GRCC board approves re-designation of Bostwick Commons to the Dr. Juan R. Olivarez Student Plaza



Leah Nixon

Director of Communications



Aug. 20, 2013 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Dr. Juan R. Olivarez was humbled Monday when the Grand Rapids Community College board of trustees approved the re-designation of Bostwick Commons to the Dr. Juan R. Olivarez Student Plaza. The courtyard connects the college’s Main and Student Center buildings on its downtown campus.


“I am humbled and honored by this decision of the GRCC board of trustees,” said Dr. Olivarez. “My entire career has been focused on students, so to have my name on this outdoor space, where students congregate, is personally significant. My hope is that the plaza will continue to be a welcoming place for interaction, learning and reflection.”

“This is a fitting tribute for a man who has contributed so much to his community,” said Gary Schenk, who led the effort that brought the proposal to the board for approval. “This means so much more than an honor to any one man. To honor the first Hispanic president of any Michigan college or university is a testament to all young people that with commitment, dedication, hard work and perseverance, it is possible to succeed.”

Olivarez was at the helm of GRCC for nearly 10 years, Schenk said. Currently, Olivarez is president of Aquinas College.

“As Dr. Olivarez said in his inaugural speech when he became president of GRCC, our college is ‘your community’s college,’” said GRCC President Dr. Steven C. Ender. “He had a vision that all students may find success in and out of the classroom. Student success is at the heart of everything we do at GRCC. We are proud to honor Dr. Olivarez and his work by re-designating the commons.”

GRCC board of trustees Chairman Bert Bleke echoed his colleague’s sentiments: “Honoring Dr. Olivarez, who has worked tirelessly for students to ensure they have avenues for success, makes sense. It is fitting that a space named in honor of him is a main campus thoroughfare for students, a place for students to gather, spend time and travel to and from class.”

Grand Rapids Community College, established in 1914, offers opportunities for more than 30,000 students annually in degree courses, certification and training programs, workshops and personal enrichment classes. GRCC holds classes on the downtown Grand Rapids campus as well as several locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties.