ACC, MacMaster blessings to Northeast Michigan

The university’s mascot was the Hilltoppers

That should have been the first clue.

The college students referred to the windy, twisting road up the hill to get there as the “cow path to culture.”

The truth is my wife’s alma mater, West Liberty State University in West Virginia, is a beautiful campus that offers a quality education at an affordable price. The simple fact, however, is that it is located off the beaten path.

There are many institutions of higher learning across the country just like West Liberty, with Alpena Community College being one of them.

Those colleges and universities serve an important role in providing residents where they are located an opportunity for further education that those residents might otherwise never have been afforded.

Thus, when you read a story like the one Monday in The News talking about ACC having the highest graduation rate of any community college in Michigan last year, I get excited. I am happy for the good people who teach and attend classes there. I am thrilled for the region, as every graduation means another potential hire into the area’s workforce.

ACC President Don MacMaster is a really good person. Then again, he is but the most recent of a long string of quality presidents — names like Joynton and Newport — who provided solid leadership at the college in years past.

I first knew MacMaster when he was the adviser for the college newspaper, then known as the Polemic. He and I swapped journalism stories of events we had covered or investigations that had been conducted in places elsewhere. Once I discovered MacMaster had a journalism connection, I immediately understood we were kindred spirits who would share many of the same visions.

MacMaster went on and worked himself up the administrative ladder at ACC until he reached the top as ACC president. In that role, he has steered the college through impressive infrastructure additions and renovations, oversaw exciting new course curriculums and studies, and helped ACC navigate through the days of COVID-19 and the educational disruptions that forced students and teachers to have to deal with it.

It hasn’t always been easy.

But, then, anything in life that is worthwhile normally isn’t.

I believe the hard work it takes to get there makes the goal that much more meaningful once it is obtained.

Perhaps the thing I like most about MacMaster is that he is a “salt of the earth” type of guy. Humble and certainly not pretentious, he goes about his business utilizing common sense and fairness to guide his decision-making.

Thus, as I read the story by reporter Steve Schulwitz on ACC’s accomplishment, I was not at all surprised to see MacMaster deflecting praise to others.

“I couldn’t be prouder of the ACC team,” he said of the college obtaining the impressive achievement.

Northeast Michigan residents are fortunate to have such a quality higher education facility here at home.

News of achievements like the high graduation rate at ACC helps all of us understand just what a blessing that really is for you, your children, and your grandchildren. Bill Speer recently retired as the publisher and editor of The News. He can be reached at bspeer@thealpenanews.com.


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