GRCC’s Lisa Freiburger, Bill Pink selected for Aspen Presidential Fellowship



Leah Nixon

Director of Communications

(616) 234-4213

April 7, 2016 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Lisa Freiburger, Grand Rapids Community College's vice president for finance and administration, and Bill Pink, vice president and dean of the School of Workforce Development, were awarded the prestigious Aspen Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence.

The Aspen Institute, a Washington, D.C-based educational and policy studies organization, announced today that Freiburger and Pink join the inaugural class of the Aspen Presidential Fellows, a diverse group of 40 extraordinary leaders with the drive and capacity to transform community colleges to achieve higher levels of student success.

Over the next decade, a majority of current community college presidents is expected to retire. At the same time, increasing numbers of students are flocking to community colleges to earn degrees that lead to good jobs, but too few of them actually graduate. The Aspen Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence aims to equip college leaders with the tools they need to dramatically improve student outcomes. The Fellowship is a highly selective yearlong program to prepare leaders aspiring, or recently appointed, to the community college presidency. Fellows will participate in a series of innovative seminars and ongoing mentorship focused on a new vision for leadership, delivered in collaboration with Stanford University faculty and top community college leaders.

“It was an honor to nominate Lisa and Bill, as I believe they both have exceptional leadership ability and will be future community college presidents,” said President Dr. Steven C. Ender. "The Aspen Presidential Fellowship will allow them to take part in the national discussion on improving student success and retention."

Freiburger joined GRCC in 2011; she previously served as the Grand Rapids school district's deputy superintendent of finance and operations. As GRCC’s chief financial officer, she leads and manages the office of Finance and Administration, including departments that are part of facilities; Campus Police; the Ford Fieldhouse; operational planning, accounting and budgets; human resources; purchasing; payroll and benefits and Student Financial Services. She serves on the president’s executive leadership team, president’s cabinet, and on the Strategic Leadership Team and is responsible for all insurance and risk management concerns as well as safety and emergency planning.

Pink joined GRCC's leadership team in March 2015. He serves on the president’s executive leadership team, president’s cabinet, Strategic Leadership Team, and Deans’ Council, as well as on other academic committees. He has been an educator for 25 years, teaching and coaching in Oklahoma, Nebraska and Oregon. Before coming to Michigan, he was vice president for academic affairs at Oklahoma State University’s Oklahoma City Campus. He previously served as associate dean for the College of Education and Professional Studies at the University of Central Oklahoma.

Freiburger and Pink were selected through a rigorous process that considered their abilities to take strategic risks, lead strong teams and cultivate partnerships, and focus on results-oriented improvements in student success and access.

The 2016-17 Aspen Presidential Fellows hail from 17 states and 30 community colleges of varying sizes. They will begin their program in July at Stanford with anticipated completion in spring 2017. Applications for the second class will be available by Sept. 30, 2016. 

The Aspen Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence is funded by the Carnegie Corp. of New York, the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, ECMC Foundation, Greater Texas Foundation, the Joyce Foundation and the Kresge Foundation.

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.