SMC dedicates larger library

Published 1:05 pm Monday, August 25, 2003

By By JOHN EBY / Dowagiac Daily News
Making the Fred L. Mathews Library and Conference Center a third larger marks Southwestern Michigan College's sixth dedication ceremony since the building first expanded in 1987.
One of SMC's three original buildings constructed in 1965-1966, the library went into service when the college first opened its doors to 505 students in the fall of 1966.
SMC will enroll more than 3,000 students this fall.
The conference center was added to the library's west end in 1986-1987.
SMC had named the facility Aug. 4, 1972, for Mathews, a practicing optometrist in Dowagiac since 1952. He has served as chairman of the SMC board for almost 40 years, since the college began in 1964, and is the second-longest-serving board chairman in the nation.
The expansion increased what will increasingly be known as the MCC East and MCC West from approximately 22,000 square feet to more than 33,000. The conference center capacity in the new addition is 300 seated at round tables.
It can be utilized in that format or divided by movable walls into three individual spaces.
Both conference centers feature kitchens for full-service catering.
The new conference center offers a "Smart Classroom" audio-visual system. There are 12 computers available for student and community use in the library.
The project cost approximately $2.5 million, of which the State of Michigan provided half. SMC financed the other half through a bond issue.
Shelton Construction Co. of Benton Harbor was the contractor.
Fred Mathews introduced the trustees elected at large from the college district who serve without pay:
Mathews also recognized: Paul's wife, Sherry, a member of the Dowagiac Board of Education; Cass County Board of Commissioners Chairman Johnie Rodebush; County Commissioner Robert Wagel; County Administrator Terry Proctor; City Manager Bill Nelson; City Clerk James Snow; Police Chief Tom Atkinson; Barbara Cook, a founding member of the Board of Trustees for 25 years; President Emeritus Russell 'M' Owen, who served for 10 years in the formative years of the 1970s; and President Emeritus David Briegel, who served 17 years, plus 12 years before that as vice president for business affairs.
Briegel oversaw this building project and two at the Niles Area Campus in Milton Township since retiring five years ago.