Retired Professor Donates $1 Million to Orange Coast College Planetarium Construction Project

The planetarium project at Orange Coast College recently received a significant donation from a retired instructor. Retired professor Mary McChesney has given the college $1 million, which will be used to construct a device demonstrating the Earth’s rotation called a Foucault pendulum. Once the project is completed, this will make the Orange Coast College Planetarium the only one in Orange County with such an advanced device.


McChesney is now 91 years old and taught English and Spanish at the college for more than 33 years at the college before retiring in 1983. In a media statement about her gift, she went into more details about why she made such a generous donation to Orange Coast College’s planetarium project. McChesney says her motivation behind the gift was to honor her late partner, Adelyn Bonin, who passed away in January. Bonin was also a professor at the college, where she taught German before she also retired in 1983.


Once construction of the planetarium is finished in 2018, it will be one of the biggest in the area, with an auditorium seating up to 129 people. The community college used to have a small planetarium with a seating capacity of 35. The building was torn down to make space for the new project. The new planetarium will serve not only students at the college, but also the local community, helping K-12 students learn more about astronomy.


According to officials at Orange Coast College, a budget of $20 million has been allocated towards the project, with most of the funding being provided by a bond measure dating back to 2012. Private donations amounted to just over $2.6 million, which includes McChesney’s $1 million gift.


Orange Coast College is a community college located in Costa Mesa, California. It was founded in 1947, with the first classes opening up in 1948. Since then, the college has grown considerably and now has an enrollment of 25,000, the majority of them coming from California. Orange Coast College provides numerous educational programs, including two-year associate degrees and continuing education programs awarding diplomas or certificates. Many notable people are graduates of the college, including politicians, entertainers, professional athletes, business leaders and journalists.


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