The area college and university presidents began meeting periodically some years ago in response to input gleaned from the first Grand Rapids Summit on Racism (organized by the Grand Rapids Area Center on Ecumenism and its Racial Justice Institutes). This information indicated that area colleges and university were not giving leadership that was sorely needed in the areas of diversity, multiculturalism and anti-racism. Over the course of many conversations and several years, the presidents developed the conviction that they indeed ought to work together to give more leadership in this area.
In fall 2001, thirteen area college and university presidents finalized a compact to address racism in our community in a collaborative manner, and in March 2002, presented their compact to the community at the Summit on Racism. In part, the compact pledged that the presidents would work together to:
- Share efforts and resources;
- Support the activities of other institutions;
- Engage in appropriate reciprocal partnerships with the broader community;
- Hold one another accountable to these goals; and
- Cooperate in concrete ways to promote anti-racist and multicultural efforts
Our goal is to ensure that our institutions of higher education actively contribute to the efforts in West Michigan to affirm, respect and embrace people of all ethnic and racial backgrounds.
The compact was originally signed by the follow presidents:
James E. Bultman
Rex M. Rogers
Randolph K. Flechsig
Nicholas V. Kroeze
Ferris State University
James L. Schultz
Western Michigan University, Grand Rapids
C. Edward Balog
Ken B. Kemper
Grace Bible College
Rick E. Amidon
Baker College, Muskegon
Juan O. Olivarez
Grand Rapids Community College
Gaylen J. Byker
Grand Valley State University
Thomas M. Cooley Law School (GR)
In summer 2002, the presidents met and decided that a group was needed to work on their behalf to accomplish the goals of the compact. The Implementation Committee (IC) was formed and began meeting in fall 2002. Three administrators that had regularly attended the presidents' meetings were were asked to pull the IC together to explore collaborative efforts. The IC met bi-monthly during the academic year, primarily sharing strategies and programmatic opportunities within the higher education community. The three administrators set the agenda and organized the conversation that first year. Subsequently, a permanent representative from each member institution was appointed by their college president to be part of the IC.
The IC was formalized and established three active subcommittees - Faculty, Student Life, and Senior Administrators. These subcommittees were charged with implementing the mission of the compact at the various areas for which they are responsible. Before the 2006 vote to ban affirmative action in education, hiring, and contacting processes in Michigan, the IC hosted a panel discussion on affirmative action at Calvin College, Grand Rapids Community College, and Hope College. Each event brought supporters from both sides of the issue and gave them an opportunity to make their case. Attendees had an opportunity to educate themselves and ask related questions.