Owning Niles LMC campus

Published 8:26 pm Friday, February 17, 2006

By By ANDY HAMILTON / Niles Daily Star
NILES - Dr. Randall R. Miller is ready to listen.
The new president of Lake Michigan College wants to know what the people of Niles expect from the Bertrand Crossing Campus.
One of Miller's goals for LMC as a whole is to build upon the already great reputation of the 60-year-old institution, he said. The president has a 15-year plan for LMC that begins with broadening the class options to all members of the community.
Miller said non-traditional and non-credit programs should be available for people of all ages and interests. He suggested creating gardening and flower arranging classes, as well as keyboard classes for people who are not familiar with using e-mail and the internet.
Laying out a plan for LMC's economic role in southwest Michigan is also a critical part of being president, Miller said. The school is already a critical player in that area and Miller said he thinks the school can make contributions to the micro-economy of the state.
To start, LMC is using a MentorLinks: Advancing Technological Education grant by the American Association of Community Colleges.
LMC was one of 10 community colleges in the nation to be awarded the grant that supports programs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Miller said the program is one way LMC hopes to impact residents' educational preferences.
Starting at a two-year institution as opposed to a university is a difficult choice for young adults in the area, especially with the choices of schools in South Bend, Ind. and Chicago, Miller said. But, the president said LMC is the ideal starting point before heading to a large university.
Miller points to the class sizes that ensure students receive the personal attention they need, the cost comparison between community colleges and larger schools and the higher level honors program offered at LMC.
Miller also said he sees the Bertrand Crossing campus expanding and adding-on while he is president.
There are currently around 500 students at the Bertrand Crossing campus and Miller said he would like to see that number doubled before too long.
Miller's background working at community colleges in the Detroit area has prepared him for the position at LMC, he said.
His last job was as executive vice chancellor of Wayne County Community College District, which he held since 2003.
Since March 2005, Miller was also simultaneously serving as president of the District's Western Campus. His first position with WCCCD was as president of the school's Downriver Campus.
Prior to working at WCCCD Miller was the vice president for College Relations for Henry Ford Community College in Dearborn.
Miller said he and his wife Susan had little concern moving to southwest Michigan. The couple had lived in the Detroit area for about 18 years but were familiar with the west side of the state through visits to the South Haven area.
Part of the draw to the region was being able to experience the changing seasons near Lake Michigan, Miller said.
Miller said the main adjustment of moving into the position of LMC president will be “the step-up with overall responsibility and accountability for a board.”
Miller said he is also aware of the “energy required to build a new network” in southwest Michigan.
And, the best way to start building them is to listen.