$20,000 gift aids local SMC criminal justice, EMT students

Published 10:31 am Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Southwestern Michigan College Board of Trustees April 18 accepted a $20,000 gift from Cass County Community Policing.

The donation from retiring Sheriff Joseph M. Underwood Jr. will fund scholarships for SMC criminal justice and emergency medical technician students.

The money comes from an annual golf outing that funded 185 $500 scholarships, or $92,500, over 18 years.

A fund designated the Cass County Sheriff’s Department and Cass County Policing Outside Scholarship will be created by an initial $12,000 gift.

Awards from this fund shall be distributed to three students enrolled in the criminal justice Associate in Applied Science program over a four-year period.

A $1,000-per-student award for one academic year may be renewable — $750 applied toward tuition and course fees and $250 toward book purchases.

An initial $8,000 gift will provide four annual scholarships in a four-year period to SMC students enrolled in the EMT specialty certificates program.

These include $500 awards for one academic year that may be renewable.

The award breakdown is $375 applied toward tuition and course fees and $125 toward book purchases.

A restriction the donor established gives preference to Cass County residents.

Underwood, sheriff since Jan. 1, 1993, in 2014 established the $2,500 Law Enforcement and Corrections Endowment to provide scholarships to students enrolled in the criminal justice program SMC introduced fall semester 2013.

Students who earn an SMC Associate in Applied Science degree can apply it toward Ferris’ Bachelor of Science degree.

“The college has expanded and we should grow with it,” said Underwood, completing his sixth four-year term received in 2012.

A graduate of Western Michigan University and the National FBI Academy in Quantico, Va., Underwood joined the sheriff’s office in 1973 and left at the end of 1988 to work in the private sector until returning as sheriff.

SMC Foundation accepts contributions to existing scholarships in addition to establishing new scholarships.

Endowment donations may be directed to: SMC Foundation, Director of Development Eileen Toney at 58900 Cherry Grove Road, Dowagiac, MI 49047.

Contact Toney at (269) 782-1301 or etoney@swmich.edu for more information.

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.