Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

President Pink

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

President Pink

Article excerpt

Throughout his youth, Dr. Bill Pink had one academic goal. "I wanted to leave my mark on every school that I left, and so I wanted to have my name up on the wall," says Pink, who was unanimously voted in November to become the next president of Grand Rapids Community College in Michigan.

At Grand Rapids, he'll not only be memorialized as a college president, but as the first African-American to hold the position at the 100-year-old institution.

"This, to me, is hopefully blazing a trail for others who will come after me and who I hope and pray will be much better than what I can be," he says.

Growing up in Texas, Pink's family of seven lived with very little financial means, but his mother and father knew how to make ends meet in spite of their financial situation. As a first-generation college student, he used his passion for playing basketball to help fund his higher learning, which began at York College in Nebraska. In 1987, he graduated with an associate degree, and went on to earn a bachelor's in education from Oklahoma Christian University in 1990.

That year, he became the head men's basketball coach at York College--the first African-American junior college men's basketball coach in Nebraska history. "What I thought was going to be my life goal was reached right off the bat," he says, adding that he continued his dream of coaching at various institutions over the next decade.

While teaching and coaching, Pink furthered his education by earning a master's in education at the University of Central Oklahoma in 1995. Later that year, he moved to Portland, Oregon, to start the first intercollegiate men's basketball program at the recently opened Cascade College.

During his last year at Cascade, he added the position of assistant to the president to his list of responsibilities. "That's when I first got a taste of what this idea of a presidency was all about," he recalls.

From there, he set his sights past coaching, hitting a point in his career where he thought, "If you want to be a catalyst for change, you have to put yourself in places where you are able to do that, where you're able to actually call the shots to an extent."

In 1998, he moved back to Oklahoma to become a full-time faculty member at Oklahoma Christian University, while also pursuing a doctorate degree. In pursuing this degree, he held on to something that his father said to him while in graduate school. …

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