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Celebrate Impact with Dr. Dale Nesbary

Dr. Dale Nesbary is the recent recipient of the first ever Impact Award, which was presented at the Community Foundation for Muskegon County’s annual gathering to Celebrate Impact on October 7, 2021.

The event welcomed everyone in Muskegon County to come together and honor the work being done to create a vibrant community with great opportunities for all. At the end of the evening, Dr. Dale Nesbary was announced as the recipient of the inaugural Impact Award. The Impact Award recognizes an individual in the community who has gone above and beyond to advance education, foster a dynamic local economy, and promote prosperity for all. The winner also receives a $5,000 grant to give to a local nonprofit or group whose work aligns with one or more of those focus areas.

Dale K. Nesbary, Ph.D. was born and raised in Twin Lake, which he affectionately refers to as “the little town with one blinking light.” After moving away and coming back to Muskegon County after 35 years, Dr. Nesbary says it’s been gratifying to return and offer some support for change in the community. 

After being appointed the tenth president of Muskegon Community College in 2009, Dr. Nesbary set a goal to raise 55 million to be used on campus and throughout downtown to make a difference. While few community members believed this goal was possible, Dr. Nesbary was determined. After working for different legislators, a research firm, and the mayor of Boston, he was ready to get to work.

Since his appointment, Dr. Nesbary led a $24 million bond authorization approved by Muskegon County voters, while the college has secured more than $21 million in grants and private gifts to support the most ambitious upgrade of its facilities since the construction of the main campus in 1967. 

“Our first success was a $4.6 million grant supporting our Science Center,” said Dr. Nesbary. “After that, others began to believe and see the vision. We were trying to make the case to the community that we could indeed achieve our vision.”

Among many other professional accomplishments during his tenure, Muskegon Community College has been named the number one community college in Michigan twice out of 28 institutions by BestColleges and and a top 30 community college nationally out of 1,200 by Value Colleges. Dr. Nesbary attributes this to the high-quality faculty and staff at Muskegon Community College. When it comes to creating impact, Dr. Nesbary says that you just have to believe in yourself. 

“My parents believed we could do anything,” said Dr. Nesbary. “They encouraged us to follow our dreams and to never take ‘no’ for an answer. I was told I wasn’t graduate student material in college, so I earned my Ph.D. in part to prove them wrong. Don’t ever assume that you are not the person to do the work. Insert yourself and don’t let others define you.”

Whether you’re 15 or 80, Dr. Nesbary encourages education as an added advantage to success.

“Anyone has the capacity to have a major impact,” said Dr. Nesbary. “Everywhere I’ve lived, I’ve never seen people with more capacity than here. Do the work. Don’t assume that a small community means you can’t do it. You have the capacity. Find the right people and focus on what you want to accomplish. Be the change you want to see.”