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​50th Anniversary Memories

It’s been great teaching students to excel not only in the classroom setting but hopefully also with their life after college. Being at Richland has given me the chance to practice a career for which I have always been grateful. It was amazing how fast RLC grew with students when we first opened in August 1972. We were energized by enthusiastic students. Of course, I was much younger (24) and ready to tackle what came my way. It may be surprising to hear that at the beginning of each school year, I still feel that contagious enthusiasm that comes from Richland students.

Randy Waterman
School of Engineering, Business and Technology
Richland College, 1972

A Radical Educational Experiment …

While finishing a graduate degree at the University of South Florida, I read a journal article about a new, innovative community college district being established in Dallas. The district had distinguished itself by opening its first campus in an urban center rather than a suburb, and it was fueled by the passage of a $41.5 million bond issue. Citizens of Dallas County clearly embraced the ambitious plan to open seven brand-new community colleges.

To my surprise, Dr. Jan LeCroy was scheduling interviews on my campus for faculty at Eastfield College, scheduled to open in the fall of 1970. Although I had already accepted a position at the University of South Florida, I was curious enough to interview with Eastfield’s first president. I went for the interview and was taken by LeCroy’s intensity, spirit and sincerity. He offered me a job on the spot, and I accepted.

I left Florida a few weeks later, heading for Dallas where I would teach humanities at Eastfield College in Mesquite. When I arrived on the Eastfield campus, it was still under construction. But the minute I entered the temporary buildings, I could feel the excitement of a new experiment. Jan LeCroy had convinced me that the emphasis at this new college was on teaching, not research, and that its operation would be guided by the “community college philosophy” in a bold departure from the traditional university. Over and over I heard the phrase “person-centeredness” as a way to name the shift of focus to this new philosophy.

I came to Eastfield out of curiosity and stayed for an entire career. All of President LeCroy’s promises materialized. I felt part of a radical educational experiment that was focused on student learning in an environment that encouraged creativity and risk taking. The vision of Bill Priest and R. L. Thornton to make higher education conveniently and inexpensively available to all citizens of Dallas County became a reality. I have been proud over my 45-year career to be part of that noble experiment.

Bob Whisnant
Coordinator and Professor of Humanities
Eastfield College, 1970

Words cannot express my feelings of appreciation for being with the Dallas County Community College District for the last 45 years. Forty-one staff or faculty members are still employed since 1970, which is an amazing statistic. Mountain View College students have experienced many successes after their community college careers, which gives faculty and staff a feeling of satisfaction. When my friends or family ask when will I retire, I tell them I have no retirement plans because I have always looked forward to seeing the students of our school.

Charles Wickersham
Instructor, Mathematics
Mountain View College, 1970

Coming to “work” the first day at Richland College in August of 1972, I was very excited. It was my dream come true. Indeed, if I am ever discouraged (rarely), I walk the way I did on that first walk, and it rekindles my spirit of gratefulness for the opportunity I have to work at Richland. I see our neat campus, our faculty teaching in their classrooms as I walk by, and all of our staff and administrators at work on lawn mowers to computers … some even talking to each other in spite of computers, though the face-to-face communication is definitely less.

Now, 43 years later, a lot has changed and most of my colleagues have retired or gone underground permanently … but I have often said my goal is to be the last surviving member of the charter group of ‘72. I have some grief for all those who have passed, but mostly joy for the opportunity and excitement of starting yet another academic year!

Dr. Gary G. John
Professor, Learning Enrichment and Academic Development
Richland College, 1972

After attending a community college for two years, I was sold on their mission and purpose. In my mind, DCCCD has been the model for community colleges for almost 50 years. It has been a very rewarding experience teaching at Richland since it opened in 1972. I am honored and very grateful to have been a part of something that impacts lives for a lifetime.

Ken Lott
Instructor, School of Mathematics
Richland College, 1972

Mountain View College has served the people of Dallas County for 45 years. Its impact on the region can never be truly measured, but it is enormous! I have spent my entire career at Mountain View and cannot be thankful enough for the opportunity to be a small part of such a heroic enterprise! Ours is the noblest of causes!

Paul Benson
Instructor, English, Religion and Humanities
Mountain View College, 1970

A number of us came straight from graduate school to help open Richland in 1972. Most of us thought it would be a good place to be for a couple of years before we moved on. That was 43 years ago. It continues to be a special place because of some very special people.

Fred Newbury
Instructor, Engineering, Business and Technology
Richland College, 1972

About half of community college students nationwide are first-generation college kids. I am one myself, and I’ve loved teaching classes with some of those people present. I went on (to earn) a doctorate, and so can any of my students! Also, in recent years, I’ve particularly enjoyed the heavy foreign student composition of my classes. Most of them are bright and eager and work hard — as do frequently some Texas students!

Paul Magee
Faculty, Liberal Arts Department
North Lake College, 1977

Why am I still teaching at Brookhaven College? Because:

  • I get energized when I perceive wide-open, attentive and interested eyes of our truly diverse student population. What a humanly peak experience that is to truly connect with another human who is open to learning.
  • I have a family of supportive colleagues who value education and are proud to be called “teachers.”
  • I am part of a campus culture that believes in consensus-based decision making.
  • I am rewarded by providing service to a community of individuals who appreciate me.
  • I have the opportunity to use student and colleague interactions to facilitate my own personal development.
  • By applying evolving technology, I am able to create new educational delivery systems.
  • I stay forever young by being a participant in student/teacher interactions.

Stephen Link, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology
Brookhaven College, 1978

What a privilege to be a part of DCCCD since 1972 — first, as a student at Eastfield in 1972 and then later in 1978 having the opportunity to be a part of the charter staff opening the Brookhaven College campus. While the people and buildings may have changed, the mission is still the same … transforming lives through education.

Sarah A. Ferguson
Executive Dean, Educational Resources
Brookhaven College, 1972

Working for DCCCD since 1977 has been a pleasurable experience for me. I have worked with a lot of very knowledgeable faculty and staff. I have been given the opportunity to positively affect the lives of many students over the years. It is good to get feedback of how they went on to become successful professionals in our community and beyond. I love my job!

Joe Wheeler
Biology
North Lake College, 1977

It has been my pleasure to have been a part Cedar Valley College for the past 37 years, and to have helped inspire and launch the careers of many talented commercial music students. It is always rewarding to interact with the students on a daily basis in lecture classes and performing ensembles and see their knowledge and performance levels mature to a professional level. Looking back, I can’t imagine having spent my teaching career at any other educational institution, and I am thankful that DCCCD had the foresight to bring specialized programs like Commercial Music and Recording Technology to the state of Texas and the CVC campus.

Roger Dismore
Music Coordinator
Cedar Valley College, 1977