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Dr. Charles Lepper formally inaugurated as GRCC’s 11th president

Sept. 14, 2023 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Dr. Charles Lepper is formally the 11th president of Grand Rapids Community College.

His investiture took place at 3 p.m. on Thursday, September 14, at Fountain Street Church and marked the official transfer of power to the new president, who began in January 2023.

The ceremony is an important event for any college or university and among the oldest traditions in academia. Investiture comes from the Latin and means “dress in robe.”

Fittingly, the investiture of Lepper saw a processional of robed academics from both GRCC and numerous other colleges and universities, all wearing the often-colorful regalia of academia, including cap, gown and hood. President Lepper also marched in regalia but without the medallion of office, which was presented during the ceremony.  

The event began with words of welcome from Grand Rapids Chamber President and CEO Rick Baker, Grand Valley State University President Philomena Mantella, GRCC Student Government President Alexis Miranda, and GRCC Interim Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs Sheila Jones.

During his remarks, Lepper spoke about the importance of belonging and the role Grand Rapids Community College serves in fostering an environment where every individual feels valued, respected, and accepted.

“In the coming years, my vision for Grand Rapids Community College is clear: to recruit and retain top-tier faculty and staff that reflect the community we serve, to strengthen our partnerships with K-12 and business and industry, to foster a culture of inclusivity, diversity, and belonging, to empower our students with the skills and knowledge they need to thrive in an ever-changing world, and to ensure that Grand Rapids Community College continues to be a national leader in innovation, education, and workforce development.”

GRCC faculty and alumni provided music for the prelude, processional, national anthem, singing of the alma mater, and recessional.

The GRCC presidential medallion and mace also were highlighted during  the event.

The medallion, made by faculty members, is a recreation of the college seal and represents the scholarship and authority of the office. It includes three flames representing the highest and purest purpose of education replacing the darkness of ignorance and fear with the vision of truth, understanding and beauty.

The mace, made by faculty and students, includes a rope of gold encircling the wooden handle that spirals upward emphasizing the strength of the institution. The hardwood column implies strength as it supports and elevates the silver globe which contains the college seal and encompasses a global awareness and diversity of the college’s mission.

Lepper has more than 25 years of experience at universities and community colleges, and prior to his role at Grand Rapids Community College, he served as a vice president at Salt Lake Community College.

Prior to his time at SLCC, he served as a vice president for Student Affairs at Tidewater Community College in southern Virginia.

He has also been active with the National Academic Advising Association, serving as a consultant to two-year institutions around the country, and serves on the board of directors for the Michigan Community College Association, The Right Place and West Michigan Works!.

Lepper earned a Bachelor of Arts in Human Resources and Personnel Management from Ball State University; a Master of Education in Secondary, Higher and Adult Education from Grand Valley State University; and a Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Leadership, Administration and Foundations from Indiana State University. He also completed Harvard University’s Institute for Educational Management in 2017 and earned a professional development certificate in trauma and resilience from Florida State University in 2021.