Introducing the New Orange Coast College Planetarium: Paving the Future with a $1 Million Donation

The Orange Coast College staff never expected to receive a substantial $1 million donation from a retired professor. Mary McChesney, a retired English and Spanish instructor who had previously taught numerous students, recently donated $1 million. Her donation is intended for the funding of the future planetarium's Foucault pendulum used to count the Earth's rotational cycles. College officials stated that the pendulum is a novelty item in Orange County. Describing its anticipated existence in the future planetarium, Professor McChesney stated that the building is going to represent a center devoted to scientific studies. She said that the planetarium will cater to enrolled students and people who live in nearby locations. The former instructor went on to say that her advanced age does not interfere with her love for Orange Coast College and the local community. Even though she is 91 years old, her passion for learning continues to grow. She stated that the planetarium will pave the way for new creative scientific endeavors. Read more:


There is another touching aspect to this story. Mary McChesney donated the money in memory of her now deceased partner, Adelyn Bonin. Ms. Bonin, a former German language professor at Orange Coast College, retired from teaching in 1983. McChesney mentioned that she felt confident in her decision to donate the money because of the fact that Adelyn would have wanted her to make the donation. She added that she hopes Adelyn is smiling down upon the project.


Retiring in 1983, the same year in which Adelyn retired, McChesney had taught students at Orange Coast College for 33 years. Doug Bennett, the executive director of the Orange Coast College Foundation, mentioned that McChesney had always been interested in the foundation. He said that the former professor contributed money to various projects throughout the years. He mentioned that she has also made donations to student scholarship funds. He said that he had heard rumors about her plans to make a large donation. However, he never suspected that she was going to make such a large contribution to the future planetarium.


Constructed during the 1950s, the old planetarium was simply not up to current concepts and innovations. Consequently, the original planetarium was demolished. College staff members officially broke ground for the future planetarium in 2016. The future edifice is based on a blueprint that demonstrates current technology. The future planetarium is going to house an impressive exhibit hall and an auditorium featuring 129 seats. In comparison with the old planetarium that only offered 35 seats, the new building will accommodate numerous students and visitors.


Once the building is completed, Orange Coast College students will have an excellent resource. Bennett said that the planetarium will cater to kindergarten students as well as high school seniors. Furthermore, people residing near the college will have opportunities to visit the planetarium and view the pendulum. He mentioned that Orange Coast College is going to receive special recognition because of the new building and the Foucault pendulum. With an estimated $20 million budget, Bennett mentioned that most of the funding for the new planetarium stemmed from a 2012 bond measure. In addition to the $1 million donated by Mary McChesney, the college has received another $1.6 million in donations from various patrons. Official Orange Coast College representatives estimate that the planetarium will open during the 2018 fall semester.


Orange Coast College (OCC) was founded in the year 1947. Students first started attending the community college in the fall of 1948 with intentions of acquiring two-year associate degrees. The college hosts around 24,000 undergraduate students. Offering classes in the arts and sciences, students can also study in order to acquire certificates of achievement. Located in Costa Mesa, the college is the third largest institution of higher learning within Orange County. The college is known for its excellent sports programs including baseball, basketball, football, soccer, golf and swimming classes. In addition to sports and foreign language classes, students can opt to study economics, theater arts, critical thinking and ethnic studies. One exciting addition to Orange Coast College includes a new Starbucks coffeehouse where students enjoy conversing with each other while sipping their favorite cold and hot beverages.


Orange Coast College features a wide array of clubs and an active Associate Student Body. However, the college does not feature any student housing facilities due to the fact that it is primarily a two-year college geared toward students who commute to classes. Students who want to live closer to the campus can find rooms for rent provided by local homeowners. In addition to the anticipated new planetarium structure, students currently take advantage of the remodeled Watson Hall containing a career center, financial aid office and a special department catering to the needs of veterans.

Follow them on Facebook and LinkedIn



Whether you want to ask us a question, would like to solve a problem, or just give us a suggestion, you’ll find many ways to contact us right here.


Phone: (916) 225-9835

Fax: (916) 225-9845


Subscribe and get the latest updates, news and more...