GRCC Presents College's Top Internal Award to Two at College-Wide Fall Semester Kick-Off

Grand Rapids Community College bestowed its  Excellence in Education Awards as part of their kick-off festivities for the 2011-2012 academic year. This year’s awards went to mathematics professor John Dersch and Academic Support Services educational support professional Laurie Witczak.

The award is the college’s highest recognition, and is given annually to one faculty and one staff member for his or her contributions to the college, higher education and the community. Each recipient receives a $1,000 cash award and a matching award goes to the GRCC Foundation in each recipient’s name.

“The nomination process is quite stringent, so the award is very well regarded,” said GRCC president Steve Ender in announcing the winners. “And the announcement is such a highpoint to start the academic year with.”

Award criteria cover several categories including respect for people and environment, responsiveness, integrity and diversity, among others.  Letters of endorsement for Dersch and Witczak cited many reasons for their nomination.

Several endorsements for Dersch mentioned his dedication to students. Another applauds his commitment to teaching: “Mr. Dersch often tells us that teaching rarely feels like a job, even when grading a cumulative 127 homework assignments through four semesters of calculus for each student.” One endorsement letter describes how “He helps students realize their own potential and helps them achieve academic success through hard work and constant feedback on rigorously graded homework assignments.”

Witzak, educational support professional for GRCC’s Academic Support Services, was cited for her responsiveness, which the writer said was “a key part of her personality,” as well as the “pride she takes in her work” and her ability to “keep things running smoothly without sacrificing efficiency or quality.”
To nominate someone for the award, a current or retired GRCC employee must obtain 12 signatures: four within the department; four outside of the nominee's department; and four others which can include retired GRCC employees or students. The nominator must also find one faculty member or student and one additional GRCC employee to write a supporting narrative on the official nomination form describing how the nominee meets certain criteria.

The College’s Academic Governing Council selects the Excellence in Education Faculty Award recipient.  A committee representing staff selects the Excellence in Education Staff Award recipient.

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