Pura lauded at his last GCC Foundation meeting

  • Rep. Stephen Kulik, D-Worthington, pats Greenfield Community College President Bob Pura on the back after he delivers a keynote at the 49th annual GCC Foundation dinner. Recorder Staff/Joshua Solomon

  • Northampton Police Chief Jody Kasper, a 1994 graduate from Greenfield Community College, accepts the award from the GCC Foundation for the 2017 Distinguished Alum. Recorder Staff/Joshua Solomon—

Recorder Staff
Published: 11/9/2017 11:21:43 PM

GREENFIELD — As Bob Pura often likes to do, he drew on a metaphor to describe education at Greenfield Community College.

The president of the college showed off a rock to the full house present for the Greenfield Community College Foundation’s 49th annual meeting, where its board announced it raised $929,931 for its 2017 campaign.

The rock Pura showed off was rough on the edges and unsightly at first glance. While showing it off behind the podium as the evening’s keynote, Pura told stories of when he came to the college in 2000 — of how colleagues of his warned him not to stay at GCC for it was a “snake pit and hard on presidents.” Pura offered up a different take, to which many in attendance Thursday night nodded in agreement, that the college was more like the geode he was holding, with beautiful crystals inside, if looked at accordingly.

“This is what people saw and this is what we found,” Pura said. “No one will ever again misunderstand the beauty of this college.”

It was an evening that in other years might have been chiefly about how much the college’s foundation raised and how much more it needs to in its following campaign, but Thursday night’s tone was different.

“I’ve heard no less than a hundred speeches, but this really was the best,” longtime friend and chairman of the college’s board Robbie Cohn said. “It was the most thorough, truth-speaking speech about what this college stands for.”

The packed room included Rep. Stephen Kulik, D-Worthington, Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan and Congressman Jim McGovern.

“Bob has not only been an incredible president of GCC, but he’s been an incredible leader in this community,” McGovern said.”

Pura’s days as president, and his speeches, are numbered at this point. After nearly 18 years, he announced his retirement at the end of the school year. Now, he’s making his way through a series of lasts at the college.

His name, however, will continue on at GCC, following the announcement of a new fund set up in his honor. The foundation announced it created the Robert L. Pura President’s Fund for Special Initiatives, which is meant to help future presidents of the college to pay costs such as student travel, co-curricular speakers, program development and new courses.

The goal for the fund is for the college to not have to rely solely on government funding.

“Bob has left a beautiful legacy both for the college and for the community,” Sullivan, the district attorney, said. “He was the perfect fit because he was about community and possibilities.”

Prior to Pura’s speech, the foundation showed a slideshow about the president’s 17-plus years, put together by Regina Curtis, the executive director of resource development and the GCC Foundation. It had moved Pura to tears by the end of it and evoked a standing ovation.

“It’s been a remarkable journey,” Cohn said. “This place is what it is because of him.”

Distinguished Alum Award

When Jody Kasper was about to graduate from Mohawk Trail Regional High School, she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do.

“I had fine grades, but I didn’t know if I wanted to go to college,” Kasper said.

So she spoke to her high school guidance counselor, telling her she didn’t want to be in a big city or be on a big campus. She was told that Greenfield Community College might be a good fit for her.

A graduate from GCC in 1994, Kapser eventually grew comfortable with bigger cities and found a passion for law enforcement.

Today, Kasper is the chief of police in Northampton and has been with the police department for about 20 years. Thursday night, she accepted the 2017 Distinguished Alum Award from the foundation.

“I will continue to sing the praises of this incredibly wonderful place,” Kasper said about GCC when receiving her award.

You can reach
Joshua Solomon at:

or 413-772-0261, ext. 264


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