Southwestern Michigan College Selects New President

With Dr. David Mathews slated to depart at the end of the year, the Board of Trustees at Southwestern Michigan College voted Monday night to make Dr. Joseph L. Odenwald their new President, effective January 1st of the New Year.

After a detailed evaluation process and public discussion of the four finalists at its regular monthly meeting Monday evening, the Southwestern Michigan College Board of Trustees voted unanimously to name Dr. Odenwald to succeed Dr. David Mathews as SMC’s eighth president.

Board Chair Thomas Jerdon says, “We appreciate the interest of all four candidates in serving as SMC’s next president and sincerely appreciate the effort they have put into the interview process,” and adds, “The Board was immensely impressed by their insights and ideas. The experience and professionalism of all four is a testament to the strength of this institution. However, after much deliberation and consideration over the last few weeks, we all believe that Dr. Odenwald is the best fit at this time to lead SMC to meet the opportunities and challenges of the future.”

On August 6th, Mathews, SMC’s longest-serving president at 18 years, announced his retirement at the end of 2019 after 22 years with the college. During its August meeting, the Board of Trustees voted to conduct an internal search process. Four internal candidates applied, were interviewed on September 30th, and were asked to submit written responses to additional questions by October 7th. Video recordings of the interview sessions and the candidates’ written responses can be found at the link below:

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Dr. Odenwald has served as SMC’s Vice President of Student Services since 2017, coming to Dowagiac after working as Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs and Student Services at Louisiana State University College of Engineering. Previously, he held several positions at Mississippi College, including Associate Dean of Students and Director of Student Life while teaching graduate courses as a member of the Adjunct Faculty. Odenwald earned his Bachelor of Arts from Louisiana College, a Master of Science from Mississippi College and his Doctor of Education from The University of Southern Mississippi.

Jerdon also shared salary and benefits data from national sources as well as all Michigan community colleges, which will be used by the Compensation Committee to construct an employment contract for Dr. Odenwald. The intention is to finalize a proposed contract which will be discussed and considered for approval at a special board meeting in the near future.

Upon approval of that contract by the Board of Trustees, Dr. Odenwald will immediately begin transition work and officially assume his duties as president on January 1, 2020.