Aerial photo of campus
Glen Oaks employees to return to campus July 6

After months of working from home, employees at Glen Oaks Community College will return to the office. Glen Oaks President Dr. David H. Devier announced the plans in an email to employees Tuesday.

“After some deliberation, among the Glen Oaks Covid task force, the committee determined that all employees will be expected to return to work on-campus, effective Tuesday, July 6,” said Devier. This change does not affect course schedules for faculty.

Earlier the task force had been considering an August date, but shifted the timeline due to a number of changes.

  • The COVID vaccine became widely available to anyone over the age of 12 much quicker than anticipated.
  • The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) emergency rule prohibiting in-person work was lifted May 23, 2021.
  • All Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) gatherings and face masks orders are scheduled to be lifted July 1, 2021.
  • COVID cases have been greatly reduced.

“The committee felt that it was important to allow employees ample time to prepare for their return to in-person work, perhaps get vaccinated if they haven’t already, and get ‘back into the flow’ before we begin the fall semester on August 30,” said Devier.

The college continues to work in a safe manner with safety protocols in place that include masks and daily health checks for unvaccinated employees.

“We provide a service to the community, and while our employees have been able to provide services considerably well throughout the pandemic, the time is right to return to campus,” said Devier.

College Seal logo
A small tribute to the late Bruce Swinburne, founding dean of Glen Oaks Community College

By Valorie J. Juergens
Executive Director of Communications and Marketing
Glen Oaks Community College

Glen Oaks Community College received word this week that Bruce R. Swinburne, the founding dean of the college, passed away in late May.

Being from out of state, I first heard the name Bruce Swinburne associated with Glen Oaks in 2015 when we were putting together a 50th anniversary video of the historical beginnings of the college. A small number of retirees gathered together that year to help provide insight into what those early years were like. Bruce Swinburne’s name was brought up on numerous occasions.

“Glen Oaks early staff had the little job of getting students to a school that didn’t exist – and a faculty that wasn’t hired – so both Swinburne and Michael Myckowiak, (dean of vocational and technical instruction), made frequent trips to all of our high schools,” said the late Richard Cripe, professor emeritus and former counselor.

“Bruce Swinburne went out recruited and talked to untold numbers of the high school community and he finally got the first student – No. 00001 – Gilbert Edgerton, to sign up to be the first student at Glen Oaks,” said Richard Schlimgen, professor emeritus and former counselor. “He was so excited he bought a cake to celebrate, and he said you know, I hope it gets easier than this.”

Swinburne, who was hired at Glen Oaks in 1966, is said to have created a “community enthusiasm” for the college shortly after his arrival. He did his homework – surveying students, business leaders and agricultural leaders to help determine the program offerings during those first years. “It was Swinburne who inspired students to enroll,” according to author Leland Thornton in his book “Glen Oaks Community College.”

During a Burr Oak Rotary Club meeting, Dean Swinburne informed the group, “Glen Oaks facilities have been planned to provide for all who desire a higher education. All those with this ambition are eligible for admission.”

By the following year, recruitment became easier as a result of his efforts combined with more recruiting tools that became available – financial aid programs, accreditation and scholarships – many of which Swinburne is credited for successfully establishing.

When the first day of classes rolled around on September 15, 1967, the headcount was 729 students. “Bruce Swinburne had done a remarkable job,” said Thornton.
Swinburne’s time at the college was short lived, as he resigned in June, 1968, to pursue his doctorate degree, but his high energy and enthusiasm in the early days of Glen Oaks should be remembered.

View the GOCC 50th Anniversary video
Swinburne’s obituary

2021 Golf OutingGOCC
Glen Oaks seeks sponsors for annual athletic golf outing

Glen Oaks Department of Athletics is seeking sponsors for its annual golf outing, scheduled for Friday, July 30 at Island Hills Golf Course in Centreville.

Sponsorship costs range between $100 and $1,000. All proceeds will go toward Glen Oaks athletics.

Registration will begin at 8 a.m. with a 9 a.m. tee off for the four-person scramble. Cost is $320 per team and includes golf, cart, lunch and a Glen Oaks package.

If you are interested in securing a sponsorship or entering a team in the event, contact Matt Brawley, Glen Oaks athletic director,, or by calling (269) 294-4213.

Sturgis Kiwanis scholarship recipients
Students receive scholarships from Sturgis Kiwanis

The Sturgis Kiwanis Club awarded $500 scholarships to two students who will be attending Glen Oaks Community College this fall. They are Brenda Garcia Lopez, left, who plans to study pre-architecture, and Andrew Littlefield, right, who will be studying agriculture technology. Presenting the awards is Nicholas Herblet, Sturgis High School principal.

Robbie Hattan
Colon’s Hattan named as Glen Oaks’ women’s basketball coach

Glen Oaks Community College is pleased to announce Robbie Hattan will be the new women’s basketball coach. Hattan is currently the head varsity women’s basketball coach at Colon High School where he led the team to back-to-back district champions in 2020 and 2021.

Hattan has coached football and women’s basketball for over 11 years. He grew the women’s basketball program at Colon over the past four year both in athletic participation and in wins.

In football, he brought the community a state championship in 2019 at which time he was named the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association Coach of the Year.

Hattan replaces coach Morgan Balcom who stepped down in March after taking a position out of state.

Judah Kay
Glen Oaks Bernard Swartz scholarship awarded to Judah Kay

Judah Kay, of Three Rivers, Mich.,  has been awarded the Professor Emeritus Bernard Swartz Scholarship for Excellence in Mathematics.

Kay is a graduate from Glen Oaks Community College with an Associate of Applied Science in Technology and a certificate in Electrical Technologies.

The $1,000 scholarship is awarded to a Glen Oaks student with an outstanding record in mathematics courses. Kay was recommended for the scholarship by Glen Oaks mathematics instructors.

Under terms of the scholarship, created through a donation by Bernard Swartz, a former professor of mathematics at Glen Oaks, the student must be transferring to a four-year university after graduation from GOCC. The scholarship is intended to help with education expenses at a four-year institution.

Kay is also the recent recipient of the $10,000 WMU Phi Theta Kappa Scholarship for Academic Excellence.  He will be pursuing a degree in Electrical Engineering at Western this fall.

Victor McBride
Bronson’s McBride receives associate degree before high school graduation

Bronson high school senior Victor McBride is knocking off a couple years of college classes before he even graduates from high school thanks to the Early Middle College program at Glen Oaks Community College.

This Friday (May 7), McBride will graduate with an Associate of Arts degree from Glen Oaks, a month before he graduates from Bronson High School.

“Victor was the ideal EMC student,” said Anita Lopez Schlabach, EMC program director. “He has been very engaged with the program staff, faithfully attended the monthly seminars and overall, he was proactive in driving his career path. He is actually graduating early from the EMC program.”

McBride’s hard work is paying off, both in terms of time and tuition as he will be transferring two-years of credits to Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Mich. He will start classes there in the fall as a pre-law major.

A member of Phi Theta Kappa, the largest international academic honor society for two-year colleges, McBride is also a National Honor Society student and member of the Quiz Bowl team at Bronson.

Asked about his Glen Oaks experience, McBride particularly enjoyed his classes in Philosophy, Greek Mythology and English Comp.

In addition to academics, McBride has a part-time job and enjoys video games and hanging out with friends.

“It was a joint effort,” said Schlabach, “as the staff at Bronson worked with us and wanted the best for him as well.”

McBride will be among the 286 students from both 2020 and 2021 participating in the 52nd and 53rd annual commencement ceremony this Friday in the GOCC gymnasium. Although there will be no guests, the event will be livestreamed on the Glen Oaks webpage, Facebook page and YouTube Channel.

New Inductees EPT
Glen Oaks Epsilon Pi Tau chapter inducts eight new members

Eight new members were inducted into the Delta Rho Chapter of Epsilon Pi Tau during the fourth annual induction ceremony held on Monday, May 3 on the campus of Glen Oaks Community College.

EPT is the International Honorary Society for Professionals in Technology.

“The 92-year-old society, established in 1929, promotes excellence in academics, service and research,” said Dr. David H. Devier, Glen Oaks president. “It is dedicated to honoring students with high academic performance; however, this year we also inducted three new members of our faculty and staff. The focus is on recognizing all programs and professions that utilize technology in their training and work.”

New members inducted at this year’s ceremony were:

Sara Birch

Jade N. Breseman

Evan J. Dembskey

Nathan Denton

Alyssia K. Hudson-Grayer

Judah Kay

Michael L. Northrop

Lauren M. Rice

Glen Oaks established the Delta Rho Chapter in 2017, at which time they planted a ceremonial oak tree between the main entrance and the new student suites. As the chapter grows, the tree will as well, in girth, height and roots.

Kevin Conner
Kevin Conner to receive E.J. Shaheen Teaching Excellence award

Glen Oaks Community College has announced that Kevin Conner, professor of information technology, is this year’s recipient of the prestigious E. J. Shaheen Teaching Excellence award. He will be recognized during the year’s commencement ceremony on Friday, May 7.

Conner is said to be a captivating and caring instructor who works hard to makes sure his students fully understand concepts and succeed in their classes as well as in their future. He has continuously worked to expand the range of information technology program offerings. Above and beyond the classroom, he began the Gaming Club a few years ago, and pre-pandemic, he spent 3-4 hours on weeknights, as well as Saturday mornings, in order to provide times for like-minded students to come together to advance not only their gaming skills, but their social skills.

Conner, a Sturgis native, had always thought about studying computers; but after graduating from Sturgis High School, instead he started doing residential and commercial painting in addition to working a part-time job at Porter Drug Store in town. After suffering a life-changing health condition affecting his mobility at age 29, he recalls driving out to Glen Oaks and making the decision to go to college.

“I sold my fishing boat and trailer, and a few other assets to pay for a basic computer which was about $3,000 back in the nineties,” said Conner, “and I began classes as an adult student.”

Shortly into his studies, he was offered a part-time position in the college’s Media Center as a media assistant. This marked the beginning of his 27-year career at Glen Oaks.

Conner earned an Associate of Applied Science in Business, with a focus on micro-computer applications in 1997. During commencement, he was honored with the President’s Award. He also received the Wall St. Journal Award in recognition for  excellence in academics.

Conner continued working part-time at the Media Center upon graduation and was soon offered an opportunity to teach a data processing class on campus over the summer.

“I was surprised at the opportunity and nervous about the teaching assignment,” said Conner, “but it actually went quite well.”

He also taught in the following fall semester while pursuing a bachelor’s degree at Davenport University’s Kalamazoo campus. He received a Bachelor in Applied Science specializing in E-Commerce in 2003, before obtaining a Master of Science in 2005 at Capella University where he specialized in computer networking.

“I taught as an adjunct and that soon turned into a part-time teaching position,” said Conner. “I eventually became a full-time faculty member while in the last year of my master’s program.”

Conner has seen and been instrumental in advancing the Information Technology Department during his time with Glen Oaks.

“When I started, we didn’t have strictly Information Technology degrees,” said Conner. “Computer classes were offered through the Business Department. One of the first classes that I brought to the program was a computer repair course, followed by a computer networking course. Early programs focused more on web development, but as things became more automated through the use of content management systems such as Word Press, demand for those programs decreased.”

More recently, Conner spearheaded the effort to bring a couple Cybersecurity programs and an Associate of Computer Science degree to campus.

Through the years, Conner has seen a lot of change on campus. “One of the biggest changes has been in student demographics,” said Conner. “When starting as a student, it was a mixture of 18-year-olds and adult students. The students are much younger today, as a result of the college serving a large number of area high school students.”

“I remember early on — one of my adult students was crying one day because she accidently turned the cursor into a dinosaur and thought she had broken the computer,” said Conner.

“Classes are more hands-on and engaging today,” said Conner of the changes in teaching. “They say you can lose a student’s attention in less than a second, so you need to be mindful of that. Instructors need to keep things short and to the point. Changes in technology through the years has made that all the easier for me.”

“Our greatest strength is the small size and personal attention we give our students,” said Conner. “It’s hard not to become friends with the students in your class.”

So what’s in store for the future? Conner sees growing the Gaming Club. “Eports, or virtual sports, have gained a lot of momentum recently,” said Conner. “It’s getting pretty common for schools to have esports teams compete online with one another. Perhaps the biggest hurdle is figuring out which game(s) to use for competition. Probably the most common ones out there today is League of Legends, followed by Dota 2 and Counter-Strike. There are pro-gamers out there and the stakes for winners are high.”

For now, Conner continues to advise the club – his favorite game? Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Seige.

The E. J. Shaheen Chair for Teaching and Excellence Award was initiated in 1984 with a generous donation from E. J. Shaheen, one of the original Glen Oaks Board members. Shaheen, a college professor, lawyer, and business owner, placed a high value on education and spent much of his later life promoting high quality education and education institutions, including Glen Oaks. The award is administered through the Glen Oaks Foundation.


2021 Award Recipients
Glen Oaks to livestream in-person 52nd and 53rd annual commencement, Fri. May 7 in gymnasium – without guests

Glen Oaks Community College will hold its 52nd and 53rd Annual Commencement ceremony at 7 p.m. on Friday, May 7, in Ken Schuler Court (Glen Oaks gymnasium). The Nursing Pinning ceremony will be held on Saturday, May 8 at 10 a.m. and the Allied Health pinning ceremony will be held on Saturday, May 8 at 2 p.m. with both pinning ceremonies also taking place in the gym.

All three events will be livestreamed and take place without guests in attendance due to COVID-19 safety precautions. Participants will wear masks and will be seated socially distanced on the gym floor. They will have the opportunity to have their photos taken following the walk across the stage.

For the combined years, there are 286 pending graduates with 343 degrees and/or certificates being awarded. The average graduate’s age is 24-years old – the youngest is 18 and the most senior is 55-years young. Their grade-point average is 3.29.  One dual enrolled high school student will be graduating from Glen Oaks with an associate degree before he graduates from his own high school. There are 65 Early Middle College graduates. A total of 118 graduates will participate in Friday evening’s ceremony to receive their degrees and/or certificates.

Glen Oaks President Dr. David H. Devier will preside over the ceremony and will recognize recipients of several special awards including:

  • Outstanding Service Award – Julie Cottin
  • Adjunct Faculty Teaching Excellence Award – Nick Shultz
  • J. Shaheen Chair for Teaching Excellence – Kevin Conner
  • Distinguished Alumni Award – Rod Lopez
  • Fellows Award – Aaron Miller
  • President’s Award – Alyssia Hudson-Grayer (2021), Edna Yoder (2020)

President Devier will confer the degrees and Dr. Michael Goldin, vice-president of academics, will serve as grand marshal for the ceremony. Tonya Howden, vice-president of student services, will read the names of the candidates as they walk across the platform to receive their degrees.

The Vintage Brass will provide music for the ceremony.

A short video, “Meeting the Challenges of a Pandemic,” will be shown.

Family, friends and members of the community will be able to view the commencement ceremony and the pinnings live on three different platforms: the Glen Oaks website (; the Glen Oaks Facebook page or the Glen Oaks YouTube channel.

Background on award/recipients
Outstanding Service Award – Julie Cottin, Digital Solutions Administrator – This award recognizes employees of Glen Oaks for outstanding performance and contributions to the college.

Julie Cottin joined Glen Oaks in 2016. She is said to be extremely driven, eager to accept challenges and is always looking for better ways to meet the needs of faculty, staff and students. She is the campus expert in a variety of software programs that she manages at the college – and for the most part – she is self-taught.

A Sturgis High School graduate, Cottin studied at WMU receiving a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting, a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture, and a Master of Arts in Education Technology.


Part-Time Faculty Teaching Excellence Award – Nick Shultz, Instructor of Agriculture Technology – This award is presented annually to a part-time faculty member or adjunct who demonstrates excellence in teaching and reflects the value of education to students.

Nick Shultz started at Glen Oaks in 2020 and he teaches electrical/computer systems and engine performance classes for the Agricultural Technology program. He also teaches similar classes as an adjunct professor at Owens Community College in Toledo, Ohio.

Shultz is a retired faculty member from Owens, retiring in 2019. He is currently pursuing a degree in physics.


  1. J. Shaheen Chair for Teaching Excellence – Kevin Conner, Professor of Information Technology – The E. J. Shaheen Chair for Teaching and Excellence Award was initiated in 1984 with a generous donation from E. J. Shaheen, one of the original Glen Oaks board members. Shaheen, a college professor, lawyer, and business owner, placed a high value on education and spent much of his later life promoting high quality education and educational institutions, including Glen Oaks.

Kevin Conner is said to be a captivating and caring instructor who works hard to make sure his students fully understand concepts and succeed in their classes as well as in their future. He has continuously worked to expand the range of Information Technology programs and course offerings. Above and beyond the classroom, he began the Gaming Club a few years ago, and pre-pandemic, he spent 3-4 hours on weeknights, as well as Saturday mornings, to provide times for like-minded students to come together to advance not only their gaming skills, but their social skills.

While attending Glen Oaks as an adult student in 1994, Conner was offered a part-time job in the college’s Media Center. That position marked the beginning of his 27-plus years of service. A Sturgis native, he received the President’s Award during commencement in 1997 upon receiving an Associate of Applied Science in Business.

Conner went on to receive a Bachelor’s in Applied Science specializing in E-Commerce from Davenport University. He became a full-time faculty member just prior to earning a Master of Science degree from Capella University.

Distinguished Alumni Award – Rod Lopez – This award recognizes alumni who have distinguished themselves through professional excellence and personal service.

Rod Lopez, of Sturgis, has taken to heart the college mission by serving on the Glen Oaks Board of Trustees. He came to St. Joseph County in the mid-1990s as a teenager from Mexico in search of a better life. He had to learn English while finishing high school in Sturgis before advancing his education part-time at Glen Oaks while working full time.

He earned an Associate of Business in 2003 and went on to pursue both a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Davenport University in Kalamazoo.

Lopez is an independent insurance agent at Preferred Insurance Service of Sturgis, where he writes policies and works to find the best coverage and premium match for his clients. He sells policies for property loss including natural disasters and vandalism and provides customer support for his clients.

In 2016, he was elected to the Glen Oaks Board of Trustees where he serves as secretary and is a significant contributor to the oversite of the college.

Fellows Award – Aaron Miller – This award recognizes a community member and/or institution for outstanding service to and/or in support of GOCC.

Aaron Miller, of Sturgis, served as state representative for the 59th district for six years and left office in January due to term limits. While there, he was a tireless advocate for Glen Oaks Community College as a member of the powerful Appropriations Committee. Today, he is a mortgage lender at Sturgis Bank and Trust in Sturgis.

Miller graduated from Western Michigan University in 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts in Secondary Education and he taught high school math in both Middlebury, Ind., and Sturgis. He graduated from Bethel College—now Bethel University – with a Master of Education in School Administration in 2014.

While having little steady involvement with organizations over the last six years due to the nature of his position, Miller is already in the process of joining a few local boards and looks forward to continuing to serve his community.


President’s Award – Alyssia Hudson-Grayer (2021) and Edna Yoder (2020) – This award recognizes a student who has been nominated by the faculty for high achievement in academics and excellence, and contributions in the classroom.

Alyssia Hudson-Grayer, of Adrian, Mich., is the 2021 recipient who is receiving her Associate of Arts and graduating summa cum laude. She was recently inducted into Epsilon Pi Tau, the International Honorary Society for Professionals in Technology, in recognition for high academic performance. She plans to pursue a degree in a science field or criminal justice. Her professors say she has sheer determination and a great work ethic that is rarely seen. Her dream job would be to join Ocean 4. In her spare time, she enjoys exercise and running and loves to learn new things.

Edna Yoder, of Shipshewana, Ind., was a non-traditional student who always wanted to be a nurse. She received her Associate of Science in Nursing from Glen Oaks in 2020. Her professors say she worked extremely hard, always actively participated in class, and she was an excellent leader for the Nursing Class of 2020. She currently works in the Oncology Department at Goshen Health and says Glen Oaks provided her with a solid foundation. She is currently working on her Bachelor’s of Nursing with Indiana Wesleyan University.