IIPD Grant applications due March 17

The GRCC Grants Department is accepting applications for the Instructional Improvement & Professional Development (IIPD) Program. The purpose of the award is to support faculty professional development to ensure continued growth, develop new avenues of instruction and curriculum, and to enhance the professional lives of faculty for increased student learning, achievement and success.

Awards are for amounts up to $5,000 and the deadline is Friday, March 17, 2023 at 4:30 p.m. The IIPD application packet and guidelines are available on the Grants Department webpage at www.grcc.edu/iipdgrants. 

Please note that applications must include a signed Dean’s Approval form and Department Head approval form, a budget form, and budget documentation. If you have any questions about IIPD grants, please contact Julie Blaszak at  julieblaszak@grcc.edu. Good luck!

Learn From the Best: Tom Neils tutors students in STEM subjects to help them find success

Tom Neils teaching in the classroom.

As both a professor and a tutor, Tom Neils is always looking for opportunities to help students have a “lightbulb moment” – when a student fully understands a concept. 

Neils came to GRCC 25 years ago to teach a variety of chemistry courses. Upon retiring in 2021, Neils became a tutor for the TRIO program to continue supporting students.

TRIO is a federally funded program that supports first-generation, low-income students, and students with disabilities during their college experience. The program’s assistance ranges from academic and financial support to personal counseling and physical needs. 

“TRIO is special because everyone works so diligently to help the students not only succeed in their studies, but also learn about all the opportunities available to them after they graduate from GRCC,” Neils said.

Working with students is the best part of Neils’s day. He tutors all STEM topics, but enjoys chemistry and math the most. As a tutor he is able to identify the hurdles that prevent a student from learning a specific skill or topic. A level of personal attention that was not as easily given in the classroom. Neils is impressed that students have so many great questions, and are eager to learn. 

Neils is always looking for opportunities to continue learning. Over the past 15 years he has worked with colleagues and textbook authors to correct an error that has existed in the chemistry world for a long time about the pKa of water. The error appears in many common use textbooks, and Neils has written many modules and letters to get it corrected. 

Since beginning the work in 2006, he and his colleagues have been able to get several textbook authors to make the changes and also some reference tables on the Internet. Their work was acknowledged by one of the most prestigious chemical journals, The Journal of the American Chemical Society. Neils and his colleague were invited to record a YouTube video with the editor-in-chief to discuss the error and their work to correct it. 

Neils’s passion for chemistry motivates him to encourage students to pursue their own passions. 

Neils tells students, “Choose a career that you are passionate about. If you are not sure what you want to do, take courses in a wide variety of fields so that you can find what is of interest to you. In either case, community college is a great place to start!”

More information about the Physical Sciences is available here. 

More information about TRIO is available here.

My GRCC Story: DeMarco Adkins says GRCC’s Disability Support Services helps him overcome challenges created by cerebral palsy

DeMarco Adkins has some advice for Grand Rapids Community College students with disabilities: If you need help, ask for it.

“When I started at GRCC, I really didn’t want to ask for help from Disability Support Services,” said Adkins, whose cerebral palsy makes writing difficult. “It was my pride. I really wanted to try my best to do my work without that extra support.”

That, he said, was a mistake.

Adkins, who attended GRCC after graduating high school in 2008, dropped out his first semester when poor grades threatened his GPA. When he returned the following semester, Adkins said he gave himself permission to ask for help.

“I really wanted to start off the semester as best as I could, so I requested their services immediately,” he said.

He found the Disability Support Services advisors helpful, explaining the types of accommodations available and all required documentation for services.

GRCC’s Disability Support Services is one of many learning resources the college offers. Its mission is to help students of all abilities have equal access to all curricular and co-curricular activities. That’s made possible by helping to remove campus barriers or coordinating reasonable accommodations.

That support made all the difference.

“The advisors assigned an individual who was a note-taker because I write slow and couldn’t keep up with the class and what the instructor was talking about,” said Adkins, now 32. “I was also given extra time to take tests and exams, which was very helpful for me.”

The college’s Academic Advising & Transfer Center later stepped in to assist Adkins when he decided to transfer in 2010 to Cornerstone University.

“Most of my GRCC classes were transferable, which was great,” said Adkins, who completed an associate degree and bachelor’s degree in ministry leadership at Cornerstone.

Adkins suggests other GRCC students with disabilities immediately seek support services to avoid falling behind like him.

“There’s no shame in it, trust me,” he said.

The Disability Support Services office is located on room 368 of the Student Center, and can connect with students in person and virtually. The office can be contacted by email at disability@grcc.edu, and by phone at (616) 234-4140.

This story was reported by Beth McKenna.

Brockton Kohler’s late-game heroics lead GRCC men’s basketball team to victory over Delta College

Brockton Kohler shooting a free throw during a game.

Brockton Kohler sank two free throws with 10.7 seconds remaining helping the Grand Rapids Community College’s men’s basketball to an 81-78 win over Delta College on Thursday.

In the earlier game, Sally Merrill scored a career-high 31 points, but the women’s team fell 78-65 in the team’s final regular-season game.

With the win, the men’s team will head to the postseason on a six-game winning streak, with a 21-7 overall record and 9-5 conference record.  The team finished in third place.

“It was a back and forth battle all the way to the finish,” coach Joe Fox said. “We got some great performances down the stretch tonight, particularly from Kohler, Isaac Warning, and Danyel Bibbs. Defensively, Carter Thomas, Bashir Neely and Seth Schuitema all had a huge impact. I’m proud of this team’s regular season. Twenty-one wins is a great bounce back after a rough year last year from a wins and losses standpoint. Seeing the maturation of the sophomores has been great.”

Kolher’s game-high 21 points included five three-pointers on 7-of-13 from the field.

Isaac Warning played a career-high 38 minutes and scored a career-best 18 points and had a team-high nine rebounds.

Danyel Bibbs had  17 points, six rebounds and a game-high nine assists.

The women’s team led 16-15 after the first quarter, but Delta College erupted for 28 points in the second quarter and built a lead that GRCC couldn’t surpass.

GRCC did have fewer turnovers and more steals and assists than the visitors, but were out-rebounded by 14, which was an uncommon occurrence as the team ranks as one of the top rebounding teams in the Michigan Community College Athletic Association.

Merrill’s 31 points came just two nights from her previous career-high of 30 points against Kirtland Community College. Grace Lodes led the team with nine rebounds, three blocks and five steals while scoring seven points.

The team dropped from second place in the conference to finish tied for third with a 10-4 record.

Muskegon Community College will host GRCC’s women’s team on March 7 in the first round of the playoffs, while GRCC’s men’s team hosts Delta College. Both games will be at 7 p.m.  If either team wins, it will advance to the semi-finals later in the week at Mott Community College.

This story was reported by Ben Brown.

2023 Excellence in Education Awards

The GRCC family is full of amazing and outstanding people . . . people who care, people who go above and beyond, people who bring the very best of themselves to the work that they do.
True excellence is alive at GRCC. We are all fortunate to be a part of a community of educators who make GRCC shine both inside and out. There are special individuals who make learning at GRCC meaningful and impactful for our students and working at GRCC an honor and inspiration for fellow employees.

To recognize them, please take the time to nominate them for the annual GRCC Excellence in Education Award.

Recipients of the full-time faculty, adjunct and staff award each receive $1,000, and a $1,000 contribution to the GRCC Foundation is made in the recipient’s name.

Anyone can nominate! The deadline for nominations is May 12, 2023.

The application has gone online! This makes the entire process faster and easier.

Go to the Excellence in Education Awards webpage and select either Full Time Faculty, Adjunct, or Staff.

Faculty & Adjunct: Email the Provost Office at provost@grcc.edu 
Staff: Email Angela Salinas at angelasalinas@grcc.edu

Thank you for taking the time to nominate a deserving member of the GRCC family for these awards.