A Retired Professor and a Planetarium Donation

“I have grown old, but my love for this college is very much alive. Here is the promise for an exciting future,” said Mary McChesney, a retired professor from Orange Coast College.


It all started back in 2016 when a planetarium from the 1950s was agreed to be torn down and shortly was. “Technology has changed so much for planetariums that we really needed to build something new,” said Doug Bennett, the executive director of the Orange Coast College Foundation. With the old one gone, planning immediately went into the creation of a brand new planetarium for the college. And so when the planning was all completed all that remained was acquiring the funding and McChesney was more than happy to put forth a donation of her own. You can only imagine the looks of surprise on everyone’s face when the professor presented her donation which was a grand total of $1 million.


McChesney’s donation is a major one as it’s roughly a 1/20th of the new planetarium’s total budget of $20 million. So far the college has managed to amass $2.6 million for the planetarium including McChesney’s donation, but they also have funds from a 2012 bond measure. Currently, Orange Coast College plans to have the new planetarium up and running by the autumn 2018 semester and have it serve the students of the local community between kindergarten and 12th grade as well as be open to residents of the community as well. One massive difference between the new planetarium and the old one is that the new planetarium will be able to have seats for 129 people, whereas the old one could only seat 35.


Founded in 1947, with its first classes happening in the fall of the following year, Orange Coast Community College is located in Orange County, California while it is more directly located in the city of Costa Mesa. It focuses on providing Associates Degrees for art and science fields. It also provides certifications of achievement and transferable degrees. On a regular average, the college enrolls roughly 24,000 undergraduate students.


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