By Tom Noreen
Grand Rapids Community College President, Dr. Steven Ender, and key members of his staff met with community leaders in Cedar Springs at an informal breakfast meeting on April 23. Enders said, “This is the 8th or 9th meeting we have held since I became president. We are meeting with local school districts, business and community leaders to find out what their questions and concerns are about GRCC so we can learn how to best support them with our programs.” It will take two years to do the 20 districts in the county.
He started off by explaining that GRCC was experiencing continuous growth with applications up 53 percent overall. Enders attributed this to the economy, the need for retraining and the cost of education where people are looking, as they did in the 40s-60s at community colleges as the place to take the general education courses at a considerable savings.
Dr. Ender said that acquiring the old downtown campus of Davenport came at a great time to accommodate the growth. On May 18, GRCC will formally announce a $15 million capital campaign to renovate the Davenport campus and the two main GRCC buildings.
City Manager Chris Burns asked about teaching classes in this area. Provost Gilda Gely noted that GRCC had been teaching classes at the Rockford HS for a number of years. The goal was to provide all general education courses with a student load of 500.
“Rockford plays a big role for Cedar Springs students with undeclared majors,” added Donna Kragt, of GRCC.
CSHS Principal Ron Behrenwald then asked about teaching concurrent education courses in the high school. Gely replied that there was a program in place for such possibilities.
George Waite, GRCC Work Force Developer, discussed the many programs that give GRCC students hands-on experience. CS Police Chief Roger Parents said this was an important aspect of education and he did his best to take criminal justice majors whenever he could.
Dr. Enders closed by saying, “This is your community college. My message to take away is that we are only as good as you push us forward. We have been here almost 100 years and we plan to be here another 100. We exist to serve the entire county.”