Mathews to give address at Saturday’s SMC commencement ceremonyPublished 8:00am Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Southwestern Michigan College hosts its 47th commencement ceremony Saturday at 11 a.m. in the gymnasium of the Charles O. Zollar Building on the Dowagiac campus.
SMC will confer associate degrees and certificates on a record graduating class.
In addition, Ferris State University will award 28 bachelor’s degrees during the ceremony.
Board of Trustees Chairman Dr. Fred L. Mathews, the longest-serving chairman in the United States, will deliver the commencement address.
Mathews, chairman for all 50 years since SMC’s 1964 founding, will reflect on the college’s early years.
Mathews is the only 1970 founding member of the Michigan Community College Association still serving on the MCCA board, of which he is past president. He chaired MCCA’s legislative committee for 25 years.
In July 2011, Mathews received the MCCA Recognition Award presented annually to individuals who make exemplary contributions and render distinguished service to Michigan’s 28 community colleges.
He served on the board of directors of the
Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT), the national organization representing trustees from across the country.
ACCT, which represents more than 6,500 elected and appointed trustees who govern more than 1,200 U.S. community colleges, in 1976 recognized Mathews as the nation’s most outstanding trustee.
Mathews came to Dowagiac Feb. 1, 1952, to practice optometry.
His own education came through Central Michigan University and the Southern College of Optometry in Memphis.
His more than six decades of community service on the local level include being a founding member of the Cass County Transportation Authority, which he served on for 25 years; founding member, Cass County Planning Commission, 18 years; founding member of Community State Bank (now Huntington Bank) and on its board for 37 years; and leading the committee which established Rotary Villa senior housing.
He has been president of the corporation board of directors which guides Rotary Villa for 27 years.
As Dowagiac Downtown Development Authority (DDA) chairman for 10 years, 1988-1998, he oversaw revitalization of the central business district.
He has been on the tri-county Michigan Works! board for 14 years, sits on The Timbers’ advisory board, was a founding member of Dowagiac Lions Club and won Elks Citizen of the Year and Rotary’s Paul Harris Fellowship.
In the 1950s, he was a founding member of the Greater Dowagiac Association, formed to rebuild the city’s industrial base after a major employer closed.
The industrial development group was a forerunner of Greater Dowagiac Chamber of Commerce. Mathews even served on the Miss Dowagiac Pageant committee. He also performed as a magician.
He and Thelda, his wife of 61 years, have two sons, Scott, a corporate chief operating officer in Seattle; David, seventh SMC president, and six grandchildren.
Rev. Kevin Covert, pastor of Holy Maternity of Mary Catholic Church in Dowagiac, will give the invocation and benediction.
SMC Symphonic Band, conducted by Dr. Jonathan Korzun, and Select Voices, directed by David Carew, will provide music for the ceremony.
Because space is limited, tickets are required for the commencement ceremony.
A reception for graduates, their families and friends immediately follows commencement in the Student Activity Center of the Charles O. Zollar Building.
Following is a list of Southwestern Michigan College graduates by hometown.
Perla Medina Cano
Danny St Cin