The Grand Rapids Community College Board of Trustees gathered Monday to officially swear in Salvador Lopez as a new trustee while discussing various campus topics.
Monday’s meeting was public, which allowed students, faculty, and the general public to attend the meeting via YouTube livestream or in-person. With social distancing protocols in effect, in-person seating was extremely limited in the GRCC Board Library.
The meeting began with the swearing in of Lopez as a new trustee. Chairperson David Koetje commemorated Lopez’s addition to the board, stating it will help the members continue to work for the college.
“We also get to help shape, voice, and set a perspective for the finest community college in the nation. Thanks for being part of this team,” Koetje said.
The floor was left open to various administration, faculty, and directors of GRCC departments to discuss the scholarship, faculty, diversity, and other daily basis efforts carried out on campus.
As of Sept. 20, 771 students have received a scholarship for the fall semester. This totals to $872,743 of scholarship funds being dispersed so far.
“Our goal is to make sure every scholarship dollar our school has is awarded to the students,” said Executive Director of GRCC Foundation Kathryn Mullins. “(Lisa Dopke) has done an awesome job leading this team.”
Dopke, Director of Grant Development, led the scholarship discussion with a report of the 2020-21 academic year. The GRCC Foundation concluded the year in a positive financial position while securing 28 grants ($19.2 million in total) – an all-time high in the foundation’s history. The grants will assist with funding the childhood development center, academic outreach, student success and retention, workforce training, and student affairs.
“When you think about hitting 28 grants, $19.2 million, in a pandemic environment, that’s incredible for a community college,” said GRCC President Bill Pink.
Cathy Kubiak, Executive Director of Human Resources, led a presentation that discussed the diversity statistics amongst GRCC students, faculty and staff. The school has continued to experience increasing diversity among the campus population.
In 2020, 147 of the 645 employees at GRCC were people of color, 29.4% of the student body was made up of people of color, and 51.5% of employees were female. Data for the current academic year has yet to be established. Kubiak was asked by Vice Chairperson Kenyatta Brame what board members can do to assist in the efforts.
“Minimally, continue to do the amazing work you all do in the community… We need to keep our efforts to have processes in place that are fair, equitable, and removing biases,” Kubiak said.
Newly appointed GRCC police officers Michelle Tett and Jim Nelson, both alumni of the college, were sworn in by Chief Rebecca Whitman during the meeting. This follows the recent police academy graduation on Aug. 27, 2021.
“It is an honor to have them part of our community,” Whitman said.
It was noted that no significant changes have been made in the school’s budget, but the state budget still has yet to be determined for GRCC. On the lighter side, and upon approval, traffic and building signs will be replaced or newly added to campus.
President Pink briefly reflected on the renovations various downtown campus locations received and the grand opening of the Holland Lakeshore Campus while a montage video was played.
Frank Conner, Faculty Association President, gave a compelling speech about the various efforts GRCC faculty and staff have put in since the beginning of the pandemic. Conner noted that without the versatility of the employees, the school as an entirety would have struggled tremendously to stay afloat.
“Today, I want to take the time to expand your community, to talk about your faculty,” Conner said to the board members. “… It takes months, sometimes years, to develop and adapt to a new teaching modality. The faculty of GRCC did it in a weekend.”
Board members echoed what Conner addressed with their own comments.
“You go above and beyond during normal times, and what you did during the horrific months of COVID was astounding,” said Board of Trustees Secretary Kathleen Bruinsma.
“The race hasn’t finished… And it’s that much more frustrating because we’re all over a year and a half more tired,” Brame said.
“I still believe our faculty is the best faculty you will find anywhere… It’s meant each time it’s said,” Pink said.
Just before the meeting was adjourned, a swift approval occurred for the $100,000 action to reinstate the shuttle that transports Raiders between the main campus and Sneden Hall. The meeting concluded after a few closing remarks from a handful of board members.