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Former professor provides lesson on Mott Community College’s 100-year history

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FLINT, MI – Mott Community College has been a pillar in the Flint community for 100 years.

On Tuesday, Jan. 31, a lecture was hosted by retired professor Paul Rozycki at Totem Books near downtown Flint.

Rozycki is the author of Clearer Image: The 100 Year History of Mott Community College, and reviewed the 100-year history in front of a crowd of his former students and friends in the community, focusing on issues the school has faced.

“The biggest surprise I had during my research was its ties to U of M,” Rozycki said, who taught for 42 years. “They wanted to be part of U of M but they couldn’t work it out.”

In 1950, Charles Stewart Mott gave $1 million to develop Flint Junior College into a four-year institution in collaboration with the University of Michigan, a move that created the College and Cultural Center.

But ultimately, Flint Junior College and the University of Michigan did not work things out, Rozycki said.

The school started in 1923 as Flint Junior College by the Flint Board of Education because there was an increasing need for a school.

In 1910, there was roughly 38,000 people in Flint, and that increased to roughly 90,000 people by 1920. By 1930, there was about 156,000 people in Flint.

MCC has gone from being in a few rooms in Flint Central High School, to an old cemetery building and now a full campus.

It nearly closed twice, in the 1930s and 1940s, facing a number of financial crisis issues during the Great Depression.

MCC has seen five different name changes and has been led by eight deans, seven presidents, one provost, one faculty committee and a variety of interim presidents along the way.

The college faced another challenge during World War II, with students being drafted into the conflict and dropping out of college.

By 1944, there were only 149 students remaining. The school board seriously considered shutting it down.

That’s when Charles Stewart Mott’s funding saved the institution years later.

The first building constructed in 1954 was The Ballenger Field House and opened in 1955.

During the 1960s, racial issues arose, Rozycki said. African American students voiced their concern for not hiring enough minority faculty and staff.

In 1969, Genesee County voters converted Flint Junior College into a countywide college: Genesee Community College.

When C.S. Mott died in 1973, Genesee Community College was renamed Charles Stewart Mott Community College.

There was tremendous growth during the 1970s in MCC’s occupational programs, but the late 1970s saw all the faculty get fired during another financial crisis.

Rozycki touched on the 1980s and said MCC entered the computer age. Student registration was fully computerized and classes were offered by television.

By the mid-1990s, classes were offered via videotape, television and the internet.

The process of building the Regional Technology Center (RTC) began in 1996 and the $40-million building opened in 2002.

In 2015, MCC launched its International Institute for international and intercultural programming, along with expanding its campus to downtown Flint in 2019 with the opening of a state-of-the-art Culinary Arts Institute at the corner of Second and Saginaw streets in the heart of the city’s downtown.

MCC was a major help during the Flint Water Crisis in 2014, providing the community water. During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020-2022, the college served as a vaccination station.

Several presidential candidates have visited the MCC campus such as Bill Clinton, John Kerry and Barack Obama.

The current president, Dr. Beverly Walker-Griffea, became the first African American and female president in 2014.

A major focus by Griffea has been increasing diversity at the school off East Court Street.

Rozycki recommended MCC to anyone interested in advancing their education.

“I don’t say this because I taught there, but I hear from a lot of students that they had a great experience,” Rozycki said. “Especially because of the contacts of the faculty. It makes a huge difference.”

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