In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.

Dr. Joe Odenwald, incoming president of Southwestern Michigan College, reflected on this quote by Eric Hoffer, as he addressed a packed audience Jan. 16 within the Student Activity Center. Hosted in conjunction with the Chamber of Commerce, the community turned out in full force for the reception, welcoming the college's eighth president.

Since its founding, the college has employed the motto "Knowledge for All." Thanks to generous taxpayers and donors, Odenwald said this has been accomplished at a reasonable price. He reflected on the late Dr. Fred Mathews, one of the founders and longtime chairman of its Board of Trustees, who had said SMC was the region's version of the war on poverty.

"For more than five decades, SMC has produced nurses, teachers, law enforcement officers and others who serve our area," Odenwald said. "That is what is beautiful about a community college. Most graduates don't move away. They remain here and contribute to our community."

Looking forward, "the changes we face will require new methods in health care, new technology in trades, new techniques in helping professions and better agricultural yields," Odenwald said. "The college will prepare graduates in these fields to be lifelong learners who appreciate the past, but simply curate it."

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