Board of Trustees Candidate Forum 2016


>>I wanna welcome everybody to the 2016 GRCC board of trustee candidate forum. My name is Frank Conner, I’m the president of
the faculty association and a professor in the
Psychology department. This forum is co-sponsored
with the faculty association. Nick Antonakis is here from
the academic governing counsel. And Jose Garcia is here
from our student alliance. So this is jointly co-sponsored by the three organizations
here at the college. Just a little bit about structure. I’m gonna manage the structure
of the day, keeping time, keeping things on track. Nick will be handling the
questions to the candidates. I will be keeping time and we’re going, as I tell all of my students, I’m the official time keeper, not that. Because you can go anywhere on campus and you’re in a different time zone, so we have to have somebody
in charge and why not me. The way this is going to
work is, here in a moment, each candidate will have
five minutes to provide a pre set introduction to themselves. They’re gonna give a brief
biographical statement including their education, work history, community activities, a
statement of their candidacy including rationale for
running for the board, and their philosophy of education and then their prospective on the mission of Grand Rapids Community College. They will have five
minutes each to do that. I have already–
>>So we have five minutes to answer all those three questions?>>Yes, you do.
>>Oh my.>>You don’t need five?
We can…>>How about if we took turns? One did one of those, one
did another one of those. (audience laughing)
>>It is a group process. (audience laughing)
You’re each going to
get five minutes to do whatever you want. Can be a song and dance,
it’s whatever you want. (audience laughing) If you don’t take five
minutes, that’s perfectly fine, but I will be managing the time. Also, as a scientist who teaches research
methods, does research, I’ll let you know that I have already randomly assigned for all
of the questions your order. I went to randomization table and gave you little names and numbers. Also as a psychologist, I know the idea of primacy and recency and I don’t wanna privilege
one person over the other. We might even submit this
for a peer-reviewed paper. (audience laughing) Once they get through their introductions, then there is three set questions that all five of the
candidates will receive. They were already made aware
of not to question themselves but the three categories
from which they will come they will have two minutes each
from those I will also time. They will also be given
a copy of those questions as well as Nick reading them. Once again, they’ve been
randomly assigned the order in which they can answer those questions so as to not privilege
one person over the other. So are the candidates prepared? Do you understand or you just
trust that I will lead you in some way that will make sense? It makes sense to me so that’s
really all that matters. (audience laughing) So the first person who’s going to speak to introduce himself, is Mister Brame. And you have five minutes.>>Alright, so my name is Kenyatta Brame. And I’m senior vice president,
executive vice president at Cascade Engineering. I’ve been there for about 10 years. When originally I came back to
Grand Rapids, I practiced law at Miller Johnson for about six years and then I became senior vice president at Sysco Foods, which
is a Fortune 50 company. And so, a little bit about
my academic background. I am a graduate of GRPS City
High School back in 1988, you can do the math to
figure out how old I am, 46. And after that, I went to
Wabash College down in Indiana. I got a few Wabash alumnus here, thank you for coming to see me. After that I went to University
of Michigan for law school. And then I got my MBA from
Michigan State University. So people always ask me
who am I cheering for. This weekend, go blue. (audience laughing) So that’s where I am with that. So at Cascade Engineering we have a front-end, back-end model. So we’ve got executives
that take care of sales and we’ve got a support
team that takes care of the departments that
support the sales team. So for example, I’m
responsible for HR, and IT, and marketing, and communication, and safety, and sustainability. So I have a lot of departments
that support the front-end. And I’ve been doing that for
probably about nine years. Soon after I got there, I was promoted. So I’ve been excited to
work at Cascade Engineering. Cascade Engineering is a great company. I’m sure some of you
are familiar with them. We are a triple bottom line company. So when I studied Business,
we were taught Friedman. And Friedman teaches everybody that the only purpose of a
business is to maximize profits. And at Cascade Engineering
we don’t believe that. We believe in people, planet, and profit. And we look at all three of those criteria when we’re having conversations
about our business. So I’ve been excited to work
there and proud to work there. I’m proud to be from Grand Rapids. I’m gonna now switch
into why I want to work with the community college. When I was much younger, I went to, like I said to City High School. And the community college actually used to be right next door. Back then it was called
the junior college. And so I’ve always felt like
I’ve been part of the college, I’ve been fascinated with what
it’s done, what it’s doing. I have a lot of friends
who started their careers at the community college. I’ve taken classes there. I’ve taken Biology, I’ve
taken some Photography. So I’ve taken some of the
classes because I needed them for academic credit to
graduate from Wabash. And other classes I just took
because I liked learning, I found it fascinating. I was excited about going to class and sharing those experiences
with other people. And still got some pictures of my house from when I took my Photography class at the community college. I think that right now,
we’re at a war for talent. And I think that the community
college is an excellent way for us to make sure that we have the next generations of
leaders that we need. Talk about my philosophy of education. I used to think that everybody needed to get a bachelor’s degree, right? And I preached that for a long time. But now what I believe
is that everybody needs probably some post-secondary
certification. That can be a certification,
it could be some other process, it could be an associate’s degree. Or if could be going
on to get a bachelor’s, a master’s, a PhD, or whatever it is. And I think that the college
provides a great opportunity for people to do that. I’ve often been fascinated by why people are at the community college. Some people wanna stay in their
home for financial reasons. Some people can’t leave the community because of family reasons. Some people don’t know what
they want to do in life and the community college
provides a great way for you to figure out what you wanna do. I was at church this weekend and students from the community college happened to be there. And one of the persons
says that “You know what? “I always thought I wanted to do Business. “And so I took some classes
at the community college, “and I was able to take a numerous classes “at the community college and decided “that I don’t wanna do Business, I wanna do Journalism. “Had I been,” That’s my minister over there. He’s looking, tell ’em
I was at church, yeah. (audience laughing) What he was saying was that
“Had I gone to another school “I wouldn’t have the
opportunity to take all these “different classes because
I wanted to do them. “I couldn’t have afforded it.” And so I think that one
of the purposes of college is to provide access. And access means in
part, financial access. So that everyone that wants to, has a desire to continue
their education can do that. And moving on to the
mission of the college. Talked about the mission. When I read the mission many years ago, I was impressed by it. You talk about open access
and wanting to learn and increasing understanding. And I think that as an
academic institution, the college does a fine job of doing that. And I wanna support that. As a trustee, I think my
role is to work with faculty and administration and with
students to make sure that we can meet the mission of the college. And I think that hopefully that
if I’m elected as a trustee, I will be able to do that effectively. So I’m excited about the opportunity. It’s another way for me to
give back to the community. With my five minutes?>>That was your five minutes.>>I’ll just close up with this. I do a lot of things in the community. So I have my work life, I
have my professional life. I’ve been very successful
in my professional life. And my work life in the community
whether it’s Boy Scouts, or whether it’s the
Graham or Meyer Gardens. I think that a person needs
to contribute to his community and make sure they’re always giving back. This is another way for me to give back. Thank you. (audience applauding)>>We are almost in order. (Kenyatta laughing) (Frank speaks off microphone)>>I’m Kathleen Bruinsma, hi. I grew up on the other
side of Lake Michigan in Madison, Wisconsin, which is a city that’s roughly the same population as Grand Rapids-Wyoming
and Kentwood put together. I went to Providence
College and got my B.A. in Political Science in 1992. So I graduated from high school
the same year as Kenyatta, we’re the same age. I did not know what I wanted
to do after undergrad, so I went to work for
two years after undergrad for the city of Boston. I was a legislative
director on elder affairs. And then I went on to get my law degree at the University of Notre Dame in 1997. I’m married to Jim Bruinsma,
he is a West Michigan native. He grew up in Wayland about 20
miles south of Grand Rapids. He is a lawyer as well. We met when we were both
practicing law in Chicago about 18 years ago. We moved here in 2004
with our two children. I am a lawyer, a mother,
and a community volunteer, not necessarily in that order. Jim and I have two children. We have a 16 year old sophomore at East Grand Rapids High School. We live in East Grand Rapids. We also have a seventh grade daughter at Grand Rapids Public City Middle. So I understand the value
of the community college because I will be looking at colleges in a very short period of time. I’m also a lawyer. I’ve been representing
businesses, manufacturers, credit unions, and banks
for the past 19 years. I do some copyright and trademark work but mostly litigation,
so contract disputes. I also just finished a
rotation doing recruiting with my law firm here in Grand Rapids. So I spent 2015 traveling
around to area law schools and talking to law students about potentially coming to our firm. So I definitely understand
the need for talent from both my clients and
also from within my law firm. I’m also a community volunteer. I grew up with a very strong
ethic of public service. My parents and my grandparents
modeled public service with a high expectation
that my two brothers and I would also engage in public service. So to that end, I have served
as a court-appointed lawyer for low-income families. I currently advise women, free of charge, who are looking to open their own business on corporate formation. I also serve
non-profit-non-partisan boards that address child abuse recovery and also access to healthcare
for low-income individuals. And I’ve always been a volunteer in both East Grand Rapids public schools and Grand Rapids public schools. I want to be a trustee and represent the
community to this college because I’m very passionate
about the college. As a lawyer, I understand
the need for talent and well-trained employees. As a mother, I understand the challenges that are faced by families that are looking at the next
steps after high school. And as a community
volunteer, I value greatly the investment that this
institution and all of you, who are part of this institution
make in every student, regardless of their
zip code or background. I think the college is a place where equal opportunity and good economics meet. Because barriers are lifted
to full participation in our economic world in our democracy, it lifts all of us up. And the way it does that is
because industry and business are provided with well-trained employees, individuals and families
have the dignity of work, and then we get better
participation and everybody wins. I think the role of a trustee
at a public community college like this, is one of a trusty owner, somebody who is not micromanaging the day-to-day operations but rather is entrusting those operations and monitoring the president
and the president’s appointees to make sure they are manifesting the values of the institution
in the day-to-day operations. I do like the ends that have been set by the Board of Trustees as
a series of pathways here. I think student success,
retention, and pathways to transfer are the exact correct things
that we should be looking at and focusing on right
now at this institution. And I like the values of the college. I think that most big questions implicate one of the values that have
been set for the college. And I think that the
Board of Trustees’ job is to look at issues that come up and see which value is implicated and whether it is being fully served. I hope that I can count on your vote. (timer beeps)
One more thing I would also like to talk about is my experience with various sectors in the community: civic, non-profit, business. I have fresh contacts in the
community in all of those areas and I think that could
benefit the college. Thank you. (audience applauding)>>Mister Koetje, you are next.>>I scripted this because I
have a tendency of rambling on. For four decades, I have been privileged to provide leadership in education. Some have suggested
educational entrepreneur is a more accurate
characterization of my journey since graduating from
Grand Valley back in 1972. I chose education as a career because there is no other profession that has equal opportunity
to shape the mind, spirit, and perspective of a child. I chose education because
it’s through education that neighborhoods
stabilize, economies grow, and human needs get addressed. The person I am today has
been influenced and shaped by the communities,
individuals, and organizations who have allowed me into their space over these past 40 years. My professional journey began
in a small Christian school that served the neighborhoods
of East Garfield and Lawndale on the west side of Chicago. Four decades later, I was
privileged to assemble the team whose passion was
to come alongside of leaders in over 400 K-through-12
schools across North America. Leaders who were passionate
about their mission and desirous of a clear
understanding of what it might take to flourish in a future where the landscape was rapidly changing, yet feeling the weight of
their own institutional inertia pulling on their future to look
very similar to their past. In between these two stops, I served both suburban and urban schools. I was privileged to adjunct
at a Kiwanis college here in Grand Rapids in
their Business department. And the consultant team I
was honored to be a part of allowed me into the space of
large complicated organizations who hungered for simplicity while experiencing unimaginable
institutional stress. Looking back over my career, each chapter and each
experience in so many ways was preparing me for the next chapter and the next experience. I sit here this afternoon at the front-end of a wonderful next chapter. The chapter we call retirement. A chapter that allows me the opportunity to be fussy with how I use my
time and where I hang my hat. After all, when one is
willing to work for nothing, wonderful opportunities come their way. (audience laughing) So I’m a non-paid CEO of
Celebration Fellowship, an organization committed
to planting churches in each of the State
of Michigan’s prisons, while partnering with other institutions who are equally interested
in changing the culture in those state prisons. My wife and I are engaged in
a jobs creation initiative for the Haiti Foundation Against Poverty in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, where a growing group of
Haitian citizens repurpose scrap materials from North
American furniture industries and convert these scrap materials
into high quality products to a growing North American customer base. In my continued role as consultant, I’m privileged to come
alongside of the leadership at Godfrey-Lee Public Schools, a small district in Wyoming, Michigan serving a financially
impoverished Latino community. I’m the district’s leadership design coach guiding a human center design process intended to energize hard
working staff, engage students, and increase student learning. I’m also privileged to sit on the Grand Rapids Community
College Board of Trustees. I sit with you because I’m
passionate about working together as we give future shape to one of the most important
assets in Kent County. I chose this place to hang my
hat because this institution intentionally provides important conduit to personal fulfillment for
a rich diversity of learners. From those who may have
stumbled along the way and are looking for a chance
to highly successful learners who are looking for a quality,
cost-effective solution to a four year degree, I
desire to continue to serve this college community
because I believe that the key to our future will not
be found in our history, nor will it be found in Lansing, nor will it be found in Washington D.C. The key to our future will
be found in good governance. (timer beeping)
I’m eager to be part of a board whose commitment
is to create systems where insight comes from a multiple places throughout the college community. I wanna continue to serve
because I’m wanting this board to assume institutional
nimbleness as we respond to new opportunities and
confront new challenges. I look forward to today’s conversation and I’m humbled to be sitting
in front of you today. (audience applauding)>>Mister Shroll.
>>Thank you. I’m excited to be here today. I thank you all for coming and listening. Grand Rapids Community College,
Grand Rapids Junior College, I’ve been involved for a long time. I care a lot about what
the college is doing because I’m well aware
of the impact that it has on our community by
helping all of the people in our community to live a
better life and be part of it. I’ve lived in Grand Rapids
when we’ve had tough times and 14% unemployment. I’ve lived here when
we’ve had 4% unemployment. Four’s more fun.
(audience laughing) No two ways about, and the
college makes a big difference. I now know that. I may not have known that in the beginning when I went through school,
Grand Rapids Public Schools. Graduated from Christian High School. I went to Michigan Tech thinking I
wanted to be an engineer, that was a year or two
after the Sputnik went up, everybody was supposed to be an engineer. Two years there, said “Don’t
wanna be an engineer.” I didn’t know what they did when I went. Came back to learn more about
life and what’s going on. Where did I come to do that? Grand Rapids Junior
College and spent a year. So I’ve been a student here. And it helped tremendously. Then went on to transfer to
Western Michigan University and found what I really
wanted to do in Education. And got my degree in Education and started teaching in Grand Rapids. My four children all went to
Grand Rapids Junior College Community College. I’m very proud and very
happy with all of the things that the college offered to them. They all came and they all
had a little different life. I won’t bother with all of the details and some starts and stops and things but it was a great resource. After teaching for a while here in town. I then entered a business,
my wife’s family business, which I wanted to do as
a vocational teacher, needed to learn more about real world. So I’ve run a business. I’ve hired people. I’ve found other things for people to do that was a better fit for them. And understand about the bottom line, particularly of small businesses. Then I was fortunate
to come to the college and began a teaching career here. But soon found myself in administration. And moved up in the occupational
training program, JCOT. Some of you may be able to remember that. And it was a great experience in something that was very exciting
because I worked particularly with people that were economically and educationally disadvantaged. It was very meaningful to me to help people turn their life around offering a very different
kind of educational experience than the traditional two years gonna go on to the University of Michigan, even though my daughter had done that. But my sons, some of
them a little bit more of a non-traditional. So I was very excited to do that. After doing that growing that program, I was asked to join the administration and be a senior administrator
reporting directly to the president for what we
called newly at that point, work force development
and economic development. Those were not terms that the
college had dealt with before. We didn’t know exactly what that was but it was my job to figure it out and make it work and how
can it help the college. Well, how can it help the college is by helping us fulfill
our mission and our vision helping people to have better lives. It helped serve the community because I went through
with the college’s change from being a junior
college, set up in 1914, as you all probably know, as a transfer to the
University of Michigan. The community college movement came along and it was to be much more, it was to serve the whole community. I’m very passionate about our community, I’ve lived here my whole
life, my family has. And I know that the college
can make a difference. So my campaign theme has been “Better college equals
a better community.” And I think I can help. I think I can help by
being that communicator. When we look at the job description of a Board of Trustee
member, it’s to be the link between the college and the public. I’ve been out there and I’ve done that. With my role here at the college, spent my time in the community. What is it that employers
and the community needed? And then bring that back to the college and what is it that the college can do, and communicate that
back to the employers. I feel very strongly that the college belongs to the community. I’m elected representative,
I hope, to serve you and make sure that the
community benefits greatly from what the college does. (timer beeping) And I’ll tell you one more short story just so you know my passion. Before I came to college, my dad worked here for almost 20 years. I have very big place inside me for Grand Rapids Community
College and just welcome and hope that I could have
the opportunity to now serve in this new role and make
use of all the experiences and knowledge that I’ve
gained over the years. Thank you. (audience applauding)>>Mister Wakefield.>>I guess that leaves me. My name is Keith Wakefield. I also am a graduate of Grand Rapids Community College. Actually, I graduated when
it was a community college in 2014, which is kinda
strange because I started here in 1967, so it was a little bit of a way. (audience laughing) Actually, I graduated
from Central High School right across the street here in 1967, so you can do the math on that one. I went to J.C. from ’67 to
’69 and then I transferred without getting my associate’s degree to Wayne State University in Detroit. And I remember that was
kind of a shock to everybody here at GRJC. at the time. I remember my counselor at the time, I said “You know, I wanna
transfer to a college”, and she goes “Well, what college
do you wanna transfer to?” And I said “Wayne State University,” and she went “Where’s that?” (audience laughing) So I thought, cause I mean
everybody here went to Western and Michigan State and Michigan, so she had to pull out a book and blow the dust off of
it find out where that was. So I did three years at Wayne State and graduated with a bachelor’s
Science and Education with a plan to be a teacher. But unfortunately in 1972, teacher was not a great
career to get into, when they were laying everybody off, and we were in the middle of a recession. I remember applying for jobs and there would be 500
applicants for one position. Was a little intimidating. And I had student loans, amazing enough, we have student loans
today, and I had them then. Not to the level that
they have them today, but still to me, it was a lot of money. So what am I gonna do? How am I gonna pay
these student loans off? So I looked around, looked
around, the job situation in Grand Rapids was
pretty bleak at the time. That was right about the time
of the first fuel crisis, the first gas shortage of 1973. So I saw an advertisement for
the United States Coast Guard, and I said “Gee, maybe
I’ll look into that.” So I went downtown, to
the little rounded corps for the federal building
and there was this little recruiting office and I walked
in and talked to the guy, he said “Sure, we’ll pay your
debts, no problem!”, you know? So I enlisted for four years. Well, 30 years later, I was
still in the Coast Guard. I had a career up and down the east coast. I was in Florida, I was
in Michigan, New York, I was in London for three years. I was in New Jersey, Maryland, I did sea duty to North Atlantic, search and rescue in Florida. All kinds of stuff. I started out as an enlisted guy, taking out the trash and washing windows, and I retired 30 years later
as a chief warrant officer, telling other people to take out the trash and wash the windows. (audience laughing) Then I retired in 2003 and the Coast Guard made
a very strange decision. I don’t know what happened, but they offered me a job as a civilian doing the same job I was
doing in the military. So I became that famous
thing you all hear about, the double dipper. So I went to Baltimore, Maryland and was a contracting officer for the
Coast Guard for eight years. And I did ship repair and you know, bought all kinds of supplies
and all kinds of things for like eight years. And then I “retired” retired
in 2011 and moved back here because my mother was
here and I’m an only child so she was here, she’s 88 years old now and I’m basically the
guy that goes to Meyer and picks up her raisin
bread and yogurt and stuff. I do not have a day job, unfortunate, or fortunately I guess,
nice to not have a job, as long as you have some money, I mean. I’m a member of the American Legion, I’m a member of the VFW
over on the west side. I’m a member of AMVETS. As a matter fact, I’m the post commander at American Legion post
154 in Wyoming, Michigan, which is on Byron Center,
just north of Porter, sort of in the Godfrey-Lee area. We are a non-profit that basically spends their money and their time trying to make
things better for veterans. We spend a lot of money
on the veterans home out north on Coit. So we’re a service organization, I’m a service oriented kinda guy. I live in Wyoming, right down
the street from the Legion. Education philosophy,
that’s a very good question. What is my educational philosophy? I think I can sum it
up by saying one thing, I think it could be open to all. (timer beeping)
When I came here in 1967– Was that my five minutes?>>It was, surprisingly.>>Oh my gosh! I’m surprised, I’ve a lot more to say.>>You can finish your thought, they did.>>Okay, I’ll be very brief. “Open to all” is my concern for education. What do I bring to the board? My diverse background. I’m not a lawyer, I’m not a businessman, I’ve been all over the world,
I’ve seen all kinds of things. I bring a whole different view to the board than everybody else. That’s basically it. (audience applauding)>>Good afternoon. My name is Nick Antonakis, I’m the Visual Arts department head. And I will be asking the
three prepared questions this afternoon that our
candidates will address for two minutes each. My partner here, Frank will be telling us who is going to go first and the order. So here is the first question. Each candidate has just
received the first question and they’re looking at it
and if I could read it. “You have been given a list
of the college’s values. “Do you think these are
sufficient to provide guidance “for the college’s work
and do they represent “the will of the community
we are here to serve? “And as a reminder, the
values of the college are: “excellence, “diversity, “responsiveness, “innovation, “accountability, “sustainability, “respect, “and integrity.”
>>You have two minutes and the first person is Mister Brame.>>Of course.
(audience laughing) So the question is, looking at this list. I guess I was supposed to
move the mic closer to me. So looking at this list,
do I think it’s sufficient? Let’s go down these. I think excellence is
something that we should be very aware of, we should
demand it from ourselves and from our students. When comparing the community college, we should not compare it to
other colleges in Grand Rapids or other colleges in Michigan. We should compare it to
other colleges in the world. I think that’s the standard
that we should have. And as I go through the rest of this list, I think they’re all right on point. Diversity is a value that I think that, talk about our mission, the open access, diversity is gonna be key to that. I think one of the major
ones is accountability. So what are the standards
that we have set for ourselves and are we meeting them? As a trustee, it’s my responsibility to understand what the key
performance metrics are and ensure that we are meeting those. And if we’re not meeting those, what is our plan to make
sure that they’re being met? So I sort of tie that with
follow-up, accountability. I think that we as an
organization should make sure that we are doing what
said we were going to do. I think innovation sort of ties into, I’d put curiosity on this list, and maybe you can tie innovation to that. I think as a student, as a community, we should want our students
to be curious, right? We should want our students
to understand what it is in the world, what problem
are they trying to solve? I should be able to walk to
every community college student and say “What problem
are you trying to solve?” and have them be able to articulate what it is in the world they want to see. I don’t ask people anymore what they wanna do when they grow up. You know what? I ask people what problem are
you trying to solve, right? So what kinda impact are they
having on their community? So I think that as a college,
we should be providing future leaders for our community, (timer beeping)
and if we hit these criteria, I think we’re able to effectively do that.>>Mister Koetje.>>When I worked for Christian
Schools International, I went on the website of all
450 schools that we served. Everyone said that they
provided an excellent education. Went around the country
and got into the belly of those schools, I found
out that several of them were providing mediocre education. And so that word
excellence is a buzz word, and it’s a word I think that
needs to not only drive us, but I think we need to understand what is it that we mean by excellence. So to echo what Kenyatta said, to define what do we mean by benchmark? How do we access, how
do we benchmark that? How do we hold people accountable to that? Is this the maximum, is this
the right list for that? These words certainly
provide us with enough work to do as we move forward. So to suggest that we might wanna replace a word with another word, I’m not in any position
to do that right now. Responsiveness, when I
think about responsiveness, I always ask the question
“Responsive to whom?” When I interviewed for
this position that I’m in when I was appointed to this,
I heard myself saying that maybe the largest community that we need to be accountable to is this year’s crop of eighth
grade graduating students. Aren’t they the ones, quite frankly, that will be our students,
some four, five years from now? And so maybe we ought to think
about what’s our obligation to make sure that we’re
serving a body of students who are gonna be with us in four years. Of course, that intersects
with the business community. Of course, that intersects
with core values. So is this list adequate?
Yes, it is. Does this provide significant work for us? Yes, it does. But it’s all around definition. How do we as a community
define what we mean by each of these words? (timer beeping) Can I use an extra 30
seconds on the next question? (audience laughing)>>You can take my 30 seconds,
I’ll give you my 30 seconds.>>Mister Shroll.>>Thank you. I too have studied and
reviewed the vision and mission and the ends and means of the college. I’m proud to say that I was
here working at the college when we changed over to this
way of structuring ourselves, known lovingly as the Carver model. And it’s gone through some
improvement and I can see that. And I think we’re in pretty good shape. So looking at the values,
I’m mostly in agreement. I offer just a couple of observations. In the area, I think,
excellence, diversity, it’s certainly strong, it’s my background, it’s what I’ve done. I think responsiveness and then in there we say we anticipate. And I think the college
needs to work very hard about anticipating the needs. Right now we have a huge
need in our community in the construction industry for workers and in several others. And you’ve read the paper
and you’ve seen that. We’re just a little behind the
curve with what we’re doing. The work that I did when I
was here to go out and work with economic development
folks, the right placed program that attracts new businesses, the funding for the Midwest Technology
development Center run from the right placed program
that actually started here at the community college,
I wrote the grant for that, we received the money, is to
look ahead and try and be ready before the need is evident by
saying there’s this huge crush of vacant jobs and
businesses can’t expand. Right now, if you talk to
manufacturers, which I still do, on a very regular basis,
they’ve a hard time taking on the work, responding to orders. They’ve a hard time saying we can expand and be a more successful, better
company, cause I don’t know where I’m gonna get the
next set of workers. (timer beeping)
We need to work earlier in the curve. My background and experience
while I was here at the college and what I’ve done before then, I think can be very helpful
to that particular thing. And then I’ll just say accountability, we need to really work
on how well are we doing? Are we doing as well as we can? And use that with J.C. going
out the college to continue to, continuous improvement, I
believe in very strongly.>>Ms Bruinsma.
>>Thank you. To answer the question, I would answer “yes” to
both of these questions. I do think they’re sufficient
to provide guidance for the college’s work
and the board’s work. And I also do think these values represent the will of the community. The two I would like to sort
of pull out and talk about in more detail are
accountability and respect. I’ll start with accountability. The funding sources for
this institution come from two public sources: state aid
from the education budget, and also property tax revenue. And because of that, the
third source of funding being, obviously tuition and fees,
accountability is really important to the Board of
Trustees and the college because we’re dealing
with the public’s money. And so I would highlight accountability. We need to be accountable to
the entire college district, and that sort of
dovetails into my comments on the value of respect. This is a very expansive
community college district and I know that because I
have walked in nine parades in Cutlerville, Jenison, Grandville, East Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids, Lowell. It’s really important that we all respect whoever is at the table in every aspect of the college’s operations, whether it’s the Board of Trustees or any
other part of the college. Respect all voices at the table. And so I do think that this
board has worked well together. I would very much like to be a part of it, and I do think I would be able to do that. I think as a litigator,
in business disputes you often are up against
another side that has a completely different
perspective than you do on the side of facts and a set of laws. And you have to be able
to listen carefully to their position and come
to a consensus, and that’s a very important skill for
a trustee to have as well because this college, this
district is so expansive. (timer beeping)>>And Mister Wakefield.
>>Ah yes. I think all these topics, excellence, diversity, responsiveness, innovation,
accountability, sustainability, respect, integrity all are great. I think they definitely provide
a framework for the college. But the three that I really
sort of focus on is diversity. The one thing I noticed when
I was coming here to classes in 2013 was how diverse
this place had become. When I was here in 1968, not so. I was very, very much taken
and very, very pleased to see the number of people of color, the women, young women with kids who were
worried about daycare issues, it was a very,
very diverse place. As far as responsiveness, I
think we have to be responsive to our students, and to the community. And one of the things I try
to emphasize is outreach to some non-traditional
student groups such as senior citizens, of which I am one, and veterans, of which I am one. A lot of these people are not even aware of what goes on down here. They have no idea what’s offered
at this community college. They don’t appreciate the
classes that are available. They were amazed when
I had told my friends that I was taking classes. The first question was
“Why are you doing that?” You know? I told him it was keeping my mind open, it was a great experience. I really tried to sell it to them. We have senior citizen homes
and assisted living places all over Grand Rapids
and I think it’d be great if a community college
could do a road show at those places and say “Hey, these are the things
we can do for you people.” And innovation, technology. I was absolutely overwhelmed
by the increase of technology here at the community college. All the classes being done online, all the power point
presentations, the
little electronic (timer beeping)
remote control things you take your tests on and
everything, it was fantastic. I’m very impressed with it. So I think those are the three, diversity, responsiveness, and innovation.>>Thank you, candidates. Now our candidates will be
receiving the second question. And the question is “The college has three ends. “These are: student success pathways, “workforce pathways,
and transfer pathways. “Do you believe these
are appropriate outcomes “for the college? “And how would you
evaluate those three ends “in relationship to each other?”>>Ms Bruinsma is first.>>Well, I actually would say that transfer and workforce pathways are two of the ways students can
succeed when they’re here. I do think that student
success is absolutely an essential ends of this institution. I think it’s good that the college doesn’t just take people’s money and then have them be
here and have that be it. I think the college has
been doing a very good job. And the data so far is
promising on making sure once people are here, they
know what’s available to them. They know what their options are. And that they follow a track that works for them specifically. I think that the college
is uniquely equipped to work on workforce development for our entire region and even our state. And talent development,
that’s the workforce pathways. The school of workforce
development obviously addresses that pathway. And then transfer pathways, I think that mostly the
college of arts and sciences addresses that particular pathway. And these ends also hint
at the beautiful breadth of students that this college serves. From the kids at East
Grand Rapids where I live, we just sent 30 kids from
the graduating class of 2016 to the college. Some of them are choosing
transfer pathways, some of them are choosing
workforce pathways. Two kids, who are the
first in their families to look for any post-secondary education and might be choosing one
of those two pathways. So I do think these are
appropriate outcomes. (timer beeping)
And I think that workforce and transfer are two that various students would
define as succeeding.>>Mister Schroll.>>I think these pathways, as they’ve been described are fine. I think there’s room for a
little bit of manipulation. I’m not sure that we should
differentiate between what’s called workforce development, workforce pathways and transfer. Because I believe if we talk to the people that are talking about
transferring, later on, they’re still gonna go to work. We provide a part of that preparation for them to go to work. And so I think that we
often talk about them workforce development
and transfer readiness. I think that they’re more
similar than they are different because that’s what people need. I think we’ve gotta look at it
more from what the students’ ends are and what they want. I’ve been a long-time proponent
of asking students up front when they come and on a continuous
basis “What’s your goal?” And then track our success
to the extent that they’ve accomplished their goal. And even if that takes us a
while, with the data gathering capabilities that are
available to us these days, I think we oughta track that. I liken it to the business model. If I’m making parts for General Motors, and I ship them to General Motors, that’s not the end, that’s only a part. I’ve gotta be responsible
for how well that part works 10 years from now. That Takata airbag needs to
work and needs not to fail later on. And I need to be responsible for that. I think we oughta do that. There’s certain parts of everybody’s role getting ready for work that
we oughta be focused on, and we oughta make sure
that they know and learn because that’s what
employers are looking for. People want what employers are looking for so they can get a job. They don’t wanna get out
there and be surprised and have the employer
ask the question, not “Did you go to school?”, not “Did you get these grades?” not “Did you spend time and money?” Employers all ask the same
question and expect that it is “What can you do
for me as a business?” (timer beeping)
That’s what they wanna know. And we need to help
people prepare to have the good and right answer to that and we need to be responsible for that. So I think it’s all good,
but maybe we can work and move them forward a little bit.>>Mister Wakefield.>>I think the most important
one of these, strikes me, is the student success pathways. That’s the bottom line,
that’s the building block, that’s the foundation. And I’ve seen in my experience here, and I’ve talked to students here. That’s something at Grand
Rapids Community College is doing a very good job at. They’re very, very much
in the kids’ lives about how are we gonna get you
from point A to point B. What do you need? Let’s check your math out. You know, they’re basically very concerned about helping the kids, not just the kids, I shouldn’t say kids because
I saw many, many people in their 20’s and 30’s here. And a lot of them had not
been very good students for many reasons in high
school and they’re here and so then they’re faced
with term papers and footnoting and power
pointing and all these things that they really don’t
know and GRCC. has been very good about helping them. And I think they feed those kids into the workforce pathways
and the transfer pathways. I agree with C.J. I think, basically, those
two kinda blend together. If you do one, you can
probably do the other one. So I think the basic building block is the student success pathways. I think we really need
to concentrate on that and make sure that these
young students or old students that are coming in here
get the proper foundation. I know I was stunned when
they started telling me I had to do papers in that MLA format. I, what is that? (audience laughing) You know, this is
something I learned to do and it wasn’t easy but I learned it. We do a great job with
these young students and I think you oughta be
proud of what you’re doing. (timer beeping)>>I don’t know how to restart it, so. (audience laughing)>>The technology people in
here can help Frank out.>>Keith wanted to give
me those 30 seconds and you just delayed there. Oh, I’m sorry, did you say me? Oh. These three are the essence
of the community college. These three ends give us intentionality. These three ends give
us a particular focus. These three ends are not,
however, three separate foci, there’s overlap with these three. So of course we would
expect the person coming out of the welding program to appreciate the Grand Rapids Symphony. There’s this overlap
that we would have here. I think we need to recognize that. So in essence, when I look at these three, these are the heartbeat
of kind of who we are. And this, in fact, is the
work of the community college. Student success pathways,
and we can talk a little more about each of these and what’s
the flavor, if you will, that would come over those. And when I think of
student success pathways, I think of something much
broader than just content. What do we mean by student
success in terms of its pathway there and we
can get into what else that might mean. But if you’re asking me
“Are these adequate?” No only are these adequate,
this is who we are.>>I can wait, if you need me to. (audience laughing) And so I sort of put these
in two different buckets. I put the workforce pathways
and the transfer pathways in one bucket. And I think the student
success pathway sort of encompasses everything. Let me first talk about
the workforce pathways. As a business individual, I
work for Cascade Engineering, we’re a manufacturer. We’ve got jobs right now
that we can’t fill, right? We also have a bubble of
individuals currently in their 50’s, they’re gonna be
retiring in the next 10 years. And right now, we don’t have
the workforce to replace them. So we’re working with
the college to make sure that we can be successful in the future. A business can’t outperform its community. If that happens, the
business won’t survive. So we need to make sure that
we’re continuously investing in our community and the college
is a way for our business to invest in this community. This college will allow us as
a business to be successful. So I think that’s very,
very important. I think that the community
college is a jewel that’s probably a little
undervalued in this community. I think that a lot of
people don’t understand what having a college of this
nature in Grand Rapids means in Western Michigan means to them. How it benefits them. I think that the community
college helps downtown particularly and our community
be vibrant when we have students that are able to stay
and continue their education. So I think that workforce
pathways is very important. We need to make sure that pathway’s clear. We need to make sure business
understands what that is. And I know right now, I’m
working with other businesses and also other businesses
working with the college to make sure that we
can move that forward. Transfer pathways is significant too. I know a lot of people that
start off at community colleges and now they’re lawyers
and engineers and doctors. So this is the first step to them. A buddy of mine is a lawyer
and he said “When I was 18, “no one would have guessed
I would have been a lawyer.” I know a person that no
one would have guessed he would have been a doctor. But his two years at
community college allowed him that experience to continue
to prove that he can do it, to go on to that next level, (timer beeping)
and that’s significant. Last thing. That when we look at the
student success pathways, it almost ties with our mission here. To have open access college,
that prepares individuals to meet their goals and
contribute to our community. So this is what this means,
that if you’re at the community college, you are
learning the tools to be successful so you can
have a positive impact on our community.>>And now we’re ready
for the third question. “Please describe your
understanding of policy governance “and the role of a trustee
in the daily activities “of the college. “Can you give an example of
something a trustee cannot do “under policy governance model?”>>And we’ll begin with Mister Wakefield.>>My understanding of the
policy governance model is that the Board of Trustees provides general oversight, general strategy, a sort of
a, it’s strategy, strategic thought of the school. Where do we wanna be in 10 years? Where do we wanna be in 20 years? What’s our long-term game plan? The hands-on day-to-day affairs of running the various departments, running the various
administrative functions, that’s really not, in my view,
the way I read the policy, governance model, that’s not really the
Board of Trustee’s job. The Board of Trustees is to be basically the strategy session,
the strategy council. As far as what a trustee
shouldn’t do, I would say a trustee shouldn’t be
interfering, for example, picking up the phone and
calling the dean of students and complaining to the dean
of students about something that he heard happened
in Winchester Alley. I don’t believe that would be appropriate. I think that the board should
allow the people that are hired to run the school,
to run the college, to continue to run the college. I think that they should be, like I say, the planners of the overall, long term strategy of
the community college. Not the day to day, hands on,
nuts and bolts turning the screws and making things work.>>Mister Koetje.>>Think of the words ends and means. Ends, what’s the picture
of beauty to look like down the road. Means, how do we get
from point A to point B. It’s the board’s responsibility
to think about those ends. What is that picture of beauty
five, 10, 15 years from now? It’s leadership’s responsibility, it’s administration’s responsibility to figure out how we’re
going to get there. On one hand, it’s not one or the other. You’ll hear me talk about in terms of percentage of
time spent on those matters. If this board is spending less than 80 to 85% of its time trying to create that picture of beauty, then this board is meddling in places where it doesn’t “belong,” actually this board is in
fact not doing its job. So it’s the role of the
board under policy governance to be at that 30,000
foot level creating that, moving that rudder, if you
will, of the organization. Moving that chip. What are some areas where it
would be inappropriate for the board to get involved in? I suppose we could give
lots of specific examples. We’re not supervising teachers. We’re not picking up
the phone, as Keith says and encouraging or telling
somebody how to respond in some way. We have an employee that we
hold responsible for that, and that employee is called our president. So policy governance, our
job is to work alongside of this community and
interface with this community, pull the genius from this
community and to create that picture of beauty
for how this institution is going to look somewhere down the road. (timer beeping)>>Ms Bruinsma.>>My understanding as I
mentioned at the beginning is that the board in a policy
governance institution does govern from a distance, sets the ends as Trustee Koetje just said. It’s forward thinking,
not backward thinking. Leaves the means to the
ends to the president and the people that the president hires. Governing with excellence
means, speaking with one voice. That’s a policy governance standard. And so to given an example
of something a trustee couldn’t do under policy governance. I don’t think a trustee
could purport to speak for the board as a whole. I don’t think a trustee
should speculate on how they think the board is
going to decide something that is upcoming on an agenda. I don’t think that a trustee
should or could unilaterally respond to a concern that comes
from a member of the public. I think the trustee’s job
is to listen and empathize and then pass the person
on to the president, have the president take it from there. So those are some examples
off the top of my head of things that a trustee
could not do under the policy governance model.>>Mister Brame.>>I think one of the
responsibilities of a trustee is to act as a champion for the college. I think that we should provide
inside advice and support on key decisions to the college. As a trustee, you wanna
make sure that the metrics or the KPI’s to key performance
indicators are clear and understood by
everyone in you’re holding the administration responsible for that. I think we should understand the finances and making sure that the
college is fiscally responsible. And we should provide input
on strategy and on the college planning process. That being said, that
means that we are part of helping create strategy, but the board has nothing to do with the
execution of strategy. That is in the administration’s hand. It’s their responsibility
to make sure that we all have agreed-upon
plan and making sure that that’s being executed effectively. As a board, as a trustee member, that is something that’s not
in my scope of responsibility and I should not be commenting on that. Another thing I shouldn’t
do as a potentially future trustee is communicate on
the behalf of the college. I shouldn’t be out in the community. There’ll be some things that
I can talk about the college, like the college mission,
and the college’s purpose, some of the goals for the college. But as far as talking
about the strategy and other specific things that the
administration needs to do, that should be from the president. And I think that is my role
and responsibility to support that president. But he or she should be
the voice in the community on specific issues.>>And Mister Shroll.>>Certainly there’s a lot
to agree with what everybody has said. The job description in
the college’s information is that trustees service
the link between the college and the public. We’re a communicator, in both directions. Listening, primary role is
listening and then sharing information in both directions. So that means that
board members need to be very knowledgeable about
what the college is doing, what the college is
accomplishing, what its pathways, what its options, what
its opportunities are. At the same time, it needs
to be equally knowledgeable or maybe even more so about the community. What are the community’s needs? What are the community’s needs based on the needs of the people from different backgrounds
and different abilities and different situations,
older, younger, what have you. And so we need to do that to know what it is ought to be doing. We ought to be helping to make that happen by creating the policies. That’s why it’s policy governance. We govern by policy. We don’t govern by doing, we
don’t govern, as has been said by talking to an individual
instructor, administrator, or what have you. We govern by policy saying “Here’s what needs to be accomplished.” That needs to be done
through the president because one of our jobs is to evaluate the performance of the president. How well have things been
accomplished that we’ve set out as goals, as ends for the college. And so we govern by policy. It’s very interesting
the way that the policies and the governance model are written. It talks about what things
cannot be allowed to happen. So it talks about what the
president cannot allow to happen, as far as not being informed to the board, about what’s taking place. It talks to what the
financial officer cannot, through the president can’t let
us get in financial trouble. So its policy is about what
needs to be accomplished. And towards the ends that’s been described as a part of that. (timer beeping)
As been mentioned before not appropriate for board members to get individually involved in operation. The policy governance model
came along and was adopted to get boards out of the operation. Because in some places, there
was a lot of that going on and that’s not appropriate,
it’s not their job.>>Thank you again. I don’t know if, yes, there we are. So, now we have come to
the segment of our forum where we have open questions. We’re inviting the
audience to ask questions of our candidates. And the rules for this
segment will be to stand up, state your name and
position at the college or community member, ask a question to one or any of the candidates. Candidates, please limit your answers to no more than two minutes. Other candidates can respond as well. Thank you.>>One other piece. If you would prefer to have
your questions in a card and give it to me, then I will
pass it on to Nick to read.>>Well, that was easy. (audience laughing)>>Hello, my name is Amy Patello and I’m an adjunct professor
here at the college. The board has been considering
the possibility of adding a subsidy for Rapid Bus Ridership for students and possibly for faculty and staff as well, could you say, any one of you
who might be interested in it how you think doing something
like that might contribute to the goals that are part of the college?>>How do you want us to respond, Frank? Jump in? I’ve been at the board meetings all year, and the work sessions, and I’ve heard the discussion about that. I guess in some ways I
think it’s a good idea. I also think that there’s
realities that come with that. Certainly that it’d been
discussed about the cost of such a thing. I think if it’s something
that the faculty thinks is very important and
can help figure out a way that the cost can be borne
in a reasonable fashion, and that makes life
better for the faculty, because driving and parking
and doing things around here can be a challenge. So I think it’s a reasonable
request, I think it’s a great suggestion, I think the
board oughta continue to work very hard to try and find a solution working with the faculty
that’s mutually agreeable.>>I would agree with C.J. Grand Rapids established a
silver line here recently. And I think it would be
great if we could partner with the city to use that
more, make that thing viable. I live out south in
Wyoming and it’d be great, you know, for people out
there to come downtown. It’s a lot easier than
driving down here and parking, like C.J. said. So if the board can work it
and make it financially happen, I’m all for it.>>I’d like to address it, but I actually have a follow-up question. Is there a parking benefit
of any kind that faculty and staff get here? Is there parking benefits so you can, is your parking covered? (people murmuring) Oh. Having worked in law firms in Chicago and here in Grand Rapids, we have this issue with our employees. You want your employees
to be able to get to work, but then you also want your students to be able to get to classes. It’s important, public transportation provides that function. Being an accessible place
means not just people with lots and lots of resources
can afford to come here, people can afford insurance,
a vehicle, and parking. And so it would be something that I think the board should
take a very close look at. I see the benefits to it.>>So as an employer, I think
one of our responsibilities, this is with my employee
hat on, that as an employer your job is to break down
barriers to employment. I think that the college
has a similar mission to help break down barriers to education. And so as an employer, we know that one of the many
barriers for getting to work is obviously child care
issues and transportation, those are probably some
of the biggest two issues. And as an employer, when you
want a qualified work staff, you might have to provide programs that allow them to get to work. Obviously it’s a win-win,
it’s a win in the case that the individual has employment
that he or she can get to, and then the employer gets
a candidate that’s at work everyday because of whatever
program that they’ve created, there’s a variety of types of programs. Putting the cost aside, conceptually I think it’s a great idea that
if you can help break down a barrier that allows in the
people to get, in this case, downtown or to get right here, then it gives them access to education, which helps us meet our
mission that long-term, these individuals are able
to find better employment and better their lives
because of this subsidies whatever we’re gonna call it. I think it’s well worth the investment, so we need to probably consider
what that would look like.>>Can I borrow anybody’s
time on this one, Frank?>>You don’t even have to answer it.>>Oh let me, I’d be happy
to answer Amy’s question because Amy’s question could
be one of a hundred questions that have a similar flavor
and a similar feel to it. Part of the tensions
of any organization is how do you take all of
these values that we have, that suddenly come into
conflict with each other and you put numbers around them? We hear in an ideal world,
we would love to be able to respond
“yes” to all of those. In an ideal world, we’d love
everything to just kinda be free to each users. It’s not free to each user. So that question needs to
be held in the context of at what cost to whom? And as a board goes through its filters, it raises that question. An incredibly important value. We could state a case that
adjuncts oughta be paid more than what they’re getting paid. We could state a case that
there oughta be fewer adjuncts. We could state a case there
oughta be more adjuncts. We could state a case and all these values kinda come together. So your question is an
incredible valuable, an incredibly important question. Because it’s everyone’s question. And it’s the question of how do we operate a fair organization and hold
yourself true to our mission? And we need to answer a
hundred individual questions. As when we come to what is the collective kinda
corporate response to that. So yes, the board needs
to wrestle with that, along with all of these other questions around cost containment
and quality program and how we value employees. Thanks for asking the question. I mean, that’s the work of the board. The work of the board is how
do we thoughtfully navigate our way through our response
to all of those questions? (timer beeping)>>My name is Sayid Makvi. I am immigrant from India. U.S. citizen, 53 years. I have two full questions. You, the board of trustees
are the change agent for the community, for the
students, for the tax payers, including me. Two things. The governance books need to be looked at every month, every year. An example. I just found out there’s
a no term limit for the board of trustees. It is not a dynasty, it is not a kingdom. You do not inherit for
lifetime once you get elected. There has to be a term limit. Two, why in the world we are
stuck downtown, Grand Rapids for this community college? Progressive community
college are in the suburb. Example, Missouri. Example, Oregon. Example, Texas. Our students have heck of a time parking on your campus. We do not have a public
transportation in this Kent County! Therefore they have to drive. This hill here, they complained, police department issues tickets, the students go bankrupt. What do you see? This college as still staying downtown? What benefit do you get from keeping the buildings downtown? You cannot expand, you always
are raising tax dollars to patch up. Organizationally you are top-heavy. In terms of student and
faculty administrative ratios those are my concern
as a taxpayer, please. You are not top 12 community
college in the nation. Those are your challenges. Thank you.>>Who would like to
address the question first?>>I can start off. You can’t be afraid of hard questions. So the first thing is that
these are six year terms. I will not be running again. (audience laughing) I’ll be in my 50’s when I, if elected, don’t wanna get ahead
of myself, if elected. I think six years is a
great commitment for me. But there are people who’ve
committed their lives to this college, and they’ve
run for multiple terms, and they’ve done a great job. So the fact that you’ve been
elected more than one time, I’m okay with that. But I will not be, more than
likely, running more than once. I wanna retire, that’s my goal. I mean enjoy life and time
with my wife and kids. I think everybody talked about
their wife and kids but me. I do have a wife and children. The second part of this question, I’m not exactly sure, I’m not sure I agree
with you first of all. I think that the location
of the college itself doesn’t add to its quality. I went to school downtown. I went to school and it was
actually a great experience for me being able to go downtown. A lot of kids in Grand
Rapids don’t live too far from downtown getting on a bus. Getting on the bus and
going to school, with me, is not problematic. I think that the bigger issue is is there access for everyone. So if the question is there
are people who live in a county that are further from, you know, I live in the southeast side
of town by Britain Village, who are further than that,
they can’t get on a bus, that’s an issue that we should address. We should figure out who to make sure that every kid in this, every young adult in this community can get
to the college, I mean, we addressed that, but I don’t
think that moving the college is gonna be the answer. Cause then you have the same
issue going the other way. So you’re gonna say “Hey, I can’t get all
the way out to Rockford. “I can’t get all the
way out to Grandville.” The same issue goes both ways. So we need to understand if
there is a barrier to education, let’s address what that barrier is, let’s figure out how to make sure that everyone has equal access
to the community college.>>The most common question I’ve been asked over the last 12 months since
I’ve been on this board is “Why in the world do you wanna do that?” You put your own money in
the pocket, you get no money. Oh, by the way, full disclosure,
you do get a parking pass. So you don’t have to pay
for parking at meetings. There’s nobody up on this
table here that’s doing this because they have a personal agenda. And to suggest that years
of service is a detriment to an institution is
simply a blank statement that is not correct. We have men and women
who’ve served on this board for a long time and they have added value and if they were willing to serve again, I’d be willing to give up my place so that they could serve again because of how much value
they add to the board. The issue of location, I’ll
echo with what Kenyatta said. Again, we’re back to all these values that kinda come into
conflict with each other. Why do we call ourselves Grand
Rapids Community College? Why don’t we Kent County
Community College? I don’t know the answer to that. I don’t know the answer to that. What I do know the answer to is there are a number of students who come out of the Grand
Rapids Public Schools who would have incredible
difficulty getting transports anywhere other than here that
we provide a service for. And I’m willing to problem
solve, how can we get the kids from Rockford and Lowell
and Sparta onto this campus. I’m happy to problem solve around that before a move to suggest
that we relocate this campus from downtown Grand Rapids
to some other place.>>I would say, with
regards to term limits, I think we have inherent term limits in our electoral process. If any elected official
is not doing a good job, an unsatisfactory job, they
will be up again for election. I think that’s a term limit. And I would be fearful to look
at the price tag, actually, of moving a campus out
into a suburban area. The hospitals that have gone
outward from the city onto M6, the price tag was huge. And the people in our district have shown they’re not in the mood for
a millage at this moment. So moving out to the
suburbs would be costly, that would be just one more
thing that I would add to that.>>When I was here working at the college, I was here during the time that we changed from Grand Rapids Junior College to Grand Rapids Community College, and expanded the service area, the tax payers area of the college. And we struggled long and hard
with the issue of location. And it’s been mentioned there’s
problems with people getting from some place to downtown,
there’s problems of getting people from downtown
to some outlying area. I don’t think there’s an easy answer. There wasn’t there and there isn’t now. I think that one thing
that hasn’t been mentioned and that is the increasing
or the great amount of work that’s going on to take
education to the students particularly in the form of
the middle college program, or classes in high school locations and that seems to be growing. It seems to be meeting
with very good response. That helps, it isn’t
gonna solve every problem. Parking’s been the number
one problem since college, since my dad came here
way back when in 1957, when there was little
gravel outside in the corner and everybody parked on
lawns and what have you. So it’s been a long time
problem and it’s difficult. But we’ve gotta work through it. But I don’t think that moving the college, I think we need to do more
about taking the college to the students, than thinking
about bringing the students to the college, wherever it’s located. So I think the distance
education that’s going on, the new opportunities that
technology provides us, I think working with the
transportation system or bus company, there’s been
a lot of that that’s gone on. How can we continue to improvement? But as has been said, moving the college is a very difficult and
expensive situation. I’ll respond too, ’cause I
don’t think anybody else has. You said we’re a very
top-heavy organization. Having been involved with
this college for some time, I would disagree with that. I’ve worked at this
college for a long time. I’ve worked at the Michigan
Community College Association for a number of years. (timer beeping)
I’ve worked in Washington D.C. and take nationally look at colleges. This college is not top heavy. It has enough to function,
but it’s not top heavy. You’ve gotta have people to do work for the college stop to be successful.>>Thank you.>>My name is Bernie Manker. I teach Spanish here full time. All of you have talked about
the community involvement and so forth. What would carry more weight, as far as your decision making, the needs of the community college, and the professionals here or the needs of the community when it comes to making a
decision about the community or about the college and the direction the college should go?>>That’s difficult, the
you framed the question, but I understand that you’re doing. I’m not sure that they’re at opposition. Or that they’re pulling to each other.>>The issue of the bus. I ride the bus. I come from 60th street. But I ride the bus. And it’s not that I need the subsidy, but there are an awful lot of
students who can’t make it in. And one of the needs of the community, as expressed by the
downtown area businesses in the community and the
downtown authority and so forth is that we would like to
have less traffic down here. Fewer cars coming into the downtown area. That’s a little bit at odds
with what the college wants, right? Because we are looking at other factors.>>There’s some realities in life. And what the college
wants is to serve students in the best possible way that it can. And figuring out ways to get them here is something that we need to
continue to work very hard at so that it’s not a detriment
to anybody coming here to the greatest extent possible.>>Well, and I didn’t mean to distract from the question, but the question is in decision making, is the
community more important or valuable, or do we
listen to the professionals and the faculty and administration here?>>I would venture to say, my feeling is, we’re here for the community. If we had to make a decision,
is it only gonna benefit our staff or is it gonna
benefit the community? We are a community college,
we’re here for the community. Without the community, what
are we here for, you know? I would side, I think I
would probably, I mean, of course we have to
take into consideration all of the realities
of the money situation, and the unions and all that. There’s a whole lot of stuff to consider but I think the community
is why we’re here.>>I think professors often
ask difficult questions on purpose. (audience laughing) And there’s no right answer to this, so I’m sure your classes
are very difficult Mister Manker. (audience laughing) I think that part of
this is about compromise. And in every compromise, some people give and other people give to
get to where you need to be. And if you pose a question
where there’s opposites ends and no compromise, you put
yourself in a no-win situation. And so I would try to look at that and say “Hey, our goal is to,”
I mean we obviously got community college, “but our
goal is to provide access “to students.” And you have to look at
the scenario and pick out, hopefully, the best part of each scenario. So in a situation where if
no one’s perfectly happy, you can have a compromise and
then everybody can hopefully move closer and come up
with a solution that works.>>I’m sorry, Kathleen, go ahead.>>I’m just gonna add to that
that sometimes there are model congress situations in schools. That was like a model board of trustees question
because that, I think is one of the biggest questions
in whatever issue comes across the desk of the board
of trustees and that is “How do we balance the
needs of the community with “the needs of the people
specifically being served “by the college?” I would just say that I don’t
know that you can ever say one of those two things
should take precedence without a set of circumstances before you. But it’s a nice little test,
it is like Kenyatta said, a nice test question for
the people sitting here.>>Yeah, I was gonna say,
every question has a context. Without knowing the context
it’s pretty difficult to answer a question with
some level of helpfulness. As you were asking the
question, I sensed this paradigm that we have two subsets of folk here. We have those who are in the community and those who are not in the community. Those that are not in the
community, we call staff, and those who are in the
community, we call somebody else. And I’m thinking that the
paradigm is we are really all are part of the community. And so just in terms of a paradigm, the language that we use, aren’t we all kinda part of the community? So maybe you wanna test us
even further by being even more specific behind, so what’s
the story behind the story, and use that as a case
study for us to respond to.>>Let’s give others the opportunity–>>Sorry.
>>To ask questions.>>Excuse me, I parked down
the street and I exceeded my one hour, I need to go. (audience laughing)>>That was an easy question.>>You can go, I thought we
already covered parking. (audience laughing) Anyway, I’m Leo Tokarski,
I’m vice president for the campus LGBTQ plus
organization standout. My question is related to
Trustee Stuart’s comments last month, which obviously
became something of a thing. I’m not interested in
starting that fight again. I mean, you only have two
minutes to respond in any case. But I would like to
know what your plans are for upholding not only
the Title IX obligations as regards to trans students, but the goal of diversity
that has been established as a core value of this institution.>>I totally support the Title IX as it’s in place and it’s been practiced and as this college has adopted it to serve all people. I’ve done a great deal of research and talked to some of the
members of your organization with regards to the LBGT Queer issue. And we need to learn from
them, we need to talk. We need to listen,
probably, more than talk to what is it we could do that would make all students, any students, students that have an issue more comfortable and feel more welcome. And we need to change,
it’s a changing society. Things are different than
they were some time ago. So past practices no longer help us. We need to listen and do that. And as a kind of examples
that we heard and as I’ve seen at other schools that
have adopted and practiced in the reading and the research that I’ve done between that. Happen ton know Trustee Stuart quite well, he lives across the street from me, so we’ve had some good
conversations before, not to say that I agree
with some of the things that he had to say. But I think we need to
be very accommodating and meet the needs of all students in any and every way possible. Now, there are things that are being done, I was pleased that a work
session, here a while ago, to hear from our chief financial officer about all of the things that
have been done at the college that help. It’s a beginning, it’s not enough, but it’s very expensive
to make physical things. Now, to make other kinds of
changes and refer to students in the way that they
wish to be referred to and names and those kinds of things, those are pretty simple
and straight forward and it seems that we oughta
get at that pretty quick.>>Thank you for the question. I would support, actually
I echo a lot of things that I’ve just heard. I would support the college and its policy and I’d even go further than that. I would support changes to Elliot-Larsen. So you’ve got federal laws
and you’ve got state laws. The state law in Michigan
is called Elliot-Larsen and lot of classifications are protected, orientation is not at this point in time. But I believe in the future that there will be a change to that. And Elliot-Larsen will provide
protection for orientation and I would actually support that change.>>Leo, you need to be treated
with the same level of respect and dignity that every
person in this room is. So I, as a trustee, as I listen to staff describe their journey at trying to increase the level of safety and respect
that every student felt on this campus, I found myself impressed with the level of sensitivity behind that. There still may be areas of
significant insensitivity, and if there are, we’ll find out what those
areas of insensitivity are. But this is a college
that, it’s a college. It’s a college where we have an obligation to each other to make sure that all of us are dignified and respected and we’ll create policies
that will support that.>>The only thing I would add is I think that the board
meeting and the board retreat where all of the voices
were heard on this issue were very productive, from
what I’ve read about them. I was not present at them. Everyone on a campus deserves
to feel safe and respected, all the students. And also the trustees who have concerns about
policies like this. I think it was a very productive
moment for the college. One thing I will point
out is that the particular LGBT policies that were at issue at the October board meeting, it’s my understanding
they were not put in place in response to any action under Title IX, but that they were put into place a good number of months ago. And I think it’s an
example of what a humane and a forward-thinking
institution this is.>>I would agree. I think this is a very
welcoming diverse organization. I’m a hundred percent in
favor of equal opportunity under the law for everybody, whatever their gender, nationality, or religion, anything. I think we have to be open
and we can’t close people out because they may be a little different than we’re used to seeing
in our neighborhoods. I think Grand Rapids Community
College does a great job and has done a great job over the past on opening opportunity to
people of all nationalities and sexual orientations and beliefs. So I support it a hundred percent.>>We’re ready for another question.>>I think the statistics,
there were a lot talked about barriers, I wanted to talk about student parents for a moment. I think it’s one in five or one in four community college students
across the country are a parent. Can you talk a little bit about
what opportunities you see the college to play in a arena
of two generation strategy so supporting perhaps the student parent but also supporting and ensuring
the growth of their child or children so that we
can have better outcomes in terms of retention
and graduation rates. So if you could speak about
any ideas that you have or any models that you’ve researched or potential opportunities
to ensure retention and hopefully graduation.>>It’s a significant issue. I’m not sure, but I think
it’s a growing issue, perhaps. I think that’s good. That single parents, if
that’s the situation, are coming back to school, I’m sure there’s more that want to but find barriers of child care limiting their reality of that happening. And I think that that’s something
that we ought to look at. I know a lot of the businesses
that I’ve worked with in the community, their
business bringing in people as employees, they need
to help with childcare. I think we need to look at that. I don’t know how it happens, but that we’ve got good people that can help figure that out. But my own perspective and my own view, I would say that that’s something that we ought to look at and do. We oughta stretch ourselves to do that, if that’s a limitation, once again, to our students being here. If it’s transportation,
if it’s child care, or whatever it is, that’s
something we ought to, because nobody can maybe
greater benefit from the college than a single parent trying
to get by, supporting a child, trying to get here, trying to work, needing to better themselves
to get a better job in order to take better
care of their family. We oughta look at how
we can help with that.>>Thank you for the question, Mindy. When I think about, in the past, when I thought about education, I thought about kindergarten, I thought about elementary school, and I thought about middle school, and I thought about high
school, then college. I’ve actually done some work
with the community college and I’m now thinking about this as a P14. And so I think as a college,
we need to think about not only those students that are here, but what’s coming down the pike. So what can we do to make sure that third grade reading levels
and GRPS are sufficient. I think that at times, when we
try to tackle these problems as individual institutions,
we won’t have as much success if we were to collectively look at this. So if the community college is working with Grand Rapids Public Schools, and if the public schools are
working with local businesses, and if the businesses are
working with the source, and if the source is working with DHS, we can resolve this problem. And that goes to the generational issue. And when you provide support
for not only that parent, or not only that child, but you think about them in as a system, hopefully we can have greater
outcomes in the future.>>I think Kenyatta took
the words out of my mouth when I was gonna say everything is kinda connected to everything else. And it’s a challenge and an opportunity, it’s not a challenge, it’s
an opportunity for us. In my earlier comments I
used the word nimbleness. And I think your question
speaks to that nimbleness. It’s really a similar
opportunity we would have for workforce development
and it really speaks to the gentleman’s
question about location. I think we need to be
creative about location, we need to be creative about the time we deliver our service, where we deliver our service, what agencies in town
are we connected with, can the college take leadership in that. We are probably the key
asset in this community when it connects to human support. So as a college, we have the privilege of taking some leadership there. So we can be the ones that bring
these agencies to the table and recognize the fact
that that is not only real, but that’s a wonderful opportunity. It’s a wonderful opportunity
for us to think about how can we begin to build a brand for a two year old child whose mom or dad is going
to community college, where that two year old child
is in some way connected to a program that’s connected
to community college.>>Do we have any more
questions from the audience? Well, maybe I’ll take this
opportunity for one last question even though I’m the moderator. I’ll come at it from the
perspective of a faculty person. Could you speak to us, and I would like to hear from
everyone of the candidates, to the role of the arts
at the community college and at Grand Rapids as a community?>>I think they’re critically important because they’re a part of life. They’re a part of our community. And I think from our
educational perspective here at the college, we oughta be making sure that people learn to appreciate them and learn what’s happening. I always used to tell a
story, come to college so that you can earn enough
money to take advantage of all of the opportunities
in this community in the arts, in the theater. I mean, we have wonderful
things available. So I mean, we play a two
role part, because one is tickets to the opera,
and they aren’t cheap. If you don’t have a
decent job, you can’t go. So I mean, I think we need to look at it, I always used to talk about that, they say well, is it one
versus the other, no. It’s looking at it together. But I think everybody that
comes through the college, I think it’s part of our
responsibility to both expose people to that
and to help them to learn to appreciate it and learn
how to take advantage of it and to see the way that
it can enrich their life at this community.>>I was really happy to see that I think our music department
was just accredited for a two year certificate,
is that correct? Very recently.>>I think it was for longer than that, but yes, they do receive
their accreditation.>>And that’s fantastic, I’m
speaking as a former player of the trumpet, the
French horn and the piano. It used to be that we
thought that there was the field of the mind and then the field of the soul and the
spirit, but now we know that music is so important that
they’re interconnected, and music not only feeds your
soul, it makes you smarter, for lack of a better, more
elegant way of saying it. The arts shouldn’t go away. And I’m really proud that we have a strong arts
component, maybe it could be even
bigger at some point, here at the college. I think it’s essential.>>I’ll just make a quick
comment on the arts. I’ve got two degrees in
Political Science and Psychology from a liberal arts institution. So I’ve always been a fan of the arts. As a young man, I probably
didn’t appreciate it. I’ve always wanted to
be a lawyer, and I said “You know what? “Take your legal classes,
you’re gonna be a lawyer, “you might take some business classes “to help you run your business.” But after going to Wabash
and taking Greek History and reading Shakespeare and the Iliad, I think it made me a better attorney, It made me a better lawyer cause I think I understood
the world a little better. I was able to, hopefully,
you know, in college you have these deep
conversations about things that you’ve learned. I think the arts is a way to do that. And I think that overall it gives you, it makes you a better,
well-rounded person, I think that’s the main
purpose of the arts, it’s making you well rounded, and giving you an
appreciation for your history and hopefully eventually allows you to be a better whatever you’re trying to be.>>I would agree with Kenyatta
about the influence of arts. When I went to Wayne State University, when I transferred from here, one of the first classes I took down there was an Introduction to Humanities. And we spent almost the entire semester at the Detroit Institute of
Art, wandering around in there and it totally overwhelmed
me, I couldn’t believe it, I’d never seen anything like that before. And it really did open my mind. And I think it’s a key thing to do, if we can do that for the
students here, open their mind. I think, for example,
art prizes, fantastic. Right across the street,
at Fountain Street church doing art projects. You walk over, they’ve got
all these exhibits in there, and you walk down the street, and they’re all over the place. I think arts are very,
very important and we should try to
push it as hard as we can on this new students coming in here, to get ’em into humanities
class, expose ’em to… I took a humanities class here and we did a Japanese poetry and I had to dress up
in a kimono, you know? We did the Greek gods
and it was fantastic. A lot of the young students first were kinda turned off by it,
but once they got into it, they really got into it. And so I agree with
Kenyatta a hundred percent. It’s a mind-altering experience.>>What department are you in, by the way?>>I’m in the visual arts.>>Visual arts, alright, alright. (audience laughing) I’m reminded of years ago
being interviewed for a job and having somebody asking
me the question about how important the arts were, and so I gave this
flamboyant wonderful response to how important they
were and one can’t live without the appreciation for music and art and that sort of thing, and then found myself
less than a year later, reducing the number of
ensembles we had in the program by one and having that person
coming back to me and say “What’s the context of this? “I just heard you say that
this is really important. “And now we added one more
lab to the bug department “and you’re cutting out one ensemble “in the music department.” Having said that, having said that, the beauty of this place,
the beauty of this place, is by definition, we’re a marriage between the liberal arts
and workforce development. That’s who we are. That’s in our DNA. And so we program for that. You don’t come here without
having the opportunity to touch the aesthetic. That’s the who we are. How much aesthetic you get to touch, that’s always one of
these prickly questions that you deal with when you deal with the mess of budget
and all of that stuff. But are arts important? Absolutely, they’re incredibly important, they’re a part of who we are. They’re part of who we are.>>Thank you very much to all of you and your thoughtful answers. Do we have any more questions? Since I don’t see any more, I
will make the closing remarks. Thank you very much for
coming this afternoon. Let’s give a hand to our candidates. (audience applauding) And I might say that we
had a wonderful discussion because all of us participated,
our audience was great, let’s give a hand to everybody. (audience applauding) And I wanna wish our
candidates the best of luck during the election. Please do not forget to
go out there and vote. Thank you very much once again
and have a good afternoon. (crowd murmuring)

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