lot of thought to this process, and I’m really glad that they’re involved.”
Gates-Black spent about half of the session answering students’ questions, and some students were satisfied with the responses they were given, while others wished they could’ve received a more in-depth or personal response to their particular question.
“I enjoyed it, she had a lot of good things to say,” said Cynthia Browne, 47, from Grand Rapids. “But I also think at the same time a lot of things weren’t addressed. But I think she did a great job.”
Kendra Preston, 20, from Kent City, added that she wished the Q & A hadn’t used notecards, and that she wanted to address Gates-Black directly..
“I would’ve liked to address her firsthand, and not on a notecard, only because it’s a little less impersonal,” Preston said. “I don’t know exactly how much she knows about particular aspects of (the topic) I was going to ask about.”
While it was mostly students who were at this session, GRCC Trustees Rick Verburg and Cynthia Bristol were also in attendance.
Bristol said that in order to cast a vote to select the next GRCC president, it’s important that they, as trustees, look for what makes each finalist stand out.
“We’re trying to listen very carefully to each one and find something that really makes each person unique,” Bristol said.
“It’s a big decision,” Verburg added.
There are three finalists competing for this position. GRCC’s Vice President and Dean for Workforce Development, Bill Pink, spoke yesterday to students and staff alike in public interviews as well.
There is one more applicant visiting campus this week: Vice President of Academic Affairs at Mott Community College, Amy Fugate. Fugate will have her interview Wednesday, Nov. 16.