‘We’re friends, not competitors.’ Outgoing member shares how NCMPR helped him tell community college stories

by Dave Murray
Grand Rapids Community College
Grand Rapids, MI


We’re friends, not competitors. That’s what I loved most about the National Council for Marketing and Public Relations.


I was introduced to the organization after becoming Grand Rapids Community College’s communications director in 2018.


I quickly learned NCMPR is more than a professional organization. It’s a community of people who care deeply about our common mission, and who are very willing to lend a hand or share an idea to help someone else be successful. We are in this together.


When we started looking to create a mascot, Lynn Whalen and her team at Lincoln Land Community College graciously shared the process they just completed.


When my team was struggling to put together a social media policy, NCMPR colleagues from across the nation posted examples on the listserv to guide us.


I learned something new every time I connected with Eric Greene and his team at Kellogg Community College and Dr. Toya Webb and her team at Elgin Community College. They all were always kind enough to share their experience and expertise.


And I was glad to hop on the phone and talk about projects, staffing and budgets when asked by fellow Michigan communications teams, sharing what we learned along the way. If someone wanted to know how we did something or wanted to adopt a best practice we employed, we were happy to share all that we knew.


I gained something from every webinar, every conference presentation, every podcast and every conversation over lunch or dinner.


The best part about the Medallion and Paragon awards was seeing the wonderful work created by our colleagues. The awards are more than a celebration, they are a master class in what we collectively do and how to do it best.


Community colleges are special places. We serve high-achievers, and people who are reaching out for a second or third chance – or more. We provide degrees and credits for people to transfer to four-year schools, and we provide career training for people looking to advance and help their families. Our students attend full time, and they attend at night and on Saturdays, working around job and family responsibilities. They are teenagers; they are senior citizens — and everyone in between. We’re proud of them all.


The people who work with them are pretty special, too. We’re resourceful and nimble. We’re mission-oriented. We love what we do, and we realize that everyone who crosses that stage at commencement is a life changed. I know attending a community college helped me tremendously, and it was an honor to tell the stories of our people and programs so others can be inspired.


I’m moving on to a new role, but I will always appreciate the support and kindness from the NCMPR community. You made me and my team better.

Dave Murray is the former communications director at Grand Rapids Community College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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