Edwardsburg native, journalist to speak at SMC commencement

Published 12:29 am Friday, April 4, 2003

By Staff
DOWAGIAC -- Southwestern Michigan College announced that Emmy Award winning television journalist, Mary Parks, a 1980 graduate of Edwardsburg High School and a 1982 graduate of Southwestern Michigan College will speak at the May 3 graduation ceremonies.
Parks, who is also a former Miss Edwardsburg and former Miss Cass County, transferred to Western Michigan University after receiving her degree from SMC and graduated in 1984.
Parks began her journalism career in radio, working at WKZO in Kalamazoo, WCMR/WRFN in Elkhart and WAOR/WNIL in Niles.
She made the move to television news when she joined WSJV in Elkhart. From there Parks joined WFLA, WCPX and CBS NewsNet in Florida, covering shuttle launches at Cape Canaveral, the William Kennedy-Smith trial, Desert Storm assignments and the search, capture and trial of America's first female serial killer.
Parks is currently the Bureau Chief and Reporter for NBC4 in California, overseeing all news gathering and live reporting for Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. She is the recipient of various awards including golden mics, Emmys, Associated Press and Los Angeles Press Club honors.
Former California Governor Pete Wilson appointed Parks an advocate for the developmentally disabled and she has coached Special Olympics in several states. She is active with the Loma Linda Children's Hospital Guild, Riverside Rape Crisis Center and Option House, California's first battered women's shelter in San Bernardino. Parks is also a board member of the Inland Empire Burn Institute, a non-profit funding research and treatment for burn survivors.
Also at its meeting Thursday, the SMC Board of Trustees reviewed the effect of rising health insurance costs on the college, accepted gifts and grants, awarded a service pin and opened bids.
and conducted other business.
SMC President Dr. David Mathews reviewed the effect that skyrocketing national healthcare costs are having on Southwestern Michigan College.
According to President Mathews, "Health insurance costs for full-time employees of Southwestern Michigan College constitute a large, and rapidly growing proportion of our general fund expenditures. In 1998 the College's General Fund Expenditure for healthcare was approximately $380,000; in 1999 $439,000; in 2000 $700,000; in 2001 $772,000; in 2002 $907,000.
Dr. Fred L. Mathews, Board Chairman said, "Health insurance increases are a national disgrace. Employers all over Michigan and the nation are experiencing out of control increases. How can double digit increases be justified in an economy without significant inflation? We have
conveyed our outrage to Congressman Upton and others. This is a national problem.
The Board accepted $6,796.92 in gifts and grants from the community with a resolution of thanks for these gifts and grants.
Mr. and Mrs. Neil Hassinger, Edwardsburg $2,800.00
Gast for State Senate Committee $1,611.92
IBM International Foundation, Armonk, New York $1,085.00
Eaton Corporation, South Bend, Ind. $500.00
Mr. and Mrs. Anthony Gwilt, Troy $500.00
First State Bank, Decatur $100.00
Brenda Leonard, Savage, Minnesota $100.00
Mimose Vernet, Rosedale, N.Y. $100.00
The Trustees awarded a pin for five years of service to Iza Roberts of Dowagiac. Roberts joined the SMC maintenance department in 1997 as an evening custodian. Prior to joining the college, Roberts was employed at Jessup Door Company for nearly 21 years. He also worked for Burkett Construction and Sunstrand Heating.
In his president's report, Dr. David Mathews informed the Trustees that more than 1,800 students and community members attended SMC's children's theatre workshop presentation of the children's play Alice in Wonderland March 18 through 21. The performance was part of this semester's children's theatre workshop class. The class is offered by the college to serve students in the SMC-Western Michigan University elementary education bachelor's degree program located at SMC.
The following schools attended Alice in Wonderland:
Davis Elementary, Decatur
Justus Gage Elementary, Dowagiac
Lybrook Elementary, Eau Claire
McKinley Elementary, Dowagiac
North Elementary, Watervliet
Oak Manor Elementary, Niles
Sister Lakes Elementary
Squires Elementary, Cassopolis
Washington Elementary, Coloma
President Mathews also updated the Board on five upcoming events: The winter semester student art exhibit will be featured in the SMC art gallery April 14 through 23 with a reception at 12:30 on Wednesday, April 16. The SMC art gallery is located in room 108 of the Dale A. Lyons Building. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and Tuesday and Wednesday, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Admission is free.
SMC is celebrating Earth Day early this year with events on the Dowagiac campus on Wednesday, April 16 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. SMC's Earth Day 2003 celebration will also feature a tree and shrub sale at both campuses (Niles and Dowagiac) in cooperation with the Cass County Conservation District. The trees and shrubs will sell for only $1 a piece with the proceeds going to the conservation district.
SMC's Educational Talent Search (ETS) program will be sponsoring the Harlem Wizards, a group of entertaining basketball players, at Cass County high schools and middle schools on April 16 and 17. Last year ETS sponsored performances at local schools by the motivational group Three Men and a Tenor.
SMC will host the Grammy Award winning vocal ensemble New York Voices at 7:30 p.m. on April 23 in the theatre in the Dale A. Lyons Building on the college's Dowagiac campus. Tickets are $10 and $12 and may be purchased by calling the SMC box office at (269) 782-1280 or (269) 687-1600, extension 1280.
SMC will also host the fifth annual Hispanic Day on Thursday, April 24. SMC, Ancilla College, Holly Cross College and Ivy Tech State College sponsor this even to introduce area Hispanic high school students to educational opportunities at two-year colleges in Michiana. Attendees will receive information on careers, courses, financial aid, degrees and majors, admission and the student support services available to them. Events are scheduled from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and
include panelists and speakers, entertainment and a lunch prepared by Tacho's Restaurant in Dowagiac.
The Trustees opened bids for UPS and server racks and technology updates to the conference room in the College Services Building. The bids were referred to administration for review with the president authorized to award the bid to the lowest bidder meeting specifications. The Board also awarded the bid for the keyless entry system for the expansion to the Fred L. Mathews Library to SecureAlarm Systems, Inc. of Grand Rapids. Their bid in the amount of $38,009 was the low bid that meets the college's requirements.