Mott Community College: Reflections on 90 Years



In Flint, the year 1923 was a busy one. The city saw the opening of Durant-Tuuri-Mott Elementary School and Berston Field House, and it was the first year of the “Flint” automobile marque from Durant Motors. Two of the three abovementioned historic aspects of Flint remain to this day, and Durant-Tuuri-Mott Elementary School and Berston Field House have each celebrated 90 years in existence this 2013; but there is one other major contributor to our lives in Flint that has been going strong for 90 years with no sign of stagnation. The year 1923 gave us a school that we would come to know as Mott Community College.

A Brief Chronology

The Flint Board of Education established the Flint Junior College in 1923, bringing an affordable, quality education to Flint residents. The first class was held on September 23. The school would grow to include a four-year institution, later christened the University of Michigan-Flint, in 1957. In 1969, the Flint Junior College went countywide and became Genesee Community College, but GCC was given its now foreseeably permanent name of Charles Stewart Mott Community College in 1973 after the death of its founder, Charles Stewart Mott.

An Assessment of 90 Years

I had audience with current Mott Community College President Dr. Richard Shaink and the Executive Director of Marketing & Public Relations, Michael Kelly, in August. Below, they explain what 90 years of MCC looks like to them.

Shaink explained that in its 90 years, the college’s mission has not changed. They support the community by allowing residents the opportunity to afford higher education without having to “go outside of Flint.” Shaink, a product of community college himself, asserts that he would not have been able to succeed in the college and university environment during his studies and his career were it not for the principal courses he had taken at Jackson Community College. Shaink’s statement is backed by the findings of a recent study, which reveals that transfer students who completed a certificate program or Associate’s degree at community college before transferring to a four-year institution were more likely to obtain a Bachelor’s degree than those who transfer without completing their junior college program.

Shaink said that Mott provides a comprehensive higher education experience and a starting point for people seeking to improve their lives. He calls Mott “the people’s college,” noting not only how its students give life to the college through their attendance, but also how former students tend to stay in the community in order to continue supporting both Mott and Flint.

Michael Kelly explained that Mott’s unchanging mission is a diverse one. “At any given time, we have 20 PhDs on campus,” he said, revealing Mott’s appeal to a wide audience. Kelly explained how the junior college, an exclusively American creation, does the opposite of historical institutions the likes of Cambridge and the Sorbonne which “come down from above,” as Kelly puts it. The junior college does not reserve higher education for a select few, but instead works as a bridge to bring people who would normally not have the opportunity to attend university into the world of higher education. “We come up from the bottom,” said Kelly.

90 Years from Now

Mott is a staple institution in Flint, and it would be difficult to imagine what the city would be like without her. She is a pillar that helps define the community. When asked to describe what Mott will look like 90 years from now, Dr. Shaink explained that they have no fear of the future. “We will remain the people’s college,” he said, “and the people in the community who advise us on how to adapt and change will help Mott continue to respond to the community’s need.” Above all, Shaink believes that “Mott will not become part of the elite.”

Kelly sees Mott’s ability to adapt quickly to change as the thing that will keep her relevant for generations to come. He cited how Mott was one of the first junior colleges to develop a website: with all the “MCCs” out there, Mott was the one to claim before the others. The college also has the ability to develop a new program within a matter of months, supporting Kelly’s claim that Mott “will have you ready for the workforce of today.” Certainly that ‘today’ is not only for today, but for tomorrow as well.

90 Years to Me

I hold an Associate of Arts in Business Communications from Mott and a Bachelor of Arts in English from UM-Flint. To me, 90 years of Mott is more than the milestone of an institution, it’s a celebration of a place that I once, and still do, call home. Although I was accepted to two noteworthy Michigan universities upon graduation from high school, fate would keep me in town, and I’m very grateful for the hand that fate dealt me. My stint at Mott produced fond memories that I cherish to this day.

Often I groan inside when I hear people respond to the question “Where do you go to school?” with: “I’m just at Mott.” It is not “just” Mott; it’s a college that is continually ranked as one of America’s top junior colleges. It is a top notch university that allows a large portion of its students the opportunity to receive a stellar education (at times without spending one red cent, grace à Pell Grants). Its faculty and staff are award-winning, published, renowned academicians, and they love to be in Flint.

Mott is as much Flint as Flint is Mott. The two exist symbiotically, and I pray that this partnership of community and college will last usque ad consummationem sæculi – until world’s end.


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