Lake Michigan College Honors Al Pscholka with Bernard C. Radde Distinguished Service Award

May 03, 2017
Pscholka is a long-time champion for Lake Michigan College who has spearheaded revitalization of state-wide education and economic development initiatives throughout his public service career.
Lake Michigan College will present its annual Bernard C. Radde Distinguished Service Award to Al Pscholka of Lincoln Township during the College’s 70th annual commencement exercise being held at the LMC Mendel Center on Sunday, May 7, at 2 p.m.

“The Board is thrilled to honor Al with this award.” said LMC Board of Trustees Chair Dr. Michael Lindley. “His tireless efforts over several years helped secure $9.5 million dollars for the renovation of LMC’s Benton Harbor campus and Wine and Viticulture Technology facility.”

Before joining Governor Rick Snyder’s cabinet in January 2017 as State Budget Director, Pscholka spent six years in the Michigan State House of Representatives where he served as Chair of the House Appropriations, and Fiscal Agency Governing Committees. Pscholka was recognized as “Legislator of the Year” by more than a half dozen organizations; he was named “Freshman Legislator of the Year” by Michigan Information and Research Service in 2011; and “Most Effective House Member” in 2015. In his six years in the Michigan House, he authored and passed 64 public acts, more than any other member of the House during that time. 

Bringing resources to southwest Michigan was a big motivation in Pscholka’s run for the legislature.

“I wanted to make sure the folks in Lansing understood that Michigan doesn’t stop at Exit 75, off I-94, so I worked to bring home some dollars to expand the college. It wasn’t easy and it took almost five years to get that bill passed, but it was important to make sure the college had up-to-date technology and that we’re taking care of this resource.”

His effort was part of a movement to slow Michigan’s declining population and revive its reputation from heavy-industrial state, to thriving destination. “The bumper stickers used to say, ‘Last one in Michigan, please turn out the lights’. A number of us ran for office so our young people could find jobs and build lives here. Now we’re getting our steam back. It’s exciting to be in Michigan again.”

Education played a profound personal role in Pscholka’s experience growing up. Raised by a single mother who received no child support, he watched as she returned to community college for retraining and became the first in their family to earn a college degree. He followed her lead by attending Delta College after high school before transferring to Western Michigan University for his bachelor’s degree.

“I was what you might describe as an academic late-bloomer, and I got better grades in college than in high school. The time I spent at Delta College helped me to mature, learn new skills, and build a foundation. It was a great place for me to start.”

In addition to "College Graduate," Pscholka’s titles have included District Director for Congressman Fred Upton, Vice President of Cornerstone Alliance, and Lincoln Township Board Trustee. But Pscholka first connected with Lake Michigan College working in radio in the 1980s.

“I was this young news reporter covering LMC board meetings. Frank Pastrick was board chair then, and he became a great friend and a mentor to me. He cared about the numbers, but realized that the people behind the numbers were what really mattered. He really loved this place.”

“There are a lot of great people who’ve gone through LMC. It’s that staff member, that professor, or volunteer who can spark a fire in a student and set them on a path to greatness. That’s why Lake Michigan College is so critical.”

Pscholka’s earned an impressive list of accolades, but he insists that, “receiving the Radde award is a very humbling experience. To be recognized by LMC in my hometown is special to me. It really means a lot to me and to my family.”

His words of wisdom for LMC’s class of 2017 are to “never, ever, let anyone say that you can’t accomplish something, because you’ve just proven it. You’re on your way. Don’t ever stop learning, and, stay in Michigan, why don’t you?”

Pscholka lives in Lincoln Township with his wife Suzanne and they are looking forward to becoming first-time grandparents this summer. He continues to do radio play-by-play of high school football on WSJM-FM.

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The Bernard C. Radde Distinguished Service Award is named in honor of the late Dr. Bernard C. Radde, who served as a member of the Lake Michigan College Board of Trustees for 25 years. It is presented annually by the LMC Board of Trustees to an individual or individuals who have advanced the cause of LMC and higher education.

Past winners include Joan Smith, Janice Varney, Emily Foster, Bob Schodorf, Marian and Greg O’Niel, Dr. William Emery, Mary Fowler, Carol and Steve Sizer, the Honorable Mabel Johnson Mayfield, Jeff and Marcia Fettig, Merlin and Carolyn Hanson, James M. Krzyzewski, Steve Silcox, Stephen F. Upton, Senator Harry Gast, Muhammad and Lonnie Ali, and David Whitwam.