Oct. 3 was a milestone for Lorain County Community College, marking the 50th anniversary of the opening of its Abbe Road campus.
“The community had a vision 50 years ago, and the college has delivered,” said LCCC President Dr. Marcia Ballinger.
The permanent campus opened in 1966, after holding classes at the Brownell Building in Lorain since 1964. LCCC’s charter was granted in July, 1963, and the college has had strong connections to the city of Lorain ever since.
“It is such an asset that we have here that can allow students to get a lot of their general education credits at a very reasonable cost,” said Mayor of Lorain Chase Ritenauer, a former Post Secondary Education (PSEO) student. “I think through the 50 years, certainly the institution has evolved, but what has not changed is what it has provided for the residents of Lorain County.”
The idea for an institution of higher education in the county was initiated by the League of Women Voters, community leaders, and local businesses, according to Ballinger. It wasn’t until Lorain County’s voters accepted a tax levy that the idea of a community college came to fruition.
“Back in 1964, when they established that first levy that helped fund the college, that was the community saying, ‘We’re willing to pay the higher taxes to support the growth of a community college because we feel higher education is important to the people of this county,’” said Dr. Jonathan Dryden, provost and vice president of academic and learner services at LCCC.
The college had 1,006 students when it first opened, and the realization came that a larger facility would be necessary.
“A committee studied 17 different locations during the winter of 1963-64,” Ballinger said, “and the Abbe Road location prevailed as the most desired location that would be accessible to all in Lorain County.”
The location of the LCCC campus has had an impact on its success over the years.
“One of the ones that you hardly ever consider after it exists is its location,” said Dr. Robert Beckstrom, dean of arts and humanities at LCCC.
In 1966 the college opened its first three buildings and LCCC became the first community college in Ohio to have a permanent campus, Ballinger said. The college has only grown since then; its first graduating class comprised of 33 students is now a fall semester enrollment of 12,500 in 2016.
Ballinger attributes much of the college’s success to its people.
“Our students are motivated to work hard and improve their lives,” she said. “Our faculty and staff are dedicated to going above and beyond to remove barriers to success.”