Southwestern Michigan College (SMC) Board of Trustees voted unanimously to name the College Services Building after its fifth president, David C. Briegel, at the regularly scheduled meeting Dec. 16 on the Dowagiac campus.
The College Services Building, completed in 1996, houses SMC business offices, The Testing Center, cafeteria, one-stop Student Service Center and numerous classrooms, as well as faculty and administrative offices, including the president’s office.
Briegel came to SMC as business manager on Feb. 19, 1967, just five months after the college opened for students in September 1966.
Briegel was later promoted to vice president for business, a post he held until his appointment as president in 1981, replacing retiring President Dr. Russell “M” Owen.
Briegel served as president until his retirement on July 1, 1998.
Soon after retiring as president, Briegel served the college as a part-time special projects employee until he finally retired completely in the summer of 2013.
As a part-time administrator he performed numerous high-level tasks assigned by 1998-2001 President Dr. Marshall Bishop and Dr. David M. Mathews for the past 12 years, including serving as the college’s representative overseeing construction of the third residence hall, the new college bookstore in the former museum building, the one-stop Student Service Center, new entryways on Cherry Grove and Dailey roads, The Alumni Plaza, fundraising and lobbying.
Terry Harris, former vice president and chief financial officer, served as construction supervisor on the first two residence halls and remodeling and expanding the Zollar, Kairis and Wood buildings.
Dr. Fred L. Mathews, Board of Trustees chairman since SMC’s 1964 founding, said, “The Board of Trustees is pleased to recognize David Briegel’s long and dedicated service to Southwestern Michigan College and to the broader college community by the naming of this beautiful building. As president for 17 years, Mr. Briegel is the college’s longest-serving president to date. Including his prior 14 years in charge of the college’s business function, his fulltime service was 31 years. Added to this was another 15 years of part-time service for a total of 46 years.
“David Briegel performed every assignment in a superior manner. His contribution to the development of SMC into the premier college it is today is significant. When Mr. Briegel retired as college president in 1998, the Board of Trustees awarded him the title of president emeritus. The Board of Trustees is proud to add the David C. Briegel Building as another recognition of his long and distinguished service to Southwestern Michigan College.”
Briegel was born in Holland. His family moved to Grand Rapids when David was two years old. He has a sister, Edith.
Briegel graduated from Ottawa High School in Grand Rapids. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University in 1959.
In 1962, he married Camille Solvie, a music teacher in the Grand Rapids Schools.
Briegel also earned a master’s degree from Michigan State University in 1963. He worked with Oldsmobile Corp. and taught school in Grand Rapids before coming to SMC in 1967.
Camille ultimately retired after teaching music for 25 years in the Dowagiac school system.
David and Camille have a daughter, Carrie, who is a counselor in the Hudsonville school system.
Their son, Steven, an SMC honors graduate, died of cancer in 1990. Steve’s Run, one of the Midwest’s premier road and trail runs that takes place each summer in Dowagiac, is named for Steven Briegel.
The Briegels reside in the Dowagiac area.