College hires provost


Brian Knetl. Courtesy GRCC

A local college has selected its next provost.

Brian Knetl, interim provost at Harper College in Palatine, Illinois, will become Grand Rapids Community College’s next provost and executive vice president for academic and student affairs.

In the role, Knetl is responsible for strategic planning and guiding all aspects of teaching and learning in support of student success. The provost also is charged with establishing GRCC’s academic vision in pursuit of its mission through the contributions of the deans, associate deans, faculty, staff and their respective systems of support.

Knetl was selected for the position from four finalists after a national search.

“Dr. Knetl is a leader, and someone who will be a strong advocate for GRCC students and faculty,” said GRCC President Bill Pink. “His experience perfectly aligns with our goals of reaching out to our entire community so students of all ages have access to a strong education, and support to help them be successful.”

Knetl was Harper College’s associate provost for academic affairs, dean of liberal arts and founding associate dean of the Center for Adjunct Faculty Engagement before being named interim provost.

At Harper, Knetl said he championed academic planning and pathways, built relationships with high school partners leading to better curricular alignment and increases in early college credit, and has served as co-leader of the Achieving the Dream initiative.

He was previously assistant dean and director of academic arts at Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills, Illinois.

Before his transition into administration, Knetl was a faculty member for seven years in the theater department at Saint Mary’s University in Winona, Minnesota, serving as department chair for two years.

Knetl has a bachelor’s degree in theater from Saint Mary’s, a master’s degree in theater from Texas State University and a doctorate in curriculum and instruction from Loyola University-Chicago. He completed the Aspen Presidential Fellowship Program for Community College Excellence in 2019.

Knetl said he’s eager to start at GRCC.

“I was inspired by everyone’s enthusiasm when I was on campus for my interview,” he said. “I’m convinced that I’m coming to a very dynamic place where everyone is working earnestly to support students and advance the community.”

The new provost will replace Laurie Chesley, who became president of Central Oregon Community College.

A starting date for Knetl still is being worked out, but GRCC officials hope to have him on campus by mid-September, after he helps get the school year rolling at Harper.

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