Press release: GRCC names Police Chief Kevin R. Belk, columnist Tom Rademacher its 2013 Distinguished Alumni


Kathy Mullins
Executive Deputy to the President and Board Liaison

April 16, 2013 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Grand Rapids Community College has chosen two well-known community figures as its 2013 Distinguished Alumni: Kevin R. Belk, chief of the Grand Rapids Police Department, and Grand Rapids Press columnist Tom Rademacher.

GRCC’s Distinguished Alumni Award honors those who have earned at least 30 credit hours at the college, have made substantial contributions to the good of their fellow beings, and have served as a positive motivational force for others.

“Tom Rademacher and Chief Belk not only are fine examples of GRCC success, they are also inspiring examples of community service,” said President Dr. Steven C. Ender. “Both of them demonstrate their love for our community on a daily basis, and we’re proud to honor them as Distinguished Alumni.”

Chief Belk received an Associate Degree in Arts from GRCC in 1979. He graduated from the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va., in 1998 and graduated from Grand Valley State University in 2000 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Criminal Justice.

He has been the GRPD’s chief since 2007; he previously served in the department for 30 years in a variety of roles.

Chief Belk has served on the board of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Grand Rapids Youth Commonwealth since 2003. He also has served on the NorthPointe Christian Schools’ board since 2005. He has been an advisory board member for the Kent Intermediate School District and the Kent Career Technical Center’s Criminal Justice Program since 2004. Also, since 2004, he has served as an advisory committee member for the Michigan Municipal Risk Management Authority–Law Enforcement.

“I was very pleased with the quality education and guidance I received from Grand Rapids Community College," said Chief Belk. "It was not only convenient and affordable for my first two years of college, but it also provided a foundation on which I was able to build a career in law enforcement. Later, I went on to pursue my bachelor of science degree at Grand Valley State University with all of my credits transferring from Grand Rapids Community College. Making the choice to start my post-secondary education at Grand Rapids Community College most certainly served me well.”

Tom Rademacher received an Associate Degree in Arts from GRCC in 1974. He received the Merle Storr Award, given annually to the top student-athlete, during his sophomore year. He went on to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Education from Grand Valley State University.

He has worked as a lifeguard, factory worker, silkscreener, taxi driver, handyman and swim coach, but he is probably best-known in the community for the columns — usually about everyday local people — that he writes for The Grand Rapids Press. He started with The Press in 1978 and while he formally retired from the paper in 2009, he still writes columns. He is also the author of three books: “Splitting Wood,” “Knocking At Your Door” and “The Book of Cake.”

He has won many writing awards from the Michigan Press Association and the Associated Press. The National Society of Newspaper Columnists named him best general interest columnist in 2009 and 2010.

Mr. Rademacher serves on the Grand Rapids Sports Hall of Fame and Warren Reynolds Classic Golf Memorial committees and has been an adjunct instructor of English at GRCC for more than 20 years.

“That beautiful little college on Bostwick Avenue — along with its swim coach at the time, Dave Clark — helped me set a compass for life,” he said. “I made lifelong friends, got schooled by incredible professors like Gertrude Croom, and came to understand that a community college will give you back as much as you put into it. My only regret is that I couldn’t attend there all four years.”

Chief Belk and Mr. Rademacher will receive their awards as part of GRCC’s commencement, which starts at 6 p.m. May 3 in the Gerald R. Ford Fieldhouse, 111 Lyon St. NE.

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.