By Sean Chase
During a Grand Rapids Community College board of trustees work session, on Monday, Aug. 16, President Bill Pink told trustees the campus will not require vaccines for students.
The topic was raised when Trustee Kenyatta Brame brought up the rising number of delta variant cases and GRCC’s recent transition back to masks on campus, regardless of vaccination status.
While vaccinations won’t be required for all students, some areas of study, such as the nursing program, may require vaccines depending on the requirements of hospitals where students complete clinical labs. The school is also considering requiring vaccines for student-athletes, as a way to help alleviate the potential of COVID-19 outbreaks.
In other news, during his financial update, Pink said, “(2021) summer enrollment surpassed anything imaginable.” Going into the fall enrollment is up by 5% from 2020. However, the 2021 summer enrollment remains 12% below 2019 numbers. While discussing enrollment, Pink informed the board that enrollment dropped by 3% last week, as the drop dates for classes began to affect the data.
“In time we’ve adjusted what that pay date looks like to try and put it out further,” Pink said. “What happens is that there is just so much in terms of finance to make that happen, in some cases, some students will drop a class altogether, well we need to make sure that if that needs to be the case someone else can get in there, so we’ve considered some of those things as well. It’s just important to us to give students the most opportunity possible to get into class.”
With a focus on increasing enrollment, Pink invited the trustees to a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Lakeshore campus which will be held on Thursday, Aug, 19, at 8:30 a.m.
“As I said in my email to our employees this morning, this is a historic week for the college,” Pink said. “I mean, in the 100-plus year history of this college, we’ve never had our own location in Ottawa County as prominent as this is going to be. For me it’s one of the most exciting times of my time here as president so far, to open up a facility that gives better access to more people, to be able to access a GRCC education.”
This historic moment for GRCC will be invite-only due to COVID-19, however, the Lakeshore campus will hold an open house for the general public on Saturday, Aug. 21.
“(That will be) mainly the folks in the community of Holland and Ottawa County,” Pink said. “The one that’s open to the public is Saturday, that open house where we say to that whole public, whoever you are, come see this, come figure out if something we’re doing over here makes sense for you, let’s get you ready. Or if you just want to come and see the place, come on and do that too.”
Additionally, Pink mentioned to the trustees that GRCC will undergo a Higher Learning Commission Accreditation review in two years and the importance of being prepared ahead of time. As the HLC will be evaluating the educational standards of GRCC, through comprehensive investigation and peer review.
“Vital, vital,” Pink said, to The Collegiate when asked about the importance of being prepared for accreditation. “So one of the nice things about GRCC is we are an institution that has a history of accreditation being a part of what we do anyway. …I like to look at accreditation as an opportunity to showcase what we do and to learn. It’s an opportunity to showcase to folks coming to campus, ‘here’s what this college is all about.’ Then it is an opportunity for us to get better at what we do.”
Although two years seems like an eternity, Pink urged trustees to attend the HLC conference in April 2022, in order to get a better understanding of the process of accreditation, as many of the trustees will be experiencing their first accreditation process, including trustee Salvador Lopez, who the board welcomed to his first meeting after being appointed on June 21.
“One of the reasons why it’s important is because this gives them the opportunity at that HLC conference to, number one, connect with other board members from other institutions that are looking at some of the same things,” Pink said. “The thing about our board is none of these folks were here for the last accreditation. So for a board that although several of them have been here for the last four or five years, they haven’t seen what an HLC accreditation looks like, so what it gives them an opportunity to do is learn before that team hits campus to have a better idea of what this whole process will be and the importance of it.”