SMC trustees give president positive first performance review

DOWAGIAC — At its first regular 2021 meeting Wednesday morning in room 2109 of the David C. Briegel Building on the Dowagiac campus, the Southwestern Michigan College Board of Trustees provided President Dr. Joe Odenwald with a positive first-year performance review.

Each trustee anonymously and individually completed a questionnaire with multiple quantitative measures in six different categories including operations, leadership skills, communications, board relations, internal relations, and external relations. Responses were tabulated, combined and shared in closed session with Odenwald, who assumed his role as SMC’s eighth president at the beginning of 2020.

“If this was an academic grade, it would be an A-plus,” said Chairman Thomas F. Jerdon. “During this unprecedented time in the college’s history, Dr. Joe has managed the institution with tremendous financial responsibility, stewarding the taxpayers’ resources with utmost care. He has committed to communicating transparently with the board, faculty, staff and community stakeholders, and he is creating new ways to grow the college in the future. He is certainly an entrepreneurial leader and one that will be transformative for the institution.”

During the public input portion of the agenda, Professor Dr. Jeffrey Dennis affirmed his appreciation for Odenwald’s approach.

“This past year has been so challenging for the whole college. I don’t know how anyone could have managed the situation more effectively or appropriately than did Dr. Odenwald,” Dennis said. “He showed himself throughout this year to be a person of genuine integrity and transparency, a person who really works hard and does his research. He’s incredibly capable and, very important to a lot of us, a person who’s marked by compassion and kindness. I thank the board with all my heart for his appointment and I hope he will remain with us for many years to come.”

In his president’s report, Odenwald summarized steps taken by his administration to guide SMC through pandemic financial challenges while avoiding employee furloughs or layoffs, such as not filling more than a dozen open faculty and staff positions due to retirements or other attrition, implementing travel restrictions and general belt-tightening throughout the organization.

At the same time, SMC invested in more faculty training to deliver online classes and new technology systems to make the college better able to serve students both in-person and remotely in the future, he said.

“I think we made the right call to put more online,” Odenwald said. “We’re going to have 68 classes fully online and about that many hybrids. Preliminary reports Tuesday were that online versus traditional student success rates are within a point or two, which is encouraging.”

In other business, the board re-elected Chairman Thomas F. Jerdon, Vice Chairman Keith H. McKenzie and Treasurer Becky Moore. William M. White stepped down as Secretary and will be succeeded in that office by Trustee Beth J. Cripe. The board also includes Trustees Dr. Elaine Foster and Tracy D. Hertsel.

Trustees accepted six gifts to the college totaling $2,935 and acknowledged 18 foundation donations for $13,175.

Edwardsburg

Ontwa Township Edwardsburg Police Log: Feb. 15-22

Dowagiac

SMC graduate experiences Super Bowl

Dowagiac

Dowagiac women aim to create change through local government

Dowagiac

SMC COVID task force leader talks with Dowagiac Rotary Club

Business

Niles roller rink reopens following legal battle

Berrien County

Michigan Works! announces community wide survey to learn about COVID-19’s impact

Cass County

Cass County prepares to adjust to criminal justice reforms

Berrien County

Michiana Family Center seeks mentors for foster teens

Business

Nobo Michigan opens Edwardsburg location

Cassopolis

Businesses battle over land use in Cassopolis’ Industrial Park

Dowagiac

Dowagiac Police Log: Feb. 19-24

Berrien County

Mount Calvary Baptist to host COVID-19 vaccination clinic March 5

Berrien County

COVID-19 UPDATE: Berrien County reports new COVID-19 death

Berrien County

Berrien County Health Department, Spectrum Health Lakeland give vaccination updates

Cass County

Applications open for Cass County Sheriff’s Community Scholarship

Berrien County

Berrien County commissioners send message to state on regionalizing COVID-19 approach

Cass County

Lewis Cass ISD to host superintendent interviews Monday

Cass County

Michigan Works! to open office in Cass County administration building

Business

Dollar General, marijuana microbusiness, Iron Shoe expansion coming to Niles

Dowagiac

Silver Creek Township Planning Commission tables short-term rental ordinance draft vote

News

New SOS online, self-service options coming soon

Business

Niles restaurant week to showcase 18 restaurants

Berrien County

COVID-19 UPDATE: Michigan reports 583,964 cases, 15,405 deaths

Cass County

Cass County GOP censures Congressman Fred Upton for vote against Marjorie Taylor Greene