Graduates check out video screens at their ceremony at Southwestern Michigan College

Archived Story

SMC a U.S. growth leader

Published 10:26pm Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Southwestern Michigan College Board of Trustees received the annual State of the College report from President Dr. David Mathews at its Monday meeting on the Dowagiac campus.
Highlights from the report included the college’s recognition as one of the fastest-growing community colleges in the nation, exceptional success of SMC students upon transfer to universities and the numerous services that SMC provides to local school districts.
A recent analysis of U.S. Department of Education data conducted by Community College Week magazine recognized SMC as one of the “Top 50 Fastest Growing” mid-sized community colleges in the nation.
According to President Dr. David Mathews, “SMC has built a strong reputation based on exceptionally high academic quality. On top of this, the college has developed a robust total college life program that includes student housing, intramural athletics, clubs, academic enrichment events and social activities, including a state of the art student activity center. All of these combine to show that SMC has provided affordable access to a high quality college education and career preparation as well as the total college experience. Many students who have a choice about where to go to college are choosing to come to SMC.”
The past year demonstrated also that SMC’s primary goal of student success has been achieved. Reports from both Western Michigan University (WMU) and Ferris State University (FSU) from the fall of 2011 indicate that students who began their college career at SMC, then transferred to either of these institutions, out-performed other students.
SMC students who transferred to WMU earned on average a 2.98 grade point average (GPA) at WMU compared with an average 2.91 who began their studies at WMU.
SMC students who transferred to FSU earned on average a 3.26 GPA at FSU compared with an average of 3.10 for all FSU students.
According to Dr. Fred L. Mathews, chairman of the Board of Trustees of SMC, “These reports from transfer institutions give objective evidence of the high-quality education that SMC students are receiving. The Board of Trustees commends the faculty and staff for all that they do to help SMC students to be successful.”
According to President Mathews, “Beyond achieving exceptional enrollment growth and outstanding student success statistics, SMC continued to be a valuable partner with each of the area K-12 school districts during the past year.
Last year, SMC’s Educational Talent Search (ETS) program provided extensive support to 756 middle school and high school students in this area.
These services included in-school tutoring, personal and academic counseling, summer enrichment camps and other services.
Of 130 high school seniors served by ETS last year, 98 percent received a diploma and 2 percent received a GED.
Of these, 85 percent enrolled in post-secondary education.
In addition to the tutoring provided through SMC’s ETS program, SMC provided college student work-study tutors to area elementary schools.
For fall 2011 the college provided 13 tutors to Dowagiac, Marcellus, Cassopolis, and Edwardsburg with an accumulated 1,110 hours of tutoring.
President Mathews concluded his address by noting that the growth, student success and service to area schools all are measures of the educational value that SMC adds to the community.
In addition to recent high school graduates, SMC continues to serve a large number of non-traditional adult students.
The National Community College Benchmarking Project fall 2011 report shows SMC is in the top third in the nation for the percent of taxpaying residents that actually enrolls in courses at their local community college.

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