Southwestern Michigan College's Anniversary Celebration

50th Anniversary Celebration Recap

50 years strong

An estimated 500 guests celebrated with us at our 50th Anniversary Celebration Sept. 20 at the Dowagiac campus.

In the 50 years since its founding, Southwestern Michigan College has grown from three buildings to 15 buildings on two campuses, from 500 students to over 13,000 graduates.

The 50th Anniversary Celebration commemorated this growth and the service the college has done for the community and the community has done for the college.

Festivities included events for the whole family: face painting and balloons, a bounce house and inflatables, rock climbing, a Ferris wheel, science experiment demonstrations, nursing and criminal justice demonstrations, art fairs, a car show, and live entertainment.

Five past college presidents as well as former and current board members gathered at the President’s Reception--a formal dinner to honor those who have supported the college both financially and through service.

Dr. Fred L. Mathews, chairman of the board of trustees, signed copies of his book, Triumph Over Adversity which details the history of the college. He was also honored with a surprise legislative tribute from Senator John Proos and Representative Dave Pagel for being the longest-serving college board member in the nation.

SMC bands and choirs and high school marching bands played in the morning and early afternoon, the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians performed tribal dances and young local actors previewed scenes from SMC’s upcoming children’s play. Rain in the afternoon pushed most activities indoors where Garcia and Scott, the Paul Erdman Band and Arrival, a journey tribute band, performed in the theatre in the Dale A. Lyons Building.

The rainfall also caused President Mathews‘ skydiving demonstration to be rescheduled--a feat which he accomplished the following Wednesday.

By evening the rain had cleared enough for a fireworks show.

50 years forward

Sept. 20 marked a time to reflect and celebrate the past, but SMC will certainly not live in the past. More than ever, SMC is committed to forward thinking, to anticipating the needs of the future and to adapting its services to accommodate those needs.

Examples of this can be found in the ongoing renovations that take place on both campuses. Last year, the Niles campus underwent phase one of a three-phase renovation project. These renovations brought new commons and service areas as well as SCALE-UP science labs. SCALE-UP labs are structured to allow for a more collaborative and hands-on learning environment. This fall renovation will begin on the Dowagiac campus’ William P.D. O’Leary Building that will bring SCALE-UP labs to the Dowagiac campus.

Academic programs are scrutinized to meet the needs of students as well, most recently with the addition of the Criminal Justice program.

“We don’t know what academic programs we’ll have 20 years from now,” Mathews said, “except they’ll be ones our community needs and our students want.”

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