New SMC President To Start In January

The next president of Southwestern Michigan College is busy preparing to take on the new role starting in January. Dr. Joseph Odenwald was selected by the SMC Board of Trustees this week to replace Dr. David Mathews when Mathews retires. Odenwald is the the current SMC vice president of student services. He’s from Louisiana and started working for SMC in 2017. He tells WSJM News he’s loved the area.

“In a lot of ways, this place reminds me so much of home, and I think that’s why I was attracted to it a couple of years ago when I was coming up here to be a vice president,” Odenwald said. “I grew up in a family that farms, around agriculture, and the ups and downs of that.”

Odenwald says he’s wanted to be a college president since his own college days. He says SMC is a good fit.

“The values of SMC – knowledge for all, quality, value to our taxpayers – is something I identify with. I know that higher education changed my life. I believe that institutions like SMC can change lives.”

As for priorities at SMC, Odenwald says the vision should be collaborative, but he knows a few things have to be done.

“The nature of work is changing. There’s a lot of research out there about how work is changing. We’ve got to always be on the forefront of that.”

Odenwald says he wants to ensure SMC allows a pipeline for students to go from early college on to four year institutions, and increasing enrollment will always be a goal. He’s shadowing President Mathews until he takes over the job, and says he’s thankful to be in the area.