College leaders from Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Utah tapped as finalists in GRCC presidential search

College leaders from Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Utah have been selected as finalists to the next president at Grand Rapids Community College.

The college has scheduled opportunities for members of the community to meet each of the finalists, and the public is invited to sit in on interviews with the board of trustees.

“I’m impressed by the quality of the candidates, all with careers supporting students and their communities,” board of trustees Chairperson David J. Koetje said. “We are looking forward to getting to know them better, hearing their vision for leading GRCC into the future.”

GRCC is replacing Bill Pink, who became president of Ferris State University in July. President Emeritus Juan R. Olivarez has been serving as interim president during the search. Trustees hope to have a new president in place by Jan. 1, 2023.

Each of the finalists has experience at community or technical colleges, and one worked for a year at GRCC.

Stuart Blacklaw is the provost and executive vice president at the Community College of Allegheny County in Pittsburgh, and once was a GRCC administrator.

Blacklaw has been in his role in Alleghany County since 2015, and previously served as provost and vice president for Instruction and Student Development at Yavapai College in Prescott, Ariz.; as vice president for Instruction at Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor, Mich.; and as the dean of Curriculum and Program Development at Monroe Community College in Rochester, N.Y.

Blacklaw also served as an assistant dean in the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences at GRCC during the 2001-2002 academic year, and was associate dean for Curriculum and Instruction for Jefferson Community College in Watertown, N.Y.

Blacklaw taught Communication and Media Studies on the faculty of Olivet College for 12 years before moving into administration.

He earned a bachelor’s degree from Olivet College, a master’s degree from the University of Michigan and a doctorate from Capella University.

Tim Casper is the vice president for Student Affairs and Institutional Effectiveness at Madison Area Technical College in Madison, Wis. He is leading a college-wide effort to improve student course success by providing faculty with specific student engagement best practices in the classroom.

Casper has been with Madison Area Technical College since 2011. Prior to Madison College, He was the deputy secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Revenue. He was a senior adviser to Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle.

Casper has also held positions at the Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services, the Wisconsin Legislature, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He earned a bachelor’s from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, a master’s degree from University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a doctorate from Edgewood College.

Charles Lepper is the vice president for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management at Salt Lake Community College in Salt Lake City, Utah. He’s been in the role since 2015, and provides strategic leadership and day-to-day operations for student affairs and enrollment management functions at all 10 of the college’s campuses.

Lepper previously was the vice president for Student Affairs at Tidewater Community College in Norfolk, Va.; and a series of leadership roles at Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana in Indianapolis between 2004 and 2013.

He earned a bachelor’s degree from Ball State University, a master’s degree from Grand Valley State University, a doctorate from Indiana State University.

Blacklaw is scheduled to be on campus on Oct. 18, with Lepper on Oct. 19 and Casper on Oct. 24.

Each candidate is scheduled for time to attend a community forum at 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., and then be interviewed in public by the board of trustees between 3:45 and 5: 15 p.m. All sessions are planned for the auditorium of the Wisner-Bottrall Applied Technology Center.

Teaching, Learning, and Distance Education news

Open Education Conference Office Hours 

Swing by the 3rd floor of RJF next week, October 17-20, for refreshments and Open Educational Resource keynotes and sessions from the 2022 Open Education Conference.

Register for professional development credit for the conference in the Online Center. 

Please join us for the following sessions: 

  • Monday, 10/17 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. in 315 RJF
    • 11:00 a.m., Keynote: Rising to Action: Students at the Heart of Open Education
  • Tuesday, 10/18 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. in 373 RJF
    • 1:00 p.m., Keynote: Hope Behind the Paywall: How Unlocking Climate Science Can Lead us to Mitigations and Solutions
  • Wednesday, 10/19 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. in 315 RJF
    • 3:00 p.m., Keynote TBD
  • Thursday, 10/20 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. in 315 RJF
    • 3:00 p.m., Keynote: Beyond Equality: Mobilizing Open Education for Racial Justice

Featured Upcoming Workshops/Events and Reminders:

  1. Alignment A-Z – Tuesday, 10/11, 10:30-11:30 a.m., Hyflex
  2. Breast Cancer Awareness – Wednesday, 10/19, 12:00-1:30 p.m., In-Person – 214 Ford Fieldhouse, Facilitator: Melanie Schiele-Gady
  3. Tips and Tricks Fall 2022 – Wednesday, 10/26, 9:00-10:00 a.m., Hyflex
  4. Reminder: Community of Practice ImpACT Grant applications due on October 21, 2022.  As previously announced during the latest Read to Act Collective, this opportunity is still available.  See the attached document for all of the details.

Please visit CTE’s Calendar and Programming webpage for the current listing of all Fall 2022 Professional Development opportunities being offered by TLDE!

My Story Started at GRCC: Kaitlyn Bergman says GRCC gave her leadership skills to become a champion

Like many alumni, Kaitlyn Bergman has special memories of GRCC – but hers also happen to be part of the college’s history.

Start at GRCC and go anywhere. Every former student has a story to tell about how GRCC gave them the education and opportunity to be successful.

Bergman was a member of GRCC’s 2012 volleyball team, which capped its season with the National Junior College Athletic Association championship.

“Winning a national championship will always be a great memory,” she said. “From the sweat and tears poured into each practice and game, all the way ‘til the final championship.

“However, after we won was probably the best memory. All the families and players gathered and we looked back at memories and just enjoyed everyone’s company while celebrating such an amazing season.”

Bergman, then known as Kaitlyn Wolters, was named Most Valuable Player of the tournament, recording 32 assists and seven kills in the final match. She was also named a First Team All-American and the NJCAA Division II Player of the Year.

After graduating in 2012, she attended Grand Valley State University, where she majored in recreational therapy and continued with volleyball.

Bergman now makes her home in Warsaw, Ind., working as a recreational therapist with FLOW Recreation. She and her husband, Mark Bergman, have a 5-month-old daughter, Jordyn.

And she still plays volleyball, competing in high-level coed tournaments and weekly leagues.

She says GRCC was the important first step that led her to where she is today.

“GRCC helped prepare me in my leadership skills and overall independence,” she said. “It taught me time management, planning and organization. It was a great first step into adulthood without being too overwhelming.

“GRCC is a place that prepares you in ways that you never thought you’d need.”

Let GRCC help you start your story. The first chapter starts at

Braelyn Berry, Kara Hecht lead GRCC volleyball team to victory over Bay College, 16th consecutive win

The Grand Rapids Community College volleyball team hit a season-best .378 in a three-set sweep of Bay College on Saturday, extending the team’s win streak to 16 matches.

GRCC, ranked No. 17 in the latest National Junior College Athletic Association D2 poll, dominated Bay College, making its first trip from Escanaba to Grand Rapids as part of the new Northern Conference. GRCC won 25-10, 25-11, 25-15.

GRCC improved to 16-2 overall and 8-0 in conference play with the win.

Six players hit .400 or better, including Braelyn Berry, who hit a career-high .750 with six kills. Kara Hecht hit a career-high .538 with a team-high eight kills, and Rylee VanPatten hit a career-high .500 with three kills.

Seven players totaled three or more kills as GRCC combined for 41 in the match, its third- most in a three-set match this season.

Eliza Thelen compiled a career-high five service aces, mostly part of a 15-0 run in set two.

“It was nice to play a full match of clean volleyball and we were able to keep our energy up throughout the whole match,” Thelen said.

GRCC will have three days off before returning to the Gerald R. Ford Fieldhouse at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday to face Delta College. 

Learn from the Best: Keith St. Clair’s travels to the Middle East enrich his GRCC political science classes

GRCC Political Science professor Keith St. Clair has a passion for politics, and encourages students on multiple career paths to take advantage of the soft skills they’ll gain from a political science course.

“Political Science provides an understanding of government and instills civic responsibility,” St. Clair said. “It’s great preparation for becoming a journalist, lobbyist, diplomat, lawyer, politician, campaign worker, community organizer or city manager.”

An engaging speaker, St. Clair spoke about his participation in a Leadership Mission to Oman (which is located on the Arabian Peninsula) to the World Affairs Council of America in 2009.

He presented on the political/cultural climate in Iran at GRCC after traveling there in 2010. And he presented “The Arab Spring and Prospects for Democracy” to the World Affairs Council of Western Michigan during UN Day in 2011.

St. Clair earned his bachelor’s degree in sociology, then his master’s degree in political science, from Illinois State University.

Working in international politics was an early goal of his. He learned late in his career that he has a passion for teaching. 

“I originally wanted to work for the Foreign Service,” St. Clair said. “After graduating and working for a time as a juvenile probation officer, I accepted a teaching assistant position at Illinois State University. It was only after I started teaching that I realized how much I loved it.”

St. Clair taught at Muskegon Community College before accepting a position at GRCC. 

“I wish I had been more confident, and patient with the amount of time it was going to take to find a full time teaching position,” St. Clair said. 

St. Clair found an opportunity to exercise the confidence and diligence he developed throughout his career when teaching during the pandemic. 

“I’ve gained a new appreciation for how many students are dependent on a routine for self discipline in their studies,” St. Clair said. 

St. Clair also strives to model his personal hero, The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

“He was a man of peace, love, and exhibited the greatest courage in changing our society for the better,” St. Clair said.

Enroll in one of St. Clair’s classes for Winter 2023. He teaches PS 110 American Government, PS 202 International Relations, PS 201 Comparative Government and PS 200 State and Local Politics.

GRCC volleyball team wins 15th straight, cheered on by 2012 national champs

The Grand Rapids Community College volleyball team extended its win streak to 15 matches after defeating North Central Michigan College in Friday night’s homecoming match, which included a salute to the 2012 national championship team.

GRCC, ranked No. 17 in the latest National Junior College Athletic Association poll, powered past the Timberwolves in straight sets, 25-14, 25-15, 25-12.

GRCC improved to 15-2 overall and 7-0 in conference play with the win.

“What an incredible night for the GRCC volleyball community,” head coach Chip Will said.  “The support from the alumni and fans was inspiring.  We had a great night, and us coaches are so proud of the strength our kids showed as they came in off the bench.”

Every player saw action on the court, and sophomore Audrey Torres led the well-balanced offensive attack with 10 kills while hitting over .300.

Karissa Ferry finished with eight kills while hitting a season best .400, and Eliza Thelen contributed with nine kills.

Thelen and Charlie Baker led the team with three service aces and Alena Visnovksy led the team with four blocks.

Members of the 2012 champions – the first GRCC women’s team to earn a title — were saluted between the second and third sets.

The 2012 team was led by Kaitlyn Wolters, who was named a First Team All-American and the NJCAA Division II Player of the Year.

The team survived a five-set match in the semifinal round of the national tournament, battling Parkland College of Champaign, Ill., which was ranked No. 3 in the nation. GRCC lost the first two sets, and fell behind 8-3 in the third set, before winning two straight to force a fifth set, which it won 16-14 to reach the finals.

In the championship match, GRCC faced the top-ranked team in the country, Cowley College of Arkansas City, Kan. The Raiders swept Cowley, which had been unbeaten, to claim GRCC’s first national title in volleyball.

The current GRCC team will be back on the court Saturday with another conference matchup, at home against Bay College. Match will begin at 1 p.m. 

Tech Tip: Disabled Peoplesoft accounts 

Information Technology has noticed  an increase in PeopleSoft Accounts being disabled. This includes the Online Center, CSProd, HRProd, and FSProd. A disabled account causes users to get a login error at sign in stating they need to contact the Support Desk.

To avoid this, we highly recommend logging out of your account before entering into another environment. For instance, switching from the Online Center to CSProd.

You can log out of your account by selecting the 3 vertical dots at the top left of the page and selecting sign out. Once you have successfully logged out, you will be redirected to the MyGRCC Portal.

From there, you can select the new environment. If you have a need to be logged into 2 different environments at the same time, we encourage you to use a separate browser for each to avoid potential issues.

For more information and helpful tips, please visit theIT Customer Support Portal or contact the IT Customer Support Desk at x4357.

If you have a suggestion or a Technology Tip you think can be useful, you can submit them by emailing

GRCC In the News 10/10/2022

GRCC wins $2.9M grant to increase health care programming

10/7/22 Grand Rapids Business Journal

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC) and its partners $2.9 million over three years to increase the number of community health workers in West Michigan.

Morning News

10/8/22 WZZM

(Grandville police and GRCC team up for food drive.)

Once short on credits to graduate, now an advocate for student Success

10/10/22 School News Network (Kent Intermediate School District)

Ron Gorman believes every student can accomplish what they set their minds to, and said he often told his own students just that.

… “Even though I didn’t do well in secondary school, I always felt very comfortable in school,” Gorman recalled. “So I decided, when I got out I was going to go back to Grand Rapids Community College, and then I was going to hopefully transfer to a school that had an elementary education program and become an elementary teacher. That was my goal.”

Interfaith Series #1 “What is Vocation?” invitation

Greetings from the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (ODEI),

ODEI would like to invite you to the Interfaith Literacy Series #1 program, “What is Vocation?”, taking place on October 25 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the SCC Multipurpose Room 234 (Student Center).

Lunch will be provided during this event.

Please come and join us for lunch and a deeper conversation around vocation and what it means to you.

Please RSVP for this program at

Raider Connect: Please join our ODEI organization on Raider Connect to stay connected with upcoming student programs and events. 


Lastly, please don’t forget to check out the other events that ODEI has coming up at

Breast Cancer Awareness learning opportunity open to staff, faculty and students

Breast Cancer Awareness Presentation

Wednesday, 10/19/2022
Noon-1:30 p.m.
Room 214 of the Ford Fieldhouse

October is breast cancer awareness month and this presentation is joining in the effort to raise awareness about breast cancer and the impact of breast cancer.

Not only will this show support to all that have been impacted by breast cancer but will also provide an opportunity of learning for our campus.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women, and men can also be diagnosed with breast cancer.

This learning session will include what breast cancer is, signs and symptoms, risk factors, how to lower risk, screenings, lifestyle heath, exercise, treatment/care, etc. All staff, faculty and the GRCC campus body are welcome to attend.

Faculty and staff may register through their online center under professional development. Students and campus community members do not need to register to attend.

GRCC hosting MACRAO College and Transfer Fair October 13

Faculty and Staff: Please pass this information on to your students.

Grand Rapids Community College will host West Michigan’s biggest college and transfer fair Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022 in the Ford Fieldhouse!

Explore your options and connect with more than 50 colleges and universities nationwide.

Morning: 9 a.m. -11 a.m.
College Fair
High schools will be bused in to see our campus and visit with reps

Afternoon: 1 p.m. -3 p.m.
Transfer fair
Open to GRCC students looking to transfer

Night: 6 p.m.-7:30 p.m.
College Fair
High school students and families but open to anyone. If GRCC students cannot make the afternoon fair we encourage them to attend the evening

For further details and a list of colleges attending, go to our MACRAO College and Transfer Fair at GRCC webpage.