A professor that formerly taught at Orange Coast College, Mary McChesney, recently donated $1-million towards a new planetarium for the college.
The money will be used for a Foucault pendulum, which can be used to demonstrate the planet Earth’s rotation. According to school officials, the new pendulum will be the only one of its kind in the orange county area. McChesney, 91 years old, hopes the planetarium will contribute to scientific studies at the college and in the surrounding communities.
Her partner, Adelyn Bonin, recently past away and McChesney wanted to make the donation in her honor. Bonin was also a professor at the college and retired in 1983 from teaching German. McChesney taught Spanish and English at the college for 33 years. She retired in 1983, at the same time as Bonin.
According to Doug Bennett, the executive director at the Orange College, McChesney has made many donations for school scholarships and the foundation over the years. He had heard she was planning to make a donation specifically towards the building of the planetarium, but he didn’t realize her donation would be so generous.
The college began building the planetarium in 2016, because the old one, from the 1950’s, was too old. The newly built planetarium will include an auditorium that seats 129 people and an exhibit hall that will showcase a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Science on a Sphere display globe.
Comparatively, the old planetarium could only accommodate 35 people. The new planetarium will be used for students at the college and grade school students, kindergarten through 12th grade as well. The entire community will benefit from the $20 million, newly built planetarium.
The funding for the project has come mostly from a 2012 bond measure. Another $2.6 million has come from individual donors, including McChesney/Bonin. The college plans to have the planetarium finished by the 2018 fall semester.
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