By Sabrina Edwards
The Grand Rapids Community College Board of Trustees met virtually Monday, Sept. 21 to discuss monitoring reports, receive updates, and to vote on action items presented during the meeting.
Lisa Freiburger, Vice President for Finance and Administration, presented the Local Strategic Value Resolution, this is an annual requirement to show how community colleges provide value to the communities they serve. This is tied to 5% of any new state funding the college may receive.
“While new funding is unlikely this year it is still to the best of our knowledge a requirement,” said Freiburger. “It does a nice job of demonstrating how we provide local strategic value in each category that the state has outlined for us. The requirement is to meet four out of five in all three categories. I think this resolution nicely shows how we go above and beyond that, and provides some good information for our community about what we’re doing for both our students and our community at large.”
Trustee Kathy Crosby made the motion to pass the resolution and was supported by Trustee Daniel Williams. The motion was then passed.
Cathy Kubiak was introduced next to speak about three different topics, workforce staff powerpoint, the Personnel Assessment of the College Environment (PACE) survey, and the Executive Limitations Treatment of People monitoring report.
Kubiak started with GRCC’s workforce statistics, which do not include students or adjunct employees. As of Nov. 1, 2019, GRCC had 645 total employees, 51.8% of those being female as well as 21.7% of the total staff being people of color. Kubiak also highlighted the increase of the minority student population from 26.3% in 2015 to 32% in 2019. While the hire rate of people of color is 4% above the rate of those leaving, Kubiak mentioned that it is important to create a diverse campus and that GRCC wants to do a better job of hiring and retaining people of color.
PACE is an employee survey, that is given out every two years, organized into four categories, institutional structure, student focus, supervisory relationships, and teamwork. The top voted answers were “the extent to which I feel my job is relevant to this institution’s mission” and “the extent to which students receive an excellent education at this institution.” The lowest rated answers were “the extent to which I am able to appropriately influence the direction of this institution” and “the extent to which my work is guided by clearly defined administrative process.” This data is gathered in an attempt to improve the lowest voted items.
Freiburger gave a finance update, GRCC went through with the refunding of bonds and generated a savings of $1.6 million with a large amount, approximately $800,000, of that being frontloaded to this fiscal year. Enrollment is currently down about 5.2% from the projected numbers, that will reduce the tuition predicted by approximately $960,000 for fall 2020. However, there is a 15% decline incorporated into the budget so GRCC will still come out positive.
President of Student Alliance, Inayah Hakeem, gave updates on what Student Alliance is currently doing. Student Alliance has been hosting “Real Talks” on topics that might not be discussed openly, or talked about enough. Their next event will be on student involvement and how to be an active member on campus. Student Alliance is working to educate students on views that may be different than their own.
Lisa Dopke gave an update on the annual grant reports. GRCC was awarded $5.4 million in the 2019-2020 school year through 24 different awards and submitted 36 proposals. Dopke is working on the Lakeshore campus to get new sponsors through the new campus. The Grants Department also was able to get $7 million through the U.S. Department of Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund.
President Bill Pink gave an announcement commending faculty at GRCC for stepping up during a difficult school year. Pink mentioned the Future for Frontliners program, and how he is pushing for the GRCC community to be at the forefront of that. This semester is also the launch of the Promise Zone, and there are approximately 250 students currently enrolled. Pink believes that GRCC will see those numbers rise in the coming semesters.
President of the Faculty Association, Frank Conner, gave an update as well. The GRCC faculty, on Sept. 4, decided to join the movement against social injustices. Trustee Sheryl Siegel poised the question of how this decision will impact the police academy at GRCC.
“I think they would nod their head,” said Conner. “I think they are fine people who have an intention of making the world a better place and understanding the broad role of what criminal justice means, of what being a police officer means.”
The next board meeting will be held on Oct. 19 at 4:15 p.m.