SMC receives highest possible grade on financial audit

Published 7:45 am Monday, November 2, 2015

The Southwestern Michigan College Board of Trustees received the college’s financial audit and reviewed security measures during its regularly scheduled meeting Oct. 19 on the college’s Dowagiac campus.

Trustees received the 2014-2015 financial audit report of the college prepared by Plante and Moran, PLLC, of Portage.

SMC received an outstanding report, referred to in accounting terms as an unqualified audit opinion.

“An unqualified audit opinion is the highest grade that can be awarded by an auditing firm,” said Board of Trustees Chairman Thomas F. Jerdon. “Southwestern Michigan College has controlled costs and has focused on providing a high-quality, affordable, total life college experience for our students. This independent auditor’s report, along with an AA bond rating from Standard and Poor’s, shows that SMC is a strong, well-managed institution that gives students and taxpayers a great return on their investment.”

“SMC has a comprehensive security system for our students, employees and visitors,” President Dr. David M. Mathews told trustees, “that begins with threat identification and extends through a variety of threats,” from severe weather to armed assailants.

SMC has multiple security contracts in place with law enforcement and private security firms.

“What makes SMC unique is we have experienced armed and unarmed personnel,” Chief of Staff Tom Atkinson, former Dowagiac police chief, said. “Lyndon (Parrish, 26 years with the Cass County Sheriff’s Office) and Denis (Burns, Walkerton, Indiana, reserve officer and former security company owner) and I have 80 years of law enforcement background. We have close relationships with law enforcement, from Dowagiac police to the FBI. We have Sheriff’s Office 911 Central Dispatch radios for multiple facets of communication,” plus Rave alerts that hit e-mail, text messages and social media.

Police and fire can respond to the Dowagiac campus in three minutes, while the Niles Campus is a mile from the law enforcement complex the Michigan State Police shares with Niles.

“We push out as much information as we can to keep our students and employees informed,” Atkinson said. “There aren’t many colleges which have as robust and comprehensive a system as we have because of relationships we’ve built,” including with the Pokagon Band and Milton Township for outdoor siren systems.


About Southwestern Michigan College

Southwestern Michigan College is a public, residential and commuter, community college, founded in 1964. The college averages in the top 10 percent nationally for student academic success based upon the National Community College Benchmark Project. Southwestern Michigan College strives to be the college of first choice, to provide the programs and services to meet the needs of students, and to serve our community. The college is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and is a member of the American Association of Community Colleges.