GRCC plans community forums for equity and inclusion officer post

This release has been updated to reflect that one of the finalists has withdrawn from consideration.

Sept. 27, 2018 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Grand Rapids Community College is committed to providing everyone in the region the opportunity to improve their lives through education, President Bill Pink said in announcing community forums to meet finalists for a position focusing on equity and inclusion.

Pink is reframing an existing position to serve as GRCC's chief equity and inclusion officer. The person in this post will build on the college's existing and successful efforts, and help develop a strategy championing equity and inclusion as an essential means to foster student success, employee well-being, and community vibrancy and growth.

The person selected for the position will work with stakeholders – students, faculty, staff and community members – to ensure that GRCC is a leader in equity and inclusion. 

"This is important because of what we know today about challenges in our region and our state around disparities, particularly in terms of education and the workforce," Pink said. "We need to make sure as this community's college, we're proactively doing our part to provide an education that is inclusive and equitable for everyone -- for students, employees and our community partners. We’ve done good work in this area, but there is more to do." 

After a nationwide search, GRCC has three finalists for the position: 

  • B. Afeni McNeely Cobham, a visiting associate professor at Salem State University, will be interviewed Oct. 1 in room 168 of the Wisner-Bottrall Applied Technology Center, 151 Fountain St. NE. 
  • Jessica Cruz, chief diversity and inclusion officer at Northern Michigan University, will be interviewed Oct. 3 in room 168 of the ATC. 
  • Salvador Lopez, associate director of diversity recruitment at Grand Valley State University, will be interviewed Oct. 10 in room 124 of the ATC.

The community forums will run from 2:15-3:15 p.m.  

This position also will oversee the Bob and Aleicia Woodrick Center for Equity and Inclusion, which has worked for 12 years on educating and honoring the dignity of all people through community celebrations such as the Giants Awards and through educational opportunities like student workshops, the Latino Youth Conference and the Institute for Healing Racism. 

Pink said the position will report directly to him, a reflection of the importance of the mission and his personal experience working on equity and inclusion issues. Among the other efforts in his career, Pink was asked by Mayor Rosalynn Bliss last year to join her in co-chairing the Grand Rapids Racial Equity Initiative.

GRCC is one of West Michigan's most diverse college campuses, with more Latino students than any public college or university in the state, according to an Excelencia in Education analysis, and the most African-American students on a campus in West Michigan, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

“That’s something we're proud of,” Pink said. “At the same time, we know there is more to do to elevate our effectiveness in this space."

Grand Rapids Community College has been offering educational opportunities in West Michigan for more than 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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