Outside view of Napier Avenue Campus

History of Lake Michigan College

Since the day the College first opened its doors, the story has been of dedication, determination and overwhelming success. It all began over 60 years ago on September 9, 1946 when the Junior College of Benton Harbor opened its doors to 61 students, a Dean, Dr. Clarence G. Beckwith, and a faculty of eight.

Retro Lake Michigan CollelgeWhen the College opened, classes were held in the evening at Benton Harbor High School. Not long after, the College's first newspaper, the Warrior, rolled off the presses for the very first time, Continuing Education classes ("night classes") began, along with the school yearbook, the Tribesman.

In 1954, the Junior College of Benton Harbor was renamed Community College and Technical Institute (CCTI) to reflect its close ties to the industry, and Dr. Beckwith became the College's first President. Robert J. Lahti served as the College's second President from 1962-1965.  Berrien County voters approved the concept of a county-wide community college in 1963, and on July 1, 1964, Lake Michigan College became an independent institution.

In 1966, Dr. Robert H. Plummer became LMC’s third President, and in 1967, Dr. James L. Lehman became the fourth President.  At this time, Chicago architectural firm Harry Weese & Associates, were hired to plan the new $8 million campus on Napier Avenue. The first phase of the new campus completed was the central structure which contained classrooms, faculty offices, the library, a bookstore, and the Student Union. The second phase included two large lecture halls, a planetarium, a health education center, and additional faculty offices. The final phase was completed in 1974 and included laboratories and occupational training sites. 

After the new campus was completed, the College had some great accomplishments.  WLMC, a student-run radio station, began broadcasting in every building on campus and a year later in 1976, LMC received the largest grant in history, worth $218,366. This was through the federally funded Basic Education Opportunity Grant program, and at the time the program was expected to benefit 300 students. 

In 1978, Dr. James Lehman resigned as President and was succeeded by then Executive Vice President, Dr. Walter Browe. In 1987, Dr. Browe retired and Dr. Ann Mulder became the College’s sixth President. In 1987, the College began administering ASSET assessment testing to all incoming students, covering areas of reading, writing and mathematics. A few months later, the College achieved the maximum 10-year accreditation from North Central Association.

Siena Heights joined the Napier Campus in 1982 providing bachelor degree programs to adult students.

The Community Center, now known as the Mendel Center, officially opened in 1992 during a gala celebration. In recognition of a $1 million gift from Herbert and Audre Mendel, the structure was named the Mendel Center for Arts and Technology, in memory of Mr. Mendel’s late brother Edwin.

Dr. Anne Mulder retired in 1993 and was succeeded by Dr. Richard J. Pappas in 1994.

Bertrand Crossing Campus in Niles opened in 1998 and was funded in part by State grant and private contributions. The Title III federal grant helped to create 100% wired classrooms and expansion of online classes in 1999.

M-TEC at Lake Michigan College opened in 2000. This was funded by grants from the State of Michigan and private contributions. M-TEC focuses on the training needs of area industry and their current and potential employees. In 2002, South Haven residents voted to join the LMC district, and the campus opened soon after in 2003.  Also in 2002, Western Michigan University Southwest had their grand opening on the Napier Avenue Campus.

Dr. Richard Pappas resigned in 2005 and was soon succeeded by Dr. Randall Miller in 2006. Later in 2006 the Nursing Education Center opened on the Napier Avenue Campus, which was funded in part by grants and private contributions.

In 2008, the Napier Avenue Campus held the Grand Opening of the new Medical Imaging Career Center (MICC). In early 2009, Dr. Randall Miller resigned, and soon after Dr. Robert Harrison became the 9th President of LMC.

In the Spring of 2014, The Higher Learning Commission approved Lake Michigan College’s request to offer the College's first Bachelor degree program, Bachelor of Applied Science in Energy Production and Distribution Management. 

Beckwith Hall, Lake Michigan College's first on-campus residence hall accommodating up to 188 students, opened in the Fall of 2014.