Bookstore earns SMC scholarship moneyPublished 4:37pm Monday, March 11, 2013
Southwestern Michigan College’s expanded bookstore, rededicated Monday morning with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, serves two purposes.
One, providing instructional supplies to students; and two,
100 percent of profits fund student scholarships.
While additional space came from removing the SMC museum from campus and, in partnership with the city creating Dowagiac Area History Museum in Behnke’s Paint and Floor Covering on West Railroad Street, opening during the Dogwood Fine Arts Festival in May, a new micro-museum replaced it.
This history gallery tells the story of the college itself, including the logo for SMC’s 50th anniversary in 2014.
“Our scholarship needs far outweigh profits we can generate from our bookstore,” President Dr. David M. Mathews said. “We up our game with private fundraising. Our SMC foundation is a group of community individuals interested in furthering what we’re trying to do. Seventy percent of the students we serve are financially needy by federal guidelines.”
The history gallery devotes a wall to each decade.
Mathews’ favorite panel highlights four “conceptual precursors”: original museum drawings which depicted it as a log cabin rather than a rotunda; local artist Alice Lewis’ vision for an entry fence which incorporated a Beckwith Theatre medallion; an amphitheater in a bowl in the woods which never materialized because of mosquitos; and a field house with an Olympic-size swimming pool.
The idea for entryways materialized on Cherry Grove Road in 2010 and on Dailey Road in 2012.
The old museum’s gift shop and meeting room have been combined into the rechristened Foundation Room, a community space “to symbolize this is where people who care about helping us with our mission to transform lives are welcome to use it. We put in a catering kitchen,” Mathews said.
“I don’t have any rearview mirrors,” he admitted. “I require people’s help to do things like look backward because I want to look forward to the next 50 years and to see that we have the resources, facilities and scholarships to do this all over again for the next generation. We did this without building a new building by being great stewards of resources we had and reallocating space to current needs.”
“When you think about Southwestern Michigan College, I hope you think about student success. It’s the most important thing we do,” Mathews said. “By the national community college benchmarking study, year in and year out, our students are within the top 10-percent in the nation of student academic success. That is our reason for existence. And our transfer student success is always in the top 10 percent, but has been as high in the past decade as 1 percent.”
Since campus housing opened in 2009, campus life joined the conversation.
With 80 waiting-list students the college could not accommodate last fall, SMC opens its third residential housing facility this fall.
“The cake of student success” is iced with “student life,” Mathews said. “And now our job is to serve that up on the platter of 21st century services … It’s highly electronic, it’s ‘where I want it, when I want it.’ We have been working the last two years to transform our student services,” which will be unveiled as a one-stop center July 8 in the College Services Building.