Alumni Plaza the center of the Dowagiac campus


Tony Walker, Becky Moore

Tony Walker, 20 years; Trustee Becky Moore

Colleen Welsch, Skip Dyes

Colleen Welsch, 15 years; Trustee Skip Dyes

Brad Bundy, Beth Cripe

Brad Bundy, five years; Trustee Beth Cripe

SMC Board Opens Bids for Residential Expansion

Published on May 8, 2024 - 3 p.m.

Southwestern Michigan College’s Board of Trustees May 8 opened bids for expanding housing capacity.

In January, the board decided to add new rooms with a total of 36 beds to the three existing residence halls on the Dowagiac campus to address growing housing demand.

Construction will begin this summer, with the new space available beginning in January 2025.

Three bids opened with architect Tony Leininger of Carmi Design Group in Edwardsburg came from Gibson-Lewis, LLC, Mishawaka; Brown & Brown General Contractors, Wakarusa; and E&L Construction Group of Flint, which has a Berrien Springs office.

Vice Chairman Tracy Hertsel moved, with support from Treasurer Becky Moore, to authorize the administration to accept the lowest bid meeting specifications. The job will be awarded after some additional meetings with the bidders this week.

In other business, trustees recognized the Marketing Department for winning three national awards and Building and Grounds Administrative Assistant/Safety Coordinator Andrea Swartz for her lead role in coordinating the April 23-24 visit by the Michigan Supreme Court. The court heard oral arguments as part of the Court Community Connections program with Cass County, the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi and area schools.

Marketing’s team was represented by Vice President of Institutional Advancement Mike O’Brien, Director of Marketing Michelle Orlaske, Marketing Communication Coordinator Nina Welding and Senior Writer/Media Relations Coordinator John Eby.

“I’m delighted to share that they were the Gold Winner from the Collegiate Advertising Awards for colleges of 1,001-2,000 students,” President Dr. Joe Odenwald said. “The Viewbook was a Gold Winner for 2023.  This is the second time we’ve won multiple awards from this group. Second, a Silver Award for outdoor billboard designs. Third, a Silver Award for direct mail for a cost-comparison postcard. Our enrollment growth is the byproduct of a lot of things, but our marketing has been top-notch.”

Odenwald said the Supreme Court’s visit “was an historic event for the college and Andrea was commended by their staff. None of us who work with her every day are surprised, but they were impressed with the college and the work Andrea did.”

Trustees also awarded service pins for five, 15 and 20 years.

Tony Walker of Berrien Center accepted his 20-year pin from Trustee Becky Moore.

Walker, since May 2004, has progressed from the “young kid of the crew to a well-respected, seasoned veteran,” according to Vice President and Chief Business Officer Susan B. Coulston. “He is the department’s go-to guy for door locks and drywall, but also has a well-rounded set of skills for most anything construction-related. He was instrumental in building the stage (in Alumni Plaza) we used over the weekend (for the 57th Commencement). He can often be found running on the trails, working out in the fitness center and attending basketball games.”

Trustee Skip Dyes presented a 15-year pin to Director of Library Services Colleen Welsch of Granger.

Welsch earned her bachelor’s degree in secondary education from Indiana University South Bend in 2007 and her master’s degree in library science in 2009 from IUPUI (Purdue/Indiana universities). She also married Michael that year. Their daughter, Elsie, was born in 2016.

Under Welsch’s direction, the library operates as a welcoming campus social hub, containing the Carole A. Tate Teaching and Learning Center for tutoring and the Roadrunner Kitchen, a food pantry in collaboration with Phi Theta Kappa, the honor society.

Financial Aid Coordinator Brad Bundy of Dowagiac received his five-year pin from Trustee Beth Cripe. He started in 2016 as a student worker in Human Resources and met his wife, Breanna, at SMC. Bundy also worked in the Student Activity Center and for Follett in the bookstore. Graduating from Union High School in 2014, Bundy earned an associate degree in business from SMC in 2016 and continued to a bachelor’s degree through Ferris State University.

Trustees acknowledged 22 gifts to the SMC Foundation totaling $10,575. The foundation will transfer $590,000 to award 2024-25 student scholarships.

The board also set its annual budget hearing for June 12 at 8 a.m. in Room 2112 of the David C. Briegel Building.