Grand Rapids Community College announced Thursday that the college has named Brian Knetl as its next provost.
Knetl has been serving as the interim Provost at Harper College in Palatine, Illinois. Prior to this role, he served as Associate Provost for Academic Affairs, Dean of Liberal Arts, and Founding Associate Dean of the Center for Adjunct Faculty Engagement at Harper. He replaces Laurie Chesley, who became president of Central Oregon Community College in Bend, Oregon.
He beat out current GRCC Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences Michael Vargo, Marygrove College Vice President for Academic Affairs and Chief Academic Officer Jacqueline El-Sayed, and Heritage University Vice President for Academic Affairs Laurie Fathe for the position.
Knetl was not immediately available for an interview, but expressed enthusiasm when he spoke to GRCC faculty and staff during his July 17 presentation.
“I really talk a lot about what I think is the most underestimated characteristic of an administrator, and that’s humility,” Knetl said. “To really bring a level of humility to your leadership style, meaning ‘I know what I know, and I feel confident about what I know and I have my strong opinions, but I’m also hoping I’m not always the smartest one in the room, that I’m not always the one with the best ideas in the room, and that other people can contribute and make my ideas better.’”
GRCC President Bill Pink explained in a press release why Knetl was chosen for the position.
“Dr. Knetl is a leader, and someone who will be a strong advocate for GRCC students and faculty,” Pink said. “His experience perfectly aligns with our goals of reaching out to our entire community so students of all ages have access to a strong education, and support to help them be successful. He is energetic and enthusiastic, and I’m looking forward to him being a part of the GRCC family.”
Pink then explained in an email to The Collegiate what ultimately led to the decision to choose Knetl over the other three candidates.
“Dr. Knetl has a great history of administrative experience, coupled with a great regional and national perspective of best practices in community colleges,” Pink said. “He was the choice amid a great field of candidates.”
Pink also described what he thinks Knetl brings to GRCC.
“Dr. Knetl brings a national perspective along with admin experience from another high performing community college,” Pink said. “This, along with other pieces he brings to the position will serve him, and us, very well.”
Pink also said he “has already heard positive comments from various people on campus about the announcement.”
“I think that those will continue to come as more people get to know him,” Pink said.
GRCC Faculty Association President Frank Conner explained what he thought Knetl will bring to the college in an email to The Collegiate.
“Dr. Knetl is a dynamic, student focused leader from a college similar in scope to GRCC.” Conner said. “He will continue to place GRCC in the national limelight, highlighting and expanding upon the good work of this institution. The faculty expect him to be an advocate for academics, collaborative, communicative, and resolute in his decision making.”
Knetl also served as Assistant Dean and Director of Academic Arts at Moraine Valley Community College in Illinois. Before making the jump to administration, Knetl served as a full-time faculty member for seven years in the Theater Arts department at St. Mary’s University in Winona, Minnesota, where he directed university productions and taught courses in text analysis, dramatic theory, theater history, and directing. For two years, Knetl served as Chair of the Theater Arts department. He has a B.A. is theater from St. Mary’s University, an M.A. is theater from Texas State University, and an E.D.D. is curriculum and instruction from Loyola University-Chicago.
Check back with The Collegiate for more updates to this story.
Editor’s Note: This story was updated once again on Friday, Aug. 9 at 8:03 p.m. to include comments that GRCC President Bill Pink made in an email to The Collegiate.