Southwest Michigan has lost an academic icon. Southwestern Michigan College founder Dr. Fred Mathews died Sunday at the age of 87. State Senator John Proos says he’s “deeply saddened” by the loss of a friend. He calls Mathews a “leader for all of Southwest Michigan” and a “voice for good government as long as I knew him.” Dr. Mathews founded SMC in the 1960s to fill a void in higher education in Cass County. His son, David, is the current SMC president and has served in that position for the past 20 years. Dr. Fred Mathews was the college’s chairman from 1964 to 2015.