SMC Board of Trustees meets new MCCA President

Published 7:00 am Monday, May 23, 2022

DOWAGIAC — The Southwestern Michigan College Board of Trustees met the new Michigan Community College Association president at its regular meeting May 11 on the Dowagiac campus.

Brandy Johnson was selected MCCA president in December. She previously served in Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration, first as education policy advisor and, most recently, managing the Office of Sixty by 30 within the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity.

In 2010, Johnson founded the Michigan College Access Network, serving as its executive director until 2019. The Phoenix native earned her bachelor’s degree in political science from Arizona State University and her master’s degree in public policy from the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan.

MCCA fosters collaboration, connection and partnerships among the 28 Michigan public community colleges. Johnson said SMC is the seventh college she has visited.

“For 13 months, my primary role was being the governor’s liaison to colleges and universities in terms of pandemic response,” Johnson said. “That’s how I got to know [SMC President Dr. Joe Odenwald]. He was a tremendous leader during the pandemic.”

In other business, the board reviewed the college’s five-year capital outlay plan which helps avoid deferred maintenance with Director of Building and Grounds John Eberhart.

“Parents feel good about sending their kids to a place that looks this nice,” said Senior Vice President for Business Affairs and Chief Financial Officer Susan Coulston. “While it seems far removed from enrollment, these investments are an important part of who we are. John and his team take great pride, right down to mowing. John likes to be in the background, but he was an integral part of the re-openings of Daugherty, O’Leary, the nursing building and the athletics facilities.”

Chairman Thomas F. Jerdon also commented. 

“Unlike some other community colleges, and typically all K-12 districts, SMC has never had, or even asked its voters for, a special building millage, but has always paid for maintenance and remodeling directly out of our general budget,” Jerdon said. “Additionally, SMC’s property-tax revenue is in the bottom quartile of all Michigan community colleges, so this is a real testament to SMC for great financial management.”

The board also accepted three gifts totaling $7,292.10 and acknowledged 12 donations to the SMC Foundation for $12,725.