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 with two campuses in downtown Grand Rapids, eight additional facilities throughout Kent County, plus five facilities in Ottawa County.
This year, GRCC’s enrollment is the highest ever, with students enrolled in more than 1,600 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 22 other nations. Another 10,000 learners are served by non-credit instructional opportunities. In addition to traditional classroom environments, students may also receive instruction through service-learning opportunities, seminars, workshops, training courses, distance learning options and other educational formats.
GRCC has a faculty of more than 260 full-time and 600 part-time members as well as a staff of 650, all of whom are focused on the success of students. Throughout its 96-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.