Newest downtown sculpture, "Brilliance", by Kathy Kraeger

SPOKES VOL. LXVII NO. 10                                                                              September 15, 2020


President Thompson called the meeting to order at 7:00 AM this morning.  Going with our Western Michigan Theme, we enjoyed the WMU Men’s Ensemble sing our National Anthem.  Art Ayers provided our invocation with prayers for our blessings and cures for our troubles.  President Thompson welcomed Pete Swanson back from emergency surgery.


Our guests include potential Ministerial Association Representative Jeffrey Dick and a little later our speaker, Dr. Edward Montgomery, President of Western Michigan University.



  • The District 6360 Raffle will end this week.  “tickets” are $25 each.  We have a record of 100% participation in the raffle and we have a history of an outstanding rate of return on our investment, having secures thousands of dollars in grants from the district foundation.  You can secure your ticket(s) by sending in your donation to Bob Straits at our post office box (#24).

  • Jeffrey Dick noted that tutors are needed for high school students in grades 6 – 12.  Sessions are held at the Congregational church.  Any adults willing to help should contact Jeffrey.

  • The District has reinstituted the matching Paul Harris grant program.  If you wish to contribute as a Paul Harris Fellow, District 6360 will pay half ($500) of the contribution for you.

  • Bob Copping, who has been diligently washing his hands during this crisis, is anxiously waiting for permission to add taking a shower to the COVID protocol.


50/50 and Fines

Tom Renner was the big winner today and Larry Lewis the $2 winner once we actually collect any money.  By the way, if you see Tom Ruesink or Bob Straits in person, they will expect to collect any and all back fines so always carry a few bucks with you.


Fines were charged to:

  • David Campbell’s lovely wife Kathy and his son are celebrating birthdays this week.

  • Pete Swanson is celebrating the birthday of his daughter.

  • Richard Swanson is also celebrating the birthday of his daughter this week.

  • Larry Wittkop celebrates the 25th anniversary of his daughter and son-in-law this week.

  • Rosalie Plachaty’s mom has a birthday this week.

  • Bob Boerma is enjoying the birthday of his grandson this week.

  • Deb Davidson will celebrate the second birthday of grandson Body this week.

  • Scott Mark will applaud the birthday of his lovely wife Sue this week.

  • Once again, we serenaded the celebrants by singing a Ludington version of the birthday song, vigorously led by our own Larry Wittkop.  Fortunately, Dan kept us all on mute during the song.


Tom Noverr introduced our speaker, Dr. Edward Montgomery, the President of Western Michigan University.  Dr. Montgomery has degrees from Penn State and Harvard (2), is a fellow at Stanford and served in both the Clinton and Obama administrations, including helping the auto industry recover after the 2008 recession.


Dr. Montgomery began by talking about WMU’s response to the COVID-19 crisis.  They have opened campus to in person learning.  They have a strong belief in the power of in-person learning and even its necessity in many situations and the interaction it fosters.  They do have a healthy offering of on-line courses for students who prefer that or who are otherwise unable to attend classes.


He indicated the WMU has worked with Health Department officials to provide safe environments and protocols for students and university personnel from cleaning to PPE.  They are also doing extensive testing with rapid results.  They have discovered 99 cases – 43 last week – and a positivity rate between 3 and 4 percent.  Should a student test positive, they have set aside a dorm and part of a second to provide a place for those students to quarantine and are working closely with Bronson and Borgess hospitals to provide health care for those with serious cases of the virus.


Because they believe, and statistics show the power of a college education, they are trying to make changes that make the college experience better and more affordable.  They have frozen tuition costs and have moved more university resources to help keep student costs down.  Western, which has a reputation for delivering value, is working hard to get graduates through in four years and without serious student debt.


He did note that 93% of WMU graduates landed jobs in their field of study and 73% of those were in their major.


In order to help students graduate they have taken several steps to improve learning.  These include features like the early use of internships, a focus on the purpose of college and helping students discover their passion for the rest of their lives beyond their field of study.  They have worked with faculty to change teaching techniques to improve learning to achieve higher success.  The goal is to achieve a “high touch” experience similar to a small liberal arts school but in a large university setting.  He noted the WMU is the only school working to achieve this goal.


He noted that WMU has many nationally ranked programs including the aviation, physician assistant and nursing.


He briefly mentioned athletics, noting that teams will return to competition next spring.  In answering a related question about Gabel Pool, he noted that while several indoor facilities like the Student Rec Center have been opened, the pool has not been opened and he was pretty straight forward in indicating it was for purely financial reasons as the cost of opening the facility with the necessary precautions was too high at the current time.


He also talked about the many research projects the university is involved in, including working with 150 school districts in learning how best to teach reading to students of different ages.  They have many other research projects, from cancer to COVID.


Also in response to a question, he spoke about the growth of the Homer Stryker Medical School (Including a huge endorsement from our own Dr. Richard Swanson) and the achievements and placements of its graduates.  He also touched on the affiliation with the Cooley School of Law and the work of their new Dean to improve the percentage of their graduates who pass the Bar exam.  WMU is one of only about 100 universities in the country with both a law school and a medical school.


President Thompson thanked Dr. Montgomery for his quality presentation and presented him with a gift certificate to one of our fine local eateries.


We closed the meeting with the Four Way Test

NEXT WEEK:  Bill Roberts will introduce South Haven Public Works Director Bill Hunter

Editarian:  Dene Hadden