SC4 president puts the emphasis on 'community' with new Experience Center

St. Clair Community College President Dr. Deborah Snyder's vision of offering a hands-on learning experience is about to become reality.
St. Clair County Community College
President Dr. Deborah Snyder began in her role in 2016 focused on enhancing the student experience and re-establishing the college as an integral community partner.

That's why just four months into her term the visionary alumna, who had already launched numerous other initiatives, boarded a bus with SC4 faculty and staff members to visit the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum.

"I had the idea then to connect Ann Arbor specialists and resources with college experts to bring hands-on STEAM learning opportunities to our current and future students in the Blue Water Area," Dr. Snyder says. "That kind of broader partnership, to my knowledge, has not existed in a community college setting in Michigan, so I'm sure it was a little 'outside of the box' initially for some people."

The community will get to learn more about the way things work with hands-on activities at the St. Clair County Community College Experience CenterOnly two years later, Dr. Snyder's vision has become a reality.

SC4 recently announced an official partnership with the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum on the college’s 10,000-square-foot Experience Center, which will offer interactive exhibits on science, technology, engineering, arts and math (known as STEAM programming). Dr. Snyder, of course, is thrilled to fill the regional void and welcome more area residents and visitors to the college campus.

"The goal of the Experience Center is to attract learners of all ages," Dr. Snyder says. "We want to offer a robust experience, one that truly benefits our current students and attracts new students and visitors to the college for years to come. This is what the experts at the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum have done for years, and we are so grateful to partner with and learn from them.”

Mel Drumm, director of the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, is equally enthusiastic.

"Our success has been founded on the idea of community ownership and engagement. When the community embraces a concept, especially with education, they support it quite mightily," he says. "SC4 is so into the idea of being there for its community to help people learn and expand. What a natural partnership for us to work with such a forward-thinking group. No matter how old you are, we want to invite kids of all ages and look forward to the community letting us know their thoughts."There will be many fossils to explore at the Experience Center.

To help bring in the community and kick off the new partnership, SC4 is welcoming the general public to Super Science Day from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Nov. 3, for a free sneak preview of the new Experience Center partnership at the campus' Clara E. Mackenzie Building. The college also will offer future field trips to interested schools and organizations, beginning with a Nov. 2 special Super Science Day field trip for 265 Woodrow Wilson Elementary School and Memphis Elementary School students.


Guests at free Super Science Day will have the opportunity to conduct innovative experiments, engage with live animals, explore music and movement through a sonic display, experience life as an EMT, learn about solar and wind energy, see an amazing collection of fossils and specimens, and view SC4’s new live sturgeon exhibit, which is currently being installed.

The partnership with Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum is just the latest example of how Dr. Snyder's innovative thinking has benefited students and the community – and set the college up for future growth and success.

In August, SC4 became the first community college in Southeastern Michigan, and one of only a handful statewide, to offer student housing. Located right in the downtown area, The Dock is home to up to 80 students and resident assistants who share double-occupancy bedrooms, a kitchen and dining area, and a student lounge and laundry facilities.

"A growing number of SC4 students are interested in having more of a full college experience," Dr. Snyder says. "College housing is now helping provide that to them. Future generations of students will benefit greatly from the convenient access to a high-quality education, affordable cost of living and location in our thriving downtown community."

There are a variety of educational opportunities at the Experience Center.Another initiative uniting the downtown and campus is the new Elevate Meal Plan in which students, faculty, staff and community members can order meals via a mobile platform that offers discount prices at downtown Port Huron restaurants. SC4 is the only community college in Michigan to offer a meal plan partnership that partners with area restaurants.

"Dr. Snyder's support and direction on this meal plan has been instrumental," says Vice President of Student Services Pete Lacey. "It's a great complement to on-campus meal choices and will provide a wide variety of new options for students and employees. It also allows us to support and promote local restaurants, which will contribute to greater local economic growth."

Meanwhile, the college welcomed to campus more than 23,000 visitors last year through its robust arts programming. Additionally, more than 20,000 people have attended events at the newly renovated SC4 Fieldhouse, and the facility is set to host several national tournaments that will bring high school and college teams from all over the country--not to mention more than $750,000 to local businesses.

Community members, along with the area's businesses, have taken notice of Dr. Snyder's collaborative approach, says Thelma Castillo, CEO and president of the Blue Water Chamber.

"SC4 has reached out quite a bit to work with the business community to form partnerships and there is a real support of our downtown Port Huron area," she says. "That is symbolic and illustrates how they collaborate to make everything successful in our community. Their events and tournaments help all our businesses, whether it's retail or hospitality. We work really well with them and hope that continues."

The Experience Center will provide hands-on learning opportunities for young and old on the campus of St. Clair County Community College.As a leader known for thinking big--and delivering on ideas--Dr. Snyder remains committed to continuously enhancing the student experience and the college’s presence as a regional anchor institution through creativity, innovation, and determination. According to Dr. Snyder, that work is only possible with the leadership, input and support of many SC4 community members.

"I am beyond grateful to the many college employees, advocates, partners and friends who help us work toward maximizing student and community success each day," Snyder says. "We hope to see you all at Super Science Day on Nov. 3!"

For more information about Super Science Day or to make field trip inquiries, send an email to
The public is invited to explore the Experience Center at SC4 on Free Super Science Day, Nov. 3.


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