Grand Rapids Community College faculty and staff
are mourning the Nov. 29 death of President Emeritus Richard W. Calkins, who
led unprecedented campus expansion and the college’s transformation as an
Dr. Calkins became chief executive (a title
later changed to president) of what was then Grand Rapids Junior College in
1975. A Creston High School graduate, he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree
from Albion College and a master’s degree at Michigan State University. After
earning his degrees, he became Creston’s vocal music director. In 1969, he
became assistant director of personnel for the Grand Rapids school district. At
that time, GRJC was operated by the Grand Rapids school district.
Dr. Calkins led less-visible expansion, as well.
The college began or vastly expanded its theater department, photography
program, media services, computer technology training, culinary arts program
and occupational therapy program under his leadership.
Dr. Calkins also helped organize a campaign that
led to a February 1991 vote that changed the junior college to Grand Rapids
Community College, an independent institution with a board of trustees.
Dr. Calkins is survived by his wife in Texas,
Patsy Fulton Calkins; sister, Barb Helmholdt; and daughters and their families,
Lori and Scott Sanders, and Susan Dobbs and her fiancé, Evans Odando, as well as
four grandchildren, Nate and Emily Sanders and Jared and Tyler Dobbs.
A public memorial celebration will be held in
spring 2014, which will be announced at a later date.
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