“As we think about all the contributions that women have made for the advancement for our community, as well as higher education, it’s a great opportunity to celebrate the role women have had in the creation of Lorain County Community College,” said Lorain County Community College President Dr. Marcia Ballinger. “Women have played a very historic role in the creation of the college.”
The founding of LCCC in 1963 was spurred by a variety of factors, mostly economic. However, a great deal of credit goes to Lorain County’s League of Women Voters (LWV).
“Back in 1963, when our institution was being chartered, it was a petition that was lead by the League of Women Voters in Lorain County,” Ballinger explained. “So we became the first community college chartered in the state of Ohio.”
In Lorain County, a qualified workforce was needed for the auto manufacturers and steel plants, according to Ballinger. Administrators and faculty from Oberlin College, the first institution in the world to become co-educational, worked with the LWV to file a petition in Columbus. The charter for LCCC, Ohio’s first community college with a permanent campus, shortly followed.
Since then, LCCC has enrolled about 115,00 women.
Of course, much has changed for women in education in the last 50 years.
“I think there’s more opportunity for female voices. I think originally when I started in academia, I felt like I had to be ‘masculine’,” said Tammy Bosley, instructor and program coordinator for the Communication department at LCCC. “It is interesting, because I don’t consider myself a ‘girly-girl’, but I felt this pressure that I had to look at research as a male academic would look at it.”
Remembering women and the role they’ve played throughout history is important, according to Ballinger.
“To think about how significant the role that, whether if it’s women at the college, in our community, in our nation’s history, and in our world, have played advancing society and advancing causes and advancing history,” Ballinger said. “It’s meaningful and we learn from that. We take that to the next level. Not just recognizing, but celebrating it.
Women’s History Month’s national observance began just 30 years ago, in 1987.
“Initially women weren’t in history. We were just kind of this marginalized group of people that were facilitating things, but we weren’t in the spotlight,” Bosley said. “So, now that we’ve kind of infiltrated the world, it’s important to see the kind of impact we’ve had because we were there all along,” Bosley said.
Representation matters and it’s important to have female role models in all areas of education.
“Having role models that others can look up to helps inspire and to motivate. I think that’s important as well. In fields like STEM, that’s even more critical because often times we recognize that there aren’t often role models in career areas like that,” Ballinger said. “Not only are we here to serve the community, but we inspire women who continue to give back to our community in so many ways.”
For students, similar changes have taken place. For Bosley, who is in the process of earning her Ph.D, a change for women has occurred at each level of her education.
“When I was an undergrad, I was always hesitant to speak up. In high school it seemed like girls would speak up more, then when you get to college, it seemed like boys were speaking up more,” Bosley said. “I remember thinking it was weird because I went a whole semester in a class without ever raising my hand. “I really just felt like I was afraid of what i had to contribute. Then when I got my Master’s, I was still was a little afraid. But now that I’m a student, all the women are willing to say things, even if it’s contrary to what the opinion has been in the conversation.So I see a lot more collaboration and willing to be a voice of dissent that i haven’t seen before,” Bosley said.
Women have come a long way across every position on campus, as well.
Last year, Ballinger became the college’s first female president, a role she doesn’t take lightly.
“Having known the history of the college during its first 50 years, it’s quite an honor to serve as the first female president of Ohio’s first community college. I hold that in deep regard, and am very humbled by the opportunity to be in that position,” Ballinger said.