Pennies for Heavens – $1 million Donation for OCC

Mary McChesney, retired English and Spanish teacher, has generously given the Orange Coast College a gift that is out of this world: $1 million. Since retiring in 1983, Ms. McChesney has continued to be a contributor to the college, although not to this extent. The $1 million in funds is to help finance the new planetarium that is currently under construction.


McChesney’s donation is to specifically fund a Foucault pendulum, the only one found in the Orange County. A Foucault pendulum is a device that demonstrates the earth’s rotation. Construction on the new planetarium began in 2016. Gold Coast had decided against remodeling and updating the old planetarium because of the vast changes which have occurred in the scientific area. A new building was needed to fuel the new technology.


The $20 million project will house an auditorium and exhibit hall. Not only will the planetarium be state of the art, but it also is increasing the size from the old building, with a capacity of 129. This is a critical improvement as the planetarium is not just for the college students, but for the entire community.


Gold Coast Community College is one of California’s top three community colleges, offering students a 2 year associate’s degree. The ability to transfer credits to a four year college has evolved to be a proven track for students. Gold Coast boasts the highest transfer rate in Orange County. With an enrollment of over 24,000, students find a fine balance between academics, athletics, and social services.



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