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GRCC names scholarship after late board member

(courtesy photo)

By Allie Ouendag

The Grand Rapids Community College Foundation will be endowing a scholarship in honor of the late Deb Bailey, a prominent leader both at GRCC and in the greater West Michigan community.

Funding for the scholarship will come from public fundraising by the GRCC Foundation. The minimum amount to endow a scholarship is $25,000. and This new scholarship is expected to go into effect around the Fall 2021 semester. Specific criteria for receiving the scholarship has not yet been established by the Bailey family. 

Bailey was an alumni of GRCC and continued her education, earning a bachelor’s degree from Western Michigan University along with a master’s in counseling and a master’s in management from Aquinas College. 

As a breast cancer survivor, Bailey helped start Gilda’s Club of Grand Rapids and has won numerous awards for her community action projects, including the first recipient of West Michigan Women’s Valiant Victor Award, the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce Athena Award, and Aquinas’ Outstanding Alumni Award. She was also named one of the 25 Most Influential Women in West Michigan by the Grand Rapids Business Journal. 

Bailey was known for her devotion to public service and education for all students regardless of race or income level.  

“Personally, I am a product of public institutions,” she said during her 2015 trustee campaign. “I neither had the grades nor the financial support to go directly to another institution. I know the important need GRCC fills for students financially, as well as personally and academically.”

Bailey served on multiple boards and committees during her 19 years at Steelcase Inc. where she was director of corporate relations, including: Saint Mary’s Foundation, Hospice of Michigan, Junior League of Grand Rapids, and the governing board of Aquinas College. During her seven years on GRCC’s Board of Trustees, Bailey served as vice chairperson as well as co-chaired the GRCC Foundation’s “A Broader Vision” Campaign. 

“The impact that Deb Bailey had on this entire community was that she was always looking for equity,” said Kathryn Mullins, Vice President of College Advancement and Executive Director of the GRCC Foundation.“She understood that to create that equity, education has to happen and education is something that once you have it, no one can take from you. It is the equity equalizer.”