Grand Rapids Junior College (GRJC) was founded in 1914 by the Grand Rapids Board of Education after a resolution was passed by the University of Michigan faculty which encouraged the establishment of junior colleges in Michigan. In the ’50s and ’60s, legislative acts further clarified the role of community colleges in Michigan. This, along with current needs of the community served, provides the College with direction and purpose.
The College was first located in Grand Rapids Central High School. Eight faculty members taught rhetoric and composition, mathematics, history, biology, physics, Latin, and German. The first graduating class numbered 49 students. By 1945, enrollment had grown to 1,200 students, representing 53 Michigan communities, five states, a territory, and one foreign nation. In the next decade, the College’s enrollment doubled. Under the 1966 Community College Act, the state of Michigan included postsecondary vocational-technical education in the definition of the community college program. As a result, GRCC now offers more than 45 occupational programs as well as liberal arts programs.
In 1991 Kent County taxpayers voted to redistrict GRJC, which became Grand Rapids Community College. For the first time, GRCC had its own Board of Trustees and its boundaries were extended beyond the Grand Rapids Public School District to include the 20 districts within the Kent Intermediate School District. By 1996 the College was serving about 25,000 full- and part-time students.
In the last 20 years, GRCC has expanded from its main campus to the DeVos Campus on Heritage Hill; the Lakeshore Campus in Ottawa County with five facilities; the Leslie E. Tassell M-TEC in SE Grand Rapids; the Learning Corner on Wealthy; and six regional centers across Kent County.
Traditional classrooms have been transformed into state of the art laboratory and tutoring spaces. Teaching and learning is enhanced through experiential learning, seminars, workshops, training courses and online learning. Which is all supported by an impressive system of academic support and tutoring, academic and career counseling, occupational and disability support, and bilingual support services.
Every year more than 17,000 students enroll in more than 2,000 liberal arts and occupational courses. The diverse student body includes students from Kent and surrounding counties as well as students from across the U.S. and several other nations. Another 12,000 learners from all walks of life are served by a multitude of non-credit certificate and job training opportunities. GRCC has 660 full-time faculty and staff members and 650 adjunct faculty members, all of whom are focused on the success of students. Throughout its 99-year history of academic excellence, GRCC has maintained a solid reputation as a premier transfer institution and is nationally recognized for both its liberal arts and occupational programs.