Alumni Plaza the center of the Dowagiac campus


Trustees with Keith

Trustees Beth Cripe and Todd Obren, President Odenwald, Chairman Jerdon and Trustees Becky Moore, Dr. Elaine Foster and Tracy Hertsel with McKenzie

Caroline Price accepts her five-year service pin from Keith McKenzie

Caroline Price accepts her five-year service pin from retiring Vice Chairman Keith McKenzie

Keith McKenzie Retires from SMC Board of Trustees

Published on April 12, 2023 - 2 p.m.

Southwestern Michigan College Trustees April 12 accepted with regret the retirement of Keith H. McKenzie, the longest-serving vice chairman since Dec. 2, 1991, and a board member for 36 years, since Jan. 6, 1987. He was the first board member for whom a residence hall was dedicated on Aug. 16, 2009.

McKenzie was elected six times by voters, worked with four different college presidents and was involved throughout the largest growth period in SMC history.

McKenzie, a lifelong resident of the Marcellus/Cassopolis area, is past president of the Michigan Livestock Exchange and the Michigan Pork Producers. He served on the Michigan Agriculture Commission as Gov. John Engler’s appointee. McKenzie became the third 30-year trustee in 2017, joining Dr. Fred L. Mathews and Foster W. Daugherty.

Trustees presented McKenzie with an SMC crystal book acknowledging his long service and retirement.

“It is rare today to find someone who will serve an organization this long and put in so much time in a voluntary capacity,” Board of Trustees Chairman Tom Jerdon said. “Keith is a man of few words, but his words get right to the point immediately and contain incredible logic and wisdom. Fred Mathews said it best at the dedication of McKenzie Hall that ‘everyone likes Keith McKenzie,’ and this is so true.”

Jerdon invites SMC district residents interested in applying for the board vacancy to send a letter addressed to his attention at SMC, 58900 Cherry Grove Road, Dowagiac, MI 49047. Those wishing to respond via email should call (269) 782-1271 for the address. Letters must be received no later than April 26 at 5 p.m. EST.

The board must fill any trustee vacancy within 60 days. After an appointment, the appointee is placed on the ballot for the next general election. McKenzie’s replacement would stand for election on the non-partisan ballot in November 2024 and, if elected, would serve a six-year term.

In his President’s report, Dr. Joe Odenwald enumerated reasons for his optimism about Fall 2023.

“We were No. 2 in the state in enrollment growth last fall, No. 2 in growth in the spring and one of only five community colleges that were up — 6.3 percent, with the best retention in more than a decade,” Odenwald said. “Last year we did well in everything — traditional numbers, adult numbers, dual enrollment was up. We’ve built a better student experience. Good experiences lead to repeat customers — in our case, better retention. The return of intercollegiate athletics changed campus life for the better, and so has the absence of COVID.”

Odenwald displayed for the board the wrestling trophies won this first season back in 30 years. There was December’s team dual, when the Roadrunners upset perennial powerhouse Muskegon Community College, and Jan. 28’s Michigan Community College Athletic Association (MCCAA) championship — the first in school history — in Port Huron. The team then finished third in the Great Lakes District and 30th in the nation at the NJCAA Championships in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

McKenzie presented a five-year service pin to Caroline Price of Cassopolis, weekend supervisor at the Student Activity Center since 2018. Price attended SMC as a student in the 1970s, earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Wayne State University and added a master’s degree in business administration from Central Michigan University. In the working world, her roles ranged from newspaper editor to computer scientist.

Trustees also accepted a $300 gift to the college and acknowledged 14 donations totaling $89,400 to the SMC Foundation.