Student-Focused Leader Takes Presidential Post Dr. Bill Pink

By Wes McKinzie (98)

In a recent three-week span, Dr. Bill Pink (90) hosted a governor and two United States cabinet members at Grand Rapids Community College in Michigan.

These visits gave Bill, GRCC’s new president, the opportunity to advocate for needs in higher education and in his college. But most of all, it gave him the opportunity to advocate for his students.

“I believe all students can learn,” said Bill, one of two Distinguished Alumni honorees at OC’s Homecoming this year. “We must provide them with the tools and experiences to be successful learners and critical thinkers. No matter what we think students need, the experience of college is truly up to our students to help us dictate. If we do not pay attention to their voices, they will go somewhere else.”

With this philosophy in mind, Bill tackles the challenge of making sure GRCC remains relevant and responsive in a constantly changing societal landscape.

He also stays focused on finances and funding, and the opportunity to forge relationships with officials like Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta, and Michigan governor Rick Snyder all help to that end.

“All three of them met students, faculty, and staff, and learned more about what we do for our students and our community,” Bill said. “We are grateful to have high-level folks who visit our college and are repeatedly impressed.”

Bill says his experience as an OC education major kindled his desire to work in higher education. After graduating from Oklahoma Christian, he coached basketball and tennis at York College in Nebraska, then served as athletic director, assistant to the president, and head men’s basketball coach at Cascade College in Oregon.

“I wanted to coach college basketball and teach. I was blessed to do both,” said Bill, who earned NAIA Scholar-Athlete honors as an OC basketball player. “The people who made up the faculty and staff at OC have always been, and remain, instrumental pieces of who I am today. I still value the many lessons I learned in the classroom and on the basketball court.”

Bill returned to his alma mater in 1998 for a six-year stint teaching in OC’s Department of Education before Sherri (Buben 87) Coale hired him as director of basketball operations at the University of Oklahoma.

Bill went on to serve as an associate dean at the University of Central Oklahoma and vice president of academic affairs at Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City before joining GRCC as vice president and dean for workforce development. He became president last November.

“I hope to bring a positive culture and atmosphere to my campus, along with a sense of shared governance across the institution,” Bill said. “I’m honored and humbled to serve in this way, and I’m grateful to the institutions that played a role in my development as a person and as a leader.”

Bill’s development includes playing on Coach Dan Hays’ winning basketball teams, taking Bible classes with Dr. Avon Malone (Bill says, “I still don’t believe he ever looked at his Bible as he ‘read’ scripture!”), and being an on-air personality at KOCC. The memories – and their magnitude – live on.

“OC is home to me because I met amazing people there who are still my family today – from faculty, staff, and coaches to teammates and classmates,” Bill said. “I may go for weeks and months without speaking to many, but I know that once I see them, we pick up where we left off. Sounds like home!

Fall 2017

View more stories from the Fall 2017 issue of Vision magazine.