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Continuous improvement drives SMC planning process

The Southwestern Michigan College Board of Trustees conducted its annual day-long strategic planning session March 25. All seven trustees joined college administration at Mathews Conference Center West on the Dowagiac campus to review the detailed SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis, a tool used to ensure continuous quality improvement.

The group also reviewed data from the latest Institutional Report Card — a set of 21 metrics that are tracked over time and benchmarked to other colleges – which is used to make data-driven decisions and ensure student success remains SMC’s highest priority.

Trustee Dr. Heidi Grabemeyer-Layman said she is impressed how all of the challenges facing colleges SMC’s size, such as enrollment, retention and transfer readiness, are being proactively addressed.

Dr. Joe Odenwald, Vice President of Student Services, shared his vision and strategic plan for further expanding student leadership and development opportunities. Board members were provided a quarterly budget update and preliminary framework for the 2019-2020 balanced spending plan SMC will adopt in June. Trustees also reviewed the building and site budget and an updated facilities master plan.

Chairman Thomas F. Jerdon said despite the college’s financial, demographical and geographical challenges, SMC thrives due to great leadership and employees. “SMC cannot afford the energy or resources to not focus on improving student success. Decisions on what the college chooses to not do are as important as those items SMC must do.”

“Most every week of my life, someone tells me that SMC is the best thing in the area,” Jerdon said. “I always agree and respond, ‘But it doesn’t happen by accident.’ It happens by making very tough decisions to reallocate resources from functions that are not vital to student success. The long-serving board members fully realize that SMC has always accomplished far more with far less. Once again, SMC will meet our academic goals, have a balanced budget and a strong financial future.”

Trustee Beth Cripe said SMC’s leadership has been so proactive in looking ahead, “It puts your mind at ease as a board member. I felt a real positive energy in the room that’s rubbing off and made me excited about what’s ahead.”