SMC Will Begin Presidential Search at Home

Balancing the merits and risks of a national search versus an internal review, the Southwestern Michigan College Board of Trustees last night decided to begin with an internal search to identify possible candidates to succeed Dr. David Mathews as SMC’s eighth president.

After an extensive discussion on the merits and risks of doing a national search immediately versus evaluating professional talent already working at the College, the Board voted 6-1 to begin with the internal search. The consensus was that paying an external search firm could cost taxpayers $75,000 or more with no guarantee the selected candidate would provide the cultural fit or long-term stability the College has enjoyed in the past.

Mathews, SMC’s longest-serving president at 18 years, announced earlier this month that he would retire the end of 2019 after 22 years with the College.

Board Chair Thomas Jerdon says, “SMC is already in the top 10-percent of community colleges in many of the performance metrics we track on the Institutional Report Card,” and adds, “It’s a stretch to think we could find a leader to keep SMC on the right track from a different, lower-performing institution.”

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The Board directed that the position of President will be posted as soon as possible for internal candidates, with the application period closing in time for materials to be available to the Board by the September meeting. Chairman Jerdon says, “We welcome community input on what characteristics and qualities are desired in SMC’s next president. We invite those with comments to join us at the next regular Board meeting at 7 pm September 16th.”

Mathews, Dowagiac Union High School’s 1978 valedictorian, joined SMC in 1997 from Central Michigan University’s graduate mathematics faculty as Dean of Arts and Sciences and Instruction Innovation. He was promoted to Vice President of Instruction in 1998.

The Board of Trustees appointed Mathews SMC’s seventh president effective July 1, 2001.

Jerdon also noted that Mathews’ predecessors, David C. Briegel (SMC’s fifth president, 1981-1998) and Dr. Marshall Bishop (SMC’s sixth president, 1998-2001), were also promoted from within and were excellent presidents for the institution.

Mathews, a former Army Green Beret, holds a doctoral degree in mathematics from North Carolina State University and a bachelor’s degree from Lyman Briggs College at Michigan State University. Besides CMU, he taught math at Longwood College in Virginia.