Grand Rapids Community College held the Opening Day Ceremony for the fall semester Thursday, Aug. 26, in the Ford Fieldhouse.
The ceremony featured GRCC Provost and Executive Vice President Brian Knetl, Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss, and GRCC President Bill Pink. Knetl began the ceremony by welcoming faculty members that were present and viewers watching through a livestream.
Knetl went on in his opening speech to address the rollercoaster effect that 2020 brought onto students, faculty, and the rest of the GRCC community. After a brief video, President Pink took to the podium to introduce Bliss.
Bliss spoke about the importance of education and the initiatives keeping students afloat amidst the incredible challenges the community has faced over the last 18 months.
“The strength of our community and the success of our city, I believe, is intricately tied to the success and strength of GRCC,” Bliss said. “We as a community have the great fortune to partner with him (Pink) on initiatives that are changing the lives of young people in our community, opening up doors, creating opportunities.”
Amongst the initiatives is the Grand Rapids Promise Zone Scholarship – a scholarship that covers the entire cost of tuition, fees, and textbooks at GRCC. This scholarship is available to students who graduate from a high school (private, public, or charter) inside the city limits of Grand Rapids.
GRCC also partnered with Bliss and the City of Grand Rapids to launch the GRow1000 Youth Employment Program in 2020. This initiative was created to help 1,000 young people between the ages of 15-24 to find employment and gain experience in the workforce during the pandemic.
During her speech, Bliss also shined light on the Racial Equity Initiative that GRCC partnered with the City of Grand Rapids to create in recent years.
Next, Pink discussed GRCC’s agenda for the 2021-22 academic year.
According to Pink, GRCC has yet to receive a budget for the 2021-22 academic year from the State of Michigan. This leaves the school with uncertainty about the amount of aid the State will grant GRCC. However, the school was able to adopt a balanced budget for this academic year and is hoping to hear more from the state officials in the next coming weeks.
“We have closed our fiscal year in what we (GRCC) calls a strong financial position,” Pink said. “…With three different stimulus packages that came down the pike from the federal government, I will tell you, friends, that helped our institution out quite a bit.”
GRCC administrators continue to work to manage the challenge COVID-19 places on the college. Pink shared that the COVID-19 Response Team, consisting of board, faculty, and even campus police members, has worked tirelessly since March 2020 to create mitigation efforts to keep students and faculty safe. Vaccination clinics and mitigation efforts continue to roll out on campus to maintain the opportunity to provide in-person education.
Pink noted that any member of the GRCC community with concerns or frustrations in regards to the pandemic should voice their opinions to him directly and not the response team.
“We’re dealing with both extremes and everything in between when it comes to the question of ‘what should we do?’” Pink said. “…It sure is an easily said question that is horribly complicated in the response.”
Pink went on to discuss the school’s Diversity Lecture Series that will consist of four-separate guest speakers. The first day of the series will be Tuesday, Sept. 7.
The ceremony continued with the discussion of the school’s strategic planning, including community impact, infrastructure and sustainability, completion and transfers of students, as well as GRCC’s Wellness Program to keep students and faculty engaged in healthy (physical) routines.
Pink closed the ceremony by honoring two GRCC faculty members with awards:
- Michelle Richter (Nursing Program Director) 2020-21 Faculty Award Winner
- Michael Michewicz (Music Department Instructor) 2020-21 Adjunct Award Winner