Wednesday, April 19, 2023

MCC rededicates its Kenneth J. Smith Building during April 19 celebration


More than 100 guests celebrated the grand reopening of the Kenneth J. Smith Building on Montcalm Community College’s Sidney campus during an April 19 ribbon cutting and open house that ended with tours of the facility.

We are so grateful you joined us today to celebrate this beautiful facility,” said MCC President Stacy H. Young, Ph.D. This building opened in 1966 as Instruction East and was most recently updated in 1999. Ironically, exactly eight years ago today, it was renamed in honor of Kenneth J. Smith, during the college’s 50th anniversary community celebration to commemorate Mr. Smith’s years of distinguished service to the college.

Smith joined MCC in 1965 as the college’s first instructor of biological sciences. As times changed, his title changed to Natural Science Instructor – a position he held until his retirement in 1996. After retirement he served as a distinguished adjunct instructor. Smith also established the college’s first choir, the MCC Choir, in 1967, which he directed for 13 years. He organized the MCC Community band and wrote the music for MCC’s Alma Mater.

The newly renovated building is at the heart of the college’s $7 million “Transforming Lives, Empowering People” major gifts campaign. It features specialized classrooms, advanced labs and inviting student spaces to give students top-class STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) learning experiences. Home to the college’s nursing, allied health and science offerings, the facility boasts high-tech science and nursing simulation tools, lab equipment, inviting student spaces and leading-edge technology, all aimed at delivering coursework in areas such as nursing, anatomy and physiology, biology, chemistry, mathematics, sciences and more.

“Having served as one of your representatives on the Board of Trustees now for 42 years, I have seen a lot of changes,” said Board Chair Karen Carbonelli.As we look around, it’s amazing to think of how this former farm field has been transformed into a leading educational institution that has served well over 125,000 learners since it was established.

During this time, our commitment to serving our community has never wavered. We are proud to partner with you as we continue to grow this college to support economic development, workforce development and overall quality of life in our community,” Carbonelli said.

The Smith Building houses more than half of MCC’s Sidney campus instructional space. The top level is home to The Center for STEM Learning and the lower level houses The Center for Nursing & Health Careers.

To support its mission to enhance the quality of life in the Greenville area, the Greenville Area Community Foundation last summer awarded MCC a five-year grant totaling $1.25 million, and the Center for STEM Learning was named in honor of the GACF’s pledge.

Greenville Area Community Foundation Board Chair Peter Blinkilde shared the Foundation’s passion for this project.

The Greenville Area Community Foundation recognizes the education value of our surrounding schools and the value of having Montcalm Community College in our backyard,” he said. “Through generous donations, that has allowed the GACF to provide almost $9 million in education grants since the GACFs inception. The mission of the GACF and MCC dovetail nicely and for this project enhances education through updated facilities and a better educational experience.

The MCC Foundation Board also pledged a lead gift of $1 million.

MCCF President Jane Anderson Beach said the Foundation Board members wanted to show how much the Foundation believes in and works with the college in supporting its mission of transforming lives through quality education.

With its emphasis on health care as well as STEM education, the Smith Building is vital to educating our community for jobs in these high-demand fields,” she said. “Renovation of the Smith Building, along with the additional campaign initiatives which seek to support students through scholarships, educational support resources and curriculum development directly align with the Foundation’s mission to support the college’s efforts to anticipate and address community needs through relationship cultivation and resource stewardship.

Our Foundation Board members really want students to be successful and are supportive of all of these measures to help them,” she said.

State Senator Rick Outman said the improvements will have a long-lasting impact on the economic prosperity of the region.

“Training students in STEM-related fields is a critical part of growing talent, attracting businesses and the state’s overall success,” Sen. Outman said.

Ken Smith’s son, MCC emeritus Chemistry Instructor and current adjunct instructor Scott Smith, told attendees “Dad loved this place. He loved educating so much that during most of his tenure he taught, in addition to a full science load, choir, jazz band, men’s ensemble and women’s ensemble at no cost to the college.

He told of his dad’s educational journey and how he continued to take post-graduate classes after earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

“He was a true role model for lifelong learning,” Scott Smith said, “and he could teach! I attended MCC in the late 1970s and had him for several classes. I remember coming home from classes and saying to mom that dad is a really good teacher.

“I learned a lot about dad’s love for MCC while riding in the car from Alma to Sidney with him during my student years at MCC,” he said. “There are so many memories I could share, but I will share this one.

He said that when his dad was a junior high school student, he took BB’s to school and used rubber bands to sling them at other students. One day, they fell out of his pocket during band class. His band instructor, Mr. Fink, told him after class that he was disappointed in his behavior.

“Fast forward to 1965. Dad travels to MCC for his interview as the college’s first instructor of biological sciences. The secretary tells dad he would be meeting with Dr. Don Fink. He thought no more about it until he met Dr. Fink, his former band instructor and the first president of MCC,” Smith said. “Dad thought to himself, ‘well, I guess I might as well forget this one, until Dr. Fink shook his hand and said, ‘Kenny, it’s so good to see you,’” and dad knew all was well.

“And so began a lifelong adventure for Ken Smith, and we hope that because of this beautiful building we are rededicating today, it will set in motion a life of positive adventures for our students,” he said.


Renovation of the Kenneth J. Smith Building is part of Montcalm Community College’s $7 million “Transforming Lives, Empowering People” major gifts campaign, which is entering its final stage by stepping out into the community for support.

“We are seeking support at any level, from a few dollars all the way up to naming opportunities, to help us continue to improve the quality of life in our region,” said MCC President Stacy H. Young, Ph.D.

In addition to the building renovation, other campaign initiatives include:

$500,000 toward a STEM Program Development and Technology Fund for equipment, technology and curriculum to support teaching and learning.
$500,000 toward First-Generation Scholarships to benefit students who are the first in their family to go to college.
$250,000 toward Mid-Career Scholarships to benefit middle-income students who do not qualify for financial aid, but also do not have the means to pay cash for college.
$450,000 toward Program-Specific Scholarships to benefit students in specific program pathways.
$300,000 toward the MCC Express Conductor Program to provide a point of contact (conductor) to work with students from their first point of contact with the college to the time they enter classes and throughout their time at MCC.

For more information about MCC’s “Transforming Lives, Empowering People”campaign, visit or contact MCCF Executive Director Lisa Lund at or 989-328-1284.


Media contact:
Shelly Springborn
Director of Communications and Public Relations