By Kathryn Kelman/editor-in-chief
NE Campus is celebrating its golden anniversary this fall as the second of five campuses, and only one person remains who remembers the day the campus first opened its doors 50 years ago.
Having worked at the campus since Day One, what NE government associate professor Larry Davis remembers most is how things didn’t go according to plan that first year.
“All the day classes were held in ’68 fall and spring ‘69 down on South Campus,” Davis said.
TCC’s first campus, South, opened in 1967, and NE was scheduled to open for the fall semester in 1968, but when classes began the campus was still under construction. Day classes were held on South, and night classes were held on NE after the construction workers left for the day.
“All I can say is that there were rooms where the carpet had not been laid, and there were big rolls of carpet in some of the rooms where I was and so it was just unfinished,” Davis said. “The inconvenience of it, I don’t even really remember.”
The campus opened the following academic year.
Davis will finish his 50th year as a faculty member this year, all of which he’s spent teaching on NE, which he said is because TCC’s Hurst campus is viewed as the “elite” campus.
“But the bigger question is, ‘Why I’m still here, and the basic answer is very simple — ‘I still like the students,’” Davis said. “Even though I’m 75 and they’re 20, I still like them.”
Davis has no plans to retire any time soon and said he’ll continue to teach on NE as long as he’s “functioning” and doesn’t “have anything better to do.”
“I have no stop point in mind,” he said.
Moving forward, Davis said he hopes things continue as they have throughout the decades.
“My vision is that we will continue to do the good work that we have been doing for the last 50 years here,” he said.
Former NE communication arts chair Cheryl Hamilton, who retired in 2016 after 43 years on the campus, noted the changes in culture the campus has experienced throughout the years.
“Everybody likes each other and works really well together,” she said. “There’s a lot of camaraderie. Here on this campus, it is very student-oriented, but at the same time, they value the quality of the work of the students. Not that other campuses don’t do this, but it’s part of what makes NE so good.”
When the campus opened, Hamilton and former chair Cordell Parker were the only two speech instructors in the department.
“For years, it was just the two of us, and we taught everything,” she said. “We taught in the basement of the library. The books were upstairs, and the classrooms were downstairs.”
1968 was an exciting time with many other young teachers starting their careers too.
“We were all young and excited about teaching, and a lot of us stayed here for a very long time,” she said.
NE has a reputation in the TCC community as a special place, which interim campus president Tahita Fulkerson said the campus has lived up to since she joined the campus administration at the start of the fall semester.
“We are committed here to student success and to student achievement,” she said. “The number of clubs here for students verifies that because you can’t have clubs unless you’ve got sponsors. So I think that’s primarily the thing that impresses.”
All the campuses have student organizations and are committed to student success and achievement, Fulkerson said, but because NE has been doing it for 50 years, they’re more practiced with it.
Another feature long associated with the campus is its clock tower.
“What I remember always is the clock tower and how it’s been a central symbol of the campus,” Fulkerson said, adding that the giant round oak table in the president’s conference room and NE’s student center have also always stood out for her.
As for the campus’ future, a new developmental math study will involve gathering data on the students who enroll in it and the students who withdraw or quit in an effort to see if there are ways to better help them.
“My interest is always in retention and helping students complete what they start,” Fulkerson said. “The campus is on a path of continued success.”