Grand Rapids Community College trustees unanimously voted to rename two of its buildings located on its DeVos Campus after former president Steven C. Ender and GRCC Foundation leader Dave Custer.
Mable Engle House will become Steven C. Ender Hall, and the Lettinga House will be called the Custer Alumni House.
“Both President Ender and Dave Custer made a tremendous impact on our campus, its students and our community,” said Dr. Kathryn Mullins, executive director of the GRCC Foundation and vice president for College Advancement. “This is an opportunity to honor them but also to tell their stories and inspire students today and long into the future.”
Both buildings will serve different purposes after renovations are completed this summer.
Ender Hall will be used for student-focused groups, including Experiential Learning and the Honors Program, Student Employment Services and space for Student Life clubs and organizations.
The building was previously used for temporary office space.
Ender was GRCC’s ninth president, serving from 2009-17. The GRCC Foundation, under his direction, awarded more than $1 million in scholarships. His leadership led to more than 90 transfer agreements with colleges and universities, more than $55 million in grants to support teaching and learning, and $21 million in funding for capital projects.
“That was about, in retrospect, a huge sense of gratitude and humility,” Ender said. “But also, and today, I’m thinking a lot about my mom and dad. GRCC was the capstone of my career. I’m proud of what we accomplished and prouder yet about the leadership that is in place.”
The Custer Alumni House will be the home of the GRCC Foundation and host alumni activities. The former Lettinga House was used as temporary office space and housed the Institutional Research Department and General Counsel.
Custer, CEO and founder of Custer Inc., was a first-generation student at what was then Grand Rapids Junior College in 1965.
He became a member of the foundation’s board of directors in 1989 and immediately joined efforts that led Kent County voters to redistrict GRJC into the independent, standalone Grand Rapids Community College.
In 2008, he was named board chair — the first time this leadership position was held by someone other than the college president. He has served as chair of the fundraising committee for 30 years and most recently as co-chair of GRCC’s A Broader Vision capital campaign.
The Council for Advancement and Support of Education last month named Custer the recipient of the 2020 Ernest T. Steward Award for Alumni Volunteer Involvement. The American Association of Community Colleges in December named Custer one of just four 2020 Outstanding Alumni Award recipients from among 600 nominations.
Trustees board chairperson David Koetje said Custer is an example of how “ordinary people can do really extraordinary things.”
“He started a business and, through that business, became a philanthropist and never lost sight of his love for the institution that helped shape who he is today,” Koetje said.