GRCC Foundation Annual Report highlights students, and the people who support them

The 2021-2022 Grand Rapids Community College Foundation Annual Report has started appearing in mailboxes! The pages share the stories of determined students emerging from personal transitions, and the people who support them.

You will read about alumni who started at GRCC, gained skills and confidence, and are committed to making our world better. You will read about new construction to set an environment to help the next generations of GRCC students find their place. Your continued support makes a difference and will continue to do so long into the future.

Thank you for supporting GRCC and its students!

The GRCC Foundation Annual Report has earned awards in each of the last three years, including two Gold Medallions, a Gold Paragon and Best in Show from the National Council for Marketing and Public Relations and a Best of CASE District V Award from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.

The Annual Report was created by GRCC’s College Advancement team, which includes members of the GRCC Foundation and Communications team, and is led by Dr. Kathryn Mullins, vice president for College Advancement and executive director of the GRCC Foundation.

Teaching, Learning, and Distance Education (TLDE) News

Upcoming Learning Opportunity: “Well I Won’t Do That Again”

As we’re wrapping up the semester, now is the time we realize that some of our assignments, activities, or assessments were not what we needed them to be for our students. This session is a brave space to consider what went wrong and how you’ll change it in the future. 

Join us for this conversation on Thursday, December 1 from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. The session will be held in a HyFlex format (you can attend in person in 315 RJF or virtually).

Featured Upcoming Workshops/Events and Reminders:

  1. Instructional Design Charrette – Wednesday, 11/16 – 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. – HyFlex
  2. Tips and Tricks Fall 2022 – Wednesday, 12/7 – 9:00 to 10:00 a.m. – HyFlex
  3. Reminder: The next Online Hybrid Certification Course (OHCC) begins on Monday, 01/09.  This six-week online asynchronous training prepares faculty to teach online and/or hybrid courses at GRCC.  More details and registration information can be found in the link below.

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

HR Notification: Check your vacation hours

Make sure you are not at risk of losing any vacation hours as of December 31, 2022 with the Vacation Bank Calculator

Reminder, as of December 31 employees are allowed to have their current fiscal vacation accrual plus an automatic 10 day carry over.

Employees can request to have these 10 days transferred to their sick bank by sending an email to the Director of Payroll.

Any vacation hours above the limits allowed by your employee contract/handbook will be forfeited.

Learn From the Best: Barb Bouthillier helps math students realize their ability to learn

After raising her children, Barb Bouthillier felt called to attend Grand Rapids Community College and study special education. While taking classes, an opportunity to help students struggling with math presented itself and Barb couldn’t say no. 

Thirteen years later, she still loves supporting students as they study math. 

Bouthillier, an adjunct math professor, recalls one of her very first students – one taking Math 95 for the third time. 

The student had a very challenging, complicated personal life and worked very hard in the course. When the student passed the final exam, she was ecstatic!

She told Bouthillier she was excited to tell her grandkids that if she could pass a college math class they could certainly handle college – no excuses!

Bouthillier was awarded the Excellence in Education Adjunct Award in 2019 for her engaging and supportive approach to teaching. She encourages students to collaborate and ask questions and is a strong advocate for GRCC resources such as the tutoring labs and the Counseling and Career Center. 

“It is more important to help students believe in their ability to learn math than to find the best way to teach a math concept,” she says.

Success in education is a process of developing confidence, making mistakes, and learning from them. Bouthillier understands that all students learn differently and takes the time to discover how to best support and teach her students. 

More information about the Mathematics Department can be found here. 

My Story Started at GRCC: Islam Hoxha’s journey from refugee to GRCC assistant basketball coach

It’s 5 p.m. on a Thursday, and Islam Hoxha is pacing the hallways of the Gerald R. Ford Fieldhouse.

He’s nervous.

A first-year assistant coach for the Grand Rapids Community College’s men’s basketball team, Hoxha said he gets nervous before every game. But on this mid-November day, he and the Raiders are 2 ½ hours away from tipoff against their archrivals, the Lansing Community College Stars.

And although Hoxha is new to the GRCC program, he knows that his head coach, Joe Fox, spent three seasons working under the leadership of Hall of Fame coach Mike Ingram at LCC, so this game has particular meaning for Fox. Which means it has particular meaning for Hoxha. Which means even more pre-game jitters than normal.

Still, basketball, Hoxha knows, is not life and death.

He knows this because he knows life and death.

“I do still have memories of Kosovo,” he said of his home country, while safely ensconced in the cozy confines of the fieldhouse. “I can remember riding on my dad’s shoulders as he carried me, as my family fled to the mountains in search of safety, running from the people who wanted to kill us.”

That was 1998, and Islam Hoxha was 5 years old. He and his family were caught in the middle of the Kosovo war, an approximately 16-month conflict that pitted forces from Yugoslavia against the Kosovo Liberation Army. Really though, the violence of the war had been going on for most of Hoxha’s life, beginning already in the early 1990s when the KLA formed to fight the persecution of Kosovo Albanians.

So, after running to the mountains, the Hoxha family just kept going, first to Macedonia and eventually to the United States.

Hoxha was 7 years old and starting over in a new country, fluent in the languages of Albania, Bosnia and Serbia but knowing no English.

He smiled as he recalled that time in his life.

“We were welcomed,” he said. “We had families who sponsored us and helped us. At school, we were put in a class with other refugees, so we could learn together. We had English language services available to us, and we just had so many people who helped us. I can’t thank them enough.”

Part of his refuge, he says now, was sports. His dad had been a professional soccer player, so at Forest Hills Northern, Islam was a standout member of the school’s soccer team. He never played basketball though, neither in high school nor in college, first attending GRCC for two years taking hospitality courses and then finishing up at LCC in the hospitality program.

So, how did a soccer-playing native of Kosovo end up as an assistant coach on the GRCC men’s basketball team? Well, part of the story includes a woman. And part of it is hooked to Hoxha’s bold approach to life.

Again, he smiles as he recounts the story.

“I had met someone on a trip back to Kosovo,” he said. “We were dating and then she became my fiancé and now she is my wife. But before that happened, I went back for a year to be with her. And one day, I went to see the local basketball team practice. And then I went to see their director of basketball operations, and I said to him, ‘I would like to join your staff as a volunteer.’”

And that’s how Islam Hoxha became an assistant coach for the 2021-22 season for the KB Rahoveci Vreshtarët in the Kosovo Basketball Superleague, the top professional league in Kosovo and a member of FIBA, which governs the sport of basketball worldwide.

“We had a coach from Greece, another from Turkey,” he said. “We had a dozen (NCAA) Division I players from the U.S. It was the learning experience of a lifetime.”

Now Hoxha is back in the U.S., working at Corewell Health (formerly Spectrum Health) as a patient services representative even as he plans to enter a new GRCC neurodiagnostic apprenticeship program that sees the college partnering with Corewell to fill a growing gap in the health care system.

And he is sharing his experiences in Kosovo – and his deep love for basketball – with the GRCC basketball program, its 15 players and his fellow coaches.

“I love basketball because it’s a beautiful game,” he said simply. “But another reason I love it is because I know I am helping young men achieve some goals they have set for themselves. It’s meaningful to be a part of their lives and always be there for them when they need advice, knowledge or just someone to talk to.”

And, he added, there is a strong element in his coaching philosophy of paying it forward.

“Coming to the United States as a refugee, a lot of people helped my family and me in the beginning and I could never be more thankful,” he said. “So, helping these young men get to where they want to be in life as people and as athletes is definitely a way in response to everyone who has helped me.”

Fox said that in Hoxha’s short time with the program, he already is making a big difference.

“It’s hard to overstate how he has helped us in his first semester on campus,” Fox said. “Coming from the world of professional basketball, he sees the game with a different eye. The guys really respect his knowledge of the game and love learning from him. Beyond that, the players also respond to his positive energy.”

In return, Hoxha said he is thrilled to be learning from Fox, whose coaching roots run deep.  Gary Fox, Joe’s dad, was a longtime coach at Greenville High School, and George Fox, Joe’s granddad, won a state championship with Magic Johnson at Lansing Everett. 

“Coach Fox already has helped me a lot with learning the game further,” Hoxha said. “And, hopefully, me bringing some knowledge from the European way will help further bring success to the program.”

Hoxha noted that before the game against Lansing Community College the team ran a new warm-up, based on large part on what the team at KB Rahoveci had used to get ready for games.

“If we don’t win tonight,” he had said with a laugh prior to tipoff, “we might not ever run it again.”

But at the end of the contest, the big scoreboard at the fieldhouse told the tale: GRCC 106, LCC 99, as the Raiders ran their 2022 record to a perfect 4-0 and the new warmup got its first “W.”

Nervous no more, Hoxha could only smile as he walked with the team from the floor to the locker room after a hard-fought victory.

Prior to the game, just two hours earlier, he had leaned in with his fellow coaches and the players for a final cheer before the Raiders took the floor.

Together they had shouted, “One, two, three, team. Four, five, six, family.”

In that moment, it was hard for Hoxha to not think about the path his life has taken and the journeys he has been on with both his biological family and now his GRCC basketball family.

And while he knows his players aren’t literally riding on his shoulders to safety, as he once did with his dad, Hoxha said he hopes they’re perhaps doing so metaphorically. 

“To me, personally, that chant is powerful,” he said. “It means I know I am changing someone’s life for the good every single day.”

This story was reported by Phil de Haan.

Audrey Meyering becomes first GRCC athlete to earn three All-American titles as cross country teams shine in national championship

Grand Rapids Community College runner Audrey Meyering earned her third All-American honor and both college cross country teams finished in the top 12 in the National Junior College Athletic Association DII National Championships.

Kaylee Scott earned her second Coaches Association All-American honor in the event, where the GRCC women’s team finished seventh in the nation, and the men’s team finished 12th.

“I’m proud of our student-athletes and coaches, who demonstrated again that GRCC’s cross country program is among the very best in the nation,” Athletic Director Lauren Ferullo said. “Our teams work hard to be successful on the course and in the classroom.”

Meyering, a Middleville resident, finished 23rd with a time of 20:23. She is the first GRCC athlete to receive athletic All-American honors three times in the same sport.

Scott, who broke the school’s 5K record earlier this season, finished in 21st place with a time of 20:10. She earned All-American honors last year as well.

Rose Meyer finished a solid 37th place of 218 runners, with a time of 20:43.

The women’s team, coached by Sharon Becker, had four freshmen rounding out the team’s performance.

Samantha Sixberry was 84th with a time of 21:49, Chloe Jones finished 93rd in a time of 22:02, Mariana Zaragoza was 102nd with a time of 22:16 and Zoe Zawacki was 158th in a time of 24:01.

The men’s team, coached by Rob Hyde, claimed 12th place in the nation, with 2021 All-American Coleman Clark leading the way, finishing 34th in the race with a time of 27:15.

Mason Kolhoff finished just five seconds behind Clark to finish 37th while fellow freshman Dan Kehoe was 84th with a time of 29 flat.

Four sophomores rounded out the rest of the Raiders in the field of 219 runners.

Craig Fuller was 97th with a time of 29:20, Lucas Schneider was 120th with a time of 30:05, Derek Hopkins was 154th with a time of 31:05 and Andrew Periard was 193rd in a time of 33:07.

Tech Tip: Troubleshooting Assistance for Submitting Timesheets

Timesheets are submitted by most of the campus community on a regular basis, IT would like to offer some common resolutions below for common errors with your timesheet. 

  1. When opening your timesheet, make sure to enable editing and enable content on your excel file.
  2. If you are receiving a Visual Basic or Run Time error, you will likely need to download a new copy of the paybook to your J Drive.
  3. If you are using a Macbook or working from home, you will need to submit your Timesheet via VMware.

For more information and helpful tips, please visit the IT 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 11/14/2022

First-generation college students talk about challenges

11/11/22 School News Network (Kent Intermediate School District)

Psychology Professor Ennis Young told a panel of educators that he would likely be in prison if he didn’t go to college.

… Young and other faculty, staff and college students shared their stories during panels on what it’s like to be first in their families to go to college during National First Generation College Student Day, which GRCC’s TRIO program celebrated Tuesday as part of the annual event started by the  Council for Opportunity in Education and the Center for First-Generation Student Success. Every Nov. 8 is now designated for the day. TRIO’s mission is to support and motivate first-generation, low-income students and students with disabilities throughout their college experience.

LSSU plans Native American Heritage Month events

11/12/22 The Sault News (Sault Ste. Marie)

SAULT STE. MARIE — November is Native American Heritage Month, and all across the country tribes will be celebrating their culture and teaching it to others as well.

… Photographer Scott Laursen, who lives in the Bay Mills area, created the collection as part of Native American history and photography classes he was attending at Grand Rapids Community College and the New Hampshire Institute of Art.

44th Elkhart Juried Regional exhibit continues through December 23 at Midwest Museum

11/13/22 South Bend Tribune (Ind.)

ELKHART — The 44th Elkhart Juried Regional exhibit continues through Dec. 23 at the Midwest Museum of American Art, 429 S. Main St.

… This year’s judges were Nick Antonakis, chair and professor of visual art at Grand Rapids Community College, and Shaun Dingwerth, executive director of the Richmond (Ind.) Art Museum.

Great American Smokeout on November 17

The GRCC School of Health Sciences is hosting a Great American Smokeout event in collaboration with the Urban League of West Michigan. The focus of these interactive sessions is to bring awareness to our students and the community on the tactics used by the tobacco and vaping industries targeting minority youth.

This event is for our GRCC students but is also open to the public. It will take place on Thursday, November 17 from 4 – 5:30 pm in the Calkins Science Center Auditorium.

Please share broadly and encourage instructors to share the attached flyer in their classes and post it on Blackboard. 

Thank you for promoting this event within your respective departments.

Turkey Trot is taking off for 2022

We are proud sponsors of the 30th Anniversary of the Grand Rapids Public Schools Turkey Trot on November 24, 2022 (Thanksgiving Day)!

The Turkey Trot season starts next week on September 19. Proceeds from the race help to offset the cost of Grand Rapids Public Schools athletics.


$5 discount code: 2022GRCC5

Thanks again for the continued support to the students of GRPS! 

HR Notification: Personal & Emergency Contact information

Did you know you can review and update your personal and emergency contact information that is currently on file with Human Resources? 

To do so, visit the Online Center and select the Personal Details tile. Navigate to Addresses, Contact Details (for phone numbers), and/or Emergency Contacts from the left side menu to review and update the information. 

If you need assistance with updating your information, please contact Nicole Dekker at

HR Notification: Recent changes to reporting conference attendance

Beginning this year, employees will be asked to self-report conferences they’ve attended since July 1, 2022, as this information will no longer be loaded into training summaries. 

Self-reporting professional development is quick, easy, and can be done through the Online Center.

Visit the Professional Development/Training Summary webpage for step-by-step instructions or contact Nicole Dekker at for assistance.

Please note: A Leave of Absence form will still need to be completed, as needed.