GRCC honors three with Excellence in Education Awards

Sept. 4, 2015 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Grand Rapids Community College recently honored three employees for their service both on and off campus.

The Excellence in Education Awards were established in 1989 to honor GRCC employees — all of whom are nominated by their peers — for their contributions to the college, higher education and the community. Nikki Banks, an associate professor in the criminal justice department, is the winner of this years' Faculty Award, and Lyn Jansen, an instructor with the occupational therapy assistant program, received the Adjunct Faculty Award. Amy Bennett, office manager with the exercise science department, won the Staff Award.

“Receiving the Excellence in Education Award is a significant honor for GRCC employees because the nominations and selections are done by their peers," said President Dr. Steven C. Ender. “The committee that chose the winners faced an especially difficult task this year.”

Banks, who is also chairwoman of the criminal justice department, started at GRCC as an adjunct instructor in 2003. She joined the faculty full-time in 2006. She is known for developing case studies for her students to discuss in class and for sharing the latest research, resources and best practices.

Nominators noted that Banks' strong ties to community organizations often bring students to her attention even before they get to GRCC.

"Nikki loves making connections with people, especially when those connections benefit students," Ender said.

Jansen has been an adjunct instructor in the OTA department since 2000. She was involved in creating a series of instructional videos for her program and developed an entirely new course in response to student feedback and needs.

Nominators noted that Jansen not only leads her own students in workshops but collaborates with other GRCC programs and leads in-service training for employees.

"Lyn is truly an example of how someone who feels called to teach will find opportunities to teach — anyone, anywhere, at any time," Ender said.

Bennett started at GRCC in 1999 as a part-time employee in the computer-technology areas. She became full time in 2008, working with the manufacturing, applied technology and computer information systems departments. She became the officer manager of both the exercise science department and Ford Fieldhouse in 2014. Nominators described Bennett as compassionate and a problem-solver -- for students and faculty.

"Amy sets an example in her work and in the way she carries herself that makes others around her want to be better people," Ender said.

Grand Rapids Community College has been offering educational opportunities in West Michigan for 100 years. Established in 1914, the college offers degree courses, certification and training programs, and workshops and personal enrichment classes. Offerings are held on GRCC’s downtown Grand Rapids campus, and at several locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties, as well as through distance learning.

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