GRCC to name buildings in honor of two faculty members



Leah Nixon

Director of Communications

(616) 234-4213

Aug. 27, 2015 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Grand Rapids Community College will recognize the contributions of two pioneering faculty members by naming buildings in their honor.

President Dr. Steven C. Ender announced at today's convocation that the new Laboratory Preschool would be named for Phyllis Fratzke. GRCC's Music Center, which is next to the new preschool site, will be renamed for Albert P. Smith.

"Both Professor Fratzke and Professor Smith are important figures in the 100-year history of Grand Rapids Community College," Ender said. "Our students still benefit from their foresight, and it is only fitting that we recognize them in a permanent way."

A groundbreaking was held today for the new preschool, which will be named for Fratzke when it opens during the 2016-17 academic year.

Fratzke, a Grand Rapids Junior College alumna, has a bachelor's degree from Western Michigan University and a master's degree from Michigan State University. She began her GRJC career in 1968 as an interior design instructor in the home economics department. She began the college's child development program in the 1972-73 academic year and then created the preschool in 1974 to give students experience working with children. During the next 18 years, the preschool, now housed in First United Methodist Church on Fulton Street, has grown from an initial class of 3- and 4-year-olds to a facility with an infant room, toddler room and three preschool classrooms. It was one of the first programs to be accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

Fratzke retired in 1992.

The new state-of-the-art Laboratory Preschool will serve as a hub connecting families, teachers and students with best-practice early education resources. To learn more about this project, click here.

Smith's 35-year career with GRJC began in 1947. With a bachelor's degree from Calvin College and a Master of Music Education from the University of Michigan, he became chairman of GRJC's humanities division in 1960, which included the music department. He later added chairman of the fine arts and foreign language division to his responsibilities.

During Smith's tenure, GRJC became one of the first junior colleges to be accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music. GRCC continues in good standing as an accredited member of the NASM. 

Smith died in 2010.

The Music Center was constructed in 1922, serving as a physical education building for Strong Junior High School and then GRJC. It was vacant for three years after P.E. courses moved to the newly built Ford Fieldhouse in 1976. It was renovated for the music department in 1980.

"Having the names of Phyllis Fratzke and Albert P. Smith on our buildings will serve as another reminder of the dedication and commitment of the faculty who made GRCC what it is today," 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.