Norman Haas was the first chairman of the board at Glen Oaks.
Glen Oaks celebrates 50 years at the Centreville Campus; retirees and alumni share memories at event

About 75 people gathered on the Glen Oaks concourse in early February to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Centreville campus.Glen Oaks President David Devier welcomed the group, which included a number of faculty, staff and students, who were on campus back on February 4, 1969, and came back to share their stories from the early beginnings in the new building.

Norm Haas, first chairman of the Board of Trustees and the only surviving member left from that Board, attended the event along with his extended family, and talked of the enthusiasm of the students and faculty during that exciting time.

Dick Schlimgen, a Glen Oaks counselor when the college opened, spoke at Monday’s event recalling It was a cold, windy February day — the start of the second semester — and employees at the college packed up their materials and hauled them over to the new Centreville facility in a flatbed truck.  – And the library — operated out of boxes on the concourse.

Barb Gray, wife of the late music professor, Robert Gray, presented the college with the original handwritten manuscript of the Glen Oaks Alma Mater, which her husband composed in 1972.

Guests at the celebration looked through old yearbooks, student newspapers, photos, and reminisced about the past.

Alumni Terry Conklin and Chuck Frisbie both gave a heartfelt thanks to those in the audience who had the foresight to see through the creation of a community college in St. Joseph County; and noted the impact the college has had changing the lives of students.

“There’s a lot of kids in this county who couldn’t afford college that have been here and there lives are better because of it. I think that is what this is about — so thank you all.”

February 4, 1969 photo of new Glen Oaks Community College campus.
Glen Oaks to commemorate 50th anniversary of the Centreville Campus Monday, Feb. 4; College invites alumni from the late 60’s to share memories from those first days in the new building
Monday, Feb. 4 marks the 50th anniversary of the Centreville Campus of Glen Oaks Community College. To commemorate the event, college representatives are hoping to gather those who were on campus during that time to share stories and memories of the excitement of moving into the new building. The event will begin at 10 a.m. and will be held on the concourse.

Classes were being held in the old White Pigeon High School when the College opened its doors for the first time to students in the fall of 1967.

“We welcome and encourage anyone to attend,” said Dr. David H. Devier, Glen Oaks president. “In particular, we are seeking out those who were students, faculty or staff at the time to gather for cookies, punch, camaraderie and most importantly – the sharing of the excitement during that time.

“In addition to the commemoration, our guests will be able to preview the newly renovated grand concourse, and learn about our vision for success now that we have a capital outlay funding match from the state,” said Devier.

“To sum it up, we are ‘Cherishing the Past, Celebrating the Present and Creating the Future,” said Devier, of the event.

The College is asking the public to share information about this event with those who were attending Glen Oaks during the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.

(Note: The Grand Opening of the renovated grand concourse is expected to take place upon completion of the project in the spring. Stay tuned.)

Pictured from left in front of the Devier Student Suites water pump house posing with the award are: Aaron Davenport, principal and sr. project manager for Jones & Henry, and Michelle Thibideau, GOCC water treatment operator and Larry Diekman GOCC maintenance manager.
Glen Oaks Water Supply and Treatment project receives environmental award from APWA

A project that seemed insurmountable in the beginning turned out to be an award winning undertaking — with partners, Jones and Henry Engineers, Ltd., Frederick Construction,  and Glen Oaks Community College receiving the “Public Works Project of the Year – Environmental” award by the American Public Works Association (Southwestern Michigan Branch).

Supplying and treating water for the new Devier Student Suites became a challenge during construction as it was determined that the project would need to be permitted as a Type-1 community supply, rather than a Type-2 water well as designed in the original plans.

“With only four months’ notice until students would move into the residence hall; the new design called for a 2,000 foot separation from the existing campus wastewater treatment lagoon,” said Bruce Zakrzewski, GOCC dean of finance and administrative services. “This prompted us to secure the services of Jones & Henry Engineers to help design a solution.”

“With help from the college maintenance staff, the Frederick Construction team including Balkema Excavating, and Michelle Thibideau, supervisor, Centreville, Department of Public Works, the project was completed successfully, on spec, and on time,” said Zakrzewski.

Jones & Henry reviewed the architect’s calculations and verified required flow rates to orchestrate the drilling of a pair of 8-inch wells. Although there was not a previous issue with on-site water quality, less than six weeks prior to occupancy, the sampling of the new wells revealed elevated nitrate levels.

“The regular design process was tossed aside, and hand calculations and hand-drawn plan mark-ups of an anion exchange nitrate removal system was presented to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, to meet the timeframe,” said Aaron Davenport, principal and sr. project manager for Jones & Henry. “Final construction of the water system portion of the housing project, was completed and approved by the State on the day of student occupancy for the college’s 2017 fall semester.”  “It was an incredible feat of cooperation to pull this project together, and I am proud to have been part of the team.”

“The system continues to perform extremely well producing adequate water supply from the wells, with nitrate and hardness removal that complies with the Safe Drinking Water Act,” said Davenport. “Cooperation between the college, contractors, architect, engineers, and state was key to completion of this difficult, but vital, project.”

“The award is presented each year by the organization and is judged based on innovation, public need, public impact and overcoming complicated challenges,” said Davenport.

News – 2019