Early this week, the Michigan Office of the Auditor General (OAG) released a report condemning Southwestern Michigan College (SMC) for not enrolling part-time students who work on campus into the teachers’ retirement system. Of course, SMC does not enroll student workers into the teachers’ retirement system. This determination has been made based on direct guidance from the Office of Retirement Services (ORS) and common practice among other community colleges.
On Wednesday, Southwestern Michigan College filed in the Michigan Court of Appeals the second stage of its suit against the Michigan Auditor General’s unconstitutional conduct of a free-wheeling, unauthorized investigation of the College’s practice of not making retirement system payroll deductions and contributions for part-time student workers who will never vest in the system or collect benefits. The College’s practice was based on 2011 guidance from Michigan’s Office of Retirement Services (ORS) that non-contribution for part-time student workers was correct. Regulations published by the public school employees’ retirement system state that retirement service credit will not be given to students in a reporting unit. Moreover, the College’s biweekly payroll reports released to the ORS since 2010 clearly disclosed to the ORS that SMC was not making retirement deductions or contributions for part-time student workers.
Southwestern Michigan College Student Activity Center Assistant Manager Branden Pompey avoids discussing his 10-year journey with low vision which began at 20 while an SMC student. He made an exception Feb. 20 for SMC’s Wellness Committee since 4.2 million Americans ages 40 and older are visually impaired. By 2030, when the last baby boomers turn 65, that number is projected to reach 7.2 million, with low vision burdening 5 million. February is Low Vision Awareness Month.
Southwestern Michigan College presents its spring musical, “The Secret Garden,” March 1-4 in the theatre of the Dale A. Lyons Building on the Dowagiac campus. “The Secret Garden,” directed by SMC Manager of Theatre Operations and Applied Performing Arts Marcus Roll, tells the story of Mary Lennox (Morgan Smith), a sickly 10-year-old girl orphaned by cholera in India. She goes to Yorkshire, England, to live with her embittered, reclusive, hunchback Uncle Archibald (Zach Allyn) and his invalid son Colin (Braden Miesse, 11).
Southwestern Michigan College debuted its remodeled and enlarged art gallery at a reception on Feb. 14 by showcasing alumna Jessika Clement’s series of eight outsized oil paintings, “The Generous Deceit of Elusive Darkness.” “We just completed a two-stage renovation,” Visual and Performing Arts Chairman Marc Dombrosky said. “It doesn’t just look different, it sounds different” with an interior wall moved to make the rear gallery as big a space as the front gallery in Room 108 of the Dale A. Lyons Building on the Dowagiac campus.