SMC employees receiving COVID challenge coins

Published 11:00 am Thursday, October 1, 2020

DOWAGIAC — Southwestern Michigan College’s seventh annual employee recognition program on Sept. 25 was a departure from previous years. Due to the current health situation, there was no red carpet, no breakfast pizza and no collegial spring gathering in Mathews Conference Center East.

Instead, 95 people logged on to Zoom heard President Dr. Joe Odenwald announce that veterans of SMC’s unprecedented navigation of a global pandemic since campuses closed in March, forcing rapid re-engineering of how education is delivered, will receive commemorative COVID coins as a token of the college’s esteem.

Odenwald held up the special individually-numbered challenge coin bearing the green SMC seal that was made possible by private donations by Dr. Joe and Laura Odenwald, Trustee Becky Moore, and foundation board members Ginny Crawford, Patty Patano, Tom Swartz, Dick Judd, Ron Gunn and Jan Barkell.

Military commanders typically give unique pocket-size medallions to service members as a gesture of camaraderie.

“We’ll be connected forever in terms of the work, sacrifices and ingenuity that have gone into keeping this college operational during this major event in the history of the country,” Odenwald said. “I can’t say enough about what everybody’s done — faculty, staff and, at this point, students, for modifying their behaviors to make what we’ve done possible as we finish week three” wearing masks and social distancing.

Years of service were recognized in five-year increments. Milestones cover the period October 2019-December 2020.

Vice President of Enrollment and Student Development Mike O’Brien introduced four recipients of five-year pins: Kwajalein Dodd, academic advisor and occupational coordinator; Jodi Tidey, nursing associate professor; John Yu, OIT programmer; and Jack Wood, building and grounds.

Vice President and Chief Business Officer Susan Coulston acknowledged 10, 15, 20 and 30 years of service: 10, Jim Benak, business professor; 10, Diana Bosch, executive administrative assistant to the president; 10, Visual and Performing Arts Chairman Marc Dombrosky; 10, Christy Mangus, business office accounting manager; 10, Nick Mustak, coordinator of institutional research; 10, Jodi Olashuk, testing center; 10, Dave Phillips, maintenance department; 10, Robin Shipkosky, math professor; 15, David Carew, choral music professor; 15, John Eberhard, building and grounds (director since 2014); 15, Allen Jackson, OIT senior network specialist; 20, Andrew Dohm, physics professor; 20, Director of Institutional Research Angie Evans; 30, Natalie Anagnos, English professor; 30, Becky Craft, human resources; and 30, Ron Tyler, building and grounds.

Vice President of Instruction Dr. David Fleming highlighted staff credential achievements, including: Josh Bennett, Office of Information Technology, associate degree in music; Tyler Young, OIT, associate degree in information technology networking; Andrew Young, business office, bachelor’s degree in accounting from Ferris State University; and Yolanda Roche, nursing professor, post master’s certificate for family nurse practitioner from the University of Southern Indiana.

Other employees were recognized in video messages the Board of Trustees recorded around SMC’s five core values after their Sept. 21 meeting. These included Breanna Rees in the business office accommodating meeting with students after normal hours, Katie Hannah and Branden Pompey working with their teams to assemble a virtual Welcome Week, Keigh-Cee Bell and her Carole A. Tate Teaching and Learning Center team arranging one-on-one tutoring in a safe, remote capacity, Benak guiding faculty to an online learning environment within days, relying on cross-functional teams such as the Adult Learner Task Force, the Recruiting Team and the Academic Schedule Team, every department reducing spending to yield a balanced budget and sunflowers planted at each entrance that are emblematic of Eberhart and his building and grounds team working tirelessly to keep the campus in tip-top shape, Kris Lefor, Jordan Pitre and Courtney Hemenway in First Year Experience, Kathie Gries, Christine Amstutz-Moore, Kwajelein Dodd and Jen Chaput in advising and Malisa Roberts in Niles for keeping students on the right academic paths and Mick Valeris and his OIT team for improving IT infrastructure to keep the college nimble by implementing solutions such as the CampusClear app in less than a week to monitor the college against the virus.