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Board of Trustees reviews 2018 achievements

Southwestern Michigan College President Dr. David Mathews recapped 10 notable 2018 accomplishments for the Board of Trustees at the final meeting of the year: • SMC in July was voted “Best Local College” in Leader Publications’ 2018 Best of the Best Readers’ Choice contest. “That’s a reflection of how the college is viewed by generation after generation of area residents who’ve gone to Southwestern Michigan College,” Mathews said.

• Received a $75,000 United Way of Southwest Michigan grant to continue on-campus student counseling.

• Established seven new business pathways with Indiana University South Bend and a new education Associate in Arts degree and a bachelor’s pathway with Ferris State University “to help the area with teacher preparation for the teacher shortage,” Mathews said. “As announced last month, we have a new paralegal program starting in the fall of 2019. Lots of educational partnerships and also additional new programs that get identified through a pretty rigorous process we have identifying both where there are needs in the marketplace and where we have expertise and natural partnerships with universities.”

• In March launched a Psi Beta chapter, the national community college honor society for psychology students, giving SMC four different honors experiences. Psi Beta joined Gamma Nu Chapter of Alpha Beta Gamma, the international community college business honor society; Sigma Psi Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society for community colleges; and SMC’s own Honors Program.

• Completed a year-long renovation and expansion of the Nursing and Health Education Building. There will be a rededication open house Wednesday, Jan. 9, at 5:30 p.m. in the 1st Source Bank Student-Faculty Collaboration Area. “The first major capital campaign this college has ever done, going out and asking the community for money, generated more than $1.1 million toward that project,” Mathews said. “There was a tremendous outpouring of people interested in contributing, which will greatly benefit the college and the region.”

• Raised almost $9,000 plus a freezer was donated to the Roadrunner Kitchen food pantry. “This has been an entirely volunteer effort,” Mathews said, “to meet the needs of students suffering from food insecurity.”

• Crossed a milestone with the record number of fulltime faculty in college history, 60, by reallocating existing resources.

• Served a record number of dual-enrolled students from area high schools, helping them get started on college credits.

• Awarded 456 associate degrees and certificates to the Class of 2018.

• Continued balancing budgets. “In my 21 years of administration at SMC, we have always had challenges. This year is no different,” Mathews said. “We will adjust spending to conclude this year within budget as always. The combination of new programs, enrollment growth in early college and financial discipline mean that by June the administration will develop yet another balanced budget to bring you for the 2019-20 fiscal year. This is what the elected trustees require as representatives of the taxpayers and that’s what this administration always has and always will develop and deliver to the board.”