In 2014, Johnston Community College will celebrate its 45th anniversary. This celebration will come on the heels of this year’s recognition of the N.C. Community College System’s 50 years of service to the citizens of our great state.
Both occasions should give us pause to remember the humble beginnings of JCC, its visionary leadership, the progress it has made through the years and the potential it possesses.
Established in 1969, Johnston County Technical Institute became the 51st institution in the system, which now stands at 58 community colleges. Dr. John Tart, JCC’s first president, along with M. Brack Wilson, chairman of the board of trustees, led a valiant effort of initiating education and training opportunities for more than 500 newly-enrolled students during the inaugural fall quarter. From this humble beginning at its temporary campus in Four Oaks, the institution grew far beyond its earliest projections.
Dr. Donald Reichard, JCC’s second president, led the next wave of growth and development at the college. As a result of local and statewide bond funds, as well as generous personal and private contributions, the college has grown to include 177 acres at the main campus in Smithfield and multiple off-campus sites throughout the county.
Today, JCC offers more than 40 curriculum programs and a host of continuing education programs serving approximately 15,000 students and employing more than 600 full- and part-time employees. The college is represented in many portions of the county by the Rudolph Howell and Son Environmental Learning Center, commonly known as Howell Woods near the historic Bentonville Battlefield; the Johnston County Workforce Development Center in Clayton; the Cleveland Center; the Kenly Center; and classroom space in Benson.
Such opportunities have allowed JCC to have tremendous impact on the lives of many Johnston County citizens. Whether serving as a major employer, a catalyst for economic development via education and training, or a venue for entertainment in the Paul A. Johnston Auditorium, JCC has played a significant role in the quality of life in Johnston County. But we cannot rest on our laurels. We must be diligent in preserving the past while securing the future.
In November, the citizens of Johnston County will have a part in allowing that very effort. By voting to approve a local bond referendum in support of education, citizens will allow JCC to receive $7 million over the next three years. Such funds, as in the past, will assist the college in its never-ending quest of excellence and will help ensure that JCC is ready for the anticipated 48 percent population growth by 2032.
JCC would use its portion of the bond to evaluate and update the facilities master plan, to modernize buildings and enhance parking on campus and to renovate classrooms to provide a 21st-century educational experience.
What better 45th birthday present than to say yes to the future of JCC by voting yes in November?
David N. Johnson is president of Johnston Community College.