Grand Rapids Community College held the GRCC Winter Opening Day Wednesday, Jan. 5 for faculty to kick off the 2022 winter semester with guest speaker, Alec Ross.
The meeting was a virtual event held for the GRCC community with President Bill Pink, Provost and Executive Vice President Brian Knetl, and guest speaker Ross making appearances.
Knetl started the event by thanking the staff for their consistent effort at GRCC throughout the tough times of the pandemic.
“I do want to take just a moment to say thanks again to all of you for the work we have done as a campus community to support our students during the most challenging and changing of times,” Knetl said. “… It’s unavoidable to say that the work that we have been doing during these times has been commendable and deserves to be called out.”
Knetl handed it over to Pink who first talked about the renovations happening on GRCC’s campus including the Applied Technology Center and Secchia Plaza.
Pink then announced the guest speaker, Ross, who is a New York Times Bestselling Author, a professor at University of Bologna, and a former Senior Advisor for Innovation to the Secretary of State during the Obama administration who is a leading expert on geopolitics, markets, and innovations.
Ross explained the relationship between businesses, government, and citizens, better known as a social contract, and community colleges are a vital piece to the idea of a social contract.
“Community college students are those that are often at the edge of things,” Ross said. “…They could become very successful, but if we don’t develop them, if we don’t launch them either into continual higher education or into the workforce, they could be lost in that no mans land of employability where they are stuck in lower wage opportunities as opposed to these kinds of opportunities that will help them become a healthy, wealthy members of a growing and stronger middle class.”
Ross also explained the way in which Artificial Intelligence and technology will change and shape labor within the next upcoming years and how that can have an impact on students. He laid out how the workforce, because of the technology available, is looking for different attributes in workers than in the past that include analytical thinking, leadership and creativity.
Ross will also be speaking on Monday, Jan. 11 to the economic club of Grand Rapids.
Pink wrapped up the discussion by discussing the effect of President Joe Biden’s recent vaccine mandate. If it is allowed by the Supreme Court, businesses can require their employees to be vaccinated or weekly tested. If this is allowed by the Supreme Court, GRCC will have to know the vaccination status of all employees. Pink then encouraged people to get the vaccine.
“We will have to make sure we are compliant with what the mandate says we have to be compliant with,” Pink said. “…We will have to know… that vaccine status of every individual who works here, full time and part time.
“From all the data that we are seeing, the data that I am previewed to not only from being a president of this institution, but also being a member of the board at Spectrum Health some of the data we see, it’s pretty compelling in terms of what the vaccine shows in terms in folks who have been vaccinated versus those who have not,” Pink said. “… I encourage you to get that done. I want to make sure you hear that from me.”
Following the event, GRCC announced that the campus will be closed on Thursday, Jan. 6 due to weather.