Butch honored for 45 years on Bay board

Thomas Butch

ESCANABA — Bay College Board of Trustees Chair Thomas Butch was honored for his four and a half decades of service on the board during the Michigan Community College Association’s Summer Conference in Acme, Mich., last month.

Butch said he received his award during an honors banquet at the conference.

“They award pins for members who have accomplished five-year increments of service,” he said.

At this time, Butch was given a pin in recognition of his 45 years on the Bay College Board of Trustees. He believed the pin for the next-highest number of years given out at the event was for 30 years of service.

“I was very humbled and proud to receive the honor, and hopefully it verified our success as a community college,” he said.

Butch’s time on the Bay College Board of Trustees officially began when he was appointed in October 1974.

“I’ve always been very interested in education,” he said.

Before he joined the Bay College Board of Trustees, Butch had graduated from the University of Michigan and returned to the area to practice law. At the time, he started paying attention to Bay and its mission.

“I looked for ways to assist,” he said.

Butch said the board’s other members at the time helped him gain experience as a newcomer.

“I was very fortunate — we had a terrific board,” he said.

Other people on the board when Butch joined included Joseph Heirman, Arol Beck, Dorothy Lindquist and Charles Follo.

“They had a culture of ‘students come first,’ and fortunately, we’ve been able to maintain that virtually all of the time I’ve been on the board,” Butch said.

In March 1979, Butch actually resigned from the board due to a perceived conflict of interest when his sister was hired for a full-time job at Bay. He returned to the board that September — Follo had passed away, and Butch’s sister was no longer employed by the college. Butch was reappointed to fill Follo’s term and has served on the board ever since.

While looking back at his time on the Bay College Board of Trustees, Butch spoke about some of his proudest accomplishments as a board member.

“A couple years ago, Washington Monthly did surveys of all community colleges in the nation,” he said.

According to Butch, Bay ranked 30th out of 700 community colleges involved with the survey, which was based on objective data supplied by community colleges. He went on to say Bay was the only Michigan community college in the survey’s top 50.

Butch also said one of his favorite things about serving as a board member is seeing Bay students graduate each spring.

“It’s a thrill at the end of every year when you see everyone’s hard work result in all those smiling graduates come into the gymnasium for graduation and present them with their degrees,” he said.

He thanked others involved with Bay for their roles in making the college what it is today.

“We have been blessed to have excellent presidents, administrators, faculty and support staff. All these people have continuously made student success their prime objective,” Butch said.