Orange Coast College Receives a $1 Million Donation from Retired Professor Mary McChesney

Orange Coast College Planetarium

In the middle of working on the construction of a brand new planetarium located at Orange Coast College, the department received a $1 million donation. Mary McChesney, a retired Orange Coast College language professor, made the generous donation. The college plans to use her contribution for the funding of a Foucault pendulum. The pendulum is a useful tool in demonstrating the number of times that the Earth rotates. According to local officials, the pendulum is an innovative device that has not previously had a home in Orange County. Professor McChesney stated that the Orange Coast College planetarium is going to attract numerous college students who are interested in pursuing scientific careers. In addition, her expectations are that many local residents will also discover that the planetarium is an educational and intriguing place to visit.


Mary McChesney mentioned that even though she is now 91 years old, her love for the college continues to inspire her to help the staff and students. She said that the planetarium promises to offer an exciting adventure for future students, professors and community members. She believes that the college will continue to attract new followers who are intrigued by the planetarium and its technologically advanced pendulum. Professor McChesney said that she donated the pendulum as a tribute to Adelyn Bonin, her recently deceased partner. Bonin was a colleague at Orange Coast College. Her former students remember her as the professor who taught them how to read and speak the German language.


McChesney said that her donation would have made Adelyn extremely happy. She also mentioned that the gift is shared with Adelyn Bonin. McChesney said that she imagines Adelyn dwelling in another realm. In her imagination, Adelyn is looking down at the donation and the things that it will accomplish. McChesney firmly believes that Adelyn definitely approves of the $1 million gift. The two former professors shared a common love for languages. According to Doug Bennett, the executive director of the Orange Coast College Foundation, Professor McChesney taught both English and Spanish at Orange Coast College for 33 years. She retired in 1983, the same year in which Adely Bonin retired. Bennett stated that McChesney had always been interested in making contributions to scholarship funds as well as the foundation.


The old planetarium that had existed since the 1950s was demolished. Bennett said that the college needed a planetarium reflecting current advances in technology. The ground for the new planetarium was officially broken in 2016. The former building seated approximately 35 people. Plans for the new planetarium include an auditorium containing 129 seats and an exhibit hall. In addition to offering students a scientific resource, Bennett added that students of all ages, including children, are welcome to visit the new facility. The planetarium has a $20 million budget. Bennett said that most of the funding was from a 2012 bond measure. In addition to the bond measure, people donated around $2.6 million, an amount that includes the donation made by Professor McChesney. Orange Coast college officials plan to open the planetarium's doors during the fall semester of 2018. Students planning to attend the college at that time can look forward to enjoying the new facility.


Orange Coast College consists of a campus with 164 acres. Situated in Costa Mesa, Orange County, Orange Coast College is located near some of the most picturesque beaches in Southern California. The college was originally founded in 1947. Students began taking classes in 1948. Since the beginning of the college's history, Orange Coast College has witnessed tremendous growth. Today, the college is known as one of the most prestigious community colleges in the United States. Each semester, more than 25,000 students enroll in classes. Orange Coast College has excellent academic programs. Offering more than 135 careers, the college also offers a nationally recognized nautical program. Approximately 50% of the enrolled students major in programs focused on technical careers.


Orange Coast College is a member of the Coast Community College District. The college has fall, winter, spring and summer classes. Students graduating from the college receive accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. The college features numerous clubs and sports options for students. The college does not offer any on-campus apartments for students. However, students can often find rooms for rent in local residences. Orange Coast College has witnessed massive changes during the past several years. College officials opened a new library in 2008 and hired contractors to remodel the Lewis Science Building. In 2015, the college witnessed completed construction on a contemporary Math, Business and Computing Center. The highly anticipated new planetarium is another current project scheduled for completion in 2018. The remodeled campus even includes a Starbucks coffeehouse offering a favorite haunt for students.

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Orange Coast College has been featured before on California Blog. Read the article here