Apr 12, 2024  
2014-2015 Catalog-EXPIRED 

History of GRCC


Grand Rapids Junior College (GRJC) was founded in 1914 by the Grand Rapids Public Schools Board of Education after a resolution was passed by University of Michigan faculty to encourage 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 the education and training needs of West Michigan, provided the college with direction and purpose.


GRJC 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 for-credit occupational programs alongside its liberal arts programs.


In 1991, Kent County taxpayers voted to redistrict GRJC. The college was renamed Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC), gained a board of trustees, and its boundaries were extended beyond Grand Rapids Public Schools 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 – today that number surpasses 33,000.


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 Grand Rapids; the Learning Corner on Wealthy Street in Grand Rapids; and and regional centers in Lowell, Rockford, Grandville and Byron Center.  We also partner to provide the Wyoming Middle College, and offer classes at the Kent Careerline Tech Center and Kent City High School.


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. This all is supported by an impressive system of academic support and tutoring, academic and career counseling, occupational and disability support, and bilingual support services.


Each year more than 16,500 students enroll in liberal arts and occupational courses. Another 16,400 learners from all walks of life are served by a multitude of non-credit certificate and job training opportunities. Our diverse student body includes students from Kent and surrounding counties, as well as students from across the U.S. and several other nations.


Throughout its 100-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.