New SMC housing dedication is Sunday

Published 9:18 am Thursday, August 13, 2009

DOWAGIAC – The Southwestern Michigan College Board of Trustees learned Tuesday from Dr. David Mathews, president of Southwestern Michigan College, that the construction of the Keith H. McKenzie residence hall and renovation of the Student Activity Center in the Charles O. Zollar building are nearing completion.

“Both projects will be completed on time and on budget,” Dr. Mathews said. “We are starting to see the fruits of our labor now. It’s very exciting. The housing furniture has been placed in each room. Appliances have been installed. Now, the final touches are being put on the building.”

For the past month, rooms in McKenzie Hall have been between 95 and 100 percent reserved. However, anyone who is interested in living in the housing is still encouraged to submit an application. Applications are handled on a first-come, first-served basis and will be placed on a waiting list if necessary.

On Sunday, Aug. 16 at 2 p.m., Southwestern Michigan College invites the community to attend the dedication of Keith H. McKenzie Hall. The College will be honoring Board of Trustees Vice Chairman, Mr. Keith McKenzie as it dedicates the building in his name. McKenzie, a native of Marcellus, became a member of the Southwestern Michigan College Board of Trustees in 1987.

“Mr. McKenzie has been an instrumental part of the SMC community for more than two decades. Dedicating our first residence hall in his name is just one way the College can show its appreciation back to Keith,” said Dr. Fred L. Mathews, chairman of the board of trustees for Southwestern Michigan College.

Immediately following the dedication and ribbon cutting will be an open house when guests can tour “McKenzie Hall” as well as the newly renovated and expanded Student Activity Center in the adjacent Charles O. Zollar Building.

At the board meeting, Jason Wilt, the College’s new student housing manager, described the training program for the Resident Assistants (RAs).  Wilt comes to SMC from University of Central Missouri, where he earned his Master’s degree in College Student Personnel Administration in 2009. He received his bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University in 2007. As the manager of student housing, Wilt will be in charge of the overall operation of the housing at Southwestern Michigan College, which includes the hiring and training of the Resident Assistant staff.

“To ensure that our on-campus housing students have a safe and positive experience living on campus, we are putting our RA staff through a comprehensive eight day training program,” President Mathews said. “The training will include: a complete explanation of the established SMC policies and procedures for housing students as well as dozens of other topics including medical emergency training, acting as a role model and leader to students, roommate conflict and mediation, and crisis response.”

In addition to supervising the RA staff, Wilt’s other job responsibilities include: being on call 24/7 in case of emergency, and supervising the 24-hour service desk. His primary focus is making sure that the SMC housing is a safe place where students can have fun, grow, and learn. Wilt will be living on the first floor of McKenzie Hall with his wife Heather.

President Mathews also reported that the Student Activity Center is also close to completion. “Furniture is being delivered this week, some fitness equipment has arrived, with the remaining equipment to be delivered soon,” he said.

The Student Activity Center will serve both students living on campus as well as commuter students. Similar to the former Fitness Center, memberships will be available to the general public. The facility is scheduled to open on Sept. 8, which is also the first day of classes.

“We could not have asked for these projects to go any smoother,” Mathews said.  “Shelton Construction Company has done a superb job of completing two different projects simultaneously to a very high standard of quality.”

The College’s second student housing unit is also beginning to take shape with the construction of the stairwells and elevator shaft.

“We expect Phase II of the student housing project to go very smoothly and be open for students to live in the fall of 2010,” Mathews said.