Meticulous, with a good sense of humor: the administrator looks back on his 24 years on the Jackson College board of trustees


JACKSON, MI – John Crist could see the pain in Ed Mathein’s eyes as they filled with tears when he explained he couldn’t serve another six-year term on the Jackson College board of trustees. .

Although his passion for seeing the college grow and evolve was always apparent, Crist, who served alongside Mathein for 16 of his 24 years on the board, knew it was time for his colleague to step away. and to spend more time with his family.

After all, Mathein has spent the better part of the past four decades volunteering his time and energy to countless commissions and councils.

“Let’s put it this way, he loves college, he really loves it,” Crist said of Mathein.

Mathein resigned from the board in April, with his vacant seat filled by Jackson County Deputy Sheriff Christopher Simpson. It marks the end of an era, as Mathein, the longest-serving board member, is the last remaining trustee to help hire current Jackson College president Dan Phelan in 2001.

In describing his desire to give back to the Jackson community, Mathein points to the community support he received at his thriving Jackson dental practice for over 45 years as motivation.

“When you’re in private service, you get all of your income from the community where you live,” Mathein said. “I have always felt a responsibility to help repay the community for the support they have shown me over all these years. I made a good living and it was thanks to the people I lived with and our neighbors and friends.

“I thought one way to reward them was to put my skills to use in education, because that’s where you can make the biggest difference in people’s lives.”

The college also helped shape Mathein’s future, as he earned an associate of science degree from Jackson Community College before earning a doctorate in dental surgery from the University of Detroit.

After serving in the United States Navy, Mathein returned to Jackson and opened a dental practice. He was also president of the Jackson District Dental Society from 1979 to 1980, before chairing the ethics committee of the Michigan Dental Association from 1986 to 1997. He was also president of the Jackson District United Way County Dental Professionals from 1980 to 1981, then from 2008 to the present day.

Mathein also served with the Jackson Lions Club and Jackson Jaycees. He served on the Jackson County Middle School District Health Professions Advisory Council and has been a member of the Jackson Host Lions Club since 1971, serving in all office positions, including president.

Jackson College first approached Mathein to see if he would be interested in joining its Alumni Association Board of Directors. He accepted, serving on the board from 1983 to 1990 before serving on the JC Foundation board from 1990 to 1997, with terms as chairman of both boards.

The next step was for Mathein to attend six months of college trustee meetings before a successful run for the board of trustees in 1998. He served four terms, using an almost “scientific” approach to breaking down the issues facing the college faced, while spending a lot of time preparing for meetings.

Phelan recalls that Mathein’s meticulous notes – often printed out and highlighted – were an essential part of any board meeting, and even in their interactions during the one-on-one meetings they had when Mathein chaired the board of directors. administration from 2008 to 2012.

“I could always count on Dr. Mathein to have read the advice package thoroughly,” Phelan said. “No matter how long it was or how much material it contained, he read it carefully. He read the minutes carefully and I could always count on him if there was an error in the minutes, he would point it out to us.

At meetings, Mathein was the member who “always has a question or a statement,” Crist said, which could frustrate other board members or those in attendance who wanted to skim through the agenda.

Mathein’s intentionality, Crist said, was always apparent and a sure sign of his interest.

“Ed would take the time to thank the president – ​​he would take the time to thank the other board members,” Crist said. “He took the time to recognize the students who came up to him and talked to him.”

While thorough preparation was his trademark as a board member, Phelan and Crist agree that Mathein juxtaposed his meticulousness with a good sense of humor.

“He’s just a good-natured person who’s very committed to this community, very committed to Jackson College as an alumnus and he’s distinguished himself on many levels, but he doesn’t seem to take himself too seriously.” , said Phelan.

“He brings a bit of light to every conversation and brings that humor, which puts people at ease and opens up avenues for conversations and creates brotherhood and community.”

Mathein is proud of the college’s growth during his tenure on the board – evidenced by his recent acceptance as a member organization of the Community College Innovation League Board of Trustees, which includes 20 principals generals of community colleges and districts around the world. .

“We’ve gone to extreme lengths to make sure this community has what it needs,” Mathein said.

That includes increased efforts to improve college minority student outcomes, Mathein said, and the creation of the Jackson County Early College program, a joint effort of the county’s 13 school districts. The program provides a 13th year of school, after which students can walk away with up to 60 college credits, or a degree or career certification, all relatively free for them and their families.

“We have made great strides in allowing those on the other end of the spectrum – those with skills and talents that have been somehow overlooked – to move forward at their own pace and pace in addition to ‘to help those who need help’, says Mathein.

Although his term on the university’s board of trustees is over, Mathein will not disappear from the Jackson community. He plans to stay active, including serving on the board of directors and volunteering at the dental clinic at the Center for Family Health.

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