This month marks Dr. Beverly Walker-Griffea’s two-year anniversary as president of Mott Community College. The warm welcome she received from the community, teachers, faculty and staff, as well as the students, was a clear indication to the Tulsa, OK native that Flint was a place she could call home. “Family is very important to me,” says Dr. Beverly, as she is fondly referred to on campus. She loves that she is called “Dr. Beverly,” because she considers herself an informal person.
“I have three homes: Newport News, Virginia, where my son lives; Tulsa, where my mother and immediate family members live; and my new home here in Flint.” She came to Flint when she was asked to apply for the position of president. “I knew that MCC had a good reputation of student success and I thought it would be a good fit. It’s been a wonderful time for me!” she exclaims. “After I saw MCC and the surrounding community, I knew it was where I wanted to be. I love it here.”
Dr. Beverly brings years of collegiate experience to the table. She was the senior vice president of student services at Montgomery College in Maryland for three years, and the vice president of student affairs for five years at Thomas Nelson Community College in Hampton, VA. “My career has included positions at colleges all across the nation,” she adds.
“After I saw MCC and the surrounding community, I knew it was where I wanted to be. I love it here.” Dr. Beverly Walker-Griffea
She spent her first two years at Mott listening, observing, reviewing, and getting to know all of the college constituent groups. “I wanted to learn about the history, the culture and the vision of where we need to go for our future,” she reports. “We have quality programs, and an excellent facility and staff who help our students know they can obtain a degree and that they have a strong support system in order to achieve that goal.”
During her second year on campus, Dr. Beverly began to put her own stamp on the institution with new emphasis on student and staff success through the College Commitments, and a focus on
recognizing excellence in students, faculty, staff and programs. “We have celebrated statewide, nationwide, and local awards received by our students, faculty and staff,” Dr. Beverly says. This includes the Michigan Campus Compact awards, Flint ADDY awards, American Association of Women in Community Colleges awards, and the Aspen Institute recently named MCC one of the top 150 community colleges out of 1,100 facilities, nationwide.
Other accomplishments during Dr. Beverly’s tenure include the opening of the Durham Wellness & Physical Education Center; receiving over $3 million dollars in CCSTEP grants from the State of Michigan to purchase laboratory equipment for Health Care, Technology, and Workforce Development programs; the launching of a redesigned website; a new branding campaign set to launch this fall; the installation of water hydration stations; the implementation of the Pathways to Success program; new academic degree and certificate programs; and expanded course offerings at MCC’s Branch Centers.
As president, Dr. Beverly’s duties include ensuring the college meets students’ needs, empowering them to complete a degree and find a job, and partnering with local businesses, universities and K-12 schools to improve the community.
Dr. Beverly is also committed to empowering women. “I talk to a lot of young women and try to encourage them to have confidence in themselves, and to believe they can do what they set their minds to do,” she says. “I offer advice, opportunity, and support.” She helped establish a chapter of the American Association of Women in Community Colleges on campus. In its first year, the group won the distinction of “Chapter of the Year” for outstanding involvement and progress.
Dr. Beverly acknowledges the influence and support she has received from many mentors, teachers and friends throughout her career, but was first inspired by two people – her own mother and father. “They pushed me to do the things I didn’t believe I could do,” she shares. “They loved me enough to let me go and let me fly.” Her father taught her to be independent and do things on her own, like work on a car and fix plumbing. “I value the things he instilled in me,” she says.
In her spare time, Dr. Beverly loves to travel and finds cooking to be a real stress reliever. “I love to experience new things. I am a true educator,” she adds. One thing a lot of people don’t know about Dr. Beverly is she loves ballroom dancing; she competed in the 2016 “Dancing with the Local Stars” contest. “I always loved watching Dancing with the Stars, and it was my first time in the contest,” she says. “It was so much fun.”
Luckily, her vision for Mott aligns with her passions. “My vision is that we will continue to be a student-centered college that supports, develops and empowers students to realize their dreams. Student success is Number One. That’s what it is all about here.”
At Mott’s commencement ceremony, Dr. Beverly was present to personally congratulate and hug each graduate. “I’m hands-on,” she smiles. “It was validation for me that I am making an impact on students’ lives. That is what is important to me.”
Photography by Eric Dutro