SIDNEY — In 1965, a small college opened in the heart of Montcalm County with the purpose of offering knowledge and expanding the minds of local residents eager to take their education to the next level.
Fast forward to the present day and Montcalm Community College (MCC) is celebrating a lengthy history of 50 years that has offered educational opportunities to thousands of students in a variety of fields of work.
MCC officially kicked off its “Creating Futures: Then, Now, Always” 50th anniversary celebration Friday afternoon with a picnic for its faculty and staff.
More than 100 employees gathered on the college’s Sidney campus to enjoy fellowship in anticipation of a year-long celebration in commemoration of the college’s 50 years.
“Our colleagues have helped make MCC the great place that it is,” MCC President Bob Ferrentino said. “As we embark on our golden anniversary, we wanted to celebrate the accomplishments of our first 50 years with our staff and faculty as we anticipate a year of celebrating with our community supporters as well.”
Ferrentino said the college is looking forward to the next 50 years of serving the community.
“We will continue to partner with our communities to deliver on the value MCC provides, and to work with our business, industry and community leaders to provide the education and training needed to help our region continue to be economically prosperous,” he said.
MCC Board of Trustees Chairwoman Karen Carbonelli said she is also looking forward to spending the 2014-2015 school year highlighting the history of the college.
“For 50 years we’ve been providing opportunities for people to enhance their education, and that’s pretty exciting,” she said.
MCC was established by a majority vote on March 2, 1965. It was the culmination of efforts by a citizen committee, which studied the feasibility of establishing a community college in the area. Initial board members were Grace Greenhoe of Carson City, Dr. Harold Steele of Greenville, Beatrice E. Doser of Edmore, Stanley Ash of Greenville, Joseph Cook of Lakeview and James Crosby of Greenville.
A contest was held to name the college. A total of 90 entries were submitted. Some of the suggestions included George Romney Community College, to commemorate then-Governor George Romney, who was supportive of the establishment of community colleges, and Spudale Community College, Gibson-Ore-Ida Community College and Fertile Acres Community College, because of the agricultural nature of the community. The winning name, Montcalm Community College, was entered by Dorothea Krampe of Coral, Earl Eshelman of Crystal and David Pritchard of Stanton. It became official in April 1965.
In June, the board appointed Dr. Clifford Bedore as administrative assistant with Maurice Swift as the dean of vocational-technical studies. Soon thereafter, Dr. Donald Fink was named as the first college president.
Several locations were considered for a campus site, with the board selecting the 158-acre Alma Anderson farm east of Sidney, which remains the college’s main campus. Gov. Romney headed the ground-breaking ceremony on Sept. 26, 1966. More than 1,000 people gathered to witness the official start of construction.
According to historical documents, the governor called the speedy progress of the school “a fine example of what citizen involvement can do.”
The lack of facilities in 1966 did not deter the beginning of classes. Records show that Vicki Bartholomew was the first student enrolled at MCC. When classes began in September 1966, she was joined by 184 others. By spring, enrollments jumped to 229 and continued to grow.
Since then, more than 100,000 learners have pass through the college’s doors.
During the next year, MCC will host community events, alumni and friends gatherings and historical celebrations. An MCC history book will be unveiled next spring.
In addition, the college has partnered with The Daily News to publish 50 stories representing the 50 years of history.
The series will feature 50 stories spotlighting MCC history, alumni and other topics relevant to the college. The stories also will be posted on MCC’s website.
Visit www.montcalm.edu/50years for more information.