Grand Rapids Community College President Bill Pink welcomed full-time faculty back to campus on Thursday during the Fall Opening Day Celebration at St. Cecilia Music Center.
More than 100 faculty members and the Board of Trustees gathered to hear Pink welcome faculty and staff to the new fall semester, recap some events that occurred over the summer, talk about the new strategic goals and his plan for the college this coming semester and in the future.
Pink noted some of the more memorable moments of the summer including Senator Debbie Stabenow’s visit to GRCC to talk about veterans and useful programs with community leaders, a new preschool playground for GRCC’s Laboratory Preschool and the new safety bollards that were installed by Bostwick Commons.
Among the bigger achievements over the past year, Pink noted, was the establishment of the new strategic goals that will be implemented beginning this coming semester and will run through 2021.
“We took the year, the last year of that strategic planning, to do the work of crafting a new strategic direction of this institution,” Pink said. “And how timely that is in terms of where we are today in 2018 and the… prominent role community college is playing. So from a national perspective and a local perspective the work of what we do here is of vital importance and some could argue more vital than it ever has been because of what you do.”
In June, President Pink and the members of the Board of Trustees presented the five new strategic goals for the 2018-2021 term. A feat that not only included himself and the board but faculty, staff and community members.
“There was a lot of heavy lifting that happened last year around the strategic planning,” Pink said. “But it’s so cool to see that come to fruition and it didn’t come to an end. It turned to the beginning because now we begin into this era of this strategic vision for the institution.”
Pink also introduced faculty to a capital campaign that he hopes will raise $15 million for work around campus. The campaign will raise funds to update the Main Building, a 15-20,000 sq. ft. addition to the Applied Technology Center and scholarships.
“Last year our GRCC Foundation gave away more scholarship dollars than it has in its history,” he said. “We gave away over a million dollars last year.”
The third leg of the capital campaign will be focused on getting more scholarships for students to use while at GRCC. Pink notes that although the GRCC Foundation has been diligent in securing funds for students, there are students who, although are eligible for scholarships, are unable to receive any money because there is not enough to give.
“After giving away over a million dollars we still had somewhere around 300, 400, 500 students that would’ve been eligible for some of those dollars but weren’t able to have some of those dollars because we had run out,” Pink said. “And that was with about 600 to 700 students that we had served, but we still have several hundred that we’ll see being left out. So part of this capital campaign, that third portion of it, is geared toward giving our students more funds to be able to not only get to school but finish school.”
The fall semester will also bring security changes to campus with the addition of the $1.9 million door security system that will enable GRCC police to lock down all doors campus-wide in the event of an emergency. During the installation students, faculty and staff will require new RaiderCards to get into the doors of the campus.
“What we’re in the process of doing… is being able to put this system in place on our doors, some 400 plus doors, on this campus and at the M-TEC that will allow our campus police to be able… to lock this campus down at the touch of a button,” Pink said. “That’s important to us in terms of our security but it will also give us some flexibility in some other regards.”
Awards were handed out to two faculty members and one staff member for excellence in their respective areas. The faculty excellence award was granted to Business Tutorial Lab Coordinator Brian Daily. The adjunct excellence award went to Julie Spahn, adjunct English professor. Rounding out the awards was JaneAnn Benson for the staff excellence award for her work as Director of the Phyllis Fratzke Childhood Learning Laboratory.
Pink closed the ceremony with encouraging words for faculty ahead of the new year about the important work they do with students.
“We take students and it doesn’t matter if they have a 4.0 or an 0.4, it doesn’t matter, come here,” Pink said. “It doesn’t matter the color of their skin, it doesn’t matter their home preference of anything, they are our students and we are in charge to give them a quality education and that means all of us have a piece of that.”