Bay’s golden: College marks 50 years

ESCANABA – Bay College has been celebrating its 50 anniversary this year. The celebration concluded with a Golden Gala event Friday at the college.

Guests were treated to a strolling dinner, drinks and dessert bar. The evening included the student musical performance of “Little Shop of Horrors” and an opening of the Robert Addison Legacy art show at the Besse Center.

“We are exhilarated with the community business and individual support for this capstone anniversary event,” said Kim Carne, vice president of advancement and the Bay College Foundation.

Bay College has grown from the first class of 133 students in the old Escanaba High School to today’s enrollment nearing 2,500 students. Classes are available on two campuses, as well as in Manistique and online.

Over the past 50 years, Bay de Noc Community College has awarded 13,539 certificates and associate degrees to 10,500 students. A total of 8,245 – nearly 80 percent of Bay graduates – live in the Central U.P.

“Bay is educating our community – our neighbors, friends and families,” school officials point out.

Studies summarize the economic impact of Bay College on its local service areas to average $100 million per year.

“I am so proud Bay College recently ranked 30th among community colleges in the nation this year,” said Dr Laura Coleman, Bay College president. “This is in the top 5 percent and the only Michigan college in the Top 50 Community Colleges based on student success and completion. This is a huge feat. We are committed to keep the momentum our work has just begun. Each and every person is committed to student and community success at Bay College. They are our strategic priorities.”

Tuesday, Bay College has a millage renewal on the Delta County ballot.

“This millage supports Bay College’s future,” said Coleman. A 1 mill, 20-year renewal will generate funds for capital improvements and bond debt needed to advance academic and technical programs, including welding, water tech, advanced manufacturing and the addition of a new paramedic program.

Funds from the millage renewal will also support a student success center. This includes consolidated student and academic support including tutoring, supplemental instruction, disability

services, veteran’s support, career advising, and more.

“Again, the 1 mill is a renewal and will not raise the taxes of local citizens. One mill is equivalent to about $40 per year on a house valued at $80,000 (taxable rates are typically half of the market value). Revenues supported by the millage renewal are estimated at $1 million per year.” said Coleman.

In January, Bay College will be opening its newly renovated health care training area, including a new simulation center. The hospital-like center will include computer controlled simulation mannequins to advance nursing and health care education. The project was funded by the State of Michigan and the College; the sim equipment was funded by private donations to the Bay College Foundation. IDI, Integrated Design Inc, managed the project with the State; Roy Ness Contracting was the contractor.

“Founders and past presidents, community members, board members, employees, retirees, students and each one of you have shaped who and what Bay College is today. Our history is strong; together we will make the future stronger.” said Carne.

A summary presentation of the college and millage renewal by Coleman can be viewed on the local area education cable channel 20. Presentations are scheduled to start every even hour. For additional information, visit or phone the Advancement Office at (906) 217-1700.