Coles new SMC trusteePublished 9:51pm Monday, March 12, 2012
The Board of Trustees of Southwestern Michigan College appointed Eric Coles to the board Monday. Coles replaces Jan Kairis who died Feb. 23.
Coles, 41, is a resident of Milton Township near Edwardsburg, the township where SMC’s south campus is located. He is owner and operator of Coles Farms Inc. since 1996. From 1986 to 1996, he gained additional experience in farming assisting with operations in the N.P. Beebe Farms Inc. in Milton Township.
He has been a member of the Board of Education for the Edwardsburg Public Schools since 2009 and currently holds the position of secretary on that board. He will continue his service on the Edwardsburg Board of Education. He and his wife, Anne, have three children: Parker, 10, and Hannah, 9, both students at Edwardsburg Intermediate School; and Mason, 6, a student at Edwardsburg Primary School.
Coles graduated from Edwardsburg High School in 1988 as salutatorian and has a Bachelor of Arts in financial administration from Michigan State University. He graduated from MSU in 1992 with high honors.
Coles was a member of the Milton Township Planning Commission from 1999 to 2002 and was a member of the Cass County Farm Bureau Board from 1995 to 1999. He was named the 2006 Conservation Farmer of the Year by the Cass County Conservation District; a Centennial Farmer in 2005 by the Michigan Historical Commission; and the 1995 Farmer of the Year by the Cass County Conservation District.
Dr. Fred L. Mathews, chairman of the Southwestern Michigan College Board of Trustees said, “The SMC Board is extremely pleased to have Eric Coles as a member of the college board. As a member of the Edwardsburg Board of Education, Mr. Coles has demonstrated his commitment to high quality student learning, student success and sound fiscal policies. These are also the areas in which SMC excels and constitutes the foundation of the college’s mission and goals.
“The SMC board believes Mr. Coles’ membership on the college’s board will strengthen the already great relationship the college enjoys with the Edwardsburg schools. He will also bring additional insights into how the college can better serve all the area’s K-12 schools,” Mathews concluded.
In accepting the appointment, Coles said, “As a life-long resident of Cass County, I appreciate the opportunity to serve my community on the SMC Board of Trustees. The SMC partnership with Edwardsburg has allowed our high school students access to affordable and innovative college-level courses. I look forward to continuing that relationship and expanding on our shared vision of academic excellence.”
Kairis had been a member of the SMC Board of Trustees since 1984 and secretary of the board since 1991. Her term expires at the end of 2014. Coles will need to run for the balance of that term at the November 2012 election.
The Board of Trustees also adopted the tuition and fee schedule to be effective for the 2012 fall semester. Changes include a $5 per contact hour increase for in-district students, a $6.50 increase for out-of-district students, a $7 increase for out-of-state students, and a $9 increase for international students. The new contact hour rates represent a 5 percent increase and will be as follows: In-District $104.25 (up from $99.25); In-State $134.75 (up from $128.25); Out-of-State $146.75 (up from $139.75); and International $188 (up from $179). Additionally, trustees approved a 75-cent per hour increase in the college’s registration fee and a $1 increase in the technology fee.
According to college President Dr. David Mathews, “The college administration has worked hard to mitigate the effect of the unreasonably high, 12 percent increase in state-mandated retirement costs for the coming year. SMC’s continued frugal budgeting will enable the college to remain an outstanding educational value. Once again, next year, a student from SMC’s district will be able to attend for less than half the cost of Western Michigan University, less than a third of those at Michigan State University, and about a quarter of the cost of the University of Michigan. The modest tuition and fee increases approved this evening will ensure that SMC remains affordable, and also that the college has the resources to maintain the very highest quality academic programs, support services, and technology.”