Southwestern Michigan College experienced an extraordinary year with transformative changes that will be felt for years.
These are the top 10 developments that made 2013 memorable:
• SMC led Michigan’s 28 community colleges in enrollment growth. Just five saw any growth. SMC’s 6.7-percent increase in credit hours was twice the 3.3-percent gain by Gogebic Community College in Ironwood.
• SMC once again scored in the top 8 percent in the United States for transfer success, according to the National Community College Benchmarking Project.
• SMC partnered with the City of Dowagiac to move its museum, which opened in May for Dogwood Fine Arts Festival. Dowagiac Area History Museum calls home the former Behnke Paint and Floor Covering facility on West Railroad Street.
• SMC unveiled its one-stop Dowagiac Student Service Center July 8. The facility has been likened to a concierge desk for providing students services like guests at a high-end hotel.
• Aug. 10’s grand reopening of the 1991 Niles Campus, 33890 U.S. 12, east of Niles at M-60 in Cass County’s Milton Township, showed off the first phase of a $3 million renovation and program expansion project.
• Dowagiac Public Safety Director Thomas Atkinson joined SMC as chief of staff in July, followed in September by Dowagiac Daily News editor John Eby as senior writer and media relations coordinator.
• SMC’s third $7.79 million residence hall opened in September. Having 390 students living on campus adds a new dimension to college life.
• SMC christened the second and third apartment-style structures Thomas F. Jerdon Hall and William M. White Hall, recognizing long volunteer service by trustees who are the treasurer and secretary, respectively. They join Keith H. McKenzie Hall, named for the longtime vice chairman.
• October brought the announcement of a $7.5 million renovation of two original 1966 buildings on the Dowagiac campus, the Foster W. Daugherty Building and the William P.D. O’Leary Building.
• At its final meeting Dec. 16, the board named the 1996 College Services Building for fifth President David C. Briegel, who guided the college a record 17 years, 1981-98, during 46 years at SMC. He started as business manager months after the college opened.