WSCC Foundation plays key role in college’s success

SCOTTVILLE — “The foundation mission is to provide the extra resources to help West Shore Community College achieve greatness.”

West Shore Community College Foundation director Thom Hawley shows the board of trustees drawings a new Alumni Plaza campaign that the foundation is putting together at the college that will bring more art to the campus. (Ken Grabowski/News Advocate)

West Shore Community College Foundation director Thom Hawley shows the board of trustees drawings a new Alumni Plaza campaign that the foundation is putting together at the college that will bring more art to the campus. (Ken Grabowski/News Advocate)

That simple mission statement serves as the basis to why the WSCC foundation has been an integral part of the college for the past 46 years. This week WSCC foundation director Thom Hawley and interim president Scott Ward laid out the past, present and future role of the foundation to the board of trustees.

“The WSCC Foundation is proud to report another successful year of assisting the college around the advancement of higher education by broadening our base of community and financial support,” said Hawley. “Through fundraising, advocacy and fundraising initiatives the foundation has continued to nurture educational opportunities benefiting the students who attend West Shore.”

The goals of the WSCC Foundation are very simple. They include:

• Provide financial assistance for students;

• Support educational and cultural program development; and

• Encourage academic excellence and professional development.

Hawley, who also serves as executive director of college relations, said the foundation board is more than just him and administrative assistant Tasha Dault. It is a joint effort of people from the entire college district.

“Comprised of local leaders, alumni, retirees and business professionals, the foundation board continues to set ambitious goals, identify and engage new resource partners and donors and develop programs to enhance our ability to contribute to college initiatives and award scholarships to students with financial challenges.”

The foundation board is a strong cross section of the entire college district. Led by Mark Sandstedt (president, Manistee), Gary Ferguson (vice president, Ludington) and Dan LaMore (secretary/treasurer, Pentwater) the 16 person board is at the forefront of the college’s success.

Other members are James Barker (Manistee), Mike Ennis (Bear Lake), Tom Paine (Ludington), Bryan Pyrah (Manistee), Willie Reed (Ludington), Bill Roach (Ludington), Jim Scatena (Ludington), Carolyn Schnepel (Ludington), Debra Smith-Olsen (Baldwin), Rob Steiner (Hart), Zelal Umran (Ludington), Richard Wilson (Manistee) and Scott Ward (WSCC interim president).

Scholarships are the backbone of what the foundation does to help students at the college. The numbers more than indicate that fact in that it presented 202 scholarships totaling $142,000.

“Most of the money is in from the major gifts campaign and we have a few outstanding gifts that are being paid and one that goes out another 10 years or so, but we have had a good return from the donors,” said Hawley. “Of course with the stock market the way it is now the funds invested on behalf of the college are doing quite well. Several private scholarship funds were newly established and current donors continued to add to the corpus of their scholarship funds.”

Other ways they benefit the college with provided funds are the student Student Resource Center, Semester Academic Project, Faculty Driven Initiatives and College for Kids.

Hawley said some of the recent fundraisers were the Planned Giving Seminar that was done in partnership with community foundations, the Alumni Picnic and the Muddy Fox Trot. Ones that are coming up in the upcoming months include the donor/student breakfast on Oct. 12, “Grease” the musical performance and reception on Nov. 2 and Santa comes to WSCC with Edgar Struble and Friends on Dec. 9.

Hawley said one of the future projects is to re-connect with alumni of WSCC.

“The college foundation now has a huge base of over 6,000 names after the alumni picnic,” said Hawley. “We are using that list to start rebuilding our relationship with alumni. We feel that during the 50th anniversary year this was a great way to connect.”

Ward addressed the strategic direction of the college.

“It is great to see the growth in the foundation as eight years ago when I came to the college it was $30,000 in scholarships we were giving out and now it is $142,000,” said Ward. “A lot of those scholarships go to needy students, but we also have to start look at achieving students.”

Ward said the strategic direction of the foundation is to provide presidential full ride scholarships in the 2018-19 school year to one student from Mason and one student from Manistee County. The college will pay for one scholarship and the foundation the other one. The hopes are to expand that to four students in the second year. 

“I think dual enrollment is another important growth initiative for the college and we have a $100,000 endowment for that right now,” said Ward. “As we try to grow dual enrollment our partnerships with school districts is very important.”

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Posted by Ken Grabowski

Ken is News Advocate’s education reporter. He coordinates coverage for all Manistee County schools and West Shore Community College. He can be reached by phone at (231) 398-3125 or by email at kgrabowski@pioneergroup.com.

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