GRCC President Pink tells state lawmakers the post-pandemic ‘new normal’ includes increased accessibility, support

Pink sitting at a table, testifying before the state House of Representatives Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education and Community Colleges.

The pandemic changed the way Grand Rapids Community College offered classes and support services – and many of the changes are likely to remain to help students overcome obstacles, Grand Rapids Community College President Bill Pink told lawmakers Thursday.

Pink was one of four college presidents to testify before the state House of Representatives Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education and Community Colleges. The subcommittee is chaired by state Rep. Mark Huizenga, and includes state Reps. Tommy Brann and Bradley Slagh from West Michigan.

Lawmakers preparing the 2021-2022 state budget wanted to know how COVID-19 forced colleges to make changes and what their roles might be in the state’s recovery.

“Our community colleges are the answer to helping get our communities back up and running, back up to work, get our companies back up to speed,” Pink said.

He said community colleges provide students with a pathway to earn credits for degrees or to transfer to a four-year institution, but also partner with employers to adapt to the changing needs of the workplace and provide students with in-demand career skills.

“I believe in the work we do,” he said. “That’s the value and the power of the community college. And that is why I believe our institution, along with the 27 others community colleges in the state, will be a vital part in getting our state back up and running.”

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