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.

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