The Grand Rapids Community College Board of Trustees chairperson confirmed that the college will conduct an open search for the next president of GRCC.
As GRCC says goodbye to Bill Pink, who is leaving to become the next president of Ferris State University, the search for the next president will commence. With FSU deciding to do a closed search the question then became: how will GRCC conduct its search? According to GRCC Chairperson David Koetje, GRCC will be conducting an open search.
“The process will be open,” Koetje said. “We will have key stakeholder involvement along the way. We’ve got to tidy up just how all we are going to do that yet. We will get to that in a couple weeks as a board, but I’m imagining that in the process along the way, we would have faculty, staff, and student and community leaders involved in the process which adds a different flavor to it than a board of seven just meeting behind closed doors.”
Board members believe it is important to have the GRCC community involved as much as possible in the search as well as finding the top talent available.
“In the new search, we are going to probably engage a national recruiting firm that allows us to make sure we are looking for the best talent no matter where they are,” Vice Chairperson Kenyatta Brame said. “I think that this school could be attractive to all kinds of leaders, so we want to make sure we attract the top talent and doing the interview process, we want to make sure that we get all kinds of voices in the process to make sure that we find the candidate that is best fit for GRCC.
“…I think that we’ll take our time to make sure we find the right candidate,” Brame said. “… I think it’s important… that we have a process where a variety of types of inputs are received in order to make the best decision for the community college.”
The board will be looking for a person who can keep the momentum going from what Pink has been able to start and someone who is about building GRCC for the future.
“Forward looking, forward thinking, (and) being prepared for the student body that we will have in the next 15-20 years,” said GRCC Secretary Kathleen Bruinsma when asked about attributes she wants in the next president. “Being willing to innovate where it serves our students.”
Brame wants someone who will focus on students’ experiences at GRCC as well as be involved in the community and will represent the college well.
“I also think that a person that is able to go out in the community and really represent the college well,” Brame said. “…This person needs to be the face of the college to the community (and) this person needs to advocate for the college in the community.”
Koetje wants to remind the whole GRCC community that they will take the selection process seriously and make sure they find the right fit for GRCC.
“We will take this responsibility very seriously,” Koetje said. “This is the most important work for this current board of trustees, and we will take every minute detail with an incredible amount of seriousness as we go through this journey from now until the time we’re excited about an appointment of a new president.”
Following the surprise March 28 announcement that Pink will be leaving, some members of the GRCC Board of Trustees spoke with the Collegiate about losing Pink as a leader, with many characterizing the news as “bittersweet.”
“There was always alignment between the board’s passion for what the future was to look like and Dr. Pink’s passion for what the college was to look like,” Koetje said. “That makes our work energizing and by comparison to other boards, easy. We can’t overstate the synergy we felt between board and Dr. Pink… There’s always that sense of loss which is generated by that kind of synergy that we had even between the two of us.”
“I’m excited for him,” Bruinsma said. “He’s an asset in whatever community he’s in. He’s going to do great things for Ferris just like he did great things for us. We are going to miss him tremendously, but at the same time this is an opportunity to keep building on a lot of the good things he did.”
Bruinsma continued by saying that Pink has inspired her because of the impact of his enthusiasm at GRCC.
“He has been inspiring,” Bruinsma said. “He inspires enthusiasm for our community college and the value of community colleges statewide… His enthusiasm is so contagious. He’s inspiring, that’s the biggest effect (he has had) on me personally.”
Brame said he was feeling mixed emotions of Pink’s departure and excited for what the future holds for Pink at Ferris State.
“Sometimes you can be happy and sad at the same time, so I was happy in the sense that as far as Dr. Pink’s career, this is the next step for him and Ferris State is a great institution… so I was sad to understand that he was leaving but happy for him personally,” Brame said. “I think it’s still good for western Michigan the fact that he’s here and he’s going to a four-year institution, but I think he has done great things for the college and the college will truly miss him.”