SMC opens Niles bids, grants 1.5% raises
Southwestern Michigan College Board of Trustees opened bids for Phase I of the $3 million Niles Area Campus renovation and program expansion project, and also approved a 1.5 percent wage increase for the 2013-2014 school year, during its regular monthly meeting Monday night on the college’s Dowagiac campus.
“Opening of bids is the next step in the process for the renovation of the 50,000-square-foot main instructional building at the college’s Niles Area Campus, located in Cass County’s Milton Township along U.S. 12 just east of the Niles city limits,” said Dr. David Mathews, president of SMC. “The first phase will begin next month with the creation of new science laboratories and the renovation of core academic and advising areas as well as the Learning Center. An open house showcasing these improvements is scheduled for Aug. 8.”
In addition to physical renovation of the facility, a number of key programs are either being expanded or added to the Niles campus. These include the entirety of the pre-nursing program including such courses as basic human anatomy, fundamentals of chemistry, speech and general psychology; the entirety of the certified nursing assistant (CNA) program; and many business courses such as principles of accounting and introduction of business, as well as general core classes for the college’s transfer baccalaureate degrees.
The college will also continue to offer a number of advanced technology programs, including precision machining technology, welding, mechatronics and robotics at the Niles Area Campus in the college’s M-TEC facility.
In business and financial affairs, trustees approved an across-the-board wage increase of 1.5 percent as well as approving an additional 1 percent to be applied by the administration to structurally underfunded positions for the upcoming 2013-2014 fiscal year.
“Michigan’s financial challenges throughout the past decade have resulted in multiple years of dwindling state support,” Mathews said.
“SMC’s state aid today is still more than a million dollars per year below what it was a decade ago. Additionally, increased state-mandated cost increases to the state retirement system and skyrocketing health care costs have combined to make for challenging financial conditions. None-theless, Southwestern Michigan College’s faculty, staff and administration are second to none in the state. Working together, they have created an exceptional student learning environment for students with outstanding student success statistics. The board is pleased to be able to recognize this performance with this modest increase.”