Dick Devos: Reformer and Philanthropist

In 1991, Dick DeVos decided to challenge the plan to put an all-purpose arena in Grand Rapid’s downtown area. With the help of a few other like-mined people, the idea was shot down. DeVos cited what happened to downtown Detroit when The Palace at Auburn Hills and The Pontiac Silverdome were abandoned by the Pistons and the Lions a few years earlier.


DeVos is a bonifide changemaker. The former Amway CEO has done a great deal to better the city since that time. The DeVos name carries a lot of weight. His father is the co-founder of Amway Products. DeVos served as company CEO from 1993-2002.


While DeVos was able to thwart the downtown plans, he was able to replace them with the building of Van Amdel Arena, a convention center that bears his family’s name and the Michigan State Medical School.


Not only does DeVos come from a great deal of wealth, his wife, current Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, also comes from a family of billionaires. The combination of both families wields a great deal of power. The DeVoses wield a lot of political influence and enough money to shape policies affecting labor and education.


Both DeVoses worked in tandem: Mrs DeVos, to get more charter schools built and Mr. DeVos, to roll back organized labor and unions. In fact, Detroit, the birthplace of unions, is now a right-to-work state due to his efforts.


The DeVoses have used their foundation to fund the arts, education, churches, human services and other programs to the tune of $138 million.


The couple notably donated $12.5 million towards the building of the Spectrum Health System Children’s Hospital. The children’s hospital is a closer option for families who previously had to make longer drives to Ann Arbor and Chicago.


DeVos has always been big on education advocacy. In 2006, he sought to unseat incumbent Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm. DeVos funded his own campaign, and it was a costly loss.


But even the loss didn’t stop DeVos from pushing charter schools. While he and his wife were unable to convince citizens to pay for charter schools using their tax dollars, they helped get some form of voucher programs implemented in 24 states.


Read http://dickdevos.com/news/ to learn more.

Mary McChesney Generous Donation to Orange Coast College

The new planetarium under development at Orange Coast College recently got a galactic donation of $ 1 million from a retired professor of the school, Mary McChesney. She taught English and Spanish for 33 years and was also the executive director of the Orange Coast College Foundation in 1983.The funds were in honour of her late partner Adelyn Bonin who was also a professor of German at OCC. The generous donation is meant to fund a device used to demonstrate Earth’s rotation, Foucault pendulum. The new planetarium will be primarily for scientific studies for the students and the community as a whole.


The ground-breaking of the planetarium began in 2016, and it will be more advanced than the existing one which was established in the 1950’s. It will incorporate a 129-seat auditorium and an exhibit hall featuring an Atmospheric Administration Science and a National Oceanic on a sphere display globe. It will be a major improvement from the old planetarium which had a capacity of about 35 seats. The construction will be open for use by 2018 fall semester and has a budget of approximately $20 million with the larger part of financing originating from a 2012 bond measure. So far OCC has acquired about $2.6 million from donations. In addition to providing a scientific resource for OCC students, it will also be used by students in kindergarten through 12th grade.


About Orange Coast College

Orange Coast College is a community campus located in Orange County, California, United States. It was founded in 1947 with its first classes officially opening in 1948. Since then OCC has grown to be one of the largest and most envied community colleges in the country. It admits more than 25,000 students each semester. Students in OCC are spoiled for choice since the school offers more than 135 academic and career programs including public nautical programs. It is ranked first in the Orange County community colleges leading in the number of students it admits to California State University and the University of California.


Orange Coast College offers winter, fall, spring, and summer classes. However, the school does not provide on-campus housing for students. Nevertheless, OCC is fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.


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