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Macomb University Center marks 25th anniversary

– Tuesday, September 13, 2016 12:00AM

Macomb Community College’s pioneering partnership model has brought advanced degree options to the community, reaching more than 175,000

Macomb Community College’s pioneering University Center is celebrating 25 years of advancing futures. Since opening its doors in Fall 1991 on the college’s Center Campus in Clinton Township, the Macomb University Center has grown to offer more than 75 programs – representing bachelor-degree completion through doctoral degrees – from 12 partner institutions to more than 3,000 students.

The Macomb University Center provides a meaningful alternative to “going away” to college or attending an isolated university extension center – merging the richness of an on-campus college experience with the convenience and practicalities of an extension center. More than 70 percent of those attending the University Center work full time, two-thirds live in Macomb County and half are 25 or older. 

"Bringing advanced degree programs directly to the residents of Macomb County 25 years ago was an important innovation to support our community’s economic vitality,” said James Jacobs, president, Macomb Community College.  “However, as significant as it was at that time, the role that the Macomb University Center plays in the community has never been more important as the expanding knowledge economy continues to drive higher requirements for educational credentials.” 

In 1988, Macomb County was the only one of the 75 largest counties in the nation without a four-year college or university within its boundaries. Bachelor-degree attainment in Macomb County was the lowest among the five-county southeast Michigan region, while good jobs with sustainable career pathways were increasingly requiring a four-year degree as a threshold credential for entry.

Armed with a vision for an innovative partnership program designed to cost effectively bring advanced degree programs to the residents of Macomb County, Albert Lorenzo, then-president of Macomb Community College (and now deputy Macomb County executive), was the driving force behind the college’s and community’s commitment to creating and establishing the Macomb University Center.  At its dedication ceremony, Lorenzo noted, “It’s not the completion of a building that we celebrate today, so much as the beginning of a new era in higher education in Macomb County. An era when the opportunities for educational attainment are not limited by where you happen to live.”

When it opened in Fall 1991, the University Center offered 13 bachelor-degree completion programs through its five founding partners in the areas of business, health services, and arts and sciences. Those five partners who took a chance with Macomb Community College on an unproven concept -- and who remain partners today – are Central Michigan University, Oakland University, University of Detroit Mercy, Walsh College and Wayne State University. They are joined by Davenport University, Ferris State University, Madonna University, Michigan State University, Northwood University, Rochester College and Western Michigan University. 

In 2009, the Macomb University Center was again pioneering a first-ever partnership in the country  –  a community college with a medical school –  Michigan State University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine (MSUCOM).  That year, the first class of 50 MSUCOM students began their training to become doctors. Three classes have since graduated, and the University Center now hosts about 200 MSUCOM students annually.

“While the Macomb University Center is an important educational location and destination for our community, it is more significantly a symbol of vital relationships and intense collaboration designed to ensure that Macomb County residents have the educational resources they need for success” said James Sawyer, provost, Macomb Community College.

About Macomb Community College

Macomb Community College ( is one of the nation’s leading community colleges, providing learning experiences to nearly 44,000 students annually.  Macomb nationally ranks in the top two percent in the number of associate degrees awarded by community colleges and is the largest grantor of associate degrees in Michigan. The college’s comprehensive educational programming includes pre-collegiate experiences, university transfer and career preparation programs, bachelor degree completion and graduate degree programs, workforce training, professional education and certification, and continuing education and enrichment opportunities.

Media Contact: Jeanne Nicol,, 586.445.7204