Delaware County Community College (DCCC) administrators, students, faculty, alumni, neighbors and friends gathered Saturday to celebrate the school’s golden anniversary.
Activities included campus tours, games, refreshments, informational tables, burial of a time capsule, faculty demonstrations, homecoming for alumni, and the opportunity to meet new college President Dr. L. Joy Gates Black.
“This is a great opportunity to bring my family back here to see where I attended school,” said Mary Catherine Willings. “It’s a fun day for everyone.”
In addition, free vision screenings, an interactive display of World War I artifacts, mathematical magic tricks, and faculty artwork was on display.
Initially called “The Community College of Delaware County,” the school opened five decades ago in rented classrooms at Ridley High School. At that time there were 307 students enrolled in evening classes.
Today, the college has eight campuses in both Delaware and Chester counties, with 27,000 credit and non-credit students. DCCC offers online courses and a full compliment of STEM classes, which did not exist 50 years ago.
A highlight of the anniversary event was the burying of a time capsule by the new president who began her tenure on July 1. Gates Black is the school’s fourth president, its first woman and first African American.
She is the former vice chancellor for academic affairs and success at Tarrant County Community College in Fort Worth, Texas. She comes to DCCC with decades of experience at both community colleges and four year institutions. Gates Black was selected by the DCCC Board of Trustees in January following a national search.
The establishment of the community college was not easy. Following the 1963 enactment of Act 484 by the Pennsylvania legislature, which created public community colleges, Delaware County Council created the Council for High Education.
Following a survey, where 57 percent of Delaware County residents responded in the affirmative for a community college, the state Board of Education approved the plan for DCCC and 21 municipalities signed on for sponsorship.
Following its initial time renting space in the Ridley School District, in 1968 the college purchased the Stull estate in Marple for $1.2 million. Plans for the property were initially declined by the Marple Newtown Zoning Hearing Board and the case was heard by the state Supreme Court.
The court took the side of the college and construction of the school’s first building began in 1972.
DCCC was officially dedicated Nov. 10, 1974.
Today, the school offers programs such as high school dual enrollment, lifelong learning, career development, English a a second language, GED preparation and more.
“It is a testament to the college and its founders that it has not only survived, but thrived and touched the lives of thousands of people in Delaware and Chester counties, and across the nation and world,” reads the school newsletter. “We are very proud of our graduates, students, faculty, administrators and staff. Here is to 50 years of wonderful teaching and learning.”