By Sean Chase
During the most recent Grand Rapids Community College Board of Trustee meeting on Monday, May 17, it was announced that enrollment in the 2021 summer semester is up 20% from this time last year.
As of May 17, 6,245 were enrolled in summer classes at GRCC, which is up from 5,732 at this time last year, as the COVID-19 pandemic raged on. While an increase in enrollment was expected, the current enrollment rate is also up from the pre-pandemic summer enrollment rate of 6,102, in 2019.
“From my vantage point, I believe that many, many students are excited to get back into class,” said Lisa Freiburger, GRCC’s Vice President for Finance and Administration, when asked about what caused the increase in enrollment. “I also think there is quite a bit of what we would call ‘guest enrollment.’ So students that are potentially attending four-year institutions are coming back and taking classes with GRCC in the summer.”
Dave Murray, GRCC’s communications director, attributed the summer enrollment increase to a variety of recently created avenues for individuals to continue their education, including the Future for Frontliners, Michigan Reconnect scholarship, and the Grand Rapids Promise Zone scholarships. No matter what this increase is a result of, it directly impacted tuition revenue, which exceeded the budget discussed on May 3, by $1,393,165.
After Freiburger briefed the board on the increase in enrollment, she touched on the recently released Michigan House of Representatives proposed budget regarding potential changes to the way our government allocates funds to educational institutions.
“Right now, the way the state allocates resources, a lot of it is done based on what an institution, such as the community college, received from the state the year before, and because that’s been going on for quite some time, a lot of the allocation is skewed,” Freiburger said. “As an example, Grand Rapids Community College receives approximately $19 million from the state for operating revenue. Where Lansing Community College, which is very similar in size and geographically located institution, receives almost $33 million. So they’re very different and the cause of that is a lot of ‘you get what you got last year’ with a slight increase based on a performance metric. So in my mind, what we have in large part, is a very inequitable allocation where Grand Rapids Community College gets the short end of the stick, so to speak.”
Freiburger said this inequity could soon be changing in favor of GRCC’s campus community, but cautioned members to contain their excitement, as we are in the early stages of the state budget approval process.
“What the House has proposed is to start to change that,” Freiburger said. “So that they would start to reallocate resources based on student count, FYES, fiscal year equated students, is a methodology to try to equate numbers of students across institutions. And that in my opinion, my opinion only, would help to bring some equity into the allocation method.”
In other news, The Board of Trustees voted to approve the terms of a three-year contract for the College Employee Benefits Association (CEBA).
The board also approved multiple purchases over $100,00, approving $101,274 to provide video hosting on Blackboard, $148,367.52 to add classroom chairs to the Calkins Science Building, $1,098,495 for installation of a campus-wide air filtration system and $1,046,627.13 to install single station furniture for classrooms.
No reports were made by representatives of the Faculty Association or Student Alliance and GRCC President Bill Pink was unable to attend this meeting, due to the death of a family member.