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6.21.18 – SPOKES Notes & Photos

SPOKES Notes written by Nick Kroeze

This day of Summer Solstice complemented well our luncheon led by President Renwick.  Spirits were high with great camaraderie marking the early arrival of many Rotarians to mix and meet with each other before the convening bell rang.  With the president’s enthusiastic welcome and repartee with Rotarians from the floor, Kevin Paul encouraged and led us on to a ringing rendition of “God Bless America”.  Max Smith provided the prayer and blessing for our meal and time together.

When the program resumed, Luis Vecchio introduced our three guests and shared a bit on recent travel where he witnessed Rotary’s impact in the local community.   Paula Jastifer orchestrated the introduction of new member Nate Churchill, who showed great purpose and intent in the reasons why he wished to join Rotary.  He is eager to be an actively involved member!  With that, Dr. Paul Farr was invited up to introduce our Keynote Speaker, Dr. Bill Pink.

Not wanting to be restricted to the podium, Dr. Pink took the mike and, like the basketball player he is, took the floor with great command and energy.  He truly is excited about Grand Rapids Community College and the privilege he has in serving as its newest president.  Using two words—Relevance and Response—he shared how he is striving to bring focus and a renewed sense of place and purpose to GRCC.  He is very aware of and sensitive to how an organization can lose its concept of relevance, citing some examples that many of us were familiar with.  “Keeping your eye on relevance,” he said, “leads to an appropriate response.”  This is a principle that daily guides his efforts as president.

Pres. Bill noted that GRCC, serving some 25,000 to 35,000 students in any given year, must keep its eye on the customer in order to achieve relevancy of service.  Garnering students mostly from Kent and Ottawa Counties, the college works hard on letting those communities know what an important resource GRCC is.  Economically, the college has half-a-billion-dollar impact.  Keeping pace with the community’s needs is, therefore, very important.

New efforts that reflect the above are the Early Middle College and the Fountain Hill Brewery programs.  EMC enables high school students to take college-level courses and gain college credit while in high school.  A thirteenth year of education is required but, upon completion, graduates receive both a high school diploma and an AA Degree.  The brewery program is a direct response to the needs of the West Michigan craft brewery industry.

Dr. Bill is very proud of the fact that all and any students are welcomed into GRCC to receive the help they need to be successful in life.  He sees GRCC as being a strong member of the community in providing citizens with direction, connections, education and opportunity.  The challenge we can join in on is to help GRCC become increasingly known and accessed for the resource it is.

The Q&A time provided insight on GRCC’s strong reputation amongst area institutions, the out-of-district tuition paid by non-Kent residents, the state covering the costs of the EMC program, the ranking of the Culinary School in the Top 20 or 30 such programs in the US, and the partnership GRCC has with our very own STRIVE program.  With that, Pres. Renwick thanked Pres. Bill, citing the Clean Water Filter recognition (with Michael Sytsma giving a brief update on the situation in Nicaragua), and adjourned the meeting.

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