GRCC Honors Long-Time Director of Nursing with Emeritus Award for 2011

Grand Rapids Community College has named Marilyn Smidt, former director of Nursing, as Emeritus Faculty/Administrator for 2011. The award is given at the end of each academic year to a retiree for outstanding work while at the college.

Smidt began her teaching career in 1972 and joined the Grand Rapids Community College faculty in 1985.  She became the Director of Nursing in 1991 and held that position until she retired in 2008.  

 “During her tenure at GRCC, Marilyn was instrumental in organizing seminars and workshops for nursing education at both at the state and local level, blending her knowledge of trends in nursing with a passion for service,” said GRCC Provost Gilda Gely. “Nursing education must comply with national accreditation standards and under Marilyn’s leadership our nursing department consistently met those standards, receiving the full 8-year accreditation – which is the best – each time.”  

In 2004, Smidt was awarded GRCC’s Excellence in Education award, the highest academic award the college gives.  

According to Gely, Smidt was working to develop a strategic plan for GRCC’s Nursing Program almost before there was a strategic plan for the college. Smidt pioneered afternoon and evening clinical experiences to derive the most benefit from some limited clinical sites in area medical facilities – which all nursing programs at accredited institutions must share.

 “Throughout her time at GRCC, Smidt was at the forefront of curriculum revision,” said Gely.  

Smidt worked with the GRCC Nursing Advisory Board as well as faculty to address how GRCC could best meet the demands of a looming nursing shortage and also to remedy the lengthy ‘wait list’ for students desiring admission.  As a result, the now infamous wait was reduced from a seven to three years, and GRCC now has a year-round option for students, which allows completion of the Associate Degree Nursing program in 18 months, instead of the traditional 24 months.

Smidt served on many campus-wide committees while at GRCC including the Academic Leadership team, Faculty Evaluation Team, and the Older Learner Center Advisory Committee.

“GRCC has been fortunate to have Marilyn serve our college and community,” said Gely.

Smidt, her husband, Corwin, and their  two adult children  are all college professors.

Grand Rapids Community College, established in 1914, offers opportunities for over 32,000 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 additional locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties.