Besse Foundation Invests in Student Success


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The John & Melissa Besse Foundation donates $1million to advance math, science and technology education at Bay College.  The Health and Applied Technology Center was recently renamed the John & Melissa Besse Health & Technology building in honor of his parents. Pictured is Greg Besse-President of the John & Melissa Besse Foundation, Ray Delmont of the John & Melissa Besse Foundation, along with John Anthony-President of the Bay College Foundation, Diane Besse, Kim Carne-Bay’s VP of College Advancement and Dr. Laura Coleman-President of Bay College.
Bay College will be advancing math, science and technology areas as a result of a $1,000,000 gift from the John & Melissa Besse Foundation.  “We are extremely honored and grateful for the gifts of education from the Besse Foundation to support the mission of Bay College, and their generosity throughout our community.  Within the project, we will include a recognition area in the Besse Center at Bay College highlighting the Besse’s generosity and commitment to Delta County” commented Dr Laura Coleman, Bay College President. 

The Math-Science building, where much of the modernization will be focused, is the original campus building and the center hub of campus connecting the north and south ends.  The project will include new innovative, technology rich classrooms and added study areas in close proximity to faculty for students taking STEM related classes such as math, science, anatomy and physics. The project will also change the pathway through the heart of campus, more tightly linking the north and south ends of campus.  The science labs located within the building were recently renovated as a result of Federal Title III grant funding.

According to Greg Besse, this gift is in line with his parents’ focus of enriching and advancing lives with a focus on community health & wellness, recreation, safety, the arts and education. 

The Besse funds, in conjunction with multi-million bonding debt, will also facilitate the expansion of the Besse Center walkway and provide for a new Academic Success Center.  The new Academic Success Center will be located off the south end of the Besse Center, renovating and expanding primarily the current library, TRiO, and special accommodations space.  The new center will include all support services a student needs to be an academic success at Bay College.  It will house tutoring, small group studies, study rooms, library, online course support, special accommodations, writing lab, math/science center, TRiO federal grant program for first generation, low income students, supplemental instruction, an iTV classroom and more.  Students will be triaged upon entering, providing academic and career support, regardless of financial position, accommodations needed, etc.  Bay College has an open access policy giving all who desire higher education an opportunity to succeed and complete a college degree.  As a recent student stated:  “I would never want to leave Bay College and go somewhere else; they provide all of the services I need to be a success.  They will not let me fail!”  The new center will house all services in one location versus multiple places on campus, provisioning for added services as well as eliminating overlapping services.  Academic support will be more readily available for the student while streamlining College operations.
In addition, many technical program improvements are in completion stages, providing facilities for new and expanded programs on campus as a result of grants, millage bonding and private gifts.  These include the expansion of welding, facilitation of an on-line waste water management program and new lab, renovation of computer networking labs/classrooms as well as new programs: Mechatronics (including robotic systems), GIS (geographic information systems), EMT and Paramedic.  An Art & Design degree is also new this year.
Gifts from John & Melissa Besse and their Foundation have changed the face of Bay College over the last eight years, as well as our community.  This new gift will also advance the College, specifically math, science, technology and health education.  Other expansion projects made possible by John & Melissa Besse at Bay College include the John & Melissa Besse Center which houses a state of the art theater and art galleries opening new cultural opportunities and a new front entrance to Bay College in 2008, computer-simulated human manikins: SimMan, SimMom, SimJunior and SimNewB providing incredible hands on training with critical thinking scenarios throughout the nursing training program in 2013, and the addition of a recreation complex on the campus of Bay College in 2009.  The complex consists of two regulation size and one smaller soccer fields as well as a walking path, labyrinth and pavilion.  The soccer fields are managed by the City of Escanaba with support from Bay College and the Bayside Soccer Association.  The fields are used for recreation soccer, travel soccer leagues, a high school club team, adult players and various training camps. 

Scholarship and program support catapult the opportunities available for Bay College students and our community.  Bay College unveiled the gift and naming of the John & Melissa Besse Health & Technology building during their Tour de Bay Community Open House held Friday, November 6 on the Escanaba campus.  The fun-filled family event featured the new programs, recent campus renovations, current curricula and future plans with the community.  For opportunities to invest in higher education, contact the Bay College Foundation at or phone 906.217.1700. 
Bay College Main,
2001 N Lincoln Road, Escanaba, MI 49829
906.786.5802 Main Campus Directions