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Jul 06
Retired Professor Gifts $1 Million To Orange Coast College Planetarium

​The Orange Coast College Foundation has received a gift of $1 million from retired Spanish Professor Mary McChesney. The donation will fund a Foucault Pendulum for the College's Planetarium, which is expected to be completed in the Fall of 2018. 

McChesney, 91, is making the donation in honor of her late partner, Adelyn Bonin, who passed away in January of this year. Bonin — also a professor who taught German — retired from OCC in 1983 after 24 years of teaching.

"I know Lyn would be happy to do this. This is half hers," says McChesney. "I like to think she sees what we're doing, and she approves." 

OCC's Planetarium will be the first of its kind in Orange County, serving as a premiere science center for both college and grade school students. The facility will include a state-of-the-art theatre and presentation room with a 40-foot dome and theater style seating for 125. Construction on the concrete dome began earlier this summer. 

The Planetarium also will include an exhibit hall featuring a Science on a Sphere National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration display globe, and a Foucault Pendulum. The pendulum — which will be powered by an electromagnet and used to demonstrate the rotation of the earth — will be one of only a few in the state, and will be the only Foucault Pendulum in Orange County.  

After seeing a brochure detailing plans for the facility, McChesney knew that she wanted to contribute. 

"When I joined the faculty of Orange Coast College in 1950, I became a part of brother and sister scholars who loved to teach — that was the best decision I ever made," she says. "The College is now building a Planetarium, which will be a center of scientific studies for college students as well as the surrounding community. I have grown old, but my love for this college is very much alive. Here is the promise for an exciting future."