Bay College serves many in region

EDITOR’S NOTE: In observance of Bay de Noc Community College’s 50th anniversary the Daily Press is featuring a three-part series on the early years of the college, written by retired Bay College employee Chris Holmes. The final article explores the scope of the area Bay College serves.

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ESCANABA – During the first year of Bay College’s operation in 1963, classes were held at locations throughout the community. Classes were held at the Escanaba and Gladstone high schools to take advantage of their typewriters and science labs. Some clinical nursing classes were soon held in medical facilities in the community.

Another sign of the institution’s intended scope was one of the suggestions for a college name that was submitted for consideration, “MenDickDel.” This was an early indication of the recognition of the college’s primary “service area,” serving students from Menominee, Dickinson and Schoolcraft counties.

The first college classes were held in Manistique in 1973.

Mike Powers has been teaching history and political science classes there for Bay for more than 20 years. He has watched many students get their start in taking college classes in Manistique before transferring on to classes at universities.

Powers explained that students taking Bay classes at Manistique High School come from Newberry, Engadine and Naubinway. When special classes and services were needed for paper mill employees, quarry personnel or potential corrections officers, Bay provided the programming.

Sheila Aldrich, current Manistique city manager, took her “base classes at Manistique and Engadine,” that qualified her for an associate’s degree. She appreciated the coordination between Bay and Lake Superior State University that allowed her to complete her bachelor’s degree at LSSU Her classes and degrees were crucial in her career advancement.

After the college provided classes in Newberry for staff at the state hospital when it was closed, there were requests for more classes. For several years classes were held at the near-by Engadine High School for area residents.

The first regular classes were held in Dickinson County in 1983, although nursing classes had been held at the Veterans ADministration Hospital earlier. Classes in Dickinson were originally held in the Iron Mountain and Kingsford high schools. Later they were consolidated in the American Martyr’s Church’s education building in Kingsford. For five years they moved to the larger facility on Carpenter Avenue in Iron Mountain.

In 2003 Dr. Ted and Eleanor Fornetti donated a 25-acre parcel of land for a campus site in Iron Mountain. Soon Dickinson voters approved mileage support for new building and services. Enrollment there has risen to 17 percent of the colleges’ total, and includes several full programs.

In January of 1999 the first online classes were offered by the college over the internet. Todd McCann was the first instructor of a writing class in the new format.

Today online student enrollment has grown to represent 30 percent of the instruction provided by the college.

Ann Sebeck, of Gladstone, was the first instructor hired primarily for online instruction. She’s taught seven different courses in business and computing in the online format. Her classes utilize individual and group interaction between students and instructor. She’s had students from Germany and Iraq, as well as transfer students located on university campuses.

Katrina Gardner, of Escanaba, and a student at Central Michigan University is one of those guest students. In addition to the cost-savings, she likes the flexibility of the online classes. She has taken four online classes and remarked that through “the discussion board” she has more interaction with other students than she does in “normal” classes.

She added that in her most recent class two-thirds of the students were from outside the Escanaba area, such as Wisconsin and Minnesota. A separate campus in Dickinson County and online classes have dramatically extended the “reach” of Bay from what the founders in 1963 envisioned.