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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

Aerial photo of campus
Glen Oaks plans for safe winter term by moving more courses online

In a proactive move to better safeguard the campus from Covid-19 for the Winter 2021 semester, Glen Oaks Community College is moving a larger percentage of its in-seat classes to either online or hybrid formats. The college’s Coronavirus Task Force recently made this decision in consideration of the recent community spread of COVID-19 in St. Joseph County.

“There is potential for an increase in positive cases and additional mandates over the holidays,” said Dr. David Devier, “and the decision was made to help keep the safety and health of our students and employees in the forefront.”

In a recent survey, although the ideal method of course delivery is face-to-face, students shared that they would prefer not to have the format changed in the middle of the semester as has was the case last winter and fall.

“We remain hopeful that the vaccine rollout will bring the virus under control; however, it is hard to predict how quickly the community spread will decline, or whether additional flare-ups will cause more closures,” said Devier.

Many of the Winter 2021 courses previously listed as hybrid or face-to-face have moved to synchronous (taught during the previously scheduled time via Zoom) or asynchronous (completely online). Some courses requiring lab components—certain sciences, automotive, agriculture, welding, nursing, and allied health, etc., will meet on campus to complete the portions of the classes that cannot be completed online.

Students are being notified of the changes this week as plans continue to be finalized.

Winter 2021 classes begin on Monday, January 11. New students wanting to enroll in winter classes should do so as soon as possible by visiting and clicking on the Apply Now button. Most services are continuing virtually. If questions, students can contact the Admissions Office at (269) 294-4253 or


Glen Oaks campus entrance
Glen Oaks receives recommitment from state for $7.3 million capital outlay project

Glen Oaks Community College received word in early December from the state budget office that it is recommitting and recommending approval of capital outlay requests for several Michigan colleges including the $7.3 million Glen Oaks project. The state is providing $3.5 million of the project in addition to $1.5 million they provided earlier for capital improvements resulting in a $2.9 million college portion. These funds will come from college reserves and donations from supporters.

“The original state approval was vetoed earlier this year due to the COVID-19 crisis,” said Dr. David Devier, Glen Oaks president. “All capital outlay projects were put on hold in March. Only the projects which were halted in process are moving forward at this time.”

“This has been a long three-year journey,” said Devier. “We have continued to work on plans over the summer; but this is the real green light we need to proceed.”

The Glen Oaks capital outlay plan calls for the total renovation of the north side of campus including the library, technical labs, art studio, business classrooms, restrooms, and replacement of the bowed exterior walls.

“The plans address maintenance, technology, safety and infrastructure upgrades to our 51-year old campus,” said Devier. “The project will increase the value of college with our students and the community. We hope to begin construction in early summer.”

Glen Oaks is one of five universities and community colleges to share in $80 million in capital outlay funding. Others include Ferris State University, Northern Michigan University, Oakland University, and McComb Community College.

Glen Oaks provides more than 800 county high school students college-level instruction, with tuition that is supported by the local schools which results in an invaluable cost-saving opportunity for families.

Athletic Scholars photo
Sandra Russell, second from left, represented the Bishop family in presenting the Jim Bishop Memorial Athletic Scholarship to Glen Oaks basketball players JoMel Boyd, left, and Daniel Hughley III. Glen Oaks basketball Coach David Victor is on right.
Glen Oaks athletes receive Jim Bishop Scholarships

Two student athletes at Glen Oaks Community College are recipients of the Jim Bishop Memorial Athletic Scholarship for 2019-20.

Rickey (JoMel) Boyd, of Anderson, Ind., and Clifford (Daniel) Hughley III, of Winter Park, Fla, both play for the Viking Men’s basketball team.

Boyd is in his second year at Glen Oaks working on his Associate of General Studies degree. He plans to transfer to a four-year school to continue his basketball career. His dream job would be to be in the National Basketball Association, but he would also entertain a career in the medical or criminal justice field. Besides sports, Boyd enjoys listening to music and just having a good time. He is a resident assistant in the Devier Student Suites on campus, and he is a member of the Black Student Union and Phi Theta Kappa.

Clifford (Danny) Hughley III, is in his first year at Glen Oaks majoring in Business Management. Upon graduation, he plans to transfer to a four-year university and play basketball while pursuing a bachelor’s degree. He would eventually like to continue his basketball career overseas and/or start his own sports training related business. In addition to basketball, Hughley enjoys hanging out with friends, spending time with family and just enjoying life.


Bishop’s family funded the scholarship to assist athletes in the county to receive an education and play the sport they love at the same time. The Bishop family believes athletics are an important aspect of Glen Oaks and St. Joseph County.


The Jim Bishop Memorial Athletic Scholarship Fund was initially established in 1980 after Bishop’s death from an auto accident. Bishop attended Glen Oaks and he held a special place in his heart for the college and the Athletic Department, as he played on the first basketball teams at the college for Coach Ken Shuler. Bishop was also a coaching assistant for the teams in the 1970’s.

Canceled Classes

Image Manipulation
ART 170
Beginning Photography
ART 160
Advanced Photography
ART 260
Time 6-10 PM
Room D-407
Instructor Linda Walker
Canceled for Tuesday 1/08/2019