Welcome, President Lepper

Dr. Charles Lepper smiling.

Welcoming Dr. Charles Lepper on his first day as president of Grand Rapids Community College.

“I am a first-generation college graduate and worked throughout college. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. Many students who come to us, students of all ages, have experiences like mine. That’s one of the things that make community colleges special. We all have a tremendous opportunity to make a difference in the lives of our students, and our community and to have our lives shaped by them as well.”

Dr. Tina Hoxie returning to serve as interim provost

Dr. Tina Hoxie smiling.

Dr. Tina Hoxie is putting her retirement on hold to return to GRCC as interim provost.

Hoxie has served GRCC students for nearly 30 years, last as the associate provost and dean of Student Affairs, retiring last April. Her first day back will be Feb. 1.

Hoxie is filling in while the college searches for a replacement for provost Brian Knetl, who is leaving Jan. 20 to become president of Waubonsee Community College in Illinois.

Hoxie came to GRCC as director of Student Activities after working at Aquinas College for 11 years. She became dean of Student Affairs in late 2001, with the role becoming associate provost and dean of Student Affairs in 2013.

Hoxie last year said encouraging students to go to college, helping and meeting their needs as they start, stop, work through the unexpected, and come back to finish their goals has been something she enjoyed most about her time at GRCC.

“The relationships and connections across campus have always made my job easy. The GRCC staff do an amazing job caring for, supporting, and serving our students. It has always been my passion to continually work toward improving the student experience, reduce student barriers, help students succeed, and find ways to increase access to GRCC. I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with so many incredible students over the years and with a team of people at GRCC who give it their all!”

Farewell open house for Provost Brian Knetl

Provost Brian Knetl speaking from behind a podium.

Come bid farewell to Provost Brian Knetl at an open house planned for 2-4 p.m. on Jan. 18 in room 226 of the Administration Building.

Dr. Knetl, who has been GRCC provost since 2019, will become the fifth president at Waubonsee, which is located in Sugar Grove, Ill., about 45 miles west of Chicago and has about 12,000 credit-seeking students.

Knetl said the move also allows him to return to his native Illinois, and be closer to his children and family.

“While Grand Rapids and West Michigan will always be an important and special part of my life, I am grateful to have this opportunity in a place I consider home,” he said.

Faculty, staff and students have special opportunity with Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration speaker

Dr. Eddie Glaude Jr. with a serious look on his face.

Dr. Eddie Glaude Jr. is one of the country’s most prominent scholars.

The James S. McDonnell distinguished university professor and chair of the Department of African American Studies at Princeton University, Glaude is an author, political commentator, public intellectual and passionate educator who examines the complex dynamics of the American experience.

His writings, including “Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul,” “In a Shade of Blue: Pragmatism and the Politics of Black America,” and the most recent, “Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons for our Own,” take a wide look at Black communities, the difficulties of race in the United States and the challenges the country faces as a democracy.

Dr. Glaude will join us on-campus for a brief lecture and Q&A session. We may also have a giveaway!

Join us in the ATC Auditorium at 3 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 16, or join us remotely.

Employee link: https://youtu.be/qUNJerd3v0E

Student link: https://youtu.be/tJ4QkUO2Gd0

This event will not be recorded.

Teaching, Learning, and Distance Education News

Navigate Early Alert Training: Sessions this Week!
As a follow up to Learning Day, we have scheduled two virtual trainings this week to provide additional professional development about Navigate Early Alert.  Each session will offer technical training on the use of Navigate Alerts, including how to issue an alert and what happens after an alert is issued.  There will also be a Q&A for attendees to ask any technical questions. Each session will conclude with a list of future training opportunities and information about how to be involved in improving the GRCC Cares network for students.

The sessions will be held on Wednesday, January 18 from 2:00 – 2:45 p.m. and Thursday, January 19 from 10:00 – 10:45 a.m.  Please visit the CTE Calendar and Programming website to register for either session.

AI Articles & Resources
Here in TLDE, we’ve been having a lot of conversations about Artificial Intelligence (AI) and ChatGPT.  We’ve put together this Google document with articles and resources for those interested in learning more.  Stay tuned to future TLDE news updates for information about upcoming workshops on this topic.  Please also let us know if you would like us to join you in a department meeting to continue this conversation!

Nominations Open for Salute to Women Awards! (Cross-post from GRCC Today)

The Salute to Women Award celebrates the accomplishments of women and gender equity advocates who impact the GRCC community and beyond. The award is open to all GRCC stakeholders regardless of gender or gender identity. The nomination form is available on the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (ODEI) Salute to Women website.  ODEI will be hosting an awards luncheon on Wednesday, March 29th at noon. More details to follow.

Featured Upcoming Workshops/Events/Information:

  1. Assessment of Student Learning Training, January 23, 2 – 3 p.m., In-person.
  2. Winter Semester TLDE Faculty Liaison Office Hours, Virtually: Tuesdays 1 – 3 p.m. (email dvilmont@grcc.edu to request a virtual appointment).  
  3. TLDE Office Information: The TLDE office location is RJF 373.  TLDE staff are available Mondays – Fridays from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. to assist you!  Please stop by the office, email cte@grcc.edu, or call 616-234-3205 and we will be happy to help you!

Please visit CTE’s Calendar and Programming for the current listing of all Winter 2023 Professional Development opportunities being offered by TLDE!

‘Darwin Never Saw This Coming’ lecture looks at population biology and more

As part of the national Darwin Day celebration, GRCC Biological Sciences will partner with the Michigan Humanists to offer a public lecture presented by GRCC professor Greg Forbes.

The lecture, “Darwin Never Saw This Coming; A Human Population Beyond 8 Billion!” will be a discussion of population biology, evolution and the future of Earth’s ecosystems.

The event is planned for 7-8 p.m. on Feb. 7 at the Calkins Science Center Auditorium, room 348. Doors open at 6:40 p.m.

The event is free and open to the public.

My Story Started at GRCC: Culinary program and a bit of astronomy help Rachel Baas launch successful Equinox Pastries and Pops

Rachel Baas in an stripped apron, smiling.

Rachel Baas wasn’t quite sure what she wanted to do after graduating from Byron Center High School in 2016.

“I was planning on going to college originally for some sort of art degree,” she recalled recently. “But I didn’t know exactly what I might want to do with that degree.”

Enter GRCC’s Secchia Institute for Culinary Education, specifically the Baking and Pastry Arts track.

“It was the perfect fit,” Baas said. “Really baking and pastry have allowed me to have a solid career that I think lets me be just as artistic as traditional art.”

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.

After attending GRCC from 2016 to 2019, and earning an associate degree in Culinary Arts, Baas went on to complete the joint program in Hospitality Management with Ferris State University.

She now works parttime for Gun Lake Casino and owns her own business, called Equinox Pastries and Pops. And after five-plus years in the hospitality industry, she said she still loves the pace and variety of her work.

“At Gun Lake, we have quite a bit of freedom and flexibility because of our pastry chef, so that’s great,” she said. “And we make desserts for all five restaurants that are part of the casino, so there’s a lot of variety there. But then I also have my own business. That not only lets me get really creative, but it’s also what I someday want to do on a fulltime basis.”

Baas credits GRCC professor Audrey Heckwolf for not only helping her grow from a baking and pastry perspective but also for instilling in her a confidence that she could one day own her own business.

“I took retail baking with her,” Baas said. “That course is a lot more than just creating baked good for a store. There is a lot of research and development that is part of it, thinking about mass production, being business minded. The course, and Chef Audrey, helped me get that motivation to someday be a business owner. I can’t thank her, and many of my other professors, enough.”

One of those professors, Laura Woolsey, has a doctorate in Astronomy and Astrophysics from Harvard and indirectly helped Baas name her business.

“It’s a funny story actually,” Baas said with a smile. “I was in Woolsey’s astronomy class trying to figure out how to connect the word equinox to baked goods since I liked the sound of Equinox Pastries. My professor was walking around the room, talking about how the seasons worked, with a plastic ball model of the earth with a metal axis down the middle, and it clicked. It was a circle, with a stick in it, and I could make that: cake pops. So, I doodled the logo with the “O” in Equinox as a cake pop and the rest was history.”

Now, with Equinox Pastries and Pops, Rachel creates custom desserts for people’s celebrations, teaches cookie and cake pop decorating classes and also owns a vintage camper that she renovated to become a fun mobile dessert bar for markets and events.

“I absolutely love creating people’s dessert visions into delicious realities while also being able to use my business and work as a creative outlet,” she said with a big smile.

She prepares her products out of licensed kitchen in Eastown in Grand Rapids, renting space by the hour as needed. And while she likes the arrangement, she said her GRCC education taught her never to settle, so she has her sights set higher.

“Last year I did a farmer’s market every week,” she said. “And one of my goals in 2023 is to get into more retail settings. If I’m able to do that, then the next step would be to have my own kitchen. It would be a big, big step, but I want to dream big.”

This story was reported by Phil de Haan.

Sally Merrill shines as GRCC women’s basketball team dominates Bay College, men’s team falls short

Sally Merrill playing basketball.

Sally Merrill led the Grand Rapids Community College women’s basketball team to a convincing conference-opening win over Bay College on Saturday.

In the second game of the doubleheader, GRCC’s men’s basketball team dropped its game 88-75. It is the team’s third-straight loss after starting the season with 11 consecutive wins.

The women’s team led wire-to-wire, and by as many as 39 points, cruising to an 81-47 win and the team’s second victory in a row, improving to 7-4 overall.

Merrill scored a game-high 21 points and added 18 rebounds, which was the second most of her career.

Four other Raiders finished in double figures, including sophomore shooting guard Alyssa Katerberg, who had a career-high 13 points.

GRCC had five season-highs performances as a team, including points, field goal attempts, field goals made, rebounds and steals.

Emersyn Koepke had a career-high seven steals to go with her nine points and team-high four assists.

 The men’s team jumped out to an 11-point lead, but Bay College came back to take a 43-39 half time lead and they never looked back, eventually taking the game 88-75. Brockton Kohler lead the team with 18 points and eight rebounds.

The Raiders finished with a season-low in field goal percentage and converted a season-high 20 turnovers.

GRCC, city of Grand Rapids partner to share about sustainability, conservation and careers through ‘Water Pool-ooza’ events

Chemistry student conducting an experiment with water.

Families can learn about the water they drink and potential careers through hands-on activities during two “Water Pool-ooza” events.

The program, funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is designed for fourth- through 12th-graders and their families, said Hillary Caren, a chemist with Grand Rapids’ water system.

Grand Rapids Community College, which runs a training program for jobs related to municipal water, public works, clean energy and river restoration projects, is a partner.

“Water Pool-ooza will provide students with hands-on activities, taught by water professionals, community partners and nonprofits, that are designed to expose them to a variety of water-related issues and careers,” she said.

The two Water Pool-ooza events are free:

  • Feb. 25, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the city’s Lake Michigan Filtration Plant, 17350 Lake Michigan Drive.

Participants can follow the journey drinking water takes to reach their faucet. Water professionals will guide them through the treatment process with interactive activities to learn more about drinking water and about careers in the water industry.

  • March 11, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at GRCC’s Tassell M-TEC, 622 Godfrey Ave. SW.

Participants can learn more about water sustainability, conservation and careers through activities led by nonprofit and community partners. City staff will lead demonstrations, and water professionals will share their roles within the water industry.

Caren said speakers at the two events will come from the state Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy, the Kent County Drain Commission, the cities of Grand Rapids and Wyoming, and private industry.

“Water Pool-ooza will educate school students about the importance and beauty of the water around us and how it impacts our daily lives,” she said. “They will learn about diverse topics related to our water resources and begin to understand their role as water stewards and champions.”

GRCC In the News 01/16/2023

West Michigan sees AI innovations take shape

1/13/23 Grand Rapids Business Journal

With the rapid growth of artificial intelligence worldwide, companies and individuals here in West Michigan have embraced the technology’s potential.

… Other institutions in the region also have started to harness AI capabilities. In August 2022, Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC) was awarded a grant to help enhance AI programming for higher education.

Reconnect reforms boost program flexibility; advocates seek to lower minimum age to 21

1/15/23 mibiz.com

Late last month, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a pair of bills into law that aim to boost participation in a free statewide community college tuition program by shifting reporting requirements and allowing more flexibility in class scheduling.

… Of the 2,584 Grand Rapids Community College students accepted into the Reconnect program for the winter semester that started Jan. 9, 1,141 are enrolled this winter while the rest can start in the summer or fall. About half of the enrolled students this winter are taking classes for the first time, and more than 400 are returning to complete their education after more than two years away. 

All in the basketball family: Koepkes coach 3 area varsity teams

1/15/23 Traverse City Record-Eagle

BELLAIRE — Leighten Koepke assumes the role of the Koepke family’s unofficial historian.

… The Koepke home in Bellaire features a refrigerator with six different basketball schedules stuck to it. Those for Bellaire boys, Charlevoix girls, St. Francis girls, Grand Rapids Community College women, the Northern Pride travel team Paul started and Parallel 45, a boys travel team that their younger brother Drake plays for and Paul helps coach.

A dual approach to nursing shortages

1/16/23 Science X

As someone whose health care career began as an adult student at community college, I recognize how an associate degree can open the door to a world of opportunities.

… The first result was a recently announced local partnership that combines tuition support with paid on-the-job professional experience. Students who complete one semester of Grand Rapids Community College’s Nursing Program can apply for the program and have up to three semesters of their Grand Rapids Community College tuition paid by UMH-West. They will commit to working at UMH-West for two years upon completion of the Grand Rapids Community College program and becoming licensed as registered nurses.

(Article written by alumnus Steven Polega, senior vice president-chief nursing officer for University of Michigan Health West.)

Nominations open for Salute to Women

25th Annual Salute to Women.

Deadline: Friday, February 17, 2023

The Salute to Women Award celebrates the accomplishments of women and gender equity advocates who impact the GRCC community and beyond. The award is open to all GRCC stakeholders regardless of gender or gender identity.

We will be hosting a luncheon Wednesday, March 29 at noon. More details to follow.

The nomination form is available on the ODEI Salute to Women website.

Support Staff Professional Development (SSPD) Grant

The GRCC Grants Department is accepting applications for the Support Staff Professional Development (SSPD) grant program. The purpose of the award is to encourage support staff to improve their professional skills related to their GRCC assignments.

Awards are for amounts up to $2,500 and the deadline is January 20, 2023 at 5 p.m.

The SSPD Application packet and Guidelines are available on the Grants Department SSPD Application & Guidelines webpage.

Please note applications must include a supervisor’s approval form, a budget form, and budget documentation.

If you have any questions about SSPD grants, please contact Julie Blaszak at extension 3928 or julieblaszak@grcc.edu. Good luck!

January 23, 2023 Economic Club of Grand Rapids opportunity for GRCC students

The Economic Club of Grand Rapids has gifted us with the opportunity to have GRCC students participate in an upcoming luncheon FOR FREE. The next event is Alan Beaulieu with the presentation, “Calculate to Win.” More information on the topic at https://econclub.net/events-2/#speaker-info-9

Limited seats are available!

To register for the conference, and get more information, please complete the January 23, 2023 Economic Club of Grand Rapids Opportunity for GRCC Students google form.

Change to employee exercise classes week of January 16

Person holding a hand weight, smiling.

For next week only, a few modifications have been made to the schedule:

Monday, January 16


Room 212 FFH

exercise with Lannie

Wednesday, January 18

employee exercise class CANCELLED

Thursday, January 19


Room 212 FFH

Fitness Fusion

Danielle Terpstra subbing for Lannie

This does not affect the Monday, January 16 Spin & Sculpt class (5:15-6:00pm) nor the Tuesday January 17 Strength Blast class (12-12:45pm).

After that, schedule is back to normal 🙂

Join us!