SMC gives ‘State of the college’

Published 2:23 pm Wednesday, January 11, 2006

By Staff
DOWAGIAC - Southwestern Michigan College President Dr. David Mathews presented the annual “State of the College” address to SMC's Board of Trustees at its January meeting Tuesday evening on the Dowagiac campus.
After this presentation, trustees reviewed architect's recommendations for SMC's new Information Technology Certification Center, accepted local contributions on behalf of the college, awarded a service pin and conducted other business.
President Mathews summarized the state of SMC by stating, “2005 was another year of outstanding accomplishments for Southwestern Michigan College. SMC remains strong, our students are succeeding and the college is making a positive impact in the community.
Highlights from the past year cited by the president included:
In 2005, after more than five years of planning and lobbying state lawmakers, SMC received final approval for the creation of an Information Technology (IT) Training and Certification Center.
This $4.5 million project will completely transform the existing Barbara Wood Building into a state-of-the-art facility that provides IT training and certification far beyond what is currently available anywhere in our region.
This center is being designed to serve individual students, area businesses and the community.
Architects from Design+ were in attendance at the meeting and outlined for trustees the progress that has been made in advancing the IT Certification Center project from concept to scheduled completion in May 2007.
Transforming the Wood Building into an IT Center will mean relocating SMC's welding program from that facility.
SMC was successful in winning funding for this relocation as part of the state-funded IT Center project and will build a 3,000-square-foot addition to the college's M-Tec facility to house the welding program.
In 2005 SMC also secured a $635,000 federal grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to support SMC's Precision Production Technology program.
SMC has a long history of developing creative and strategic partnerships with area employers, and this federal grant funding will allow SMC to meet the urgent need of manufacturers for highly skilled workers.
This federal funding will provide for equipment purchases for manufacturing training, curriculum development and provide partial scholarships for qualified students.
The year 2005 also saw completion of Phase II of SMC's automotive training facility renovations.
SMC's automotive technology program has now completely been relocated from the Wood Building into the Kairis Building complex.
Phase II renovations have made the new facility fully functional. The final Phase III renovations are currently scheduled to take place at the end of the current semester.
During 2005 SMC received a detailed report concerning the academic accomplishments of 163 former students who transferred to Western Michigan University and were in attendance at WMU during the 2004-2005 academic year.
Students who began their studies at Southwestern Michigan College earned an average grade point average of 3.24 at Western Michigan University.
In comparison, students at a comparable place in their studies who began at WMU achieved a 2.95 grade point average and students who transferred from all other institutions to WMU achieved an average grade point average of 2.97.
Looking forward to the future, SMC's Phase III auto program renovations, the creation of an IT Certification Center, Precision Production Technology Program curriculum revisions and new welding program facility at the M-Tec will continue to provide expanded opportunities for occupational career oriented students.
According to President Mathews, “In 2006, Southwestern Michigan College will continue its intense focus on student success and provide even more academic support services to our students.
SMC Board of Trustees Chairman Dr. Fred L. Mathews noted, “SMC plays a key role in providing higher education and creating economic stability in our region, so we are continuing to invest in expanded educational opportunities and workforce training.