The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Bicentennial year sees NW opening

NW+Campus+is+built+right+next+to+Marine+Creek+Lake.+The+campus+took+time+and+effort+to+build+in+the+1970s+but+has+flourished+since+its+opening.
NW Campus is built right next to Marine Creek Lake. The campus took time and effort to build in the 1970s but has flourished since its opening.

By Lariza Moreno/reporter

NW Campus would be the third one to come along, but unlike NE and South, NW took quite a long time to build.

In 1965, the F. Howard Walsh family donated to the community 150 acres in the county’s northwest section near what would become Loop 820. Although the college owned land by Marine Creek Lake, it did not have enough money to start constructing the campus.

NW Campus is built right next to Marine Creek Lake. The campus took time and effort to build in the 1970s but has flourished since its opening.
NW Campus is built right next to Marine Creek Lake. The campus took time and effort to build in the 1970s but has flourished since its opening.

In July 1971, the board of trustees called for a bond election, and voters in September approved $13 million for the new campus.

By February 1974, Chancellor Joe B. Rushing and board vice president J. Ardis Bell kicked off groundbreaking of the NW construction with a plow pulled by a span of mules.

Fort Worth architect Preston Geren’s design was different from the traditional college campus. The college would be under one roof, except the gymnasium. The college’s modern look would be three wings branching off a central node overlooking the lake.

The campus was finally set to open by September 1975, but a labor strike of 52 days delayed the opening until spring 1976.

The 973 students who enrolled for the fall 1975 semester attended classes in TCC’s building at Fort Worth’s Meacham Field airport.

Vice president of student development services Joe Rode has been with TCC for over 40 years. He began his career on NE as a counselor and psychology instructor. Later, he became director of counseling on NW when it opened in 1976.

Rode remembers the days before the campus officially opened, and the administrative offices were located in a washateria in the town of River Oaks.

“I was moved to River Oaks, where they put financial aid, advising and counseling,” he said. “I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, what have I gotten myself into?’”

In spring 1976 when the campus finally opened, 1,586 students enrolled. NW proved to be the only college or university campus to open in America’s bicentennial year of 1976.

J. Ardis Bell and Joe B. Rushing plow with mules to break ground in 1974.
J. Ardis Bell and Joe B. Rushing plow with mules to break ground in 1974.

Elva LeBlanc, a former Tarrant County College student, is now president of NW.

“The culture here has always been helping each other,” she said. “Faculty and staff are very caring.”

Enrollment increased as did student support, advisers as well as success coaches.

“Our programs have just grown. We are casting a wider net and giving people opportunities,” LeBlanc said.

Rode never imagined the depth of NW’s success.

“Students have done magical things with helping each other, serving and encouraging each other,” he said.

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