In tribute to her lifelong devotion to education, from 18 years on the Southwestern Michigan College Board of Trustees to her professional library career, SMC on July 23 dedicated the “Carole A. Tate Teaching and Learning Center.”
“Carole was an exceptional trustee,” Board of Trustees Chairman Thomas F. Jerdon said. “Bill White, Keith McKenzie and I had the privilege of serving with Carole, who was on the board from January 1991 until 2009 and served as board treasurer beginning in 2003. Carole has the distinction of being the only trustee from the Van Buren County portion of SMC’s district. She was especially proud she was an SMC graduate, in 1975. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in library science in 1977 and her master’s degree in library science from Western Michigan University in 1981.”
Mrs. Tate, 74, died Oct. 7, 2017, at her Maricopa, Ariz., residence.
“When she retired from the Board of Trustees, in her resignation letter, Carole said, ‘SMC changed my life forever and will continue to do the same for future generations.’ Carole was simply a wonderful person who cared deeply for SMC, staff and students alike,” Jerdon said. “Carole always had a calm and professional demeanor facing challenges and was always very well prepared. I remember vividly how excited and supportive Carole was when SMC’s first TLC opened in the Briegel Building. This center changes SMC students’ lives for the better on a daily basis. It’s absolutely befitting it be named for Carole Tate, who devoted her entire career to education.”
On behalf of Mrs. Tate’s family, including her husband, David, the assemblage heard from daughter Lisa.
“My mom loved SMC,” she said. “This is where her amazing academic career began as a non-traditional part-time student. My earliest precious memories are of Mom reading to us. I can still hear her animated voice reading Rabbit Hill. I distinctly remember coming downstairs one night to the sound of my mom reading Chaucer to our cat. She said Chaucer was easier to understand when read aloud and claimed the cat loved it. Mom’s love of reading and learning made a career in libraries and education an easy decision. Her 30-year professional career was rich and varied, from her start as Van Buren District Library children’s librarian to media specialist in Lakeshore, Marcellus and Decatur public schools. She desired to help people become lifelong readers and learners. Humbled and somewhat surprised, she replaced Barbara Wood Cook in 1991. My mom often reminded us that she brought an educator’s perspective to the board. My sister Sue and I are both educators. Our younger brother, Zachary, is employed by a large corporation, but spends most of his free time writing and being involved in theatre because from an early age, education was an important part of our upbringing. Mom would be incredibly proud to see her name associated with teaching and learning at this wonderful institution.”
The Tate TLC is located in the Fred L. Mathews Library, one of SMC’s three original buildings and named in 1972 for the 50-year Board of Trustees chairman. The library added a west conference center in 1987 and an east conference center in 2003.
“It took an entire community to bring about this college,” President Dr. David Mathews said, recalling the cornfield occupying the site in July 1964. “People voted a tax on themselves, which is perhaps unthinkable today, for the betterment of the community and others. It has taken committed public servants serving as board members to supervise this institution for 55 years — all without pay and all for the benefit of taxpayers, students and their families.”
In the last decade, Mathews said, “The library has gone from days of just paper products, including daily newspapers and magazines, to a place that, in addition to print resources, has digital information and access to electronic databases. Instead of being a quiet place where one might learn individually, it is a sometimes noisy place where people learn together and help one another.
“We have centralized out-of-classroom instruction in the Teaching and Learning Center, which before last December, when trustees made this decision, was known simply as the ‘TLC.’ As the hub of student academic activity outside the classroom, students come for tutoring or help writing papers so they can be successful. Just as it took a whole community to bring the college into existence, it takes a whole platoon of people to make this library and Teaching and Learning Center of service to our students.”
Current trustees William White, Dr. Elaine Foster and Beth Cripe joined Jerdon at the noon ceremony, which was followed by lunch and conversation.