Grand Rapids Community College’s Board of Trustees held their second meeting of 2019 on Monday afternoon and swore in its two newest members, Kathy Crosby and Sheryl Siegel.
Chief 63rd District Court Judge Sara J. Smolenski swore in Crosby and Siegel to GRCC’s Board of Trustees, but before doing so, she said a few words to the new members of the board.
“As an alumna of this great college… it just gives me such pride to be able to be here and swear you both in,” Smolenski said. “The fact that you’re here and willing to commit so much time and energy to this, what a wonderful opportunity for you to have an impact in a lot of people’s lives – mostly these young students who are the leaders of our tomorrow.”
Smolenski concluded each declaration by having both Crosby and Siegel shout “Go Raiders!” along with her, showing their Raider pride.
After being sworn in, Crosby shared her appreciation for those who helped her during her campaign.
“I do want to say thank you,” Crosby said. “I know it takes a lot of people supporting somebody who decided to run for office. It’s not a single-person effort at all. And for every person who voted for me, who took a sign in their yard, who sent out a letter, who encouraged me or helped me decide to run, a special thanks.”
Siegel also shared what the win and the position on the board means to her now that she has officially been sworn in to the Board of Trustees.
“There aren’t words to express the honor that this is,” Siegel said. “A friend of mine said to me, ‘Sheryl, what else would you like to do in life?’ I said this is the pinnacle for me… When you talk about family, these are faculty that have a service heart… I’ve never been, and I’ve been in a lot of academic settings, as cohesive, as passion oriented and as caring about its students as this institution. It is indeed an honor.”
Faculty Association president Frank Connor welcomed the board’s newest members during his faculty association update and shared what his hopes are for them and the faculty at GRCC in the future.
“What my charge to you is to take some time to get to know the faculty,” Connor said. “I recognize your positions (put) some constraints on what you can and can’t do… But one of the things that I’ve enjoyed as being the new faculty association president, although I’m now in my third year, is that I’ve gotten the opportunity to go visit some faculty that are outside of my sphere… Having time to be invited in to talking to the culinary folks or the technology folks or the welders, that these faculty are so excited about what they do. They’re so excited about the impact they’re having on students. They want to share the work, the impact. They want people like you to know what they’re doing.”
After the meeting ended, Crosby spoke to The Collegiate about how she felt after being sworn in and what she hopes to accomplish during her time as a trustee.
“I’m delighted,” Crosby said. “There’s a learning curve here. These meetings are going to take a while for me to appreciate the college’s culture and all of the information cycles that happen here. But I think my years of serving on nonprofit boards will serve me well here and I’m really excited to contribute in any way I can.”
She hopes to bring to the table her experience in business and workforce development to serve GRCC and its students the best way she can.
“The community college system keeps moving closer and closer to center of all education for our country and economic development,” Crosby said. “We want more children to have all the community college offers and our businesses want that as well. My whole career has been in workforce development, so I hope my relationship with business, the fact that I ran a social enterprise, my passion for learning, being a community college graduate myself, that I can bring experience to the table to help us throw in our efficiency and effectiveness.”
Siegel also shared what her feelings were like after attending her first meeting as a sworn in member of the board.
“I have a lot of catching up to do and I’m anxious, and have the luxury of time, to be able to read and process and talk to folks,” Siegel said. “I loved how Frank, the head of the faculty, talked about talking to faculty and hearing how enthusiastic they are about their discipline and the students. I can’t wait to do that.”
She also shared her feelings about having the campaign and the recounts that followed behind her now that the dust has settled.
“It’s been extremely distressing knowing that the college is on hold to some degree until another person is seated,” she said. “I was very distressed for Carlos and his family and certainly for myself. What a gracious man and a beloved man on the board. I’m trying to fill big shoes with Dick Stewart’s position, but it was a no-win situation emotionally.”