The President's Pen: Growth


In the mid 1990s Great Lakes Christian College was at a crossroad.  One road led to a continued struggle to survive. The previous years had been marked by financial difficulties and an erosion of confidence in the College’s ability to be an effective institution of higher learning.  Despite the efforts of those who cared deeply about the future of GLCC, something had to be done to change direction. We needed to take a different approach. We needed to take another road.

The other road began with the hiring of Jerry Paul as our President. He brought stability and a restored level of confidence within our constituency. The era of living in survival mode was over. While there were still challenges to meet, the focus was not so much on the difficulties of the past but on a future of hope. The road we were on looked bright and promising. We are still on that road. God has blessed.

In the last ten years we have become accredited with the Higher Learning Commission, built the Doty Center, and have moved forward in becoming an institution of excellence. Financially, we have finished in the black every year since 1996 except for one year, 2009, when the stock market collapsed. Educationally, we have been blessed to have a great faculty that is increasingly becoming known and appreciated by the wider academic community. We have established an extension site in Detroit in partnership with the Institute for Black Family Development. We have seen our desire to be a more diverse campus become a reality in that we are now around 20% people of color. Programmatically, we have seen an increase in majors as we strive to fulfill our mission to prepare students to be servant-leaders in the church and world. We developed a Family Life Education major and have expanded our Cross-Cultural program to include a focus on urban issues. We have begun a program that will allow distance learners to earn a Christian Ministries major on-line. We are moving forward with a new Business Management - Nonprofit major. These and other planned curricular changes have helped us to increase the potential for our students to impact our world. In athletics we have hired our first full-time Athletic Director, John Piercefield, and we are seeing the results of a program that is committed, first of all, to competing in Christ-honoring ways. He is helping to instill values and principles in our student-athletes that will last much longer than their years of competition. Technologically, we have become a wireless campus and have improved our capacity for learning by having access to over 30,000 ebooks and thousands of on-line magazines and periodicals. We have installed new computers in our library, tech center, and student mall. Our professors all have the latest technology and with large screen TVs in the classrooms and wireless internet availability for their presentations. We have seen advances in campus security by placing cameras in the administration building and the dorms. And we have secured both the Women’s Dorm and the Doty Center by installing automatic key fob entry. These are just some of the things that have helped us become a college that is continuing to move toward excellence.

Our latest area of development is our campaign to build the Knowles Learning Center. This addition will provide new offices for our faculty, expand our cafeteria, and include a new library and classrooms. Most importantly, it will allow us the space to grow and to be in a better position to share with and mentor our students. It will be one more milestone on a road where we have felt God’s leading and have experienced His blessing.

As I look back on my time here as President I am especially appreciative of those individuals who have consistently had our college in their prayers. Through the good times and bad they have been the power behind our ministry. I am also grateful for those who have been our partners through their gifts of generosity. All those who have been changed and trained by GLCC owe a debt of gratitude to these wonderful people whose kingdom vision has made an eternal difference. As I look forward I see a road of optimism and hope as we continue to do the things that will make God proud. I am sure there will be some twist and turns ahead. There will be some hills and valleys. But I am confident that the road we are on will lead us to a place of excellence as we make a difference – one life at a time.

By Ash Harris | April 16th, 2012 | Categories: The President's Pen