Muskegon Community College's Nesbary named 2018 Newsmaker


By Cynthia Price

“I can’t really tell you why they chose me, but I can give you some of what we’ve accomplished at the college in the past year,” said Muskegon Community College President Dale Nesbary about winning the Education Newsmaker of the Year Award from the Grand Rapids Business Journal.

Though Nesbary is probably correct that his award stems from all the positive things going on at the college, he may be overly modest about his role in it.

“My primary responsibility is to raise funds so that we can support all the infrastructure that we’re building,” he says.

That is in and of itself a daunting task, considering that with the voter-approved bonds and millage, there has been a building and renovating boom at the college over the last few years.

The state-of-the-art Sturrus Technology Center, which has several times been covered in the Examiner, opened in early 2018,  though it was not fully opened until June of last year. “To my knowledge, it’s the largest and most comprehensive technology center, at least at a community college, in all of West Michigan, maybe in the state” President Nesbary said. The Lakeshore Fab Lab and the entrepreneurism center and some of the programming make it unique.

The college has also built a science center, in 2015, and earlier this year unveiled a new health and wellness center.

Soon to come is a music and arts building, to be connected to the Stevenson Center (the newer part of the college which faces north). The building will be a complete renovation of the former
technology center, which moved downtown to Sturrus; the automotive program will expand in one of the former arts buildings.

Expected to open later in 2019, the building is near and dear to Nesbary’s heart, mainly because he is himself a musician.

“I have a trombone right behind me in my office,” he says. “I play with the Shoreline Symphony and the West Michigan Worship Center Praise Team, and other gigs as they come up.”

For more information about that side of the MCC president, visit, a website dedicated to both Dale Nesbary and his wife Connie Nesbary, MA LPC LLP, who is a psychologist.

Visitors should be sure to click on “The Blues” in the Dale Nesbary part of the site for some good laughs.

In addition to fund-raising, President Nesbary oversees the high academic standards for which the Muskegon Community College has become known. A good recent example is that MCC?nursing students merited a 100% passage rate of the national exam. This includes competition with four-year-program graduates.

Nesbary also participates broadly in professional and community organizations, fulfilling one of the original charges when he started ten years ago: to make MCC a more outward-facing educational institution. One initiative he mentions is Talent 2025, a West Michigan business-based organization where he and other college leaders learn about how to train students for the business priorities of the future.

And nothing succeeds like success. Just this past week, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer toured the college, including the new Health and Wellness Center; and former Gov. Rick Snyder had visited last June.

As far as the Newsmaker award, the Grand Rapids Business Journal designates winners in a number of categories and then an overall winner. Last year, Cindy Larsen of the Muskegon Area Chamber of Commerce won the overall award – an indication, along with Nesbary’s victory, of the impressive development of the Muskegon area.

Nesbary won over Thomas Haas of Grand Valley State University and Edward?Montgomery of Western Michigan University. “It’s not really a competition, though,” Nesbary says. “All three of us are friends through Talent 2025.”

Unfortunately, Nesbary himself was not able to attend the January 30 awards breakfast at Frederik Meijer Gardens due to poor weather. He started out but turned back, and when he found out he had won he felt it was “kind of a bad joke.”

It seems likely that President Nesbary will have many more opportunities in the future to receive awards in person.