GRCC Expands Lakeshore Presence

July 31, 2006
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HOLLAND — Students living near the lakeshore will be able to take more classes close to home, as Grand Rapids Community College is expanding to include business and biology courses at its lakeshore locations.

Dan Clark, operations manager for the Ottawa County Thompson Michigan Technical Education Center, said the “lakeshore campus” of Grand Rapids Community College is expanding this fall to include classes at Holland’s West Ottawa High School in addition to classes already offered at the Thompson M-TEC and the Careerline Tech Center, both in Holland.

The partnership will allow the college to have use of the high school’s new biology lab, making biology classes possible on the lakeshore for the first time.

“We’re now up to about 80 credits of courses that we offer each semester on the lakeshore,” he said. “This past year we had about 2,100 students.”

Clark said the lakeshore campus has been expanding by 15 percent to 20 percent per year since 2003.

“This past year we applied to North Central Accreditation Agency for approval to offer a full associate’s degree at this location,” he said. “We gained approval from the accreditation agency to do so.”

Clark said GRCC came up with two associate’s degrees that were expanded last fall, including a business administration course.

“We look a lot at how many students from Ottawa County are taking business courses at our main campus,” he said. “The second associate’s degree is a partnership with IBM.”

The IBM Advanced Career Education eBusiness Application Developer Degree is only offered at the lakeshore campus. Clark said the college is only the second in the nation to have the partnership.

The lakeshore campus, spread over three locations, serves the Holland, Grand Haven and Zeeland areas.

“We really strategically chose this location because it’s in close proximity to the local lakeshore areas,” Clark said.

Clark said GRCC is taking steps to access what other degrees might be offered at the lakeshore campus.

“Based on community needs, we’re going to offer more courses and programs as we can,” he said. “We’re doing a search right now with the institutional research team to determine what would be the next degree that we should offer out here.”

Clark said the college is looking for additional staffing to fill the growing need.

“We want to make sure that we’re supporting students with services that they need,” he said.

Expansion in business and science doesn’t mean anything will be taken away from the technology courses and manufacturing programs that traditionally have been offered at the lakeshore campus, Clark said.

Recently, three new job training programs also have been added to the courses offered, including a residential construction program, a welding fabrication job training program and a machining computer numeric control program that teaches individuals how to run a machine that is a turn-center style or a mill, which supports a lot of manufacturing businesses in the area.

Clark said he has heard good feedback from students about the growth.

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