Monday, January 17, 2011

What About 'That Other College'

Dr. Otis Gatewood
First MCC president
November 1966
  Some people refer to it as “that other college.” Some just say, “that college up on the hill.”
  But the overpowering presence of Oakland University causing the public to forget the name of “the other one” doesn’t seem to faze Lucien Palmer, president of Michigan Christian College.
  “Oakland University and Oakland Community College are both fine institutions and will always play significant roles in the education of our area, Lucien said the other day in a chat with a local group. “It is absolutely foolish to talk about our little college competing with them.”
  MCC,OF COURSE, is a private institution while the other two are public. So far, MCC has not applied for nor received any federal assistance. Neither has it asked for money from business or industry. Its sole support has been from individuals and widely-scattered supporting organizations.
  MCC’s history dates back to 1954 when a group of Detroit area men decided to establish such a school. The North Central Christian College Foundation was formed in 1955. They looked at three different sites and finally narrowed it to Ann Arbor and Rochester.
  For $200,000 they purchased the Avon Road estate of advertising executive Lou Maxon. From the highway, it’s impossible to see the beauty of this campus— the lake, greenhouse, the walkways among the trail trees.
  OTIS GATEWOOD was hired as president in 1958 and Lucien Palmer was named dean. By 1959 they were ready to go, following a money-raising rally at the State Fairground Coliseum at which 8,000 people turned out to see one of the college’s solid supporters, Pat Boone. There were 54 students that first year. Now there are 240. That’s still not a lot, but without relying on public funds, the effort has been tremendous.
  The first major structure, called the multi-purpose building, cost $375,000. It has been expanded several times since and other buildings erected.
  In 1963, the administration had to made a decision whether to build more buildings or to acquire more land to add to the original 38 acres. The decision was to acquire land now while it is available. So they purchased seven acres from one owner and then 54 acres from the Gierock estate. They now own nearly 100 acres. “Now we can develop a fairly large college,” Lucien declares. An architect has been hired to develop a permanent campus plan. The center of the campus will be around the present Gierock home, the old red farmhouse where the president and his family now live. The academic, residential and athletic complex will be built around it.
  WE PROJECT a school of around 3,000 students,” the president said, “with 2,500 of them living on campus.” The college just last month launched a $1 million building campaign for a girls’ dorm, a library with 50,000 volumes and other facilities. This campaign will last three years. While the Church of Christ membership strongly backs MCC, the church body itself has no connection with the college. No money has come from church treasuries.
  MCC is actually a junior college, offering the first two years. This means that credits must be transferred if the student wants to obtain his degree. “We’ve been pleased beyond expectations in this respect,” Lucien revealed. Most students encountered no trouble transferring their credits.
  After pulling itself up by its own bootstraps, that “other college” is a real going institution that does Rochester proud.