By Jeremy Moore and Katelyn Needham
Reflection and anticipation are on the minds of students and faculty for SE Campus’ 20th anniversary.
The campus, which opened in August 1996, has set up a committee of faculty members who are deciding on events to celebrate the anniversary. An all-day celebration will take place Nov. 17, and a formal invitation-only event happens Nov. 18.
“Hopefully, we can have an activity for students and everyone to appreciate the campus and its history,” SE student Katia Gonzalez said.
The Nov. 17 event will be open for students, will take place in the ESCT Hub and have cake, competitions and games.
“Everyone wants to show off their school, so it would be nice for us at SE to show off our pride,” Gonzalez said.
The formal event on Nov. 18 will be closed to students. It will include food stations provided by the culinary program and performances provided by the music department.
“We have sent out just about 1,000 invitations,” assistant to the SE president Mike Cinatl said. “That includes faculty, staff and other special guests.”
The anniversary has made SE president Bill Coppola proud to see the SE community’s hard work pay off. He hopes the campus will have even more success in the future.
“The campus has grown to nearly 11,000 on-campus students, ranking it as the second-largest physical campus in our district and the fastest growing,” he said. “For 20 years, the wonderful faculty and staff of SE Campus have dedicated themselves to changing the lives of individuals in Tarrant County. I look forward to working closely with my campus colleagues to serve the growing population in both Mansfield and Arlington.”
SE humanities dean Josue Munoz, who has worked on the campus since it opened, is on the committee. He hopes the entire community can celebrate the anniversary.
“I think it would be great to have events available for faculty, students and the local community,” he said. “Southeast Arlington was a big part of getting this campus off the ground. Hopefully, we can have an event that encourages everyone to get involved and participate.”
Munoz is amazed to see how much SE has grown over the years.
“I remember when the walls were up, but there were no doors or windows,” he said. “We got to wear our hardhats and get a first tour of the campus. It was really neat to be involved in that process and seeing it come to completion for that first semester.”
The anniversary has also brought back memories for founding president Judith Carrier.
“When I was named the founding president of the still-in-progress SE Campus facility, I was a bit amazed to learn the building we were to inhabit a few months later was designed for only 5,000 students,” she said. “We had about 11 weeks to do all the hiring, marketing and PR work to let the community know we would open our doors the last week in August.”
Carrier remembers the buzz created for SE Campus that summer. She said the city’s Fourth of July parade featured a small band of SE faculty, staff and administrators hired in June 1996 who helped spread the word.
“That was an enormous PR gift because Arlington had and continues to have the largest Fourth of July parade in our region,” she said. “The main goal, of course, was exposure, exposure, exposure to the thousands of citizens participating in and observing the parade activities.”
With the rapid growth of the southern part of Arlington during that time, she knew SE Campus was in a great area for students.
“It was exactly the right place, as time quickly showed. I anticipated it and knew with hard work on the part of all — faculty, staff, administrators and students — we would likely become the largest campus within the TCCD strong cluster of campuses,” she said.