GRCC selects Brian Knetl as new provost

Aug. 8, 2019 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. Dr. Brian Knetl, interim provost at Harper College in Palatine, Ill., will become Grand Rapids Community College’s next provost and executive vice president for academic and student affairs, GRCC President Bill Pink said.

“Dr. Knetl is a leader, and someone who will be a strong advocate for GRCC students and faculty,” Pink said. “His experience perfectly aligns with our goals of reaching out to our entire community so students of all ages have access to a strong education, and support to help them be successful. He is energetic and enthusiastic, and I’m looking forward to him being a part of the GRCC family.”

Knetl served as Harper College’s associate provost for Academic Affairs, dean of Liberal Arts and founding associate dean of the Center for Adjunct Faculty Engagement before being named interim provost. He previously served as assistant dean and director of Academic Arts at Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills, Ill.

He was selected after a national search.

The provost is the college’s chief academic officer with major responsibilities for strategic planning and guiding all aspects of teaching and learning in support of student success. The provost also is charged with establishing GRCC’s academic vision in pursuit of its mission through the contributions of the deans, associate deans, faculty, staff, and their respective systems of support.

At Harper, Knetl championed academic planning and pathways, built relationships with high school partners leading to better curricular alignment and increases in early college credit, and has served as co-leader of the Achieving the Dream initiative

Before his transition into administration, he was a faculty member for seven years in the theater department at Saint Mary’s University in Winona, Minn., serving as department chair for two years.

Knetl said he’s eager to start at GRCC.

“I was inspired by everyone’s enthusiasm when I was on campus for my interview,” he said. “I’m convinced that I’m coming to a very dynamic place where everyone is working earnestly to support students and advance the community. I’m excited to be a part of GRCC's excellence and about contributing to its next steps.”

Knetl has a bachelor’s degree in theater from Saint Mary’s; a master’s degree in theater from Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas; and a doctorate in curriculum and instruction from Loyola University-Chicago. He completed the Aspen Presidential Fellowship Program for Community College Excellence in 2019.

Pink said there were four very strong, highly qualified finalists for the position, making for a difficult selection. Mike Light, professor of American history, and Dr. Werner Absenger, program director for the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education, guided GRCC’s search.

The new provost will replace Dr. Laurie Chesley, who became president of Central Oregon Community College in Bend, Ore.

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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