After nearly two decades at the helm of Southwestern Michigan College, Dr. David Mathews has announced this morning that he will retire as President of the institution at the end of the year. He will depart as the college’s longest-serving president.
Mathews joined SMC in 1997 from Central Michigan University’s graduate mathematics faculty as Dean of Arts and Sciences and Instructional Innovation, and was promoted to Vice President of Instruction in 1998. The Board of Trustees in 2001 appointed him as SMC’s seventh president, which he has been for 18 of his 22 years with the college.
SMC Board Chair Thomas Jerdon says, “The Board of Trustees recognizes and appreciates the tremendous positive impact Dr. David Mathews has had on Southwestern Michigan College.” According to Jerdon, the most visible and enduring achievements of President Mathews have been outstanding student success, strategic planning, facilities improvements, and fiscal responsibility.
He says, “Student success has been President Mathews’ top priority for his entire career at SMC. SMC has achieved exceptional student success including student retention rates in the top 10 percent nationally, exceptional student success rates relative to peers, outstanding transfer student success rates, a consistent rise in student satisfaction, and a 66-percent increase in the number of associate degrees awarded each year.
SMC officials say that President Mathews has advanced the college over the past two decades through a comprehensive strategic planning process, adding that he has also consistently prioritized the investment in more full-time faculty, increasing the number of full-time positions from 45 in 1997 to 60 for 2018-19. Institutional progress on more than twenty different metrics is now continually monitored and reported to the Board through SMC’s Institutional Report Card.
College records show that the appraised value of SMC’s physical plant has more than tripled during his time as President, from $36 million in 2001 to $128.7 million in 2018. The board says that college growth under Mathews also includes the construction of three self-supporting residence halls, all built without increasing local tax rates. During his tenure as president, Mathews has secured $12.85 million in state funding for SMC building projects, including Mathews Conference Center East and the Kairis, Daugherty, O’Leary and nursing buildings.
School officials note that President Mathews has developed and executed 18 consecutive balanced budgets, adding, “The investments in student success and facilities improvements have all been done within budget.” Additionally, Jerdon notes, “Under Mathews the SMC Foundation has grown from $1.3 million in assets to more than $12 million, making a huge impact on wider scholarship availability for students.”
For his part, President Mathews says, “I will turn 60 years old during this coming academic year. I have a number of personal adventures that I would still like to complete, but that simply would not be possible while serving as College President. I have enjoyed working for such a committed Board of Trustees, and with a truly exceptional group of administrators, staff, and faculty. I appreciate the opportunity that I have had to make a difference at SMC, and I especially appreciate everyone’s commitment to student success in every decision that is made at the College.”
Mathews concludes, “I will assist the Board in every possible way to ensure that the College experiences a smooth and successful transition to new presidential leadership.”
Southwestern Michigan College is a public, residential and commuter community college founded in 1964, and is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and is a member of the American Association of Community Colleges.