Retired Professor Gives $1 Million to Orange Coast College’s Planetarium

Mary McChesney spent more than 30 years teaching English and Spanish at Orange Coast College, and since her retirement in 1983 she’s continued to be part of the college’s growth. So it may come as no surprise that McChesney chose to demonstrate her appreciation for the college as an institution with a donation towards a new planetarium, but few expected such generosity.

The 91-year-old retires professor has said that the construction of a new planetarium is way to encourage students at the college and people in the community to have a greater appreciation for astronomy and learning in general.

It’s Orange Coast College’s commitment to being a community institution of education that encouraged McChesney to donate $1 million towards the construction of the planetarium. Her donation will go towards the completion of a Foucault pendulum, allowing the planetarium to accurately simulate the Earth’s rotation.

The donation, McChesney said, comes not just from her but from her late partner and fellow professor Adelyn Bonin, who taught German at Orange Coast College before retiring in 1983 along with McChesney.

While the dollar amount of this donation has urged many to point out the immense outpouring of support from McChesny, people like Doug Bennett wasn’t surprised she came to help out the college.

As Executive Director of the Orange Coast College Foundation, has stated that McChesney has spent her three decades of retirement involved with the foundation, particularly in the distribution of scholarship to prospective students. That McChesney chose to donate so much towards the planetarium is just a continuation of her commitment to higher education.

The old planetarium, which could only accommodate 35 attendants at a time, will be replaced by a 129-seat auditorium that is expected to open its doors in fall of 2018. This will include scheduling to welcome students (k-12) and members of the community in addition to those at the college.

About Orange Coast College:

Orange Coast College (OCC) has provided higher education opportunities to members of the Orange County community of Costa Mesa sine 1947. With over 25,000 students in attendance each semester, OCC offers more than 135 academic programs and career concentrations for them to pursue.

With a robust offering of educational programs, Orange Coast College continues to rank first in Orange County for the thousands of students that leave their community college to continue their education in University of California and California State University institutions across the state.

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