CLINTON — Clinton Community College marks 75 years in the Clinton community this year.
Clinton Community College held an event Sept. 9, celebrating 75 years. Clinton Community College opened its doors Sept. 9, 1946, as Clinton Junior College, after passage of a public referendum.
Paul B. Sharar was the first dean of the college, with the college’s foundation now bearing his name.
Housed in the Clinton High School building, more than half of the first class of 86 students were World War II veterans having just returned home from the war. Many students in the first years were high school graduates looking ahead at their options.
The college continued to grow through the years and eventually outgrew its shared quarters at the high school. Clinton Junior College moved into a new building at 1000 Lincoln Blvd. in Clinton in September 1965, with 555 day students enrolled in the college. The college today is still located in the same building.
The college has seen many changes over the past 56 years, including the college changing its name to Clinton Community College. Clinton Community College became part of the Eastern Iowa Community College District, which it continues to be a part of today. The Eastern Iowa Community College district consists of Clinton Community College, Muscatine, Community College and Scott Community College.
Clinton Community College’s main campus has experienced changes, with major structural additions constructed. In 1995, Clinton Community College opened the Clinton Community College Technology Center on Manufacturing Drive. Formerly known as the Graphic Arts Technology Center of Iowa, the 22,000-square-foot facility one mile from campus is a training facility and technology resource for the graphic arts industry and the Engineering Technology program.
The Adult Basic Education and Community Education programs in 2007 relocated to the Clinton Community College Learning Center, 944 Lincoln Blvd. The space offers flexible in classroom scheduling and functionality. Students were welcomed to the science addition in 2010, which houses two state-of-the-art labs and a larger prep room and faculty offices. High definition classrooms and lecture halls now feature up-to-the minute technology and configurations that enhance the student experience.
The family of Bob and Frances Bickelhaupt in 2014 donated their arboretum to Clinton Community College. Established in 1970, the arboretum is a living classroom and community gem where people can explore nature. Clinton Community College environmental science and art classes are held at the arboretum. The annual Arts at the Arb features unique artwork and gives visitors an opportunity to explore art and nature. For 51 years, the Bickelhaupt Arboretum has been open to visitors from dawn to dusk for 365 days a year.
Completed in 2016, the Clinton Community College library enhancement project created a library to better meet student needs and the changing needs of the greater Clinton community. Additionally, renovations to the final Clinton Community College lecture hall were completed in 2018. The lecture halls have improved seating for collaborative learning, flexible lighting, sound systems and state-of-the-art technology. The renovations and enhancements were made to improve teaching and learning at Clinton Community College.
Eastern Iowa Community Colleges’ voters in March approved a $40 million bond referendum to fund new Career and Technical Education facilities and create career academies through the district. Last week, Clinton Community College President Brian Kelly confirmed work began on the new career academy next to the main campus. There will be activity over the next few months in DeWitt and Maquoketa.
“The economic future of Eastern Iowa depends on a skilled workforce,” Kelly said. “And 65% of the jobs of today and tomorrow require education and training beyond high school. Expanding career and technical education throughout the region, especially in our rural communities, increases access and opportunities for Eastern Iowans to build the skills necessary for a prosperous and productive future.”
Regarding future growth, Kelly said the college is having collaborative conversations with industry.
“We are looking forward to working with local employers to develop programs that reflect current industry needs,” Kelly said. “The partnerships in the community continue to grow and we will work hard to respond to current needs.”
Kelly took over as Clinton Community College president in 2020. Previously at Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon, Kelly brought background filled with multiple talents and worldwide experiences to enhance Clinton Community College, its programs and its students.
Dr. Karen Vickers led Clinton Community College for 23 years after being named its president in 1996. Under her leadership, the college added new technologies, such as virtual and nursing labs, extended use of technology and admissions agreements to allow students to make a smooth transition upon completion of Clinton Community College programs.